One of the best Bloodborne players in the world tells us just what makes From Software's latest so compelling and difficult.
"I've beaten the game about eight times now, and not once have I had a moment where I've stopped and cringed at the zone I'm about to enter."
Bloodborne released two weeks ago, and within days talented players had mastered it, unlocking almost all of its secrets. This incredible feat shouldn't be taken as evidence of the game's lack of depth or difficulty, but rather, stand as testament to the incredible skill and tenacity of players who went in blind and won through anyway.
One of these players, who goes by the Reddit handle Daymeeuhn, is believed to be just the second player in the US to earn the Platinum.
Daymeeuhn, who also goes by Naecabon and Handiesinthecar, had a small advantage over his peers: he's currently in the early stages of setting up a new venture after winding down his World of Warcraft Trading Card Game business, and was able to take some time off to absolutely flog the RPG.
"I have the privilege of being able to dive head first in to any new game I have the strong urge to play, as I make my own work hours," he told us. "Being self employed comes with many perks for us hardcore gamers."
Daymeeuhn had prepared for Bloodborne's launch by replaying Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 over and over again. He describes his first playthrough of Dark Souls as "the most mesmerizing experience" of his gaming life.
"I spent hundreds of hours playing through the game multiple times over and engaging others in PvP using multiple character builds and gear set-ups," he said.
Daymeeuhn isn't your typical trophy hound; he told us he normally avoids Trophies as he feels they're just not much fun and require guides to achieve. But in the case of Bloodborne, many of the Trophy objectives - exploring, unearthing hidden quests, and beating extra hard optional bosses - matched up with his playstyle.
"Most of all, though - I enjoy discovery. For me the delayed launch of the strategy guide was the greatest aspect of the Bloodborne release," he said.
"All of the secrets and hidden results within the game have only been found by players exploring every corner of Yarnham, and even as I type this many more secrets lie in wait.
"The trophies themselves represented these secrets, as we had only the trophy descriptions to guide us. After completing my first playthrough and killing the final story boss, I was surprised to find just how many optional boss trophies I was missing.
"It was refreshing to know there was still that much left to go back and find. There was still much to do. This is what led me to decide I would pursue a Platinum trophy in Bloodborne, and aim to be one of the first."
With this goal in mind, Daymeeuhn reached out to rmchiva925 from PlaystationTrophies forums. At the time the pair worked together to figure out how to get the final few Trophies, there were no guides or walkthroughs they could draw on.
"I'd strongly urge anyone reading that has yet to complete their Platinum in this to avoid any sort of direct spoilers as much as possible. Yes, some of the lead-ins to optional areas can be a little confusing, so you may need some small tips on how to access them. Actual flat-out spoilers, though, I'd stay clear of," Daymeeuhn added.
"Most of the steps you need to take are clear cut, and the sense of achievement associated with finding the last few weapons is worth it."
Daymeeuhn didn't find the core Bloodborne experience as traumatising as Dark Souls or its sequel.
"I've beaten the game about eight times now, and not once have I had a moment where I've stopped and cringed at the zone I'm about to enter," he said. "There is no Blight Town, there is no Gutter, there is no area you want to just get in and out of as fast as possible.
"If I had to pick the one spot I really disliked the most, it'd have to be the moment you first enter Yahar'gul. Bell Maidens are the most obnoxious enemy of all, and this area has multiple," he added.
"From the second I light the first lantern, to the moment I light the next lantern in the Chapel, I usually dead sprint and don't stop. The less amount of time I have to spend dealing with the swarms of enemies found on those steps, the better."
It's nice to know experts find Yahar'gul as unpleasant as the rest of us, but Daymeeuhn said the real challenge lies in Chalice Dungeons. It's not the last boss needed for the main progression, but the Cursed Chalice.
"Inside of a Cursed Chalice, your health bar is cut in half, and it's very unpleasant to fight some of the larger, more damaging bosses with this sort of downside. Even at a full max level of 594, with only half health the bosses can still make short work of you," he said.
"If I had to pick a boss (or in this case, a set of bosses) that took me the most attempts, it would almost certainly be the variants of the fire dog and Amygdala found there. It was only after mastering their move sets and essentially perfecting their encounters that I was able to continue on.
"Granted, almost all encounters within Bloodborne can have the same said about them, but in this case it really felt like there was zero room for error."
"If I had to pick a boss that took me the most attempts, it would almost certainly be the variants of the fire dog and Amygdala found in Curse Chalice Dungeons. In this case it really felt like there was zero room for error.”
In fact, the Chalice Dungeons offer challenges so tough that at the time of interview Daymeeuhyn had yet to beat them.
"While this is entirely optional and not something anyone would ever need to do for the Platinum trophy, it's still something that exists if you really want a challenge," he noted.
Daymeeuhn's favourite zone is the optional Forsaken Cainhurst Castle.
"I was a big Castlevania kid growing up, and this area reminded me of the awesome gothic castle settings associated with that sort of story," he said.
"While not particularly difficult, and also not very large in size (although the scope of the wide out shots while approaching would lead you to believe otherwise) the area is still very detailed and immersive.
"While exploring that zone, I completely forgot I was supposed to be fighting beasts in London. It feels like it's own little world within a world. Some of the rooms are so detailed and filled with little knick knacks that I definitely had a couple of deaths as a result of looking around too much and not killing the baddies nearly as much as I was supposed to be."
As most Souls fans will testify, one of the joys of being a pioneer is exploring #Fashionborne ahead of your peers.
"After discovering the Insight vendor that sells outfits of some enemies you encounter during your progress through both the story and Chalice Dungeons, I also became overly excited any time I'd encounter a major humanoid enemy," Daymeeuhn admitted.
"Without giving anything away, there was a new boss in one of the early Chalices I'd never seen before, and as I was fighting it I kept yelling 'Please! I want this outfit! Please be on the vendor!' until it was dead. Safe to say, as I hastily sprint back to the Hunter's Dream and frantically opened up the vendor to check, I squealed with pure joy upon visiting the attire tab. It's the little things like this that can make a first playthrough really fun and exciting."
Daymeeuhn said he's a little disappointed in New Game Plus, but really enjoying Chalice Dungeons; it looks like the randomly-generated Root dungeons will be one of the game's longest-lasting elements. It's too early to make the call on whether PvP will offer long term gameplay.
"It can take a very long time to find opponents, mostly due to how the PvP matchmaking works in Bloodborne. When I do find a match, I thoroughly enjoy it," Daymeeuhn said.
"I think PvP in Bloodborne is a blast (Cannon pun absolutely intended) and I don't really share the criticisms of healing or reduced damage being negative aspects of the system. If anything, they make me want to PvP even more. The fights I engage in take timing and patience and a single lucky backstab won't win it for you here.
"I do notice a very high percentage of the players I fight are using Ludwig's Holy Sword, which doesn't surprise me at all. I'm one of those people myself. The weapon is incredibly powerful, packing a B Scaling in both Strength and Skill, and boasts a varied moveset consisting of quick one handed slashes and heavy two handed blunt slams. I see a lot of players trying to take full advantage of gun parrying but unfortunately with how choppy a lot of the connections end up being they usually seem to just shoot into the wind.
"All in all, while a lot of players bash on the small weapon selection, I think each offers a very different style and approach that will surely result in many varied PvP builds."
After achieving the Platinum, Daymeeuhn believes he's seen and done everything.
"Acquiring a Platinum in Bloodborne requires seeing and doing almost everything the game has to offer," he said.
"Every boss, weapon, and area must be explored before you'll reach the end. In that, I think we actually helped the community with questions pertaining to trophies and secrets a lot, and there wasn't really much we had left to learn ourselves.
"The community has been hard at work though theorycrafting up ways to discover new PvP covenants, but unfortunately everything we've tried has turned up empty. It's reaching the point where we may just have to sit back and wait for the strategy guide before finding them, if they even exist at all."
That said, a few small mysteries still nags at Daymeeuhn.
"The infamous 'Closed' door in Cathedral Ward still bugs me. We assume it's future DLC content, or relating to a yet to be discovered Covenant," he said.
"The spider NPC in the Lecture Hall that eventually relocates 'somewhere" also has led to me wasting many hours hunting him out. I disagree with the speculation that the spider NPC in Nightmare Frontier that shoves you off the ledge is the same NPC - they seem different to me. They do not sound the same and have different head appearances.
"I've tried finding more summon spots to bring NPCs with me on boss fights as I know this has had an impact on their interactions with you in the other Souls games, but so far nothing has turned up any solid leads on additional Covenants. The three we have at the moment - Executioners, Vilebloods and Hunter of Hunters - may just be the only three in the game.
"Time will tell," he concluded.
If history is anything to go by, it will; players will tease every little bit of info out of From Software and Hidetaka Miyazaki.
On the hunt for the Platinum yourself? If you're happy to see a few spoilers, check out our Bloodborne guide and walkthrough.