Monday, May 11, 2015

Bloodborne (PS4)

Got my first platinum trophy:

Final stats (level 152):

57 hours:

WARNING: Expect some spoilers especially locations and bosses.

Every year there is usually one or two games that really stand out.  Last year it was Shadow of Mordor which I 100% it.  This year so far it's definitely Bloodborne.  This is the first game on anything playstation that I got 100% of all the trophies.  I even completed NG+ (new game plus).  I own all the souls game but Bloodborne is the first one I ever played.  The reviews and opinions of friends were so positive I just had to give it a shot.

- I heard it was hard but I wasn't sure what to expect.  I mean I beat Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox so I kind of had an idea.  What I didn't except was how punishing the starting area would be.  There was no easing you in the game.  I banged my head for a good solid 2 hours.  I even beat the executioner guy which didn't even drop a blood gemstone (I think it's like 50% chance).  I have to say don't be scared away by the difficulty.  This game is mostly fair and you do get better over time.  You can see it in the results.  It's just so incredibly rewarding when you beat a particularly difficult area or boss.  I soloed every boss battle all through the main game, NG+, and chalice dungeons except for the NG+ version of Shadows of Yharnam since I wanted to test out co-op.  Man, that made the fight trivial.  So if you are having a hard time don't be afraid to ring that bell.  It's your game and your money.  Play it however you want.
- I ended up choosing the axe.  After I got use to its timing I loved it.  I used it pretty much all the time only briefly experimenting with Ludwig's Holy Blade, Blades of Mercy, and Tonitrus.  I stuck to the pistol mostly.  So when picking your main weapon you want to consider other things than just raw damage scaling.  Timing is very important as in how long attacks take to swing or charge up or how frequently you can attack.  This also ties into how stamina efficient the move set is.  Spacing and reach is important too.  Finally, what I think is really critical is stagger and knock down.  This allows you to create space and give you time to heal, disengage, or just run away if need to be.  It gives you options during combat.  I found the axe a really good mix of all the above things (mostly in 2 hand mode) but every weapon is viable in this game so just find one that matches your desired style and then build you character around it.  I went for mostly a pure strength build while keeping an eye on soft and hard stat break points.
- The pistol and the blunderbuss is a bit of a toss up.  Pistol is a bit faster but the blunderbuss has a wide spread so it's easier to hit your target especially a fast moving one.  At first it seems like you could never miss when you are locked on target but in alter enemies especially the quick ones they can definitely dodge your shots.  I was two handed axe most of the time so I didn't gun parry all that much except on a few encounters.
- Learning to work within the limits of the camera is a whole challenge by itself.  Learn which bosses where it's better to fight locked on or unlocked.  For most fights I stayed locked.
- I used every resource available to beat this game.  Knowing what you need to do and executing it are still very different things.  Here are some of my favorite resources:
Fextralife wiki: This site has everything like detailed maps, weapons, npc quests, trophies, chalice dungeon info, etc.  I especially like this progression table.  It gives you a great idea of what to tackle next and what is optional without much spoilers.
- Nice world map that shows lanterns and how all the areas are connected.
- Amazing 90 page lore document.  Kotaku UK also has a nice shorter summary.  Yeah, I really had no idea what was going on when I finished the first time so these lore articles really helped.
- The basic combat loop is just really tight and satisfying.  The sound your weapon makes as it digs into flesh, the blood, all of it just makes this a gory but satisfying experience.  The dodging mechanic works well and requires good timing.  The health recovery system promotes aggressive tactics.  The bosses have reasonable tells in their attack animations that you can learn and for the most part don't require super human reflexes to dodge (though a few do).
- I understand the design decisions about losing your blood echoes permanently if you die a 2nd time without recovering them first.  It does create quite a bit of tension.  My life is stressful enough without added stress from games.  Plus, I hate losing progress.  So I sort of save cheated.  I had 2 usb flash drives hooked up to my ps4.  The cool part of bloodborne is you can pretty much save anywhere at anytime and it remembers the exact position and state of the game.  So if I complete a particularly hard section of a game or I'm at a boss for the first time and I need to practice on it I save my game by exiting to the title screen then backup the save game to a usb flash drive.  Then, if I die I can just restore my last save game from usb back to system.  It's also nice to use when learning a new boss and you just burned through 100 blood vials learning the fight.  Instead of having to farm those back I can just restore my save once I've learned the boss and beat it without burning through too many of my consumables.  Hey, the game/system lets you do it so I'm going to use every advantage possible.  Too bad the game doesn't allow you to have multiple saves per character.  There's still incentive to do well because the load times are pretty bad.  It was better after the latest patch but still pretty bad for such a death heavy game.
- I'm usually not a completionist but on this game I was.  There were a few things I missed on the first play through that I had to pick up on NG+.  You might want to review all the NPC quests especially ones dealing with covenants.  There is usually a strict order of things and there are specific events that will prevent you from completing quests if you hadn't already completed previous steps.
- If you want all 3 endings you might want to read up on that and what is required.  You'll also want to create a save backup before the point of no return if you want to easily get all 3 ending trophies without having to play through multiple times.
- I missed some of the hunter tools in the late stages.  I would review those and see if you missed any before you cross the point of no return.  You're there when ummm everything is on fire.
- You won't get all the weapons either until you do the chalice dungeons.
 - There is exactly one blood rock in the main game that lets you upgrade a weapon from +9 to +10.
- You can get another blood rock in some depth 5 root chalice dungeons but you have to pretty much finish the chalice dungeons to unlock that.  It's a pretty big time commitment.
- There is one living string in the main play through that is important if you plan to do the chalice dungeons.
- The non-root chalice dungeons are NOT random and there is a pretty strict linear progression.  I would recommend saving depth 3 and greater for NG+.  The end goal is to kill the queen.  On step 6 most people say Isz is easier than Lower Loran so that's what I did.
- So I found a few bosses particularly difficult.
- Cleric gave me some trouble since it was my first experience with a souls game boss.
- Blood starved beast was heard and taught me to gun parry.
- Martyr Logarius was probably the hardest boss for me in the main game.
- All of defiled chalice dungeon was really really hard.  It was the hardest part of the entire game for me.
- The queen was actually pretty easy.
- One of the main things insight does is make the game harder (lower resistance to frenzy, enemies have new abilities) on multiples of 15.  So if you want to keep the game as "easiest" as possible keep your insight below 15.  I'm a wuss so I just bought bolt or fire paper to keep my insight around 11 at all times.
- Out of the 57 hrs of play time about 3 hrs was probably dedicated to echo farming to help put me a bit ahead of the level curve.  I really didn't start farming until first floor lecture building (works from the side room too which is they way I prefer to do it).  Lower mensis near the lantern isn't a bad spot either.  I also farmed a bit in layer 1 Great Pthumeru Ihyll Chalice.  Right at the lantern there is a big dude you can kill.  With all 3 moon runes equipped I made about 33K echoes per run.  Just use bold hunter's mark and repeat.
- The hand lantern affects stamina.  Actually, a few things do.

Highly recommended.  I can definitely see this being my game of the year.  It's a system seller IMO. I think I'm done.  I don't have any real desire to grind root chalice dungeons or do pvp.  I guess I'll start working my way backwards through the rest of the souls games.

Toward the end of my first play through I decided to start saving some of my boss fights to youtube.  Obviously these are pretty spoilerly.  Here they are in the order that I got them.

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