With the incredible PS4 exclusive Bloodborne now available to all PS Plus subscribers for free (as of Tuesday March 6th) I thought it would be the perfect time to write a guide to help introduce new players to the game. The game is an absolute masterpiece and deserves to be seen through to the end. However it does have a rather obtuse and complex opening, this guide aims to help players transition through that as much as possible. For any further questions feel free to comment below or reach out to @thelootgaming on Twitter or even myself @Horizonzeroadam.
Also, feel free to check my Bloodborne review.
Tip 1: Choose the Lone Survivor class; This class has the best all round stats for beginners. The extra HP offered can really save your life in the early areas and the decent endurance, health and skill stats will really help you to ease into combat. Vitality is the most important stat to level up early. I would suggest focusing on getting Vitality and Endurance to 20 points each before focusing on anything else.
Tip 2: You don’t have to kill or fight the Werewolf in Yosefka’s clinic; You can kill this creature with your bare hands. You can also run off into the night and get about five minutes into the first level. You can also be torn to shreds by it. All of these options lead you to the same end destination, therefore don’t fret if it just seems to powerful for now. In fact this advice can apply to any enemy in the game. Run away, run past or run through. You can come back and kill it any time. This tactic works best if a boss has just killed you and you want to quickly return to the arena. This should be used sparingly as if you skip too many enemies you will not get enough Blood Echoes and become underpowered fast.
Tip 3: Finding your weapon; After you make it to the ‘Hunter’s Dream’ area you will still find yourself weaponless. The graveyard can be confusing to maneuver. You do not need anything from the area yet except your set of trick weapons, which can be found by interacting with the messengers on the stairs directly in front of where you spawn. My choice for a beginner would be the Hunter Axe. It has the capability to stun most foes and the long reach makes it able to take on several enemies at once. L1 changes your weapons form, take time in the area around the clinic to learn your weapon’s movement.
Tip 4: Don’t fear death; The Souls series have always made death a key element of their games. Every time you die you get the opportunity to return to your point of death and recover all of your Blood Echoes. These are essentially the game’s XP points and all you to level up your stats. Say you get 50% through an area and then die. By returning to your point of death and retrieving your Echoes you would be at the same point of the level but with double the XP points; if you kill every enemy on the way there. This loop really helps struggling players keep up with the game’s unforgiving nature. When you die your Echoes either become a stain on the floor at your point of death or they are absorbed by the enemy who killed you (except bosses). To retrieve them you either just pick them up or kill said enemy.
Tip 5: Aggression and Evasion are the names of the game; Bloodborne is a very fast game when it comes to combat in comparison to From Software’s other offerings. The sidestep dodge works wonders and you should put a lot of time into mastering it. If in doubt, press X. All enemies have a point where they either can not hit you or will be stationary for a couple of seconds allowing you to get an attack in, dodging is necessary to open these gaps. However, I will contradict myself even by saying that aggression is equally important. Most enemies can be stunned with a quick flurry of attacks. Take the hunter axe for example, if we use L1 to extend the weapon then hold R2 to do a charged attack, no matter what the enemy is doing they will be sent flying through the air. This even works on some larger enemies and some bosses, such as Father Gascoigne. The aggression factor also comes into play when you lose health. Thanks to Bloodborne’s intense Regain system any time you take a hit you can earn that health back by attacking nearby enemies in the immediate aftermath of you taking damage. This was often the difference between life and death for me, it takes a lot of risk to get right. Finding a balance between these two gameplay mechanics that suits you, sidestep and regain, is the key to mastering the combat of this game.
Tip 6: Those Werewolves on the bridge are difficult; I’ve got 100% completion in Bloodborne and the DLC. Played over 100 hours at least. Those two wolves still consistently kill me. There are several paths off to the side of the bridge that the wolves will only slightly follow you down, utilize them to get to the end of the bridge without a difficult fight slowing you down.
Tip 7: Shortcuts; Speaking of paths to the side of the bridge… Bloodborne is an adventure game at heart. The whole world has little connections and is incredibly vertical. That area to your left that is blocked by a locked door? Most likely a shortcut to a later section of this area. Finding these shortcuts is key to success. One example is a house connected to the bridge before the first boss. Unlocking those doors and then a gate just outside allows you access to the first lantern, effectively skipping 90% of the first area to get to the boss.
Tip 8: Bosses aren’t easy; Nor should they be. These creatures will kill you. A lot. Every time you fight you’ll learn something new, Father Gascoigne for example can be parried making the fight almost too easy. Learning a boss’ secrets can make a huge difference in this game. Even the later bosses in the game, when you think you’ve mastered the combat and have a high level character with fully upgraded weapons… they’ll kill you. Die, learn, try again.
Tip 9: Explore everywhere; Despite being tip 9 this is probably the key one for me. Every nook and cranny should be searched. You could find anything, XP, weapons, items or shortcuts. Every corner has a potential secret and you should make sure to map the areas out in your head as you play to ensure you haven’t missed anything. If an item seems unreachable it most likely means there’ll be a shortcut back to it at a later stage in the level, don’t panic too much.
Tip 10: Insight matters; You’re plowing through the first area, getting beat up left right and centre. You realize you can’t spend your hard earned Blood Echoes to level up though? That’s because in order to level up you need 1 insight (the first time, after this you don’t need any). There are two fast ways to reach this. The first way is to enter a boss encounter. This gains you a varying amount of insight depending on the boss, at least 1 point. The second is consuming a Madman’s knowledge. I’ve linked a youtube video here that’ll guide you from the first lantern straight to the sewers where this item hides. You should find it through natural exploration early on though.
Tip 11: New equipment; There is a lot of different armor sets and weapons in Bloodborne. You might be put off using these due to being accustomed to your starter gear, don’t. Any time you find a new weapon you should give it try, it might suit you better than whatever you’re using. New armor will have new stats, you might pick up a suit that has better defense than what you’re currently wearing, like the early game Hunter’s Set, youtube video linked here. Despite this you should make sure to upgrade whatever weapon you’re using as much as possible. Only when you reach +9 you should stop and wait until you’re 100% sure it’s your preferred weapon and go to +10.
Tip 12: One on One; Never fight two enemies at once unless you’re 100% confident you’ll kill them quick. Even then reconsider. Use your environment, stairs, pillars and walls to lead enemies away and separate them. All it takes is one random hit from an enemy to stagger you and suddenly you’re in a much more dangerous position than before. The combat may be quick but taking your time while progressing through the world will alleviate a lot of potential frustration.
Tip 13: Visceral attacks; Parrying has always been vital to Souls games. Bloodborne takes it a step further. In a weapons original form, using a charged attack by holding R2 at an enemies back will cause it to stagger, for humans this means falling to one knee. You’ll hear an audio cue to confirm the stagger. Get close, either front or back and press R1 to release a beautifully violent Visceral attack. This will do massive damage and can turn most fights in your favor. Expanding this further is your gun. If you shoot the enemy at the right moment, while they are just about to launch their attack on you, you’ll parry them. The pistol’s speed makes it best for this. Parrying will trigger the same audio cue and allow you to get close and pull of your visceral. This works on almost all enemies, only exception being some massive bosses. Although even then these tactics do actually work on some. Experiment and find out!
Tip 14: Do not attack NPCs; Unless a character attacks you, do not attack them. Eileen the Crow especially. Some of these NPCs are incredibly weak and killing them will lock off content for the rest of the game. Others are incredibly strong and if you instigate a fight they will most likely annihilate you. Just don’t. Until your second or third play through, go wild and murder anyone you like then.
Tip 15: Blood vial management; Blood vials are how you heal in Bloodborne. You can hold 20 at base, and increase this to about 24. These are necessary to play through the game. You get them from killing most enemies but you can also buy them from the Messenger’s shop in the Hunter’s Dream. You should always have enough that you don’t need to buy them but if you ever feel that you’re running low then going to the early areas in the game and killing all the enemies will get you a decent haul quickly, especially once you learn the route to take. Near the first lantern there are two large, easy to parry enemies. These can get you 6 blood vials between them and do not take long to kill.
Tip 16: Feel free to farm; Boss too difficult? Too many enemies you’re struggling with? Farm away. The more Echoes you farm, the higher level you get, the more resilient you are and the more damage you’ll do. You are always better off being slightly overpowered than underpowered so don’t feel discouraged when you enter a new area. Backtracking could even lead to you finding a secret you previously missed, sometimes NPC’s move areas and this could be your chance to trigger those events.
Tip 17: Embrace guides; Bloodborne can be an obtuse game. There are no objectives, no way points. You will get lost. I’ve intentionally avoided talking about a lot of the game in order to avoid spoiling it, I genuinely believe Bloodborne is a game that’s best experienced when you don’t know whats coming. Saying that though, using a guide to get an idea of your path through the game or any quest lines you want to follow is a great idea. Just try to avoid any pages on boss fights though, encountering a boss for the first time is a magically intimidating experience in these games.
Tip 18: Read items descriptions; Most item descriptions hide some excellent in game lore that really help to expand the world. Further than that some items hide tips on enemies or bosses, or even environmental hints that could unlock further secrets. One example is a music box you receive if you explore the majority of the first area, Yharnam town. Reading the description and using the box the right way will make a big fight much easier in a clever way.
Tip 19: Seriously, learn to parry; Hunter enemies in this game are incredibly difficult. Most will kill you before you can move. They are fast and incredibly aggressive. The fights can be ridiculously intense as your furiously sidestep round in circles waiting for a moment to attack. Parrying at the right moment can buy you some precious seconds to breathe.
Tip 20: Have fun; This is a video game. It is an incredibly difficult video game that can be very frustrating, but at the end of the game you are supposed to enjoy yourself. Play online, you can play co-op, guide to starting co-op play included here. No matter what any guide or person says on the internet it is most important to find the version of the game that you enjoy most. If you aren’t having fun the frustration will really sour your experience. Some bosses are skippable, like the technical first boss, the Cleric Beast. If you struggle, walk away. Come back to it 50 levels later and annihilate it. I have, it’s fantastic. Hopefully you’ll see this screen more often after reading all of these tips:
I hope this guide helps to introduce new players to this game and hopeful series. It’s really a fantastic experience once you get into it. The feeling of finally conquering a difficult boss is exhilarating and genuinely satisfying in real life. May the Good Blood guide you and Happy Hunting from me and thelootgaming.com!