Tuesday, March 31, 2015

So you love Bloodborne, but you hated Souls? Tell me more...  


So, Bloodborne is certainly the game on everyone's lips at the moment, and like it or not, everyone's got an opinion on it.

Me? I'm still not sure what to make of it, but as I've been scanning Twitter and seeing what people have to say, I found myself quite confused by a sizable contingent of people who said that they really like Bloodborne despite not liking the Souls series -- and we’re not just talking a casual "dislike." More often than not, it was closer to a violent allergic reaction.

As someone who is a long-time fan of Fromsoft and familiar with all of the Souls games, I certainly think Bloodborne is its own experience and different from its predecessors, but to hear such drastic about-faces? I was quite curious as to why someone would love one but the other not at all, so I asked a few people exactly why that was…


@dits Less sword-and-board, and more flowing combat. DS was far too ploddy, but I can hack the hellbeasts down in Bloodborne.

@OnlyInSaudiArab Fast and not easy.

@Cameron_PSLS Me personally, I like the setting of Bloodborne better than Souls.

@TheGeekyHusband The environment, polish, and more responsive movement. I don't feel like dyng is as "unfair" as it was in the past

@Zolbrod It’s more fast-paced and aggressive. I feel like my experience with third-person action games like Bayonetta, etc. is of more use.

@SleepinEyes It feels less technical, more gung-ho approachable.

@Echo829 Many reasons, but the big one is that it feels way more fair. When I die, I rarely feel like it wasn’t my fault. Whereas with Souls, it felt like a pop-up book of frustration and "fuck you" moments that rarely felt fair.

@JakeLear I would say the Regain system in BB feels more forgiving, and getting womped doesn't mean I should immediately die and restart the zone.

@GrnMushroom The controls in Dark Souls never clicked for me. I just felt like I was constantly fighting them... It was hard to get my character to do what I wanted. Bloodborne controls much easier.  I remember giving up within the first 15 minutes of Souls games because I hated the controls, not because of the gameplay. Bloodborne is much closer to other 3rd person action games.

@GTElephant I’m engaged with the Victoriana-Gothic aesthetics in a way I wasn’t with the fantasy style of the opening of Dark Souls. The initial character choices I was offered didn’t feel like they had any hidden traps that would lead to a broken build. Being able to use a gun to stagger gave me what felt like a “safety net”, similar to Witch Time in Bayonetta… That freed me to take risks, and the trick weapons gave me tactical options; I felt capable very early on, if not powerful.

@discobeaver Played Demon’s Souls, skipped Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2. Probably played about 4-5 hours between them both.... totally not my thing, found them frustrating, boring and too slow-paced for my liking. Bloodborne on the other hand... I took a massive chance and jumped in due to HYPE and I loved it from the start. Much quicker pace, feels more fluid.

@DavidRobots My relationship with Souls has been complicated. I've always appreciated it from a distance, respected it for what it was, but it's always felt impenetrable to me.

I've always wanted to crack the code, to figure out why the hell I couldn't get into these games. I figured it was something wrong with me, that I was somehow broken. I'd cut my teeth on games like Mega Man and Castlevania - why couldn't I give these a shot?

There was something about the way playing Souls games gave me this sinking feeling in my gut. That feeling of having actual stakes; having something on the line that you can lose (in this sense, time and progression).

I loved it, but hated it at the same time. And for the longest time, I let that fear get the best of me, so they always remained this thing that I'd just appreciate from afar, but never actually attain.

And then, Bloodborne.

I read the reviews, and said "You know what? This is it. I'm going to do it this time" and I bought a digital copy so I wouldn't trade it back in. I'm so glad I made that promise to myself, because for every moment where I've wanted to give up, the feelings of success pulls me back in even more, and this one seemed to grab me a lot faster and more readily than any of the Souls games.

For one, I'm not a huge fan of fantasy settings, and the previous games felt like generic fantasy crap, with dragons and whatnot. I know they're anything but -- they have huge worlds filled with tons of interesting lore -- but at first glance, that's the impression I got.

Bloodborne, with its gothic structures and Victorian-era influences, feels all at once familiar and yet totally foreign, and it gave me something to grab on to during the first few hours of the game. Plus, that familiarity and that slight bit of the real world makes the game feel that much creepier.

And the combat?

I'm not a patient person. I want to go out and slice fools apart when I play a game, and the Souls games were a bit too methodical for me. Hide behind your shield, wait for the opportune moment, and strike. Bloodborne has no shield, so the only defense is a good offense. That, combined with the Regain system makes combat feel so much more visceral, so much more in the moment than it’s ever been.

The other streamlining choices (not worrying about weight, magic, or limiting weapon/combat styles) kept things focused and more manageable for me. Plus, I've figured out how to parry most of the time, so that helps.

I want to go back and give the other Souls games a shot now. Playing Bloodborne, taking down a few bosses, and realizing that, yes, I can do this, makes me want to go back and give them a shot.


So, I don’t know if I found the answer, but the responses here certainly gave me something to chew on… It seems pretty clear that if nothing else, the increased speed and streamlined elements opened the door for most of this particular group of folks. 

Are these changes ultimately a good thing? A bad thing? It's hard to say, and I do wonder what it means -- if anything -- for Fromsoft’s design philosophy in the future. 


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