Bloodborne: The Old Hunters Review

Bloodborne: The Old Hunters Review

Bloodborne’s expansion “The Old Hunters” was released on November 24th, breathing life back into a game many felt had run out of steam with too much speed. In the 7 days since release, I have been asked one question over and over: “Is the DLC worth USD 20?”. This review aims to answer this question for those still wondering if this is worthy of their Christmas list. It is impossible to discuss the DLC without making reference to the original, so please be aware there are mild spoilers ahead. If you have not played the game and are considering the bundled version, you may want to skip to the conclusion. You may also want to read our review of the game itself.

Bloodborne 2

Reviews are subjective affairs, so I’ll preface this by stating that I’m a thorough fan of the Souls series. I played King’s Field, and I was hyped to hear Demon’s Souls announced and see a trailer at TGS. I have the platinums in all Soulsborne games and have explored and delved more than most would care to. To me, FromSoftware can continue to make iterations of the same game in different environments with slightly tweaked mechanics, bosses and new trinkets, and I’ll happily investigate their landscape and marvel at their level design and artwork. I do not suffer from souls burnout, and I’m not scared/worried/skeptical of a yearly souls title. In short: This review expresses the DLC opinion of a fan of the series, who knows the games and the studio well, along with the biases that come with it.

From that perspective, the DLC starts out a little underwhelming with some obvious recycling, then quickly drops the rehash and goes somewhere pleasing and unexpected.

The Old Hunters Background

The expansion came about as a merger of two separate DLCs, as revealed by SCE during an interview in TGS. This would likely be the merger then of a weapons pack and a set of additional areas.

A free patch right before the expansion also introduced a new co-op covenant and featured NPC summons who use the new weapons and armor from the DLC, which is a cunning way to advertise the additional tools locked away in the expansion. Lore-wise, the DLC…changes everything. Much of what had been assumed by the community turned out to be wrong, and new, unexpected facets have been revealed which has our lore section frenzied with theories.

Bloodborne League

The lore revelations have made people wonder whether this DLC has been planned out from the start, or whether it is actually cut content. This speculation is interesting. If we remember, the leaked “Project Beast” trailer showed a Cleric Beast at the Grand Cathedral yet in the game we discover a new boss with the same skin. There is of course no way to know for sure, but it would be reasonable to assume that some sort of DLC had been planned and that some discarded ideas may have been reintroduced into development to make The Old Hunters a reality.

The Old Hunters Content

If your decision is based on numbers, here are the rune carved facts. The Bloodborne Old Hunter’s DLC adds:

This is a considerable amount of content when you understand that the base game had less than 40 weapons and 18 Locations, and that the new weapons can indeed be used for the whole game and thus provide a whole new character building experience. It is also accessible after defeating the first major boss of the base game, which means the regular entry point could be at around Blood Level 30-40, making the DLC+game bundle a really good proposition for those who had not purchased the game yet.

The Old Hunters Experience

As I first entered the DLC, my initial impression was underwhelmed. I was in Cathedral Ward. A nightmarish and bloody version of it, but still the same location I had visited numerous times before. Further into the level I walked into more recycled content such as portions of Central Yharnam, and defeated recycled enemies such as bloodlickers, hunting dogs and wheelchair mobs. I was in truth, disappointed by this area as what I had been shown during TGS was a curated portion of the area that did not intimate a heavy reuse of old assets.

I was given hope for a challenge as the new enemies proved tough opponents. Their lack of stagger and the incredible reach of the new whip weapon prevented me from cleaving through them like most early enemies, and I was almost killed by the new delayed molotov consumable and the enemy-set heavy artillery fire. However there was little sense of wonder as I walked through one area, accumulating 9 weapons and many new attires which all felt crammed into the zone. It feels given rather than earned.  This is disappointing to me and feels contrary to the core concepts, yet I also understand this means players can easily gain access to the new weapons early on.

bloodborne-old-hunters-review-the_hunters_nightmare

My apathetic progress through the bloodied river of Central-Cathedral-Yharnam vivified when I first encountered the new version of the Executioner enemy. In this iteration they have tentacles in their face and are wielding Bell Axes or Church Cannons, ready to destroy ill-prepared hunters. Excited to advance to the first boss fight, I made it through the fog and something unexpected happened: a whole section had been cut off from our TGS preview, and it was the part that introduced the Holy Moonlight Sword. I was completely unprepared for this and very pleasantly surprised to see the second phase of the boss introduce a completely new set of moves that demanded that I make a radical change to my strategy. The music is glorious and provides the perfect crescendo to the DLC’s true introduction.

After I defeated Ludwig, I really wanted to type “Real Old Hunters Starts Here” in the vicinity of the fight, and I realized that From had gotten me again.

From here on, the DLC uses little to no recycled content. The areas feel natural and unsaturated with pickups, and there are traps, puzzles, mystery NPCs with incomprehensible quests, secret locations, new bloodgems, and two of the hardest bosses of the game, rivaling Defiled Watchdog and Defiled Amygdala.

The Old Hunters Surprises

Entering the second area, after fighting some rather evil Hostile Hunters and discovering a secret passage under an elevator, I found an NPC waiting by the lamp, ready to give me a quest. The familiar “souls” feeling of the perfectly placed guidance set me forth into a level-sized puzzle, where my lore knowledge was not only tested but indeed challenged, as the game teased abrupt changes to everything I had believed I knew.

“Plip, plop, splish, splash”, taunted an NPC as she begged me to help further her dubious transformation. “Kill me please” begged another patient of this cruel experiment. A Church Servant oversaw the situation from a vantage point, while deranged ones flailed about the abandoned premises.

The real surprise, however, was after solving a puzzle and accessing a boss. Beyond them, in the Astral Clocktower, I saw my own prediction come true. Meet Lady Maria, the best-crafted boss of the game. A fantastic plot twist only surpassed by her superb moveset. This hunter means business, and holds the key to everything you have been wondering about throughout the entire game. Kos… or Kosm? You’re about to find out!

Then…everything twisted once more. We had been looking to the stars, to aliens and the mysteries of the cosmos but it all comes back to earth and deep within the sea. The area design is intriguing and fresh, the enemies vicious, and the last boss may be the ultimate co-op experience.

So Is The Old Hunters Worth It?

  • Are you a fan? YES.
  • Have you never played the game? YES – get the bundle, it’s GOTY for certain.
  • Like the game but not a fan? YES – the new weapons are worth it but the new bosses are double worth it. They are fantastic challenges for solo and coop players alike.

 

  • Dislike the game? – well no.

Now, for those interested in gameplay, I grant you eyes:


Visit the Bloodborne Wiki

Read our “Everything to Know Before Playing Old Hunters” guide.

More Game Reviews

9
Summary:

The best DLC for any game this year and a close second to the Artorias expansion as "all time best".
The life breathed into the whole game by the free patch combined with the dlc have made a world of difference for players. We are seeing daily events and streams, fightclubs, dungeon runs, weapon guides and lore discussion in our forums, wiki and chats. The new weapons and bosses are outstanding, giving the DLC elements fantastic replayability that was not necessarily present on the base game. Some points discounted for area recycle and a somewhat steep pricepoint for some, but in the end the DLC is worth its price due to the effects it has on the whole experience.

New Weapons (10)
New Areas (8)
New Bosses (10)
Pricepoint (8)
Replayability (10)
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MMO raider by day and guide writer by night, Fex enjoys multiplatform gaming, good books and animes, and streaming with a cold beer.

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25 comments on “Bloodborne: The Old Hunters Review”

  1. Avatar Shimeon says:

    Good review, agree with most things. Except the first area. I loved that we got to revisit one of the first areas of the game, but in a twisted way.

  2. TheKillingTree says:

    "which means the regular entry point could be at around Blood Level 30-40"

    While that’s the case I didn’t play the DLC until I’d leveled around BL70 and upgraded my weapons to +7.

  3. Avatar Plerpy says:

    Great review. As was mentioned previously though I actually liked that we started in a place while familiar, was pretty alien to us. It was bright and twisted instead of the usual dark and clean.

    And it’s given me reason to make a Bloodtinge build because Rayuko is forcing me to wield it.

  4. Gasarocky says:

    Just so you know, Rakuyo has no BT scaling at all, nor any BT related attacks. It’s pure SKL

  5. Avatar Plerpy says:

    wat

    which weapom am I thinking of?

  6. Avatar Plerpy says:

    oh the Bow Blade was what I was thinking off. Derp!

  7. Avatar Agurzil says:

    I’m one of the frenzied lore hunters, and I have to say, I loved the first part of the dlc. The events told of, happening in old yharnam, were apparently very gruesome. But in the main game I personally couldn’t really see any of that, it was just remains of an old battle. The first moment I was truly shocked in the dlc, was after going through a little tunnel leading to a river of blood, surrounded by the well known area bits of central and old yharnam city. That was the moment I was granted a certain understanding of what they meant by the mentioned events happening in old yharnam.

    It’s true, that the dlc’s first portion is stuffed to the brim with new weapons and I enjoy it. The main game had a certain lack of early accessible weapons, meaning you needed to upgrade weapons you wouldn’t even want to use much longer. When the game first came out, it was possible to use a glitch to get to cainhurst early, which they patched out. I personally enjoyed that glitch, as it allowed me to go through the RPG as an actual role player. If I want to play as a cainhurst knight, then let me! It’s true however, that the weapons in the dlc seem rather "given" instead of having to work for them. In a way the 2 portions of the game have a 180° turned take, on how we find gear. The main game locks them away behind 50% of the game completed, the dlc throws 70% of gear at us before even introducing the first boss. I don’t particularly like either of the ways implemented, but it’s nice for a first time player, to be able to choose from a bigger set of weapons early on.

  8. Avatar Scar85 says:

    dlc is worth every penny of it didnt expect to be that challenging :’D

  9. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    I dont think it’s challenging that much. Done it in Ng and Ng+ with a lvl 90 char. One of the bosses is kind of hard yes (dont wanna spoil who, bust those who have played the game can guess).

    Beside that … The DLC is great and worth every single blood echoe you can spend.

  10. Avatar Scar85 says:

    i think ist more challenging then the main game was specially since the bosses like Ludwig are kinda unpredictable compared to the rest of the game – thats my opinion at least

  11. Uviryth says:

    I don`t understand why everyone is disappointed of the first zone.
    I was extremely happy when I saw a twisted Nightmare-Version of a zone I know like the back of my hand. It gives a very unique feeling of discovering the differences.

    The thing I hate about Old Hunters is the fast that phantoms actually make the bosses harder than easier. Whats that all about?

  12. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    Well, Im not disapointed by the first zone … the thing is that this zone is just "meeh", compared to the "Woaw holy WoW, such amazing" of the other zones.

  13. Uviryth says:

    I admit, the fishing village is seven different kinds of awesome :)

  14. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    Fishing village is great … but … but … what about the Laboratory ? (Not sure of the english name of the zone … I play the game in french because Im working on the French Wiki ^^) … Dont you think this zone is a mix betweens the asylum in Demon Souls and the Library of Anor Londo in DarkSouls 1 ? Loved that Zone … Plic Ploc, Plic Ploc …. Plic ..

  15. Avatar Scar85 says:

    the Tower kinda has a bit of dukes archives Feeling due to the stairs you can turn and the heigh of it also i think too

  16. Avatar FatTiger says:

    Yeah, this is good review for a fan. At least you pointed out some of the down sides making it a little less bias.

  17. Uviryth says:

    The Lab kinda lacks in monster-diversity. The crazed brainsackguys are fun, but a little boring in my opinion.
    the fishermen and the landsharks on the other hand, I really love them (from an aesthetic viewpoint).
    Also, it kinda reminded me of Blight-Town. And I love Blight-Town.

  18. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone

    It’s fun to read what everyone thinks please post more! :)

  19. dumbcommentbro says:

    I though it was amazing for the enemies they put in it , the old hunters, the NPC gattling gun guy and beast claw guy, and those huge axe buff crazy guys. also I really liked the look with the orange sky and blood soaked ground.

  20. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    Well, the thing with the first zone is that it’s too … shiny, and too "sane", if you know what I mean. I did not feel opressed … Plus the hunters are tooooo easy to counter with their "I need 3 seconds to hit you bro" attacks.

    Well, once again, I didnt say I was not happy to visit again the cathedral and all …. but "meh" … sand everywhere, ghouls, sunshine … Im more into darkness, weird monsters, dark forests and all … I’ve been thinking in buying a little tree house in the forbidden forest … just too chill, y’a know … ;)

  21. Avatar Scar85 says:

    i think the whole Point into making it so was simply that no nightmare etc starts at full rage…so by going "deeper" into the dream it starts getting more and more f’d up and crazy….

  22. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    Yeah, plus I’d had that the nightmare starts in a known place. So you feel kind of "safe", you think, ok, I know that place, I know that stair…. but little by little you find yourself in a blood lac getting hit by a giant dude with a magic axe.

  23. Avatar Scar85 says:

    kinda yeah :D and after Maria it really changed the look and feel of all seen before like the grand finale :’D
    till Maria it still was kinda like a twisted part of the reality but going through the clock was quite a Change in all points…

  24. Avatar Fexelea says:

    The clock tower is a big change and something I am looking forward to see pop up in detail in our lore subforum. I think there are implications to the design and meanings that we should all consider

  25. Avatar nonmaislol says:

    Yeah sure, I see what you mean. Clocks have always a meaning. Aaallways. It’s the clearest physic representation of "Time", so everytime we see one in a game or a movie, our mind think of a change in the "timeline", or at least get ready for it. Plus, clocks are a major thing in dream representations (think of the wizard of Oz, or Alice in Wonderland) because we know that the "Time" doesnt flow as usual in dreams, and as a gamer / spectator we cant "feel" it so … clocks show it for us. I love clocks. And story about dreams. And I love BloodBorne. And that fight with Maria is so epic.


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