Bloodborne Looks Incredible, But Is It A "Souls" Game? - Bloodborne - PlayStation 4 -
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Bloodborne Looks Incredible, But Is It A "Souls" Game?

Weeks ago footage of an unannounced game by From Software codenamed Project Beast leaked. The video showed a dark warrior wielding an old-fashioned firearm and a bladed weapon. This E3, From Software showed off more of the game, officially titled Bloodborne, in action. The live gameplay presentation I saw reveals the aggressive new combat design, gorgeous gothic visuals, and a corrupted town of villagers wielding torches and pitchforks. I watched the presentation through the lens of a fan of the Dark Souls series, and noticed several key similarities to - and departures from - the Dark Souls series.

Twisted, Foreboding Environments Return

The demo takes place within a gothic, Victorian city in the 19th century. Filthy buildings, spires, and clock towers stretch into the night sky as a full moon beams down on the slick cobblestone streets. A curse plagues the town, turning some of its citizens into monsters. Villagers rally with pitchforks, sickles, and torches to hunt down the beasts. However, despite not being aware of it, some of these hunters are actually tainted themselves. Imagine the angry mobs from Frankenstein stalking the creepiest version of London you've ever seen. The corrupted mobs will turn on the player, leaping out from blind corners and lighting them ablaze with their torches. The atmosphere is dark, mysterious, and absolutely begging to be cautiously explored.

It's A Gorgeous Next-Gen Game

Seeing the PlayStation 4-exclusive Bloodborne in action is a stunning reminder that we are in a new generation of powerful hardware. The gothic town is filled with abandoned carriages that realistically burst into splinters when attacked. Blood splatters off fallen foes, coating the player's black rain slicker, and glistening in the moonlight. The fire of the insane villagers' torches flickers across the dim environment in a convincing manner. The characters' movement is also much smoother than in past Souls' games, creating an authentic-feeling world. Bloodborne is among the most visually impressive games I've ever seen. 

Player Customization Is Back

Bloodborne does not star a static protagonist; the customization fans of the Souls games love makes a return here. From Software confirms that players will be able to upgrade their characters and seek after the best gear possible. Armor, weapons, items and more will be discoverable throughout the game to hone your character into the warrior you want.

Shields Are Gone, Guns Are In

Blocking enemy blows with a shield has been an integral part of most melee combat character builds since Demon's Souls. In a bold move, From Software says they're no more. From Software says the combat is still as lethal as ever, but that they want players to focus on being proactive during battles rather than backing away with a raised shield. Firearms are in important part of this formula change. While replacing a shield with a gun doesn't sound very logical, it appears to work well in action. During the demo, the developer at the controls carefully timed counterattacks with his blunderbuss to interrupt enemy attacks. Stunned enemies were vulnerable for a proper slashing with the saw cleaver weapon. The blunderbuss also looks useful for throwing off the rhythm of battle via sneaking in potshots on regular enemies or stunning a big boss with an up-close blasts. Tinkering with the bread and butter of the Souls series' combat is risky, but I'm excited for the more aggressive approach to combat. But don't worry, this isn't Devil May Cry, it's still a decidedly From Software experience.

Player Death & Progression Are More Akin To Demon's Soul

From Software says they don't want players to get so frustrated with dying that they put down the controller. While I personally thought the death penalties in Dark Souls II were well balanced, From Software says it's going to going to be more in line with the death penalties and progression system found in Demon's Souls. From Software says that progression will also be more in line with Demon's Souls, which from what we gather means that we'll be collecting souls and returning to a safe zone once again.

Lethal Combat Returns

Don't let the idea of From Software' goal to make death less frustrating alarm you - the developer is keeping combat as high-risk and tense as possible. While the developer playing Bloodborne didn't die during the demo, the visceral impact and quickness of enemy attacks illustrates that even your run of the mill grunt still packs a devastating punch.

The Game World Is Less Open

When asked, From Software says it's not pursuing the same open structure of Dark Souls II. Dark Souls II features a hub world filled with vendors and an NPC for leveling-up, along with interconnected bonfires for convenient teleportation. We can only speculate that since From Software says it's not following Dark Souls II's structure, that the game will be slightly more linear. However, we did spot more of the shortcuts that makes traversing through the worlds of Souls games so rewarding. For example, the player knocked down a ladder later in the demo that linked back to an area they had been exploring 20 minutes earlier. It's too early to draw any conclusions, but it's an interesting choice on From Software's part.


These are just a few comparisons that a fan of Dark Souls has to make when seeing a new IP that treads so closely to From Software's compelling formula of challenging, rewarding combat. For all intents and purposes, Bloodborne looks, sounds, and feels like a natural next evolution for the studio's Souls series, even if the word doesn't appear in the title. Hopefully, the departure from shields in combat doesn't tinker with the formula for the worse.

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  • Looked good, but it ran with constant FPS stutters. I can't even imagine an entire game with Blighttown FPS, ugh
  • Sounds great. I hope the map design is more like Dark Souls I. I thought that design was amazing.
  • I could use a gun against Vendrick right now. Serious. The *** won't die. This game though looks so amazing I can hardly contain myself. This won Sony's mediocre conference. It was the best trailer of E3. I was captivated. So dark So fresh. So beautiful and glorious. I wanted to taste the blood. Not really you sickos. Well okay a little. But seriously what a great new IP from some dead serious creators. This is video games ladies and gentlemen. Prepare to Kill AND Die. Over and Over in exquisite fashion. Thank you Tim for write-up.
  • Huge fan of the Souls series and this is certainly an interesting evolution (particularly the lack o shield) but if it really is more linear it will severely dampen my excitement. I find myself wanting linear to just die out these days. It doesn't belong anymore. gtfo linear.

  • The game looks fantastic regardless if it has anything to do with Demon Souls. Could just an amazing new I.P. from From Software.

  • So it's going to be like the vastly superior Demons Souls?! *** yeah!

  • I hope it's a new IP for them, because I totally want the next Souls game to be like Dragon's Souls or something so I can make rated-M Dragon Tales jokes haha.
  • Can't wait to see more

  • Im excited about this game but the sounds of no shields is a bit worrying since I like to have options in games. In dark souls I made all kinds of characters varying in all kinds of ways (some using shields others not so much). Removing shields takes away a play style and pretty much makes the gameplay seem samey like dark souls 2, where it revolves completely around dodging (I never used shields in it since it took so long to get a shield with 100% block).
  • I'm genuinely happy there's no more shields. Too many people hide behind them in the souls games.
  • I hope there is some good enemy variety and they're not all zombies and werewolves. Considering From Software's recent works, there will be variety but I saw a little gameplay and everything looks so gloomy.
  • Looks pretty cool, saw a 3/31 date on pan store, not sure if thats accurate or a placeholder, but the preload option was there. I hope the great games are spaced out enough next year to fully enjoy them.
  • I don't think replacing the shield will be a bad idea. I assume it would be like playing a Souls' game without a shield. To prepare just play a Souls' game with sword in one hand and crossbow in the other.
  • Demons' Souls. Not Demon's Souls.
  • Sounds great! I'm sold!

  • I really like what I'm reading, especially about the omission of shields. I prefer dodging over blocking, but there are always a few areas in the Souls series where having a shield is almost a necessity. Good to know these potential areas will be designed without a shield at hand in Bloodborne. As for the references to the differences to Dark Souls 2 -- I wonder if Tim realizes that Demons Souls and Dark Souls director didn't work on Dark Souls 2, but is very much involved in Bloodborne. I think this is Miyazaki's way of saying "Dark Souls 2 wasn't my baby. THIS is my baby." lol
  • "...they want players to focus on being proactive during battles rather than backing away with a raised shield." This is GREAT news. I absolutely HATE blocking in games, it is such a waste of time and thought. You could just as easily outmaneuver and attack in real life. I also refuse to play most fighting games because I never block, and this makes the games unbalanced and unplayable cause that's all the computer does, and all other players do.
  • Looking forward to hearing more.

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