Bloodborne burst onto the scene as a killer RPG for the PlayStation 4. Incredibly brutal, difficult, but rewarding gameplay awaited those who had the drive to put in the time necessary to learn the game’s mechanics. From Software earned their 9/10 from us back in March, and they have finally released their single expansion, Bloodborne: The Old Hunters. Is this worth spending additional cash on, or does it not add enough to the original game to be worth the price? Let’s find out.
The Old Hunters continues From Software’s tradition of brutally hard segments interspersed with even harder segments. When first entering The Hunter’s Nightmare, you encounter what appears to be old hunters. But these guys do some serious damage. From Software recommended a minimum player level of 65, but I will say that I didn’t make any progress in the new area until I was at least level 80. Perhaps that’s because I haven’t played Bloodborne in a while. But let this serve as a warning to anyone thinking about entering the area — you better be at a decently high level before testing yourself!
Depending on your skill level with Bloodborne, it can take around a dozen or so hours to hack your way through this expansion. As mentioned previously, even this area’s peon characters are strong foes. So unless you’re already pretty far along into the base game, don’t expect The Hunter’s Nightmare to be a walk in the park. However, unlocking some of the expansion’s new weapons, like the amazing Boomhammer, will help with your leveling up elsewhere in the game.
Speaking of weapons, there are around 10 new ones to pick up, and some are fairly well hidden. Beyond new weapons, there are new Key Items to find, like an eye, which unlock new areas. By far the most useful of all the unlocks, though, is the Old Hunter Bell. This bell enables you to summon an NPC into your world, much like if you have used the Beckoning Bell to call for co-op help. A helpful Old Hunter will enter your world for a few minutes, and can even go into battle with you to take on one of the game’s formidable boss characters. This is an incredible, game-changing feature for those of us with poor or nonexistent Internet connections. The Old Hunters aren’t particularly powerful, however they are good at healing themselves. You can expect them to distract boss characters, leaving you free to hack away at them until they are defeated.
The Hunter’s Nightmare is a wonderful change of scenery. From the drab, dark, brooding areas of the main game, here you’ll wander a more colorful landscape, one that even takes place during the day, outside, by grass! All of these new areas are very quick to load — while I’m sure that part of the reduced load time has to do with the fact that my review copy was a digital copy, From Software appears to have been busy at optimizing the game’s load times, as well, taking away one of my few gripes with the original game.
New areas in this expansion are just as detailed as any other location in Bloodborne. There’s a small reuse of assets, but the assets are always tweaked, like a house that’s askew, or an enemy that throws timed grenades instead of molotov cocktails, and is a bit more human than monster. Of course, as with any area in Bloodborne, you can expect a ton of enemies, many where you least suspect them to be hanging out. This can also include small, unassuming-looking enemies that can prove to be just as difficult as a boss to take down.
The Old Hunters improves upon the original Bloodborne in such a way that it makes a purchase compulsory for current owners of the game, and comes highly recommended for RPG fans who have yet to try it out. If you’re afraid that the game is going to be too hard, the addition of summonable NPCs really makes every battle a lot easier (provided that you have the Insight points). Combine this with some seriously powerful new weapons, and the beasts of Yharnam new and old will come to fear you in no time.
It’s such a shame that this is the only expansion that is going to hit Bloodborne. With a great attention to detail, and meaningful changes to single player, we can only wonder what other sort of innovative ideas From Software had in store for us before their plans changed. Still, The Old Hunters enables Bloodborne to go out with a bang, and a challenging one at that.
Review copy for Bloodborne: The Old Hunters provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.