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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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  • Definitely a game that makes me jealous of PS4 owners. As long as From Software develops a Dark Souls III somewhere down the line for Xbox One, I'll be happy.
  • I am really excited for this game I like the changes they have made, it is definitely interesting how they got rid of shields but I like it.

  • The best new game announced so far, imo

  • More I hear, the more I like. For the record though I do like shields, though I don't hide behind them but hey new gameplay stuff never hurts and the guns from what I've seen look like they are going to be pretty good and fun to mess with. I like the victorian age look of the world really a brilliant choice of location IMO. Now if only we could get more on that boss or large enemy that is at the end of the Bloodbourne trailer.

  • This game reminds me so much of a long forgotten series, Nightmare Creatures. I didn't played the Dark Souls series, but this game is definitely on my radar. It has that Nightmare Creatures vibe, even the main protagonist looks like Wallace from Nightmare Creatures 2. I can't f.ing wait for this game, this and MGSV.
  • I don't want a DS clone.

  • I hope it's not a souls game. I want something new.
  • Cannot wait to see some more info on this game. It's good being an exclusive though, it'll finally give me a reason to purchase the PS4

  • I found the world in the first Dark Souls so much more engrossing compared to II. I especially loved how I would spend hours and hours forging ahead and suddenly realizing that I've managed to open a new path back to the main bonfire. I loved the world structure.
  • Sounds a lot like Darksiders 2 with the lack of a block. I think I will like the tense and dark feel of Bloodborne.

  • Can't wait for this game.

  • Regardless, I trust From Software. I really enjoyed Dark Souls 1 and 2.

  • I felt that Dark Souls II tried to merge the hub of Demon's Souls and Dark Souls I so Dark Souls II felt very linear to me. I am just glad they committed to one because the map of Dark Souls II is very poorly thought out trying to be this hybrid.

    As for the shields being gone, I could not care less. Never used them myself. I personally preferred dodging.

    The one thing I am truly happy about is character customization still being present. I love character customization. Even in games where you do not see your player's face and/or body too much, I spend a ton of time (> an hour maybe two) trying to create my ideal character. For some reason I have a lot of fun doing that even if the result is not satisfactory.

  • I wish they actually stepped away further from the Souls formula. When using the same formula, or close to the same formula, in a separate IP, it looks like From can't do anything else. Moving away from the formula in a bigger way will increase the uniqueness of both IP's and shows that From can think outside the Souls box.

    That said, I'm very much looking forward to it. I don't know if it's a temporary exclusive or full on exclusive, but I'm guessing the latter. In which case Playstation may have secured one of the most impressive exclusives to date.

  • I'm going to buy a PS4 just to play this game. Looks and sounds amazing so far, too bad it won't be coming to the Xbox One.

  • Wow, guns instead if shields sound GREAT ! It's funny because it's probably going to be slot of rolling and blind shooting like GOW shotgun battles, which were intense

  • I couldn't be more excited. Have you seen the 30 second leaked footage from the demo? Yep it has a feel of Souls, but you just know it'll be it's own thing. Rumor is the release could be as early as March too! Yes, I couldn't be more excited, #1 game at E3 for me :D

  • I really wish this game was coming to XB1 because it looks bad ass. Game of E3 for me. Lots of good games shown all together though.

  • My goodness, this game looked amazing when I saw the preview trailer. This new gameplay sounds great, and the gothic environment has me very interested to hear more from the devs. I really hope this game turns out as good as it sounds so far. Too bad it's exclusive to the PS4. Sounds like something the XBO/PC crowd would enjoy as well.
  • Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4Ps4P xbox sucks.