Fear the old blood.
I was a big fan of Bloodborne when it launched earlier this year, I put over 100 hours into the base game going through the story and exploring the procedural dungeons known as the Chalice Dungeons. So when The Old Hunters came around I expected to be excited for it, I wanted to be hyped. What I found though was that I just wasn’t. The excitement I felt coming up to the release of the game, and the Souls games with their DLCs, was missing. I felt I was getting slightly bored of the formula of From Software’s games. However, not too long after starting the DLC the excitement came flooding back, this DLC wasn’t going to let me be bored or relaxed.
The first thing that struck me, and I’ve seen a lot of people agree, is this DLC is hard. I’m pretty good at Bloodborne after all the time I’ve played it, I’ve also got a high level character and some max level weapons. Most of the main game isn’t too much of a challenge anymore. The DLC however really has a bite, the opening area is filled with a number of hostile hunters. You don’t trigger them all at once but rather more one on one fights. These new hunters are armed with some of the new weapons introduced in the DLC, and they cut chunks out of my health bar.
I’d gotten comfortable during Bloodborne, I could get through most fights without a scratch and when I did get hit it wasn’t a big deal, I lost a bit of health but nothing massive. The Old Hunters forced me back into the mindset I had at the start of the game, be careful above all else. Progressing through the areas a bit I found the first boss of the DLC, my attempts at which did not go well. After numerous attempts with the staple weapons I’d been using for hours I decided to change it up and try out the new weapons. After testing move sets I settled on a rather lovely new weapon known as the Whirligig Saw.
This is where the DLC surprised me as, oddly enough, I stopped playing it. I went back into the Chalice Dungeons, an area of the game I had thought I played to death before, to improve my tools and weapons before heading back into the DLC. I played through these dungeons again for hours, searching for enhancements and improving my equipment. And I enjoyed it, all the time I spent doing this. The DLC surprised me because not only was I enjoying the DLC and what it had to offer, it made me return to features of the main game and enjoy them all a second time as they had a purpose once again.
Getting back to the DLC itself though, and moving away from the difficulty aspect, the areas, bosses and story the DLC has are wonderful. I’m not going to say much on these topics really, because I don’t want to spoil anything. I was really interested in how these areas came together, why the bosses were there and what was going on. The DLC areas at the start are interesting remix versions of some of the base games areas, which creates an odd sense of unease. An area you once knew and were comfortable in is now unknown and death could be hiding anywhere.
The new tools and weapons in the DLC are pretty wonderful as well, I mentioned one up above which has became my weapon of choice for most situations. There are sixteen new weapons in total (11 Right Hand and 5 Left Hand), one of which will be known to anyone who has played the Souls games in the past. The Holy Moonlight Sword, which looks fancier and flashier than ever before. You see the sword in action before you get the chance to get it for your own and I was amazed at just how good it looked this time round.
My only complaint, and it is small, is some of the enemies designs can be aggravating. One in particular stands out in my memory, a large enemy that has an attack where it dives from a distance and slides into you. The annoying thing being the character model of the enemy more or less traps you if you get hit by it, and the slide will hit you many times for consecutive damage meaning the slide is pretty much an instant death if you don’t entirely avoid it. To make progress in an area and then be kicked back to the start by one enemy taking you down from a full health bar gets pretty annoying rather quickly.
All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by The Old Hunters. The added content itself was wonderful, but what really impressed me was that it revived my interest in the base game in a way no DLC has before. The new content is plentiful, challenging and interesting in just the right way.
The Old Hunters expands the content and lore while refreshing the difficulty for experienced players.