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    25 Reasons To Love The PS4 Exclusive Bloodborne

    We delve deeper into the PS4 Souls follow-up in search of the logic behind the hype
    The recent alpha test was promptly shut down when several testers worked out how to glitch out of the prescribed play area and into content that wasn't supposed to be made public. Among these was one particular area where an NPC/boss used the word ‘Umbasa’ the Demon’s Souls equivalent of ‘Praise The Sun!’. Could this mean that Bloodborne is set in the same universe, or is this just From Software chucking in a reference for the benefit of its long term fans?

    Each weapon has two forms, one that tends to offer quick swings and relatively low damage while an enhanced form adds to damage, range or speed depending on the weapon type. The best part of this system is the ability to tap L1 mid-combo and go from one stance to the other on the fl y you can end a regular attack string with a powerful hammer finisher, for instance, and we can’t wait to see what expert players learn to do with the system. The combo videos are going to be crazy…

    Don’t worry, you’re not going to be going anywhere near a Move controller for a game as precise as this. What you can do is use simple gestures and controller flicks to trigger the ever popular emotes of the Souls games. There’s a new set to embrace here, our favourite so far being the cape pop perhaps the most badass move possible, even if it doesn't appear to remove any of the ludicrous amounts of blood that paints your character as you hack your way through hordes of enemies.

    Watching an enemy cheekily lop off half your health in one lucky blow is never much fun, but here, you get to do something about it. Like in tag fighters like Marvel Vs Capcom, some damage dealt by enemies is recoverable. In those games, it’s about tagging out to let the character recover; in this case, quick retaliation against the foe who wounded you will return a little life. Not a huge amount, but enough to keep you alive a little longer…

    Multiple flavours of Soapstone have meant that the Souls co-op experience has never exactly been an easy or obvious one, but that’s something the team is looking to rectify. We got to try out three new bell items one for summoning other players, one for offering your own services to others and one for severing ties and going back to playing solo. We’re sure there will be additional options and items in the final game, but this is a solid start.

    Especially towards the end of the game after you had grabbed a few upgrades, Estus healing started to become something that people would rely upon rather than a last ditch lifeline. But no longer the only healing items we’ve seen in Bloodborne are consumables (akin to Demon’s Souls) and while they don’t exactly seem to be rare, use up your entire collection and you’re going to be screwed. That should stop the heal-spammers.

    Much has been made of the more offensive loadout of Bloodborne's heroes compared to their plank bearing Souls counterparts. Parry lovers need not fear, however, because while it might not let you put a decent guard up, your gun can function in much the same way as a trusty buckler land a perfectly timed shot to counter an incoming blow and you’ll leave your attacker wide open for a devastating critical strike.

    While we're somewhat glad to see the removal of the broken English congratulatory
    messages to offer a more refined experience, there's still an odd pleasure to be found in the return of the old corpse ragdoll from older Souls games. ‘YOU DEFEATED’ was good and all, but running around booting a werewolf corpse all over the place is a far more rewarding (and stupid) ceremony than those two ill-chosen words could ever offer. If you miss them that much, you can still just shout them.

    In making regular enemies disappear after a set number of kills, Dark Souls II made it perfectly clear that its grunts were not the focus and that bosses (and other players) were all you really needed to worry about. That attitude will get you murdered in Bloodborne tackle a large group of foes at once and you’re likely to suffer. Pick off the stragglers and plan your approach carefully, because anything can kill you, and quickly.

    Here’s an odd one, because we’re not sure Bloodborne will actually follow in the RPG footsteps of its forerunners if the omission of Souls (or similar experience based currency) carries over to the full release. It levels the playing field, sure, but in doing so would make the game more a pure action experience akin to the likes of Revengeance and Devil May Cry tough company to be keeping. Does From have the balls to try its luck?

    Those expecting to be able to blast their way to victory are in for a shock. Bloodborne's guns hit far less hard than you might expect, plus ammo is in pretty short supply, making them best used for smart interruptions and punishing counter attacks or safe killing blows.

    ‘Onebros’ who have punched their ways through entire Souls games will be delighted to hear that the same potential exists in Bloodborne tap right on the D-pad and you’ll stow your main weapon and instead resort to swiping at enemies with your bare hands. This also hints at the possibility of having multiple weapons equipped…

    We've long championed the idea of playing Souls games blind the first time through that is to say, don’t look anything up online and don’t go asking for help until you’ve at least done enough on your own steam to see the credits. The same is true here, too. We don't want to know what that big insect thing is until either we’ve killed it or it has killed us.

    Sure, there are phantoms of other player controlled hunters, but one thing that caught us off guard was an AI controlled hunter who seemed to have just as much beef with Yharnam's riff-raff as we did. He seemed happy to wail on a bunch of werewolf things of his own accord and left us alone when it was over. So we hit him to see what would happen. It didn't end well. Don’t do that.

    Stuck on a Souls boss? Grind a fair bit and you’ll do a lot better. But with that aspect seemingly removed, you’re left with an experience far closer to Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise, where learning your own weapon potential and enemy attack patterns is far more important than grinding until you can squeak past a troublesome boss. Grab Freedom Unite on Vita to prepare yourself for the hardships that await…

    Gone are the days when you could bang your head against an area until it was empty Dark Souls II, this is not. Every time you die, a full complement of enemies will return to their rightful place, and you’ll have to carve a new path through the horror in order to progress. It sounds brutal, and it is, but it’s the kind of thing that encourages better, more cautious play. We’re all for that.

    It’s a simple little touch but one of our favourite things from our time with Bloodborne was the way that every nuance has its own visual cue. Fail to clock that you’ve got no Blood Vials (health potions, effectively) left and try to use one anyway, for instance, and you’re treated to a special animation where your hunter reaches for their belt but seems surprised to find nothing left.

    The same accidental leak that turned up the Demon’s Souls references also confirmed that new weapons and armour will be collectable in the world of Bloodborne. We've still not caught a glimpse of a menu but we do know that new gear can be found, likely coming with bespoke perks that make each costume or weapon a good fit for a certain kind of enemy.

    When first introduced, the Souls series’ message system was hugely open to abuse. A oneoption rating system didn't help matters much (misleading messages can be pretty funny, after all), leading to Bloodborne's system you’re still free to leave notes for other players, but these can be branded ‘Fair’ or ‘Foul’ by others, meaning it should be a little easier to see when somebody is trolling and when they’re being genuinely helpful.

    There are two transitions that will really help Bloodborne freak players out the leap from PS3 to PS4 and the switch from a fantasy setting to a gothic one. The tone is darker than anything we’ve seen From Software do before and even the hooded mobs and dogs that patrol the streets are terrifying, let alone the broken legged giant crows, werewolves and hulking, brick wielding maniacs.

    We’ve fought some nasty bosses in our time but the Cleric Demon had us on edge for the entire fight. It’s partly the flailing hair and tendrils, partly the brutal swipes and leaps that can easily end lives but in truth, it’s mostly its scream. The hairy beast has a piercing cry that is first heard as you climb a nearby ladder but while fighting it, you won’t be able to hear anything else. We're already traumatised…

    No, you won’t be playing dodgeball or having to avoid tossed wrenches. This has more to do with Bloodborne's enhanced arsenal of evasive techniques. Makes sense, given the lack of a block button, but it still feels novel every time we slink away from damage with a perfectly timed swoop based on context, you may roll, slide or dash from danger and it’s only going to get more rewarding as we learn the full nuance of the evasive system.

    From's games might have hit main stage status but that doesn't mean they’re polished, professional products if anything, part of the charm of the Souls series has been the daft hints at the franchise’s obviously low production values. Presentation has never been a strong point… until now. A new generation of hardware and dare we say a possible cash injection from Sony (the game is PS4 exclusive…) make this the most professional product From has ever created

    Yharnam's plight is well documented its residents are one by one becoming monsters but are themselves oblivious to the fact, instead turning on those who condemn them. It’s rumoured that this beastly takeover could even extend to player characters, and one boss turned up by the misadventures in the alpha himself transforms mid-battle, suggesting that this theme will see a lot more action and in turn offering a potentially cool twist on the game’s inevitable PvP encounters. Beast mode activate!

    Dark Souls used fog gates to signpost upcoming boss battles, while the sequel toyed with their use so it wasn't so clear when a big fight might be coming. In Bloodborne, there’s no warning at least not the first time a boss drops by. They’ll do literally that, appearing out of nowhere to challenge you as you stand, but should you die, that classic fog gate will still appear to lock off the area and remind you that you should have been on your toes first time around.

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