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15 Tips For New Bloodborne Players
There are two types of players heading into Bloodborne:
1) Souls Veterans – Perhaps you’ve played and/or beaten any number of the previous Souls games, including Demons’ Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls 2. Now you’re primed and ready to tackle Miyazaki’s latest rage-inducing challenge.
2) Newcomers – You own a PS4 and either never played or couldn’t get into the previous games. Now, however, this latest PS4 exclusive is drumming up a lot of exciting discussion and review numbers and you’re going to leap in and see how it goes.
Whichever option suits you best, there is one piece of advice that I can give you that may help greatly. This is NOT a Souls game. Sure, having prior experience with the challenge and will needed to pass such trials will help. However, most of what we know from before has either seen a facelift or is completely different.
Bloodborne is its own beast and it will challenge you greatly. It’s best to go in with a fighting advantage. We hope these fifteen tips will guide you through Yharnam.
Keep Your Cool, Step Away From The Game
Let’s get this one out of the way because it can make all the difference.
DO NOT PLAY THESE GAMES WHILE PISSED OFF. Seriously, you’ll just put yourself at even more of a disadvantage. Dying while frustrated or pissed only makes things worse. You’ll start saying, “I hate this game” and “THIS IS BULLS#!%!!” When you start getting to that point, just step away. Turn the PS4 off and step away. There really is no shame in it, guys and gals.
These games are meant to give you a challenge and push your ability. The only way to rise up to meet those challenges is to learn and practice. If you die numerous times on the same boss or in the same area, take it slow and check things out. There may be a different route or a way to make things easier on you. If not, cool down and tackle it again at a later time.
Let yourself process the game. You may be used to blasting through levels and boss fights but you can’t do that in Bloodborne. Remember this well.
Explore The World, Look Everywhere and Be Rewarded
While the Souls games featured some shortcuts, hidden nooks, and some cool places featuring nice treasures, Bloodborne takes this and ups it to 11. Make sure you explore everywhere in the world.
You will be rewarded for your exploration, too. Bloodborne is full of shortcuts which makes life easier. There aren’t as many spawning points in Bloodborne so having quicker access to areas is great. You’ll also find great items to help you along your way, such as the Madman’s Knowledge which awards you 1 extra Insight.
Another tip later on in this article is only uncovered by exploring. You’ll see how rewarded you can be if you take some time and look around.
Learn Your Attack Combinations
This has always been true in the Souls games but in Bloodborne you’ll find that every weapon not only has a normal attack combination, a strong attack combination, but also a transformation attack that can be combo’d in with the normal attacks, as well as a possible swing attack using L2. Did you get all of that?
Let’s start basic: R1 is your normal attack button. R2 is your strong attack. L1 transforms your weapon. L2 is your left-hand weapon (most of the times this is your gun) but can also become a right-hand attack in certain situations with certain weapons.
We’ll use the Hunter’s Axe as an example.
You have a normal 4-hit combo with the Hunter’ Axe. This weapon features a mid-range attack whereas a weapon like the Threaded Cane (non-transformed) is short-range. You have a 4-hit normal combo with R1. You also have a multi-hit strong attack combo with R2. These two can be intertwined to create a normal and strong-hit combo, such as R1-R1-R2-R2. This is basic attack combinations for these types of games.
Now, Bloodborne has added a new type of weapon status and attack with transformations. Pressing L1 will transform your right-hand weapon. The Hunter’s Axe extends and becomes a two-handed broad axe. The Saw Cleaver extended and becomes a mid-range scythe-like blade. The Threaded Cane extends and becomes a sharp whip. So forth and so on.
Oh, oh… one more! The Kirkhammer starts off as a sword, which transforms into a giant two-handed hammer. Ridiculous, right? You literally place the sword into the hammer and use it as a sheath with a giant hammer on the top. The Kirkhammer is pure fun.
Anywho, the important thing here is to experiment. Take your time with each weapon and learn its combos and transformation ability. When you transform a weapon, check and see what L2 does, as well. It may be another attack such as a swing or a heavy thrust.
Take what you learn with your experiments and go kill some easier enemies to test your range and timing. You need to know your weapon’s limitations. It could very well be the cause of victory or death.
Practice Your Gun Parry
This cannot be stressed enough. The gun is not a formal weapon. Do not use it thinking to turn the tide in battle without utilizing it correctly.
Let me explain: the gun is not like your right-hand weapon. It will not drive the battle forward. It is meant to be an advantage source.
If you shoot an enemy right before they strike you, they will fall down and give you a brief chance to execute a Visceral Attack on them. Visceral Attacks deal monster damage while also giving you invincibility frames against other enemies in the area. It’s a great way to quickly deal a lot of damage or even dispatch an enemy while staying safe from your surroundings.
Many bosses are also susceptible to Visceral Attacks and can really turn the tide in battle. In fact, harming some bosses through Visceral Attacks can shorten the battle length without initiating a form change that some fiends have. Pretty neat.
This mechanic, however, takes a lot of practice. You basically need to learn and understand attack signals and animation lengths of enemies to execute a gun parry flawlessly each time. That takes patience, yes, but this mechanic can mean life and death in sticky situations.
Try it out, practice it, and remember it’s there.
Blood Bullet Timing
You can carry 20 Quicksilver Bullets for your gun. If you find yourself in a pinch for bullets you can add 5 extra to your ammo by pressing up on the D-Pad. This sacrifices health to add 5 “blood” bullets to your gun. These bullets don’t add extra damage or anything special, however, they will allow you to continue to fire your gun if ammo is depleted.
If you time the use of adding blood bullets, you can recoup the lost health by attacking enemies. Let’s say you just shot your last Quicksilver Bullet to do a gun parry on an enemy but miss. You dodge out of the way to avoid an attack, press up on the D-Pad to sacrifice health and gain blood bullets. Then you strike an enemy a couple of times and right before it strikes you successfully hit a gun parry and dispatch the fiend with a Visceral Attack.
That sequence shows you that with skill and practice you don’t have to worry about sacrificing health for bullets if you can strike true and dodge quick.
Don’t Be Greedy, Be Ready to Dodge
This tip may be a good reminder for previous Souls players but is a huge tip for newcomers. Bloodborne will both reward and destroy you for being aggressive. Even the most basic of enemies can kill you in this game. Do not rush in and do not get that extra attack in because you think you can make it. Just don’t do it.
Yes, in Bloodborne you can recover health by attacking enemies. No, you should not endanger your health by blindly attacking something, especially a boss. You will die. You will curse at yourself for doing it. Or blame the game, either way.
Don’t be greedy. Wait for opportunities. See how enemies attack and learn patterns. Don’t go headlong into groups expecting to come out unharmed or alive.
Don’t. Be. Greedy.
Learn Attack Signals and Animations
I’ve said this before in a previous tip but I wanted to expand on it. You may be saying to yourself, “I have to learn attack animations?” No, you don’t. Just prepare to die a lot and learn that way. If you hang back, watch how things play out and dodge around your foe for a bit, you will not only survive the encounter but you will successfully learn signals and animations without sacrificing too many Blood Vials (healing potions) or a trip back to a Lamp (checkpoint).
Knowing how enemies attack from opening strike, to short range attack, to mid and long range attacks, and to strong attacks can mean all the difference between life and death.
This all comes back to don’t be greedy and keep your cool. The game wants you to learn and be good. Don’t let yourself be aggressive and learn the hard way.
Recover Health During Battle By Being Aggressive
Wait, what? Wasn’t I just telling you not to be aggressive? Yes, I was!
However, there is a time and place for unleashing attacks. You still have to be smart about it, but there is a time. This time is brief and only comes around when you foolishly allow yourself to get hit and take damage. You then have the opportunity to foolishly attack back and hopefully be rewarded.
I said foolishly because this can either end good or very, very bad for you.
When you get hit and take damage, you’ll see a pale red with a white line on your health bar. The pale red is the amount of health you can EARN back by gaining revenge on an enemy. When you take damage, strike back and you’ll see your health go back up. Kill an enemy within the short time limit and you may even recoup all of the lost health.
This mechanic requires you to stop acting defensively and be aggressive. You do not have a long time before that pale red health goes away. This is when you have to make a decision. Are you in a good enough spot to unleash a combo? Do you know that particular enemy’s attack signals and animations? Are there other enemies involved in the battle?
Lots of questions to answer in a short amount of time and for a lot of instances, it just isn’t worth it. That being said, always remember that when you take damage you can recoup health but only if you aren’t risking taking any more damage. Don’t die while trying to survive, so to say.
Luring Enemies, Pebbles & You
You will find pebbles as you go through the game. These are very helpful. Yes, I said pebbles.
Every item in these games have some sort of purpose and pebbles are no exception. Make sure you have them on your quick item slots and don’t waste them.
Pebbles will allow you to stay out of combat initiation range and peg an enemy with one. This will draw that one enemy out of the group or a dangerous place and make them walk (or run) towards you. This is an excellent strategy as it makes things a lot easier on you. Fighting groups in Bloodborne is dangerous, no matter how good you are. An enemy can land a cheap shot at any time and all of a sudden you’re out 1/4 or even half of your health with 2 to 5 enemies still standing around you. Bad form, Peter. Bad form.
Use pebbles to thin out the crowd. Draw them one-by-one into a one-on-one fight. Even the odds.
How To Level Up
If you’re a Souls vet, you’re most likely used to having the level up NPC available quickly so you can begin the process of building up your character. Leveling up makes things a tad easier and gives you access to more gear and weapons. It’s generally a good mechanic to lean on.
That being said, Bloodborne does not make leveling up an available feature right away and unlocking it can be confusing.
Basically, to activate the leveling NPC, you have to gain your first Insight. You can do this one of three ways:
1) Find a Madman’s Knowledge in the Yharnam Sewers. Use the item and gain 1 Inisght.
2) Find your way to a boss arena and die. You can do this at the beginning of the game with either the Cleric Beast or Father Gascoigne, as both as accessible from the Central Yharnam lamp.
3) Find your way to a boss arena and kill the boss. This not only gives you one Insight for discovering the boss but additional Insight for toppling the beast.
All you need is one Insight to activate the level up NPC in the Hunter’s Dream. If you reach a boss and die right away, you’ll still be able to level up. If you want, you can rush to the Central Yharnam bridge or the Yharnam Graveyard, initiate a boss battle, and then head back to the Hunter’s Dream.
What I would not recommend is using option #1 and wasting a Madman’s Knowledge. These are invaluable as you can put yourself above an Insight threshold or gain an Insight if you run out and need help from another player online. Keep those items if possible.
Picking A Starting Weapon
There are three starting right-hand weapons and two left-hand guns for you to choose from. The right-hand weapons are: the Saw Cleaver, Hunter Axe, and Threaded Cane. The two left-hand gun ares: Hunter Pistol and Hunter Blunderbuss.
Let’s go over the right-hand weapons first as each of them have different ranges, speeds, and transformations.
For non-transformed ranges I would say that the Saw Cleaver has the shortest and the Axe the longest with the Cane somewhere between those two. The Axe has the easiest range to deal with as a beginner player, in my opinion. It has enough range to strike while still feeling safe to dodge out of harm and not be right up against a foe’s face.
As for transformed states, the Axe turns into a two-handed broad axe while the Threaded Cane turns into a mid-to-long range whip and the Cleaver an extended scythe-like weapon. All of them are given increased range but I would say that the Cleaver is once again the shortest in that aspect. The extension of the cleaver is nice and actually still somewhat fast but you will be closer to enemies. The axe gives you plenty of range as most of the transformation attacks have our Hunter extend the axe outward. The Cane’s whip state is interesting, quicker than the axe, and has superior range.
In regards to damage, the Hunter Axe is king here followed by the Cleaver and then the Cane. All of them can be upgraded and utilized greatly in battle. Each choice can take you through the game if you choose to do so.
That is a huge point, your starting weapon can very well see you through the end of the game. Bloodborne is not about having a huge selection of weapons and crafts like in the Souls games. You choices of equipment matter and whether or not you stay dedicated to a weapon can really influence the game. You can change weapons whenever you feel like it but don’t just discount your starting choice just because you found a new shiny spear or sword on the ground.
As for the guns, you have the choice of either the quick pistol or the slower spread of the blunderbuss. Both are great choices and it depends on your style of gameplay. I choose the blunderbuss. My way of thinking is this: if I’m close enough to where I may utilize a gun parry, than I want the widespread strength of the blunderbuss. Plus, it deals a bit more damage so that helps, even if just a tad.
How To Upgrade and Repair Your Gear
Along your travels you’ll find Bloodstone Shards, Twin Bloodstone Shards, and Bloodstone Chunks. These are your upgrade currencies and will be used in the Hunter’s Dream at the Workshop to strengthen your gear.
You will start finding these shards early and you’ll want to upgrade your starting weapon to twice, to +2, before facing the first boss. You don’t have to but it is extremely helpful. Once you reach +3 you’ll need Twin Bloodstone Shards to upgrade, which you’ll find later in the game.
Keeping your gear upgraded will allow you to stay efficient but you also need to repair them. Every now and then you should return to the Hunter’s Dream and repair using the Workshop. If your weapons reach a certain durability rating, they will deal less and less damage.
Get Access to A Great Beginning Set of Armor
Early in the game you can easily find a full set of armor that can really help out. Instead of explaining how to get there, take a look at YouTube user Spawnster’s videon showing where to go starting at the Central Yharnam lamp.
The Difficulty of Bloodborne is Adjustable
The game makes you think that having Insight is a good thing. Yes, it is. You can call for online help, spend it in Hunter’s Dream, yada yada. However, having too much Insight may actually be a bad thing.
There are thresholds in the game regarding Insight. If you pass a threshold, the game gets harder. The first threshold is 15. Once you reach 15 Insight or higher, enemies will have new attacks, different animations and signs, and overall be more of a problem.
More Insight = Harder Bloodborne. Some may like that idea, others will despise it.
You Will Need To Grind in Bloodborne
I never really had to grind too much, or at all in Dark Souls 2’s case, for items or levels. I felt like progress was pretty straight forward as long as you took your time, looked everywhere, and fought everything. In Bloodborne, this changes greatly.
Your equipment stays maxed at 20 Quicksilver Bullets (not including blood bullets) and 20 Blood Vials. There are other items that may be needed as well, such as Antidotes (Old Yharnam…eek!) and Bloodstone Shards for upgrading.
A good thing to know is that if you are at 20 (max) of a certain item, the extras that you find will go into your storage chest in Hunter’s Dream automatically. Before you start farming for items, check that to see if you have reserves.
Let’s say that you’re having a difficult time with a boss and you wind up with zero Blood Vials, zero Quicksilver Bullets, zero Insight, and no Blood Echoes. Yeesh. Time to grind!
You’ll have to go through the areas you’re around, killing and surviving to either build up Blood Echoes and buy items in the Hunter’s Dream or be lucky and find drops.
Depending on your skill level or luck in battle, you will find yourself farming. This really isn’t a bad thing, though. If you’re lucky and get some drops you can spend the extra Blood Echoes to level up. Leveling up will make things a bit easier on you. It’s really a win-win mechanic. It just takes some time up.
Good luck out there in Yharnam. Let us know below in the comments how things are going for you. If you’re a Souls vet or a newcomer, we’d love to hear your thoughts on Bloodborne.