How I finally got good at Bloodborne – Reader’s Feature

A reader explains why he finally decided to play a FromSoftware title and his long road towards beating Bloodborne.

After years and years of purposely avoiding any FromSoftware game, I finally built up the courage and purchased Bloodborne and I’m glad I did. With the PlayStation 5 releasing soon, I thought now was the best time to catch up on previous games that I’d missed out on; Mad Max, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, and Final Fantasy 15 were all bought for less than £10 each on eBay.

I read through various lists detailing the best, must-play games for the current generation and the one game I did not own that consistently appeared was Bloodborne. I’ve always been too scared to play it. Not scared in the sense that I’m frightened of horror but scared in the sense that I feared the challenge. I used to play every game on the hardest difficulty; Halo 3 on Legendary and Bioshock Infinite on 1999 mode being my stand out achievements. But now, over the years, gaming has become a relaxing past-time for me.

I’m no completionist and I rarely pick the hardest difficulty, simply because I can no longer devote the same time or level of patience. I want to enjoy the story and take my time without any added pressure… or anger. FromSoftware games are the antithesis of this. I am very familiar with the Dark Souls series, having spent countless hours watching my friends play through them, but that summed up my experience, all I did was watch.

I did the same with Bloodborne, when it was originally released, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice; I watched videos of other people playing, laughing at their struggles, relieved that I would never put myself through such frustration. But then came the reveal trailers for the PlayStation 5 remake of Demon’s Souls, releasing later this year, and I knew I needed to change my opinion. It looks great, both visually and gameplay wise, and I already know it will be lauded as a must-play as it will utilise the PlayStation 5’s zero loading screens.

So why should I deprive myself of such stellar and innovative video games just because I fear the infamous ‘You Died’ screen? I told myself it was time to be brave and face the hunt, and, of course, prepare to die over and over and over again.

That’s exactly what happened when I first started my experience with Bloodborne. I knew the first hour or two would be the hardest since I’d be starved of strength and skill, and it’s definitely dispiriting. The game truly weeds out the casuals from the true hunters, and I myself was on the verge of an early collapse. I dodged and rolled my way past the entirety of Central Yharnam, desperately seeking a reprieve in the form of another lamp, but I was only to come face to face with the Cleric Beast.

I lost count of the number of times I died during this first boss fight, and I could see why many people quit there and then – as of writing, five years after the game was initially released, only 48.9% of players have the Trophy for defeating it. If I was struggling so much this early then it didn’t bode well for the remainder of my journey, so what was the point? I can save myself future agony. I could have given up, proud of myself for at least giving it a go, but admitting that it ultimately was not for me. But no, that’s not what I did, and it’s not what anybody should do. Instead, I decided to get good.

I spent several hours farming that starting area, killing all enemies, levelling up, respawning, and repeating the process. I was slowly but surely getting stronger and stronger, familiarising myself with the fundamental mechanics of the game, and, ultimately, becoming more confident. Following this, I defeated the Cleric Beast first time. The game rewards patience and investment, you truly need to work your way up and earn these victories. But once you get there, it’s exhilarating. I’ve never felt such proud satisfaction playing a game before.

Yes, it involves a lot of heartbreak, a lot of pillow-punching, and a plethora of bad language. But that’s what makes it so addictive. You know it can be done, there is always a way, so you’ve just got to bide your time and learn the patterns of play. Every step further, every new area and boss fight I encounter, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come. I never thought I would even consider playing a FromSoftware game. Then I thought I would never even get past the first boss.

Now I’m looking back and wondering what all the fuss was about, I could happily defeat three Cleric Beasts at once. I’m proud of how far I’ve come. Granted, several of the later boss fights really gave me a tough time, taking too many hours to defeat – looking at you Rom the Vacuous Spider. And, just when you think you’re getting better than the game it increasingly becomes more and more difficult. But that’s the beauty in it. The game requires you to match its ability and sometimes you’re forced to back track and build yourself up.

There’s probably gamers reading this feature right now who have long since conquered Bloodborne on New Game+ and perhaps find my sentiments somewhat naively charming. But these established hunters all started at the beginning and worked their way up. So, if there’s any gamers out there still hesitant or fearful of experiencing the challenge of a FromSoftware game, specifically Bloodborne, then I urge you to dive right now.

You just might be pleasantly surprised at how well you fare because I certainly was. After beating hundreds of games, sometimes it’s good to have a game finally beat you.

By reader Lewis A Downie

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