Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

My Weekend With Bloodborne

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I’ve been in a bit of a gaming rut.  I keep trying to play, and enjoy, The Witcher 2 on PC and I just can’t seem to get it to work.  My issues with that game are for another post, but rest assured I see the value of it as a pinnacle of modern RPG gaming and love the branching stories, but due to the complicated keyboard-to-joypad controls and complex battle system I can’t step away for long and come back.  That’s not good for a person like me, who is frequently taking long pauses from games, not playing for long periods of time, and often having to play several retro games mixed into my sessions.  As a father, husband, full time salaried employee (which means I’m working far more than 40 hours a week), and a guy trying to manage a retro gaming site that includes a blog, reviews, podcasts, and video, there’s not much time for modern games in long stints.  Hell, if it weren’t for my partner-in-crime Jamalais, this site would not sustain at the level of quality and measure of content it has now.  Oddly enough as I was trying to figure out what to do about my Witcher 2 situation and considered other games to migrate to, the most unusual title entered my periphery and made my weekend: Bloodborne.

Now I’m no stranger to the game or the many other similar titles created by From Software and director Hidetaka Miyazaki (Demons Souls/Dark Souls), so I somewhat knew what I was in store for.  That said, I had only given about 20 hours to Demons Souls about a year and a half ago and otherwise had never touched any of these games.  I also have always had a weird obsession with these titles as a collector rather than a gamer – I have the International Collector’s Edition from the UK of Demons Souls, I have the Limited Edition of Dark Souls, as well as the Collector’s Edition of Dark Souls II (yes the one with the statue) – but to this day I don’t know if I’ll ever play the Souls series to any sort of notable degree.  I also was drawn to Bloodborne because of the changed setting and themes (from fantasy to 19th century Gothic) , but I heard this game is like all the others of this DNA and is incredibly difficult.  At lunch on Friday I watched a handful of beginner videos and read some articles on starting out and come Saturday morning began a game of Bloodborne.  I have to give massive thanks to listeners Allen and Fortengard, who not only watched the live stream but gave plenty of advice in the chat and basically led to my first tangible upgrades and making the game feel less daunting.  I have embedded video of that 90 minutes below, but keep in mind that I’m just getting started so I get a little frustrated and I start relying heavily on the advice from chat, which those not watching live can’t see.  It’s quite watchable though, and I highly recommend anyone who’s intimidated by this title see how I come quite far in only 90 minutes, let alone the 4-5 hours I’ve now racked up.  See, not much time, 4 hours is an amazing amount of gameplay to get in on a weekend that had my anniversary and a holiday (Easter) requiring me to go to bed instead of game each night.

(The video seemed to process slow via YouTube, so if it’s not in HD, you can view it for a short time in HD on my Twitch channel)

bb_2There’s a lot you have to accept or decide upon when you embark on playing a game like this.  Don’t think I’m trying to over dramatize what it is to play Bloodborne (okay maybe a little), but you can really get yourself into a rut if you have never played a game like this and go in blind.  I usually am against guides and maps, especially when just starting out, but every death in Bloodborne is pointless until you get to a certain series of events and I wasn’t going to sit around dying for hours on end as I attempted to get there.  I think the moment I knew this game clicked with me is a moment in the video where I get ambushed from behind by a mob of enemies I thought I had taken out and I already had a group in front of me.  With some crazy attacks, strategic healing, and plenty of dodging I managed to completely obliterate the group and come out mostly unscathed.  I could feel my heart thumping wildly in my chest and Fortengard in the chat said, “now you’re starting to get it,” and I knew I wanted to play this game more, a lot more.  My next session following this video – I decided not to stream my second go because I didn’t want distractions, help, or to bore people as I explore the opening area a handful of times – and the daunting task of simply working the shortcuts to the boss became a fun and effortless romp around the area killing everything I came up against.  I even found a second Madman’s Knowledge (allows you to get 1 insight, which in turn translates to leveling up) and the infamous hunter’s gear that makes me look like the character in the main logo and all the pre-release promotional videos.  I did die, but each time I did I learned something, either about the environment or the enemy that took me down.  Eventually I had opened the shortcut to the boss, although I still hadn’t found said boss, and knew the only thing left to do was take on the big bad known as the Cleric Beast.  If you don’t find a Madman’s Knowledge along your journey, getting to this beast (and most likely dying on it) is how you get your first insight and start to level up.  As you can imagine, I died on the beast, but I put up a good fight on my way out.  When I quickly returned for a second time I not only took it out, but did so with ease and little concern for death.  I had learned from my first battle and didn’t make the same mistakes again.  It was exhilarating.

Bloodborne™_20150324180700It makes sense why these games are so popular, at least with a select group, because they are a new spin on old school gaming where death is absolute and learning to perfect an area is what the game is all about.  Unfortunately the community, and even the most helpful people I’ve met along the way, can’t help but convey that cockiness most gamers roll their eyes at when looking up help on titles like Bloodborne.  I was told to suck less, not be a pussy, work harder, stop asking advice, don’t use a guide, and how every struggle I had was super easy for my fellow advisers.  It made the biggest hurdle of these types of games acutely obvious: these titles have a PR problem.  Those offering assistance, especially if you previously played these games in the past, please don’t be so arrogant and critical of a new player if you truly want them to get involved.  These games are intimidating enough to just start (especially if you have no experience) and the last thing you need as an apprentice is a teacher that puts you down, talks about how great they are, or just plain can’t help but rag on you.  Now, does that mean that being a little tough on the player isn’t actually intended for encouragement?  No, if you’re going to walk like a scared teenager in a haunted house then you’re not going to get very far in Bloodborne, but beating down the player for not doing well right out of the gate is also not helpful.  I preferred the help I got in the beginning, like getting to know some shortcuts, find some extremely helpful items, and getting some additional battle tips, but others like to go in the blind and that’s their prerogative.  Both sides of the coin need to keep in mind that there is no wrong way to play/beat a video game.  I have never seen the end of Doom or any of its clones without having the infinite health cheat on, leave me alone.  Either way, I woke up this morning and managed to grab the limited edition on Amazon (it appears to be sold out everywhere else and since I may actually play through this whole game I of course need it to match all the other special editions I’ll probably never play).  I’m sold, even if I never get past Father Gascoigne (was stuck on him for about 20 minutes last night before calling it) and just spend the next five hours leveling up my character in opening area New Yarnham, I value this game enough to throw some scratch to the developers and hopefully see a sequel.  If you want to delve into this game and have no experience, I won’t be able to help you through the campaign but I shouldn’t have any problems showing you the ropes to opening hours and bosses, so hit me up.  Thanks to streaming and share play, Bloodborne is more accessible than any of the games that came before it, despite it apparently being harder than any of them as well.  I had a good weekend with Bloodborne and the $6 I dropped at Redbox to enjoy it was well spent.  Turns out Redbox does manage to turn a rental into a sale sometimes after all.

Just an FYI, this will not be an ongoing series and I have no intention of reviewing this game.  It was just a fun weekend with a game I never expected to like or be decent at and I figured I would share because it’s not that friendly of a world when you ask for initial help, at least in my experience.


Written by Fred Rojas

April 6, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Posted in Blog

Tagged with , , ,

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