After being on the market for only eight months, Bloodborne has a massive brand new expansion. The question is: will fans' insatiable thirst for blood be satisfied or are they better off giving up the hunt?
First off, what the heck is included in this DLC pack? To put it simply, you get three huge areas to explore, five incredible boss fights, and enough weapons to expand your armoury even further. Upon loading my save where I was conveniently standing in the middle of Hunter's Dream, I found a couple of key items just lying around. One instructed me to visit Oedon Chapel so I headed off. Then, one of those enormous shadowy creatures that cling to the sides of buildings carried me to the first new area. My only thought at this point was, "This is going to be awesome!" Upon exploring for a while, it was kind of disappointing that it was basically the Oedon Chapel and Cathedral Ward albeit overgrown, dilapidated, and well lit. Nevertheless, the unique enemies and challenges that arose were fresh and exciting. The best part of roaming around this environment was battling bloodthirsty hunters who both fight your character and other fiends. It's a very cool moment when you find yourself slaughtering hunter after hunter in the increasingly blood-drenched area. Speaking of which, it's one of the most unsettling locations seeing how the blood and bodies start to pile up as you progress. Creepy stuff, as you would expect.
After defeating the somewhat easy yet disturbingly grotesque boss, it was off to the second locale. This one is your stereotypical darkened laboratory where they experiment on people. I don't know why the talented folks at FromSoftware have to reuse this environment as often as they do, but this one is rather unique in that it's more vertical than usual. Also, the impressive clock tower at the top is pretty awe-inspiring. This portion ends with two successive boss battles. The first is an arena fight with multiple sluggish creatures that's not too hard to overcome while the second is an intimate sword fight with a spectacularly talented swordswoman.
Finally, I reached the third segment which is contained within a flooded fishing village. I must say, I wasn't expecting that. It's not as unsettling as the previous two locations although the peculiar creature murmuring to himself while pacing back and forth when you first arrive is very creepy. Anyway, the rain looks phenomenal and it creates an overwhelmingly ominous tone. Working my way through the above-ground wetlands to the underground slug-filled caverns, I eventually made my way to the boss. This fellow sure is a quick one so be prepared to put your patience to the test as you retry again and again. You'd think that you're done after beating that monstrosity, but there is yet another boss. To fight him, you must return to the first area with a certain key item in hand. Therefore, you could consider him an optional boss yet anyone who loves Bloodborne will probably see him as mandatory. If that's the case then good luck since he isn't going down without a brutal fight. That's about all there is to this DLC, so let's discuss some overlooked details.
Along with the new locations and bosses, you're also granted access to a bunch of unique weapons and armour. It's rewarding to acquire each piece which is usually obtained by slaying a challenging foe or discovering it in an obscure location. Once you amass a few pieces, experimenting what each weapon is capable of is not only fun but doing so can potentially make you change your setup and strategy going forward. Besides material possessions, the additional lore just waiting to be unraveled manages to be both compelling and disturbing. It's definitely easy to get lost in while you try to make sense of this nightmarish world. One of the highlights of the lore is when you summon various old hunters to assist you during boss battles. Talk about immersive.
Although purchasing this pack is a no-brainer for dedicated fans, it does have its flaws. The most annoying of which is the fact that the difficulty is extremely uneven. A lot of regular enemies can be dealt with easily while many can be trickier to overcome than some bosses. For example, the fishing hamlet contains massive creatures that are as strong as they are fast. Only a couple of hits from them will end your life so it's best to just run past them. Considering I love a challenge and therefore hate running past any enemy, that took a lot for me to say. Anyway, my second gripe is that the locations don't really distinguish themselves enough from the main game. I would have liked to explore more unique environments but instead everything felt familiar to me. The last issue I have is about the second area since it's way too short. After visiting a handful of similar darkened rooms while ascending the multi-tiered tower, I faced the two bosses at the end while wondering if I was only half-way. Thankfully, the first and third areas are as expansive as you've come to expect.
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is an enjoyable and worthwhile expansion that is still a must-buy for fans even though it has its problems. After all is said and done, this is just more Bloodborne which is always a good thing.
- + Three mostly expansive areas with five epic boss battles dispersed throughout
- + New weapons are fun to experiment with
- + Plenty of fresh lore to get lost in
- - Although the new locations are great, they don't deviate much from the main game
- - Extremely uneven difficulty
- - The second area is way too short