‘Bloodborne: The Old Hunters’ arrives as a thrilling but familiar expansion

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Bloodborne: The Old Hunters
Developed by From Software
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on PS4

With the release of any DLC, the first question that comes to mind is almost always of the same nature: is it worth it? It’s a valid question, particularly for those who have already plunked down their cash on the full retail value of a game to begin with. When it comes to Bloodborne, and indeed any From Software game, the question takes on an additional variable that few other titles struggle with: do you really want to do this to yourself again?

For From’s die-hard cult following of masochists and perfectionists, the question is nothing more than a moot point. Of course we want more, and we’re willing to put down our hard-earned money to get it. However, there are other players who may not be able to justify the $20 price tag, especially after six to eight months away from such a demanding and visceral title. That Bloodborne is the first truly must-have game of Sony’s runaway successor, the PS4, is beyond doubt at this point but can the majority of gamers be bothered to come back for more?

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Well, there’s certainly a few reasons they might. For one thing, there’s an amazing new assortment of weapons to try out and strategize with. From a legendary sword that blasts projectiles out upon each swing to a double-edged power saw mounted on a pole to the torn off arm of an infamous demon, the methods you can use to cut, beat, and smash your prey have never been more diverse or rewarding.

Another major point in The Old Hunters favor is its staggering onslaught of new bosses. The expansion packs a five finger death punch of devious and dangerous adversaries, and three of the quintet number themselves among the hardest in Bloodborne‘s entire rogue’s gallery. Another way of putting it is that players will absolutely get their money’s worth in terms of time spent but a large swathe of that time might very well be spent lobbing 4o tries or more at one boss or another. Again, for Souls afficionados this is par for the course, but if you’re not ready for that level of perseverance than this expansion may not be for you.

One arguably uninspiring dynamic is that roughly 25% of the new areas to explore are directly lifted from Bloodborne‘s proper campaign as originally introduced. Now granted these areas have been completely redesigned with a new look, new enemies, and even new paths to explore but its hard to shake the feeling of familiarity that comes with running through these sections once again, new material or not. This element is definitely the most disappointing aspect of the new additions, even if it does make for some interesting lore and storytelling tidbits as far as fans are concerned.

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This isn’t to say that there aren’t some amazing sights to see in The Old Hunters. On the contrary, the expansion comes packed with decadent architecture and haunting vistas galore. A blotted out sun bears the cadence of an ink splattered tangerine as it hovers in the sky above and one area draws the most Lovecraftian scenario yet as its maddened breed of cultish fishmen appear to be lifted almost wholesale from the gothic-horror tale: The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

The enemy design is also fantastic, with many of the first breed of Yharnam’s hunters appearing as enemies throughout. The Old Hunters also continues the hilarious trolling tradition of introducing tiny insignificant enemies who can one-shot you in a heartbeat. You’ll know what I’m talking about when a 12 inch slug suddenly bursts out with a flurry of damage-inducing tentacles just as you are about to dispatch it.

If you loved Bloodborne, than chances are you’ll find a lot more to love in The Old Hunters, especially if you have yet to dive into Bloodborne‘s robust New Game + additions and bevy of Chalice Dungeons. A lot of the fun of a From Software DLC pack is taking the add-ons and trying them out in the original game once again, and that hasn’t changed a whit with The Old Hunters. If you’re already back-logged though, and the concept of sinking another 15-30 hours into this disturbing and discouraging world is one you can’t quite acquiesce to, you could be forgiven for giving it a pass.

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