Earlier this year when Editor-in-Chief Steve reviewed Bloodborne’s base game and couldn’t get past the Cleric Beast, I can admit I had a bit of a chuckle. I even revelled in a bit of schadenfreude as I had blitzed past that boss with ease. Same with Father Gascoigne, Blood-Starved Beast, Vicar Amelia and so on. I had never been one for the Souls series, but I really clicked with Bloodborne, and got pretty good at it too. I relished the challenge and I finished with two of the three endings; curse those umbilical cords. But now, I empathise with Steve because Bloodborne’s expansion “The Old Hunters” has absolutely broken me. I am a shell of a man after playing and unfortunately not progressing very far after twenty-five very, very difficult hours.
As you’ve no doubt seen if you’re a fan of Bloodborne, Ludwig (who’s mentioned in the title multiple times) is the first boss of the expansion. I could not beat him.
Not the first, nor the seventieth time I tried. I summoned the new NPC Old Hunters for assistance. I tried Bolt Paper, Fire Paper, Beast-Blood Pellets, all manner of Rune combinations, different weapons and more and I still could not achieve victory. I even spent several hours farming a million blood echoes to level up and I still didn’t win.
I checked my save file upon booting up Bloodborne again, once “The Old Hunters” was installed, and I had played sixty-five hours. At the time of writing, I’ve played 90 hours. If we remove the hour or so it took me to reach Ludwig, the few hours I spent farming Blood Echoes to level up and some general time wasting, I think I can conservatively claim that I spent 18 hours fighting Ludwig. And losing.
It’s been a fucking nightmare. Which is apt since the expansion takes place within the Hunter’s Nightmare. But what’s worse is it’s a nightmare I can’t wake up from. I knew I was expected to review this content when I accepted it and that has only fueled my unraveling. The pressure of needing to finish the content, or at the very least get past the first section, was a driver at first. A reason to keep trying.
But as the hours ticked closer and closer to the embargo and I still hadn’t come any closer to progressing it became more than pressure. I very nearly had a full-blown anxiety attack at one point before I calmly strode outside and took my dog for a walk. Eventually a sinking realisation hit me. I was not going to beat him. Not before the embargo at least. Waves of nausea washed over me. Followed by an unshakable feeling of failure. “This can’t be happening,” I thought. I had to AT LEAST beat the first boss. But no, no I didn’t. Not after 25 hours when I finally gave up and admitted that Bloodborne had won.
I’m sorry dear reader for I have failed you, which is why I shan’t score “The Old Hunters” yet. Not until I’ve actually seen what the expansion offers. Perhaps you’ll have better luck or are simply a better player than me. If that’s so, I wish nothing but the best. I’m not going to give up though and I will keep trying, but I have a feeling it’s going to take a long time before I get anywhere. I also have a very strong suspicion that much of my failure comes from the fact that I’m playing through “The Old Hunters” on my New Game+ save.
Unfortunately, I misplaced my backup save from just before the battle with Gehrman so had no choice but to play on the harder mode. I also needed to beat both Blood-Starved Beast and Vicar Amelia before I could access the expansion. However, after a few hours of repeated failure, I took to the internet to look for anything that might help me. It was when I discovered a quote from Producer Masaki Yamagiwa on GameSpot I knew I was doomed. “You actually gain access to the DLC a little earlier than I’d recommend going into it. It’ll be probably a little too hard for that part of the game, but it’s designed to have a similar difficulty to the latter portion of the game,” he said.
With my old save gone I just had to power on, but it’s all too clear that I am hilariously underleveled; Ludwig simply hits too hard and takes too little damage. Once again, I’m sure there are players out there who will have no trouble, but I am not one of them. My skills are not good enough to win without leveling up. Yours may be.
Overall though, I’d place the difficulty of the expansion as somewhat beyond anything else seen in Bloodborne. Regular enemies hit harder, take more hits and are more numerous. There are more elite enemies and far fewer grunts. There are traps, sneak attacks, hordes and more. Basically, it’s Bloodborne on steroids. I’ve managed to collect some of the new weapons and outfits and while some of them are fun and look great, they’re simply not strong enough compared to my current equipment for me to make use of. I don’t plan on giving up on “The Old Hunters” so look forward to reading my full review when I’ve managed to finish. For now, I wish you the best of luck.
This is the first time in my gaming career that I’ve been totally ruined by a game, but if any game was going to do it I’m glad it was Bloodborne. I really do love it, but right now it does not love me back and you know what? That’s ok. I’m just going to have to prove myself to Bloodborne all over again. And if that means pretty much beating the game again, so be it. My Insight may be at rock bottom and I may need to consume some Madman’s Skulls just so I can summon the NPC Old Hunters again. But I will eventually win, because that’s Bloodborne.
Stevivor is playing Bloodborne’s “The Old Hunters” DLC thanks to a promotional code provided by the publisher.