Bloodborne’s DLC Is The Game’s Toughest Challenge Yet

Bloodborne’s DLC Is The Game’s Toughest Challenge Yet

It’s been almost eight months since the release of Bloodborne, From Software’s excellent reinvention of the formula it developed with Demon’s Souls. That formula? Kick your arse until you learn from your mistakes. Bloodborne‘s sole DLC, The Old Hunters, doesn’t deviate from this; it’s more hardcore than ever.

My plan was to publish a full review of The Old Hunters this morning, but that’s not possible because I haven’t finished The Old Hunters. Usually, this happens because there wasn’t enough time, but it’s more embarrassing than that. The reason there isn’t a review is because The Old Hunters is really god damned hard.

First things first, it’s easy to access The Old Hunters. Whereas the Souls game made it difficult to find DLC areas, it’s simple in Bloodborne. Sony published the steps, but here’s the basics: beat Vicar Amelia, examine the item at her altar, collect the Eye of a Blood-Drunk Hunter in the Hunter’s Dream, and let the mysterious hand grab you in the graveyard section to the left of Oedon Chapel.

Players are transported to a place called the Hunter’s Nightmare, which begins as a warped version of the already twisted Yharnam you’ve become accustomed to. The rivers run red with blood, strange growths have morphed the landscape, and the city (dream?) is scarred with violent evidence of battles long since past.

This is a place where hunters come to lose their minds, as evidenced by the many, many hunters you’ll come across within a few moments of poking around. If you found hunters to be some of the toughest encounters in Bloodborne, prepare for a litany of them here. They’re not as bad as those mini boss battles, but they pack a punch as powerful as your own and wield the new weapons available to you in The Old Hunters. They, like many things in the DLC, have no problem sending you to the game over screen as soon as possible.

Let’s take a second to talk about the new weapons; they’re fantastic and there’s lots of them. Ever since the first trailer, I’ve been fixated on one weapon in particular: the Whirligig Saw. In one form, it’s a fast club that lets you get in a series of swift strikes before dodging out of the way. But that’s not the reason I’m using. No, fellow hunters, this is the reason I’m using it:

You can cause some real mayhem with this one, and I literally screamed with joy when I discovered it scaled with strength, the stat I’d pumped the most into.

And while it’s great The Old Hunters provides lots of new options for veteran players, there’s a big problem. Bloodborne heavily restricts upgrade materials for weapons, especially if you want to graduate them into the upper tiers. (Blood rocks, which allow you to upgrade a weapon to +10, can only be found once per playthrough!) This is done for a good reason: the game wants you to focus on one or two weapons and really get to know them. That make sense, but the DLC has at least 10 new weapons. Some are found in the first hour or two, some aren’t. Either way, unless you’ve been farming materials — a huge timesink — there’s no way to experiment with more than one or two weapons in the DLC, which renders a whole bunch of them totally useless. A good number of upgrade materials are scattered throughout The Old Hunters, but not nearly enough.

The Whirligig Saw has worked out so far, but if I find a better weapon later, it’s not going to be much use; it simply won’t cause enough damage to help.

Even with a powered up chainsaw, though, things were looking bleak.

There was a moment, a few hours into my playthrough, that I wondered if I would ever beat the first boss, Ludwig — the nasty piece of work in the screen shot at the top. Ludwig might be the toughest boss I’ve faced in Bloodborne yet, a swift and deadly monstrosity capable of killing you with two errant swipes. It was a fruitless affair, with hours spent banging my head against an enemy who would not relent. Believe you me, I certainly knew what Ludwig’s patterns were, but I couldn’t dodge them often enough to make a dent. It all seemed hopeless.

Of course, there’s a catch. I was playing on New Game Plus, in which the game allows players to work through the game a second (or third [or fourth] [or fifth]) time, with enemies gaining additional health along the way. You, like me, may have finished Bloodborne, briefly jumped into New Game Plus, and turned the game off. That’s where I left Bloodborne sometime in April, and it’s where I picked the game up a week or so ago. The problem? The Old Hunters is meant for players who are level 65 or so on their first playthrough. When I entered The Old Hunters, I was level 80 but on my second playthrough, so the recommended level was much higher. There was only one real solution: time to start grinding.

Based on my conversations with other reviewers, The Old Hunters is just plain hard. So whether you’re in New Game Plus or not, you should prepare for a set of fights well beyond the difficulty you’ve come to expect from Bloodborne. That said, if you can avoid entering the DLC in New Game Plus, I’d recommend it.

Rather than grind the same enemies in the DLC, I worked through the first half of Bloodborne again. It was enormously fun to sprint through a second time, as I wrote last week. Though the enemies were “tougher,” I knew what to expect, so I was able to roll on through like nobody’s business. Here’s how it felt playing the Blood-Starved Beast, who’d destroyed me when I first played Bloodborne:

“That first battle happened a few hours into Bloodborne, while our second tango had me equipped with dozens of hours of experience with the game’s combat system. The result? He only managed to hit me twice in the few minutes we’re facing each other, and the Blood-Starved Beast was no more. Even though he’s more powerful than ever on New Game Plus, it didn’t matter — my skills had improved dramatically, a point that’s not exactly represented on a stat sheet.”

By the time I’d put the Witch(es) of Hemwick to bed, I was ready for the nasty Forbidden Forest to unlock the new faction — The League — and give Ludwig another shot.

The key to victory, at least for me, was a side effect of becoming part of The League: new summon points. Specifically, summon points that bring total bad asses into the world, like Valtr, who runs around with a bucket and a cane:

He’s got more than that, of course. What else? A whirligig saw, naturally.

(It’s worth noting I played this DLC with multiplayer turned off; with a fellow human hunter, the bosses would probably be easier than relying on an NPC.)

With Valtyr able to distract Ludwig, combined with aggressive attacking on my part to induce stuns, he went down for the count. Though I’d relied on someone other than myself to survive, the victory felt no less sweet, and I happily, quietly screamed into the darkness of my apartment at one in the morning.

I’ve made it to the next area, a topsy turvy laboratory that’s as much puzzle as it is combat gauntlet, and find myself in front of another daunting nightmare fog. As with any Souls game, one hits rock bottom before they can get back up.

Bring it on, The Old Hunters. I’ve got this — and so do you. (I hope.)


  • Fallout 4, Battlefront, Starcraft 2, Black Ops 3, and now this just jumped out of nowhere. I think i will spend more time deciding on what game to play than actually playing them. :O

  • “Bloodbornes DLC is the games toughest challenge yet”

    Oh, so I guess for me it’s Bloodbornes first challenge 😉

    But this really highlights my biggest problem with Bloodborne, how they threw you straight into New Game Plus. It really should have been an option. I’ve beaten the game twice and now I know I have to start again to play the DLC. Considering the recommended level is 65, I can’t just beeline straight to it.

    and that ‘mysterious hand’ isn’t mysterious. It’s an Amygdala. You see it when you have 40 insight, or once the moon has turned red.

    • I haven’t got the DLC yet. If I’m in NG++ I have to finish NG++ before accessing Old Hunters? ffs. I’m only at Amelia. Or am I misunderstanding?

      • I believe you only need to get as far as beating Amelia. Then you collect an item and let the amygdala next to Oedon Chapel grab you (same process as how you can access the lower level of the lecture building and the nightmare frontier, just a different amygdala).

    • Yeah, I really didn’t like it how it just threw you into new game + upon finishing it, overwriting your file in the process. I don’t know if I actually want to play this DLC or not, but the fact I’d probably need to start again doesn’t exactly entice me to do so. If I still had my file saved just before the final battle it would be a much easier decision.

      Also, you joked about it being the “first challenge” but I see that as a kind of relevant point. I’ve said this in some comments in the past but for the most part, the path to the bosses was tougher than the bosses themselves. I found Gascoigne the hardest fight in the game and disappointingly the bosses got easier from there, not harder. The actual areas of the forbidden woods, unseen village and nightmare of mensis however were pretty brutal, but for the most part, with the exception of Gascoigne and Logarius (and *maybe* Amygdala and Ebrietas, cause of BS one-hit kill moves), the bosses weren’t too scary.

      If the bosses are more of a threat (without being cheap) in the DLC it would be welcome – but again, it comes back to that first point and whether I really want to start the game from the beginning again (or work through NG+ far enough) just to access it.

      • Oddly I found Logarius quite easy and got him first go.
        On the other hand, I really struggled with Rom for some reason…

        • I still haven’t finished it. I’m up to the part where there’s all these women ringing bells and bringing people back to life. I found Rom super easy and tried to fight that random huge big thing that is in that other dimension but it just owned my ass. I read up on guides and no matter what I tried it just owned me. That coupled with the ringing bell chicks constantly rezzing dudes that could two shot me just sapped my interest of the game. And this is from someone that loved all the dark souls games. Maybe i need to go back and try it again now I’ve had time to cool down.

          • The Sinister Bell ladies, they can be a real bitch.
            Wait till you get do Chalice Dungeons, 3 of them in the same small room with an endless army of glowing red spiders… Just prioritise getting the bell ladies over everything else. Sounds like your up to Yahar’gul, Unseen Village; admittedly I watched a video playthrough of that area as I kept getting a little lost and the bell ladies were driving me nuts.
            What random big thing from another dimension? Is it a boss, like The One Reborn or Ebrietas? Or are you just talking about the Amygdala’s you see on the walls around the place after beating Rom (or getting 40 insight)? If it’s the Amygdala, apart from one you specifically fight as a boss, pretty sure you just need to avoid them.
            The One Reborn; just run straight for the stairs and get up on the walls where your relatively safe from it and kill the ranged minions surrounding the area. Then go back down and do the ol’ get behind and stab em in the heels tactic.
            Ebrietas, that one was tough. I’m pretty sure I just learnt her patterns, dodged her attacks and kept trying to provoke her to use her head slam which leaves her open for a few hits. Takes a while but it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

          • The boss I was referring to is called the Great One: Amygdala Boss Fight (according to youtube). I made it past the chime ladies to the next area where theres a bunch of giant sack looking guys in boxes that can one shot you but since I was so rattled from having to crawl/cheese/run through the last area, getting one shot in the next area by the guys in boxes just deflated me even more 🙁

          • I know that feeling, the second half of the forbidden forest with all the poisonous snake monsters had that effect on me, as have a few chalice dungeons.
            Leave it for a few days or so and come back. Don’t feel bad about resorting to a walkthrough of that area; Bloodborne and the Dark Souls games are the kinds of games that can be enjoyed with multiple playthroughs (whether just starting again, ng+, or specifically doing challenge runs), so doing areas blind the first time is only a small part of the experience.
            Personally I resorted to EpicNameBro’s walkthrough/let’s play videos (he also worked on the official game guide) for many areas, including Yahar’gul. I recommend watching it and trying again; sure it takes out the surprise of discovering the level naturally, but it makes it so much less stressful to play through.
            Here’s a link to the full playlist, just work out where your up to.

          • The Unseen Village was definitely a pain the first time through. You need to kill the chime maidens as they are the ones respawning the enemies. The problem is, you’re not given much time to run around to find them once the enemies are dead before they come back, and one of the chime maidens is actually hidden under the effing floor. In that area where the amygdala shoots lasers at you, you actually need to drop off the side and you land on a small outcropping which you follow through inside, and that’s where that bitch is. It’s the one section of the game I resorted to looking at a map just to find where that stupid maiden was because it was pissing me off immensely.

            Once you know the locations of the chime maidens though, that area it’s too bad, and it actually a great area to farm echoes.

  • 🙁 Gotta start over a new game again for this. I’m not prepared to NG+ the DLC. It will be a nightmare.

    • Im on ng+ and I’m somewhere between 130-140, you do get more blood echoes on ng+, Im finding it hard but not so much so I’d start a new playthrough, just levelling my skill/strength stats whenever I have the echoes. Im considering playing up to the forbidden woods just to lvl up. Honestly I don’t think not playing on ng+ would be much different, its harder but I can see myself levelling up via the base game and it being almost the same as a first playthrough

      • I’m past Rom on NG+ so I have a good feel for the step up in difficulty. See how I go, worst case I’ll just farm levels or do chalice dungeons until I’m stronger.

  • You, like me, may have finished Bloodborne, briefly jumped into New Game Plus, and turned the game off. That’s where I left Bloodborne sometime in April, and it’s where I picked the game up a week or so ago. The problem? The Old Hunters is meant for players who are level 65 or so on their first playthrough. When I entered The Old Hunters, I was level 80 but on my second playthrough, so the recommended level was much higher. There was only one real solution: time to start grinding.

    Dammit… I basically started NG+ just to take a look at it, didn’t even beat Cleric Beast before moving on to other things. Can’t see myself going through all that again just to get to the DLC…. I guess I’ll have to pass on this.

  • Started a new game last night but only got as far as beating the Blood Starved Beast. Tonight I should be able to kill Amelia and get into the DLC. That lv 65 recommendation has me a little worried about tackling it as early as possible though.

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