Stefano’s E3 2014 Report Part 3: Bloodborne

Bloodborne was the last game I saw at E3 today, and boy, what a game to go out on! It’s not big on flash, set-pieces, or fancy combo systems, but what I saw demoed for me catapulted the game to my game of the show, ahead of The Witcher 3, and The Order 1886. Bloodborne is a third person action/horror/rpg developed by From Software, produced by Sony Japan Studios, and is being published by SCE exclusively for the PlayStation 4. Read on for my thoughts.

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The first thing I noticed when I walked into the booth to sit down and watch a developer guided demo of Bloodborne, was how absolutely, stunningly beautiful the game is. Crisp, 1080p visuals, incredible lighting effects, and rich, detailed textures. The only concerning element about the visuals was the framerate. Many times throughout the demo, the framerate appeared to be very unsteady. Fortunately, the commentator of the demo told us that things like framerate will be ironed out over the next few months before the game’s early 2015 release. The demo character was a male, wearing a triangle brimmed hat, and a tattered cloak that fluttered and billowed beautifully as he ran through the dense, haunting environments, wielding a sharp, scythe-like weapon that he could retract and extend with the press of a button in his right hand, and a close range shotgun in his left.

When the demo started, our protagonist (who can be created by the character, much like From Softwares previously styled games; Demon’s Souls, and Dark Souls) was standing atop a stairwell, overlooking a dark, foreboding early 19th century city named Yharnam, which is very reminiscent of London. Right off the bat, the atmosphere was tense and overbearing. Granted, that could easily be because I’m very, very familiar with the notoriously bad difficulty of a Demon’s/Dark Souls game.

As the demoer progressed through the city streets, she was attacked by shambling infected humans. These enemies she made short work of with the scythe-like melee weapon, and would occasionally use the shotgun to crowd control, or just cause some hurtin’. While we didn’t see a HUD, or a control scheme, the combat looked very similar to that of the Demon’s Souls games. There appeared to be a regular melee attack, a strong melee attack, and then the ranged weapon. While it wasn’t shown, I’m confident enough to say that there’s probably a parrying/riposte system in place as well, depending on the weapon you are using.

The demoer made her way down to the city streets, but stopped short, as up ahead, a group of infected blocked her progress. They had just recently strung up one of the many beasts roaming the city, and burned it like an effigy. Unfortunately for our player, these infected townsfolk are not friendlies. Instead of confronting them, the demoer instead went up some stairs, and took an upper pathway, across wet cobblestone and dark alleys. And in typical Demon’s Souls fashion, she gets jumped and attacked by the many enemies lurking in the shadows.

Further ahead, there were more infected townsfolk, who have burned an even bigger monster at the stake. This beast looked like some kind of werewolf. The demoer moved quietly past that group, but not before being attacked by more hidden enemies. Past the burning werewolf creature, there was a barred gate, and something big, and growling, was banging against the door, trying to open it. The player couldn’t open the gate from this side, so she instead took another side path and found herself in a large courtyard on the other side of the gate. At the urging of the commentator narrating the demo, the demoer approached the gate, and found a large, lumbering humanoid banging on the gate. They engaged in battle, and it was at this point that the commentator informed us that they had the diffculty for the E3 build had been tweaked, so it was much harder for the player to die. Good thing, as the giant charged and swung his massive hands, knocking the player to the ground multiple times before she got the upper hand and dispatched him.

Moving on, she encountered two new enemy types beyond the shambling infected; a mangy, undead dog creature that was fast and powerful, and large crow creatures that didn’t fly, but hobbled and leapt at the player, pecking at her with their sharp beaks.

After weathering this onslaught of enemies, the player comes across an NPC hunter engaging with two large werewolf beasts. The commentator notes that the player can choose to aid the NPC in dispatching the wolves, and they will join the player and assist in the boss fight to come, or the player could choose to attack the NPC, or ignore them completely. For this demo, the player ignores the NPC and the werewolves, and continues onward, to a bridge of sorts.

Crossing the bridge was simple enough, until she reached the other side, and a huge, hairy, long-limbed wolf like creature descended from above, and a boss battle began. Sadly, this is where the demo ended, after the player traded a few blows with the beast.

Hands down, Bloodborne was the most impressive game I saw at the show, and it was based purely on the strength of the game design, atmosphere, and visuals. From’s games are generally not known to be cinematic, or flashy, or overly heavy on story and narrative, but the gameplay itself speaks volumes, and Bloodborne has soared to the top of my most anticipated games of early 2015.

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