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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Back to Bloodborne.

The Souls games were the greatest thing to come out of the last generation. At least to me. They were truly something new. An action RPG that relies on reflexes as much as arcane statistics. Where the level design is as striking and tragic as it's monsters. It's a series that is going to be copied again and again for years to come.

I've ripped each game apart except for one. One I appreciated, but not as much. It was a distant admiration. Bloodborne may have hit higher highs than the Souls trilogy, but at the cost of it's endless replay-ability. In BB you have half as many weapon and armor choices, the levels are more linear, the yharnam architecture gets copied and pasted a bit too much, and the chalice dungeons were kind of a waste of time.

At least that's what I thought at launch. Years later a handful of patches sweetened the pot a bit. For one, the loot has been vastly improved. The blood gems (weapon mods) have more depth and variety to them. I don't remember ever being able to slap some electric damage on my sword cane or shave off some of it's stamina cost. They get even deeper n' weirder in the late game. The loot situation is so good... it made me want to finish the chalice dungeons.

This is an area that tried to be great. It almost got there. The act of a chalice ritual (setting the odds of good loot drops for a dungeon) is brilliant. You can make some crazy ass dungeons if you want. With tight corridors choked with obnoxiously over leveled enemies with ridiculous amounts of health who happen to drop the best loot in the game. Grinding is a problem in souls games, you can never really blow past a boss because you got over leveled. I'd get stuck on a boss and put the game down for a while. In Bloodborne you can make a dungeon way past your level, suicide run it for blood stones (damage upgrades) and kick the shadow of yharnam's ass. They keep you from running into the same proverbial walls and I like the idea.

I get why they're there, but the appeal of souls is lost when the level design goes to sh*t. Once you spend an hour or two down there you know exactly what the layouts are like. After 4, you've seen every room it can generate. I'm at the deepest level and I'll tell you I am sick to death of these rooms. I mean, god help you if you find the courtyard area, you will get lost for at least 10 minutes. Different enemies can shake things up but even the treasure rooms don't surprise me anymore. I know exactly where they can show up.

That being said, this is my longest run by far and I am loving this combination rapier-pistol thing I found. I can shoot and stun an enemy while smacking him around. The enemy AI thinks "melee combat= no bullet stun" but not with this. I trick them into a fight they can't win. I am a goddamn matador. BB on it's own is a 9 out of 10. The chalice dungeons on thier own is a 7 at best. But together, now that I see them as a main quest vacation/loot slot machine I'd say BB is now my second favorite game Hidetaka Miyazaki has made. I'm really glad I gave it a thorough second chance.

Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta go get my ass kicked:

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