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    dkirschner's Bloodborne (PS4)

    [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: Playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 9 December, 2019

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Hard. So hard.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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