Bloodborne: The Best RPG of its Generation

Bloodborne: The Best RPG of its Generation

In this article I take a real, hard look at FromSoft’s working title Bloodborne. It isn’t a sugar coated, hand-holding type of review. The game itself is utterly brilliant, but not every aspect of the game was well thought out, tested or implemented. I took my time with the game before reviewing. Let’s look deeper than the surface and get into the nitty-gritty of this PS4 exclusive.

Genre: Action RPG
Developed by: From Software
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: March 24th, 2015
Platforms: PS4 (Reviewed on PS4)
Launch Price: 59.99 USD

 


 

Design

Let’s start with game design. The developers absolutely crushed this aspect of the game. I haven’t had this immersive of an experience in years. The overall detail of the city of Yharnam is profound, dark, dramatic and downright horrifying. You will find yourself getting lost admiring the artwork of buildings and statues and feeling like you really were in a plague (of beasts) ridden Victorian England.

The interconnected world that we all loved in Dark Souls is back. It absolutely blows my mind how they figured out how to tie it all together, and yet the game wouldn’t be the same without it. As you progress through the game you cannot help but feel From is a puppet master, cleverly guiding us through their world in such a manner you felt you were doing it all on our own.

Character and enemy animations and effects are much improved over previous From titles. You’ll notice your clothing move as you run or ride elevators. Enemies talk to you while fighting and move as if they have their own goals in the game. Enemy and Boss AI is also much improved, creating some of the most thrilling and challenging boss fights to date. This is hands down some of the best AI I have ever seen in a game (it often feels like it is learning your attack patterns and countering them).

Music and sound are outstanding. Having played the game wearing my surround sounds PX4s, I was able to experience the full glory of this. From the whispers enemies mumble to you under their breath, to hearing the ominously heavy footstep of the Snatcher Bagmen as they approach, the game continues to amaze with its attention to this often over looked aspect. The musical score is the best I’ve heard since Demon’s Souls and helps create the haunting mood that the game so clearly portrays. Music and sound can often make average game good, but in this case it simply makes a good game even better.

  • Exceptional artwork, creating one of the most immersive atmospheres to date.
  • Interconnected World with varying environments to explore and multiple ways to get to them. See the maps on the wiki, your mind to be blown.
  • Improved enemy AI that seems to know just when to attack and Boss fights that will leave your heart pounding.
  • An original score that rivals any game and subtle sound effects that enhance the gameplay experience.

  • Boss AI can get confused sometimes in Co Op, leading to some strange attack patterns.
  • Lack of warping between Lamps (checkpoints) adds an extra loading screen… and those are infamously long.
  • Some of the music is recycled between Boss fights.

 

Combat

Combat in Bloodborne is extremely satisfying; it may in fact be the best part of the game. The combat has a very steep learning curve that once mastered is gratifying, challenging, and addicting. Its high risk high reward system either leads to moments where you feel like such a badass that you can’t help but “Brush Dust Off“, or where you end up looking at “BLOODBORNE” for the next 60 seconds. I have had moments where I was literally fist pumping in my living room or…throwing my controller down and kicking it across the floor as a result. No other game can create the feeling of downing that one boss that’s been kicking your ass for hours (or even days). NONE…ok maybe Dark Souls…

Weapons in the game all feel unique and well designed. The transformations and abundance of different attacks makes learning a weapon take much longer than other games, but also creates a bond between player and weapon (wouldn’t trade my Blade of Mercy for anything). Firearms add another facet to combat not seen in other From games, allowing for some unique combat experiences/play styles. They seem either extremely useful or extremely useless depending on your build, play style and the enemy you are fighting, however. There are not a wide variety of weapons to choose from in Bloodborne (compared with the Souls games), a point that has been largely criticized by many players. It remains to be seen how this will impact the longevity of the game.

Armor has been replaced with Attire and is no longer upgradeable. There are roughly 23 Attire Sets in the game, most look different and unique, but a few are recycled from other Sets. My biggest criticism with this change isn’t the lack of variety, but rather the lack of upgrading, pigeonholing players into specific Sets/pieces of Attire. For players who like to min/max it can be annoying, but Fashionborne is still a thing and probably always will be.

Upgrades are the most simplified they have ever been. Every weapon uses the same upgrade material (and quantity of it). The new addition here is the Blood Gems. These Gems can be slotted into your weapons to increase the damage done, change damage types, improve scaling (or add scaling from another stat if none exists), add poison to the weapon or even reduces stamina costs or add HP regain. There is a wide variety of effects to be sure, unfortunately unless you have a very very unique build, 90% of the time the best gem you can put in your weapon is one with “Damage Type UP +%”. This pretty much makes 75% of the Blood Gems in the game inferior and thus sold to the vendor for more Blood Echoes.

  • High risk high reward combat that can give you some of the most thrilling moments you’ve ever experienced.
  • Addictive combat that doesn’t feel repetitive due to combination attacks.
  • Unique and engaging weapons that players can really connect with.
  • Simplified upgrades that make it very easy for anyone to understand.

  • Dying means looking at another 60 second load screen.
  • Camera angle during combat is the #1 cause of deaths (replacing gravity in Souls games).
  • Lack of weapon variety leaves a player wanting more. “Uncanny” and “Lost” are only a pretense of variety.
  • Armor cannot be upgraded.
  • Oversimplified upgrade system is simply not interesting.

 

Story

I must confess here that From’s stories in their games have always been a bit of an enigma to me (and many players). It really takes some digging, time and patience to get to the bottom of what is really going on. I will try and simplify what I know in an attempt to loosely create an understanding (without spoiling too much). If you want to be spoiled, you can read the detailed Lore page.

Yharnam was a city built on top of a labyrinth of the ancient Pthumerians, a civilization that could commune with the Great Ones. Scholars researched this for many years and found blood that could cure illnesses. People came from all over to be healed in the city, but what they thought was their savior ended up being their undoing as they one by one turned to beasts. The game takes place years after these events and you arrive in Yharnam under unclear circumstances and must unravel the mystery.

NPCs in Yharnam have unique and shrouded storylines that will require many playthroughs to fully explore, unless you settle for reading the outcomes.

I’m constantly amazed at how much depth there is to the story, and how well hidden it is in obscure parts of the game. It is very easy to overlook and many players will finish the game wondering what it was all about. For the players who delve in and really dig, there are answers to the questions they seek. The community is usually divided on the lore aspects of the game, sparking much debate and excellent theories. I find it to be a particularly endearing and unique aspect of FromSoftware games…

  • A unique story told in a unique way and that adds replayability for investigation and testing purposes.
  • Enough clues that the player can make theories but not so many that they are black and white.

  • Very little explanation of what is happening in the story if you are unfamiliar with Lovecraft concepts.
  • Very easy to miss important story related information and even objectives within the game.

 

Multiplayer

FromSoftware games have always thrived on their Multiplayer aspect. From the unique way in which they interweave players into each other’s game worlds, to the summoning mechanics we have all become accustomed to, they have been constantly pushing the envelope in this department. Unfortunately, they pushed it too far in Bloodborne and broke it.

Let me start by saying that I have co-oped almost the entire game and I absolutely love it…when it works. That’s the real issue here, it doesn’t work or doesn’t work in a timely manner more often then not. In the Souls games we had signs on the ground that we could see, letting us know if there were players around, letting us choose who we wanted to summon etc. Now we have a bell that rings and you stand there wondering what is happening. You don’t know for sure if there are players nearby able to be summoned, you can’t choose which to summon if you have some sort of preference but don’t want to limit yourself to a password, and you don’t know how long it will take. I have wasted countless hours waiting to be summoned or waiting for someone to appear even in scheduled coop with level, password and connection coordination. It can be very easy to summon a random player, but it isn’t easy to summon specific players (friends), even with a password. This is the single biggest negative in the entire game.

PvP is a mixed bag. I find that actual PvP when it happens is outstanding most of the time – bar the obnoxious healing spam. Again, the issue here is when it happens. Since you can only be invaded when a Chime Maiden is alive in your world, you are highly dependent on that Chime Maiden doing her job (ringing that bell). More often than not, she goes on strike and doesn’t summon anyone, as evidenced by our 4 hour event. Another interesting thing is that after I have been invaded (provided I live), if the other Hunter departs via death or disconnect, my Chime Maiden will not summon a second invader. Just won’t happen. So I have to port out and back in to get invaded again. There are also framerate issues sometimes when PvPing, but those are minor compared to the Chime Maiden issue. To add insult to injury, the absence of signs and intentional summons of invaders into your world makes hosting fightclubs a convoluted task.

Chalice Dungeons are a new feature in From games, that are also a mixed bag. I have enjoyed the few I have done well enough, but I do feel like it’s starting to get repetitive. The dungeons look the same and you can see that they used pre-constructed segments that are just randomly pieced together not unlike the Time Splitters 2 (2002) map editor. The loot inside the dungeons is almost non-existent. You mostly get materials to create more Chalice Dungeons. Some of the bosses in these dungeons are downright amazing and others are simply recycled Bosses or even regular enemies from the game. I can’t help but feel that this wasn’t FromSoftware’s idea and just did the best they could to have a go at MMO elements that they are not experienced with. You can see the potential in them while playing, but unfortunately they just didn’t reach it, and they suffer from the same summoning issues the rest of the game does.

 

  • Fun and engaging Co Op makes you wants to play the game over and over.
  • PvP is exciting and heart pumping due to fast paced combat.
  • Chalice Dungeons will give players environments to explore even after they have completed the game.

  • Connectivity issues ruin your enthusiasm for Co Op over time.
  • Connectivity issues ruin your enthusiasm for PvP over time.
  • Chalice Dungeons are all so similar and the reward system so lackluster they can get repetitive.

 

Final Impressions

I wanted Bloodborne to be the game that I would be playing for months and months to come. I wanted it to be the game I couldn’t stop playing if I tried. And, while it’s an amazing game, it simply wasn’t that for me. Your first play through will blow you away. If you can overcome the steep learning curve, and hang in there, you will find Bloodborne is a a once in a lifetime experience. And, while you can tell I’m conflicted about aspects of the game, the game is truly a must-own title. I will always remember the moment Dark Souls clicked for me and I was hooked. This is the closest I have been to that experience and I think many other players would agree with that.

 

In closing, my advise is: buy the game, play the shit out of it, and put it on your shelf and look back fondly on the experience you had, because it will be one you will never forget.

 

If I could say one thing to Fromsoftware it would simply be what every single teacher I ever had has said to my parents, “He isn’t living up to his potential”. We can all see what could be and we are all dying for it, but somehow, for some reason, it’s just not happening…

  • The best RPG experience I have had on console since Dark Souls.
  • A world that is vast and detailed and completely immerses you in it.
  • Some of the most fun I’ve ever had Co Oping.
  • Challenging and rewarding combat that makes you feel alive.

  • Infamously long load times with a static screen break the overall flow of the game.
  • Multiplayer connectivity issues prevent the game from being a true masterpiece.
  • No incentive to replay the game on the New Game Plus except for difficulty, since there are no items, spells, weapons or trophies necessitating a second playthrough.
  • Bugs & Glitches. Some are gamebreaking, most are infuriating. There’s more of them than in the other titles, and players may find themselves locked atop elevators leading to optional but important bosses.

 

What did you think? Let us know in the comments!


More Reviews

About our Reviews

Visit the Bloodborne Wiki

9.5
Summary: A fantastic game that holds its own against Dark Souls. A brand new setting and new gameplay mechanics add a freshness to the Souls formula. There's a lot to explore and experience including savage death. Right now, it's the best RPG of the current gen.
Story & Setting (10)
Gameplay (9)
Design (9.5)
Replayability (9.5)
Pricepoint (9.5)
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Senior Editor at Fextralife. I enjoy gaming, playing and watching sports, cooking yummy food, watching a good movie and hanging out with Fex.Find more of my posts

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50 comments on “Bloodborne: The Best RPG of its Generation”

  1. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    Well, I pretty much agreed with all that is said in that article … Except for :

    No incentive to replay the game on the New Game Plus except for difficulty

    It should be a pro if it is different but not a negative if it’s not. Indeed, NG+s are like difficulty levels, that is what they are. So you shouldnt give the game a negative because they only are what they meant to be.

    In all other games people dont give negatives because the game is the same in all difficulty mods.

  2. Avatar Pvt_Booger says:

    Good review, to be honest your "cons" were pretty objective compared to some of the bilious sentiments and utter vitriol I’ve read here (jk). Well written eventhough I disagree with some points, like camera angles being bad. Not that they aren’t bad, it’s that they’ve always been bad.

  3. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    Nah, that’s true that they’re worse in Bloodborne than in other Souls game. I dont recall another souls game where I could completly lose sight on my character.

  4. Avatar HannesITS says:

    Nice review – though one of the things I would disagree with is your complaint about the weapon variety. I HATE the way the Souls games handled the whole weapon thing. Quantity over quality. Bloodborne gives you 16 (I think?) weapons and all of those are perfectly viable to use as main weapon. In Dks and Dks2 I had always about 2 or 3 weapons I found actually useful and playworthy. So in that aspect – at least imo – bloodborne did the best thing possible.

    On the "no incentives to replay" – the biggest thing for me here is that I want to re-play to level up to beat the 5-depth chalice dungeons and see how fleshed out my tactics on bosses really are. but that is obviously – again – hightly subjective.

    And lastly – the camera angle thing is something I feel has been there in all the souls games before and isn´t a major issue once you´ve figured out that moving the left stick generally takes care of that problem :D

    Just my 2 cents though.

  5. Van says:

    Good Review, although I personally would have rated the game worse. Matter of taste.

    However:

    Personally, I’ve noticed no big difference in comparison to the Soul games.

  6. Avatar Drascoll says:

    Same, great article but I diffidently find the game very repayable. Then again I’m a dork who also enjoy Chalice Dungeons for the boss fights even if there a bit redundant. It reminds me of Bitterblack Isle from Dragon’s Dogma.

    @Cas,
    Correct me if I’m wrong but have a sneaking suspicion that the biggest issue you are having with the game is that the Multiplayer is lackluster due to issues with connecting to other players. Because Co-opt is something you seem to love dearly it’s poor implication has cast a shadow over all other aspects of the game leading to a bit of pessimism on your outlook of other elements. I know that feeling, its frustrating. Hopefully, From Software and SCE Japan Studio will get a patch out soon that well resolve the load time issues and improve the Multiplayer and you could come back with fresh eyes to the game and inspires you to return to the Hunters Dream.

    I personally, am loving everything about BB, and the more I explore the lore and map design the more I’m blown away. Which is contrary to your point about plot points not being explained properly, its just a bit more digging then even DkS or DeS, but its all there in game, not too much room for baseless fan-fiction. However, I have always been a sucker for the Lore, atmosphere and Map-design. I mean at first I was not sure if the Lore would stand up, but the more I look into it the more the puzzle peaces fit together and it just reminds me of how brilliant From Software can be.

    It was only in DkS2 that I started to care about multiplayer because aside from SM it was multiplayer centric game in terms of design, with lore, atmosphere and map-design being sacrificed at the altar. I loved DkS2 multiplayer which was why SM was such a big nagging issue for me. It destroyed the one element that was great about the game and penalized losing souls.

    That said, I’m not even sure if I’m going to renew my PS+ subscription now that my 14free day’s are over, because I just don’t see the value in it for BB at the moment even though I love BB PvP when it works. When you can play SoTFS, DkS or DeS multi-player for free to PvE and PvP all of a sudden PS+ doesn’t seem a valuable. However, I will most defiantly be replaying BB for the single player experience. I plan on doing a SL4 run next and while others may disagree, I think BB bosses are some of the best in the series borrowing elements from other great fight’s.

  7. esmittystud101 says:

    So, I have never really been into JRPG type games before. Never really owning any of them. I played some Fallout 3 and the Bioshock series before but those are just first person action RPG’s. Not like Bloodborne at all really. So basically Bloodborne is my first ever.

    At first, I was really lost and confussed. Didn’t know what I was suppossed to do. Where to go. Who to fight. Who NOT to go fight. Who to talk to. Who you wait to go talk to. Oh, and the most important, when your suppossed to go to a certain area or confront an NPC.

    I kept dying. Just dying…….and dying some more. I was doing so bad at first, on tuesday when the game released I was stuck in Central Yarnham at the checkpoint of course. On saturday of that same week, I was still at the checkpoint at Central Yarnham. The same exact spot I was on tuesday. Very disscouraging. Very down about how horrible I was at this game. I was even looking how much I would get for a trade in on this game at Gamestop and I never trade games in. I rather them sit, collecting dust than give Gamestop that game back for pennies compared to what I paid for it. In this case it was $30, same week the game came out. $30? I wasn’t going to give Gamestop the benifit so I didn’t trade it in.

    I finally caved in and started looking for help online. I finally figured out what was wrong. My knowledge of these type of games, plain and simple. All I had to do was upgrade my guy. Go farm in Central Yarnham for a while, NOT die. Go back to Hunter Dream, and upgrade. I was fine after that. Getting better everyday.

    Thank you Marcus: EpicNameBro. You have guided me well. You are probably the best game commontator I have ever seen. Your so good with the Lore of the game as well, explaining each item and what it may or may not do as well as the history. I pre-ordered your guide and waiting on my confirmation of shipping email from Amazon. If it wans’t for you, I would be so lost on when and where to do certain events in this game so I don’t miss anything.

    This is a great action RPG. I’m glad it was my first.

  8. Avatar Fexelea says:

    @Drascoll

    The co-op takes forever even when organized. We demonstrated that in the event. Waiting around doing nothing and not even knowing if anything is happening (The "searching for the chime" stops displaying, etc) is frustrating and frankly boring. It has really been a downside. I’ve tried to do randoom coop to help others and I end up standing around in front of lamps or boss fogs for hours without one summon. I know it’s not my connection, as this is not a problem on any other game I play including Dark Souls, so it gets really annoying for those of us looking to do multiplayer.

  9. Avatar igotbloodysoul says:

    "Best RPG of it’s generation"

    Aaaaaand dropped.

  10. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Maybe you can expand on that point? Not seeing it.

  11. Avatar igotbloodysoul says:

    I read the title then I dropped it.
    Coming off like a mark for the game in the title is never a good omen.

  12. Poutsos says:

    The review is well writter. I disagree on several points, but that’s to be expected. However the title(you save it abit in your conclusion, but not really) is ridiculous. Bloodborne in not an RPG. In fact it is so action-y that is abit of a stretch to even call it an action RPG. So if the title was: ONE of the best action games with minor RPG elements, then yes i would agree. If you try to judge this game objectively AS AN RPG, then it is a very bad game, and it is not really a fair judgement.

  13. Avatar Fexelea says:

    I don’t really think the discussion of whether BB is an RPG or not is something relevant. It’s categorized as an action RPG, same as Souls. You earn attribute points and determine your build on a leveling system. How many big RPGs are there on PS4 right now? Lords of the Fallen, DA:I and now a DKS2 remaster?

    If author believes that BB is the better of them, then that’s all there is to it. I personally think dropping a read because of a title is judging a book by its cover, but ok :)

  14. Avatar Castielle says:

    The title is a play on words. "Its Generation" refers to Next Gen consoles. And it is indeed the best RPG on these platforms for now…

    Cas

  15. Avatar igotbloodysoul says:

    Doing it again.
    That’s subjective opinion, as long as there’s one other RPG, you shouldn’t go throwing it around as fact.
    It makes you come off as a biased mark for the title in question and harms your credibility.

  16. Poutsos says:

    If you are refering to me, i read the review and said that it was well written. I just find the title to be an extreme exaggeration, and in my opinion totally false. Games available on PS4 have nothing to do with the current "generation’ or even RPGs. What is generation anyway. Pillars Of Eternity came out a few days AFTER bloodborne(yeah PC, not PS4, that means that is excluded for this generation?) and is an exceptional RPG(actual RPG). IN MY OPINION the best clasic RPG since Baldur’s Gate 2. But hell, even DS2 is a better RPG than bloodborne IMO. Carefull here, not a better GAME, but a better RPG, since it does almost all RPG aspects better than BB(as it does most action aspects worse).

  17. Avatar MasteroftheThrone says:

    Says the guy who often throws around his opinion as fact, but I’ll leave it at that.

  18. Avatar igotbloodysoul says:

    Yeah but I’m not writing articles here am I ya dingus.
    Plus my opinions usually are fact I can’t help it.

  19. Avatar skarekrow13 says:

    Reviews are always an opinion. The content is where facts and evidence come into play that led to the person’s opinion but I have yet to read a review on anything that wasn’t how the person felt. What hurts credibility is when there’s no basis for the opinion or illogical reasons for it.

    As for the generation part of the title, PC doesn’t follow generations as they’re more of steady improvement life cycle as opposed to leaps and discrete stages like consoles. Yes it does exclude the PC gamer with that terminology but it is common usage and often comparisons are segregated as consoles provide a standard experience where PC is variable.

  20. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Reviews are always subjective opinions. They are never a factual statistical analysis. His title for his review, which is an opinion piece by definition, is the conclusion of his article: best rpg on next gen currently.

    That’s the most absurd thing I’ve read all day. Thanks for the laugh

  21. Avatar igotbloodysoul says:

    But he’s throwing it around as something cemented, gives it an air of bias just from the title, which makes him come off marky, which is bad.
    Reviewers aren’t supposed to be marky.

  22. Avatar Aim_v_Here says:

    Threads today have been extremely entertaining! *munches popcorn*

    :laughing:

  23. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Just to clarify, since this is a PS4 exclusive, the review is focused on PS4 and generation refers to PS4. And there really isn’t much else to play on it as of now. As I said I don’t want to get into the RPG argument. The game has this classification and at least Cas and I agree with it. It’s ok to find the title an exaggeration – that’s your opinion and that’s just fine :)

  24. Avatar Castielle says:

    Obviously a review is subjective. It’s my review…Are you really trying to suggest that by saying my conclusion because it’s positive is biased?? We’re comparing Bloodborne against what like 5 other RPGs on PS4? If all you read was the title then your opinion isn’t worth much.

    Feel free to write your own review…the Blog is there…

    Cas

  25. Avatar Drascoll says:

    Are there really even 5 RPG’s on PS4? Lol I honestly coun’t think of any RPG’s on PS4 other then From software games. Had to check, there are only 10 in total and only 3 that fall into traditional role playing. It’s kinda sad.

    I wouldn’t worry about igotbloodysoul, he’s been baiting the topic of subjective opinion vs objective fact all over the forums. I think it’s save to assume He’s being contrarian for the lolz.

    @Fex
    Hopefully they will patch matchmaking soon along with the load time.


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