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    dkirschner's Bloodborne (PS4)

    [January 31, 2020 10:24:46 PM]
    I actually beat this. I can't believe it. Take that, FromSoftware.

    Bloodborne is definitely one of the most difficult games I've ever played and one that punishes you harshly for mistakes. I learned patience, lots of patience.

    Here are some other things I learned that I didn't mention (or had incomplete knowledge of) in my other post:

    1. If you find a good route of enemies that give lots of blood echoes (especially after you get runes that increase blood echoes), just plow through that route a handful of times and boost your level. I found a great run near the end that also supplies health potions, and I thought, "Great! I can farm health potions here if I need to!" And I did that run probably 5 or 6 times because there was a sad, weeping mother with blood on her white dress in a boss-ish looking area who I didn't want to go near. I was getting over 2 levels worth of blood echoes for that run, so I just kept doing it.

    2. You might have to farm blood echoes later in the game. It's okay, very easy to do. Go back to Central Yharnam and crush all the enemies around there. You'll rack up 20+ potions and it takes like 5-10 minutes. I did it like 5 times while I was on the phone with my mom and never had to do it again.

    3. If you think you might be coming up on a boss (big, open arena? check. big, double doors that you have to push open? check), don't be afraid to go back to the Dream and spend your blood echoes. It'll be relatively easy to get back to the boss and you won't lose all your experience.

    4. Tired of running out of health potions on bosses? Don't use them until you can knock a chunk of the boss's life off without using one. Learn its moves. Then when you're smarter and more confident, commit to using potions and finishing the rest of the battle.

    5. Learn how to do a visceral attack. I didn't know this existed until I got a run that enhanced my visceral attack. The game doesn't teach you so...I don't know how you're supposed to know. I looked it up when I saw that rune. You can do some major damage and get some rune effects.

    6. Don't be afraid to use help from the summoning portal things. You can use insight to summon another hunter (NPC offline, human online). You can use the bell to summon players any time I think. I never did this. But I gather that you have to be careful because they might kill you.

    7. Stat scaling on weapons is useful to pay attention to and can determine how you can best level up. I realized at some point that the sword I was favoring scaled with skill and I should quit putting points into strength.

    8. Frenzy is a pain in the ass. I didn't understand how this worked until very, very late in the game in the Nightmare of Mensis. I didn't understand until then because every time I got frenzied until then I died. My resistance was super low or I just didn't get it or something. Again, no explanation for this in-game!

    9. The special altars or whatever they are called are unnecessary. I went into one toward the end of the game just to see what it was. Looks like randomized or procedurally generated dungeons crawling. Probably special items in there or something. Extra content for those who love the combat I suppose.

    10. Before the last boss, which has that great experience and potion run I mentioned earlier, if you don't plan on New Game Plus or anything, just sell all your shit that you don't use and level up as much as possible. I squeezed like 5 levels out of selling things and using the rest of those blood gems. I think in doing that run 5 or 6 times and selling everything, I gained about 20 levels. Perhaps that's why the last boss only took 5 or so tries.

    11. The story is...hard to parse. It's told sparingly, largely through environmental means. You have to work to piece it together. I read wikis.

    That's gotta be about it. I don't think I'm going to go back and play the Souls games, but I will look forward to Sekiro when the price drops. There's no way I can play too many of these kinds of games. My nerves.
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    [December 30, 2019 06:14:34 PM]
    Okay, this is it. This is the one. I tried Dark Souls [checks notes] 3.5 years ago and found myself lacking. It was too hard. It has haunted me ever since. I've completed plenty of brutally difficult games. Why was Dark Souls different? My best guess is that it doesn't just punish you with time invested, but it really saps your potential progression. By that I mean, when you die, you drop all of your souls. If you die again before reaching the spot where you died to retrieve your souls, you lose them forever. Therefore, when you die, you lose the potential you had accrued to level up, and for all intents and purposes are demoted. Even though you hadn't actually spent the souls to level up, you HAD them. It's like you went to cash a check and you lost the check. You had the money, but you hadn't converted it into something usable, and it hurts just as much to lose.

    SO, the PS4 I bought a few weeks ago came with a few games, Bloodborne being my most desired. I wanted to take another stab at a FromSoftware title and show them who's boss (me!). My ambition didn't go so well at first. I installed it, played an hour or two, and had flashbacks to Dark Souls. I couldn't get past the first area. I died over and over and over. It was so sad. Fuck that! I quit and picked up Nioh, another "soulsborne" game that had (gasp!) a tutorial that made me feel competent. After I went through the whole tutorial and played some of the first bit of Nioh, I had work for a week and when I came back to the PS4, decided I was not, in fact, done with Bloodborne. In fact, Nioh had prepared me (somehow) to be better at Bloodborne. Nioh had prepared me (somehow) to learn the lessons of FromSoftware games.

    I booted up Bloodborne again, determined to figure out how to approach it. Fast forward a couple weeks and here I am, being successful (I think)! I've learned to deploy all my patience and all my caution. If you are slow, careful, methodical, and observant, you can tackle Bloodborne. I've written about a few extended examples, but I'm not sure what to sum up, so I'll make some notes, a couple quick stories, and elaborate later.

    1. Learn enemy attack patterns. What are their tells? How far away do you need to stay? Every enemy can kill you, so don't take your chances. Wait for their tells and strike appropriately. It's not a race.

    2. Don't be afraid to go back to The Hunter's Dream. In this safe zone, you can spend your blood echoes to level up, purchase items, and upgrade your weapons. Yeah, all the enemies will respawn, and that can be annoying, but you'll also learn that ...

    3. You don't have to kill everything. You'll open ingenious shortcuts and learn what you can run past (often based on what probably won't drop good items anyway!), so respawning enemies are not always a big deal. Plus, you're getting better at the game, so you can dispatch them more easily.

    4. Upgrade your main weapon. Yeah, there are lots of weapons, but the beginning Hunter's Axe has been working for me just fine. I bought everything else, but I've upgraded that axe as much as it'll go for now (level 6; how many levels of upgrades are there? A: At least 9.). Experiment with the weapons to see what suits you. And don't forget that you can hit L1 to alternate between two forms of your melee weapons.

    5. You'll get past that first area and that first boss, the something-something-Cleric. The big bird thing. Terrifying. On the bridge. After being mauled by werewolves (explore and find the other way around). Once you get past that first boss, the game becomes easier. You won't have to farm health potions again (yet, anyway). This first area of the game is like a hazing ritual.

    6. If you need help, summon someone. I'm playing offline, so I can't summon other players, but on the third boss, there was a summoning place there and I got an NPC. She tanked the boss (the one in the Grand Cathedral) and I chipped away at its health from behind. Victory. If you can't summon someone, refer to #1.

    7. I'm so impressed by the interconnectedness of each area. Navigating can be disorienting, but keep wandering and you'll connect seemingly disparate locations. The other day, I wandered into an area with an enemy I couldn't kill, another area with some hazy demon that killed me, another area where I got killed by some sort of void energy that said "frenzy" on the screen, I wandered into a totally different zone (Forbidden Woods?), and through all this learned many different paths.

    8. If you're not sure if you're supposed to be somewhere or not, you might need to die a few times to figure it out. Enemies crushing you? Maybe there's somewhere else to go first where you can gain some levels. It seems like wandering around and seeing everything is sufficient for being strong enough to tackle enemies and bosses.

    More later. But I am LOVING this game now that I'm over the initial hump (seriously, through the first boss is just brutal). I can't wait to play more.
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    dkirschner's Bloodborne (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 9 December, 2019

    GameLog closed on: Friday 31 January, 2020

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Hard. So hard. ----------- Good god. That was intense. Loved it. Usually.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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