David Stuccio, a big fan of the Souls games and dear friend of our podcast was one of the lucky few that got to have some quality hands-on time with Bloodborne this weekend. As such I ravenously jumped on that situation and tried to squeeze as much new information out of him as possible.
So, Bloodborne. Where did you get an opportunity to play it?
At the EBgames Expo this weekend [3-5 Oct.] in Sydney, Australia.
Compared to the other exhibits did it seem to be getting much attention?
The queue for the game was actually quite short compared to other stalls. Due to the game receiving an 18+ rating it was hiding away at the back of the PlayStation booth along with the other, gorier games.
There was little advertising to actually even let you know it was there, but talking to the other people that were in line for the 18+ booth, a large amount we’re just waiting for Bloodborne. As expected there was a strong undercurrent of hype amongst the people who have been playing the souls series.
Once experimenting with how each button worked I definitely felt as though I was playing a souls game.
What were you presented with when picking up the controller for the first time, and how much were they allowing you to do with the demo?
When you got to the game, upon pushing start you were taken to a character selection screen with four archetypal builds to choose from. There was the standard build with a cleaver-saw and blunderbuss. A heavy build that had a hammer, straight sword and blunderbuss. A light build with twinblades and a pistol. And the last build, also classed as heavy, had a hunter’s axe and pistol.
After you picked your class you were taken to a loading screen with the controller layout for the game. The controls were very similar to the previous souls games but they did have some notable changes. L1 is now used to change weapon type (transform its function), L2 was used to shoot your gun and triangle is now your default heal button.
In terms of game time I was allowed to play for as long I wanted. Once the game started I was free to explore anywhere I could access and there was no real guide on where to go and what to do. I found this to be a nice trait as it really allowed me to get lost in the world. The demo did have a boss, which has been shown in the trailers, but sadly I died a few times getting to it and never got the chance to explore past that point.
How do you feel the different classes/builds differed?
All the appearances of the builds were the same except for the twinblade class. That class had a face mask with a beak and a feathered cape. The movement speed for each class I found to be the same when it came to dodging, and the attack speed differed depending on the weapon. Just like in DS, as a general rule, the bigger the weapon – the slower the attack.
Once you got into the game how did the controller “feel” regarding interaction with the character? Did you immediately feel at home coming from DaS or had it all been turned on its head?
I didn’t feel lost at all having to input actions for the character. Once experimenting with how each button worked I definitely felt as though I was playing a souls game.
How did the game play compared to the souls games? And what noticeable changes have they made to combat?
The feel of the game was faster paced compared to DaS/DeS, and the player moved quicker in general. When it came to the new dodging mechanic, locking onto an enemy and doing the dash did feel a bit strange. I wasn’t used to how the character was moving after coming from only using a roll to evade. It made quite a difference. In saying this though, after using the dash a few times I came to like the feature and found it a nice improvement over the standard roll as it kept the game at a quicker pace.
In terms of combat mechanics a lot of it felt the same. You had your standard R1 light attack and an R2 heavy attack. The new feature of the heavy attack though is that now you can hold it to charge it up and deal more damage.
With the shield now being replaced by a gun [or a torch as a second item] it made you more reliant on the dodge move to avoid attacks. I found the dodge really useful to quickly get in close and deal damage then quickly back away to avoid being hit. The new health system is interesting too. When taking damage I found myself actually attacking more aggressively to get some health back (very cool feature) as opposed to breaking combat to use a blood vial.
The gun was also very cool. Depending on what gun you started the demo with they would attack differently. The blunderbuss (shotgun) was good for close combat and dealing the most damage while the pistol worked better from range.
The guns aren’t going to be the be-all-and-end-all of a fight though as the melee attacks are still the best way to deal the most damage. The guns also featured as the new way to counter and deal critical hits. When a shot is fired during an enemy’s attack it will cause them to stagger giving you an opportunity to follow it up with an R1 for the riposte. The back stab dynamic has also changed – you now need to hit the enemy with a charged heavy attack and then follow it up with an R1 to pull off the back stab.
I believe that the way the game looks and the lighting effects used is what people thought they were getting in Dark Souls 2, but tenfold.
How did the weapon transformation thing work?
The weapon transformations are really cool. You now only have one weapon equipped in your right hand and when you hit L1 it changes its characteristics, attack speed and damage. In the souls games when you changed weapons the one in your hand would just disappear and you would get a new one out of nowhere. This feature is now gone and I feel it gives the game a sense of realism.
The transformations are very quick and when done mid combo will actual pull off a new attack that deals more damage. For example, with the twinblade, hitting L1 breaks it off into two daggers and when you look at the dagger being held in your hand you can actually see the second sword within the main weapon. Then when transforming the dagger mid attack-combo you can see the second dagger pop out and hit like a long sword as the left hand grabs it after the swing hits. It’s a really cool animation.
What can you tell us about the environment?
The environment of the world within the alpha was fantastic. It was nice and dark with a real Gothic feeling. As soon as I started the game the look made my mouth drop and the graphics were so clear that even the buildings in the distance captured my eye. The amount of detail was incredible – from the look of the building to the floor and objects around the world. It all seemed lifelike. I believe that the way the game looks and the lighting effects used is what people thought they were getting in Dark Souls 2, but tenfold.
To aid in the graphics though the sound of the world also draws you in. Even though I was surround by a number of people my focus was solely taken by the game and everything else was very quickly drowned out.
What can you tell us about the enemies?
They were very different from any other souls games. The enemies were actual mobile. They’d walk around, usually in groups, and if you remained hidden they would continue to walk in their pack to their desired location. They seemed more aware of sound too. Using your gun would draw in a number of them at once which would usually end very dangerously for you.
When it came to attack patterns they’d attack almost like the hollows from DaS1. But now a new feature with the enemies is that I heard them speak to you as you were fighting them. The headset I was using was soft but I heard one even say “don’t get me” as he attacked me.
The enemy’s appearance also differed between the humanoid ones and you could tell that the people were slowly turning into wolves. Some of them were showing wolf-like features such as facial hair and large amounts of arm hair.
Any particularly exciting new items you can remember?
If you have played other souls games the items in this game will be nothing new. You have your standard healing item and fire bombs in the demo. A couple new items I found though was the pebble, which is used for drawing one enemy away from a group (a great new feature), and the other was an oil object (sorry can’t remember the name). You could throw this before the fire bomb to increase its damage and the radius it can affect.
Just how challenging was the demo?
The demo was actually very hard. I’ve spent numerous hours in Dark Souls 1 and Dark Souls 2 and the very minor changes, such as the quick-dodge was hard to get used to as I found the camera couldn’t keep up at times. For anyone that has played Demon Souls and the Dark Souls games though, and craves that difficulty will be very happy with how the game is progressing.
Any final thoughts?
I came away very happy. If I could of I would have played it for hours. The world and atmosphere they have created is fantastic. It draws you in and you lose yourself very quickly. You can feel the atmosphere around you and your heart rate will definitely start to increase while you’re playing as you feel it is actually you within the character.
Fans of the souls games will no doubt be very happy when they finally get a chance to play it.
So there you have it. If there’s anything else you’d like to know feel free to leave a comment or hit up @Stuch237 on Twitter. Thanks so much Stuchy for taking the time to let us interview you.