Author: Alex A. Rodriguez
Title: Bloodborne: The Old Hunters
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: From Software
Release date: 11/24/2015
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is a wonderful addition to the Bloodborne experience. It’s clear even from the beginning, that From Software created The Old Hunters for those who wanted an even more nerve wracking version of Bloodborne (didn’t think that was possible), as the DLC ramps up the difficulty higher than anything found in the main game except maybe the deeper chalice dungeons. While one can enter the expansion relatively early in the base game, it is not recommended to enter without a “final boss”-ready character. The Old Hunters takes you back to some of the earlier hunts of Yharnam and is also filled with new NPCs, enemies, weapons, armor, bosses, eerie locales to explore, and more mysteries unravel as you traverse the nightmare.
The entire expansion takes place inside what is known as the Nightmare Frontier and the story offers a deeper insight on Yarnham’s past. The first area you enter initially seems to mirror the one you just came from, but it is quickly revealed that the nightmare has twisted the landscape into a new experience. The farther you go into the nightmare the more interesting the plot gets as there are many who don’t want you learn what secrets await. From rivers of blood filled with hunters and beasts, to a nightmarish research lab, there is no lack of new areas to explore. The standard enemies and NPCs that inhabit the nightmare are challenging even for high level players. While some might be tempted to skip many areas due to the number of difficult enemies and simply head for the next boss fight, the DLC has an abundance of items for those that brave the dangers and explore all that there is. The level progression is rather linear, but comes with many side areas to explore. The amount of items that one can find either hidden behind a row of enemies daring you to come near or on one of the NPCs is a large reward for thorough players. The new items and enemies in The Old Hunters all adhere to the same theme and add to the surprisingly deep lore that can be found within Bloodborne. Many of the weapons and foes encountered give clues as to how the Hunters have evolved over the years and even give insight on how they came to be in the first place. The bosses encountered are among the most difficult in the game (save maybe one) that, when beaten, provide that feeling of accomplishment for having overcome overwhelming odds that defines Bloodborne.
The music of Bloodborne is saved solely for the boss fights, which makes them that much more memorable. The score is hauntingly epic (recorded at London collaborative effort between Japan Studios and From Software), and when combined with the game’s picturesque backdrops, it makes the boss fights in The Old Hunters into some of the most remarkable ones in recent gaming history.
The gameplay hasn’t seen any change, but the new enemies and weapons that become available make it so new play styles can be done either with new weapons or by combining some new ones with old ones. Whether it’s finally realizing the dream of becoming a spell caster, or being able to go full beast mode with the help of a new rune, or simply letting loose with a mini-gun, old and new players will find something to spend their countless blood echoes and bloodstones on and find that new play style that fits them or simply helps them clear a boss. Another addition to the base game (which applies to all, whether or not you bought the DLC) is the addition of the league, a group of NPC hunters that can be summoned (similar to how players are summoned) at the cost of a single insight to assist you with an area or boss fight, similar to how other players can be summoned. This addition helps new players with some of the more difficult encounters in the game, as well providing new options on how to approach boss fights or difficult enemies for veteran players.
The difficulty alone makes The Old Hunters a challenge for any player, but to make matters worse (or better, depending on opinion), entering a new game plus resets the expansion content as well, and increases its difficulty along with the base game. While nothing really changes on multiple playthroughs, there are always opportunities to keep the content fresh. Trying a boss fight with a new weapon set, or completing a side quest that you might have missed during the first playthrough (because you accidentally killed that NPC – oops), or attempting a perfect run through – the game really doesn’t get old. Alongside the Chalice Dungeons and the main game, there is always something new to discover, or an old enemy to revisit. Or, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, make someone else’s game a little bit more difficult by invading.
Ultimately, The Old Hunters is a dark journey through the past of Yharnam and gives new answers to old questions – and whole new mysteries to ponder. It is a great challenge for anyone, including veteran player and, in my opinion, leaves you wanting more. This is an essential buy for anyone who has Bloodborne, and it’s never a bad time to start if you haven’t begun to wander the streets of Yharnam yet.
Overall Score: 93 A