The most exciting PlayStation 4 exclusive yet is Bloodborne, a great game by nearly every account. But if you’re familiar with developer From Software’s famously difficult games, you might be apprehensive about trying it out. This is a game that requires a lot from players, and it doesn’t mind throwing them in the deep end just to watch them flail.
Bloodborne is the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls II. If you’ve played a Souls game, then you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into with Bloodborne. The games are full of arcane systems, confounding item descriptions, creeping dread, and punishing difficulty. To play these titles is to enter a world of pain. It’s pain that can give way to incredible satisfaction, but it’s pain nonetheless.
So whether you’re familiar with Bloodborne’s predecessors or not, you might want a heads up for what you’re getting yourself into before diving in. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you enter the grim city of Yharnam.
1. Don’t expect just another Souls game
In all three Souls games, the best way to progress is to play defensively. That usually means making full use of a shield and equipping bulky armor that slows you down.
That’s not how Bloodborne works. Shields are useless here, and no matter what armor you wear, your character moves at the same quick speed. Bloodborne requires a less methodical approach, which means Souls players will have to take some time to adjust their play style.
2. You can get your health back by being aggressive
When you get hit in Bloodborne, it takes a few seconds for your health to drain all the way down. If you successfully attack an enemy before it drains, you’ll get some or all of that health back. This is an important trick to use, because health vials are precious commodities, and the fewer you use on standard enemies, the more you’ll have when it comes time to fight bosses.
3. Use guns to your advantage
When fans heard Bloodborne would have firearms, many worried that would make the game too easy. That is definitely not the case. Guns in Bloodborne deal very little damage on their own, but they do play an important role in combat. Shooting an enemy usually stuns it, creating an opening for you to attack with your melee weapon.
Another way to use guns is when you’re under attack from an overwhelming number of enemies. A quick gunshot or two can hold enemies back while you fight their friends.
4. Don’t expect magic to get you through
Bloodborne has far fewer spells than the Souls games, and they’re not as useful for doing distance damage. The focus in Bloodborne is melee combat, so expect to spend most of your time up close and personal with enemies.
5. Watch before you fight
When you encounter a new enemy, try to spend a little time studying their attack patterns before jumping into the fray. If you can predict when they’ll have some downtime, you’ll be better equipped to leap in and deal damage.
6. Use oil and fire
If you can douse an enemy in oil before setting them ablaze, you’ll do a lot more damage than you would otherwise. Remember, oil first, then Molotov cocktails.
7. Open every shortcut you find
The game is full of shortcuts that generally come in the form of elevators or locked gates. Once you activate or open these up, the game world will start to feel a lot smaller.
8. Keep trying new tactics
Bloodborne is a very challenging game, but it’s beatable. If you ever find yourself dying repeatedly on the same enemy or in the same area, try something new on your next attempt.
9. Don’t be afraid to use a walkthrough
Video games are supposed to be fun, so if you find yourself frustrated or at a loss for what to do next, don’t hesitate to use a walkthrough. You just might save a lot of time and frustration.
Those are some general tactics to stay alive in Bloodborne. If you want specific tips that go into the nitty gritty of the starting areas, check out this Game Informer article. Happy hunting!