Lady Maria is a mysterious figure in Bloodborne. She appears front-and-centre on the cover for The Old Hunters DLC, but when you finally meet her, she's not exactly in the condition you might expect. Data digger Lance McDonald has figured out why.
We're going to spoil the Bloodborne DLC here. I'm spoiling it. You're warned.
Now that the spoiler-averse are gone: Maria is dead when you find her, but that doesn't stop her from jumping up and giving you one of the most challenging boss fights in the game.
In digging through the files for The Old Hunters, McDonald discovered that there were several different states that Maria could be in when you entered the room. In the code, there is an event called "Clocktower Hunter Initialization," and it checks to see what the world state of the game is.
As McDonald shows in the video, this world state is represented by three "flags" (you can think of these as statements about what has happened in the game so far):
Is Maria alive?
Has the player killed Maria?
Has Simon killed Maria?
As McDonald explains, the released game always has a declared value for these flags. Maria is never alive, the player has not killed Maria, and Simon has killed her. This means that when we play The Old Hunter, we are getting a particular world state that the designers have chosen out of any combination of those flags.
In the video, McDonald simply shows off what happens when you change those flags to create different worlds. He discovers that there is still quite a bit of story content in the game when Maria is alive, and that she would talk to the player and offer them items for managing to reach her.
She even wards players away from her, meaning that you have to kick off into a pseudo-side quest to even get her to the state required to begin the boss fight that is in the final release of The Old Hunters. In many ways, this seems to function in the same way as the Queen in Cainhurst; if you choose to leave her in peace, then the story would end here.
As an addendum: you might be wondering who Simon is. There's a hunter who follows you through The Old Hunters as a kind of commentary on what you've managed to accomplish. He stands around and says things about where to go and giving hints about the next boss. That's Simon. In the final release, he doesn't matter at all, but as McDonald shows, he would have been extremely important in an earlier version of the DLC.
As always, I enjoy looking at the cut content of From Software games, and McDonald is one of the best people when it comes to digging it out and showing it off well. The whole video is worth watching.