Just kidding. Sort of.
Jeff mentioned in the last two Bombcasts that he felt like Bloodborne was much easier than he’d anticipated. In the discussion that followed, the bombcast crew briefly touched on the idea that perhaps this was because the Souls series’ reputation for being completely impenetrable was inaccurate to some degree. This definitely has a lot to do with it. Thanks to a combination of overbearing Bandai/Namco ads talking about how “OMG UR DEF GONNA DIE BCAUSE ITS SO HARD” and many mainstream gaming journalists consistently falling in line with this marketing ploy to some degree, what you have is a series that is unfairly passed over by many people because they just think that they wouldn’t be able to handle it.
The truth is that Souls games just value observation and patience over any form of raw skill, mechanical comprehension, or character build quality. Obviously having any or all of these things can make your time with a Souls game even easier but someone with the ability to patiently observe and calmly react to situations could make their way through the game without ever having to understand any of the admittedly sometimes overwhelming systems that are at play in these titles. And I think this is where the disconnect is for many people. Few other games ask players to be so consistently careful and even fewer games punish players as harshly for their carelessness.
This is where some of the changes in Bloodborne come into play and why the newest FromSoft title is the easiest in many ways.
From has, pretty smartly, made the initial playthrough of the game a bit easier when compared to past titles, but left the difficulty there for those that want it, locked away in chalice dungeons and NG+.
The biggest change has to be the health regain system that allows players to partially regain their health by striking an enemy after being damaged. This effectively lessens the punishment of player mistakes and somewhat encourages sloppier play. This, in turn, ensures that fewer blood vials will be used which, considering that players can now have 20+ healing items on them at any time, makes it quite easy to not have to use too many vials prior to reaching the boss. Being forced to use some of your valuable healing items on the run to the boss was a major point of difficulty in the past.
Healing is also now extremely fast, occurring in roughly a single second. Compared to the absurdly slow animation for drinking an estus flask in Dark Souls, this makes healing while in immediate danger actually feasible. Not to mention that the new dash makes backpedaling your way out of a fucked situation that much quicker, after which you can just quickly pop off 2 of your 20 blood vials. Combine all of this with the new ranged parries that are just as easy to pull off as shield bash parries in Demon’s or Dark Souls, except you can stand outside of melee range to do them. Or stand in melee range, potentially take a hit, and still regain your health off of a parry.
From aren’t stupid, though. They’ve been pretty aware of what aspects of the Souls series their fans love and these changes are, of course, intentional. They even took steps to balance them out. Armor now does little to protect you from physical damage meaning large enemies hit you harder than ever. They’ve added more random flailing to bosses which ensures that their movesets can’t be memorized as easily. NPC hunters can really take you out to pasture, too. Not to mention that the final (human) boss is one of the most challenging and enjoyable fights of its kind that the series has ever seen.
Bloodborne is certainly still quite a challenging game at times and has all of that Miyazaki “charm” in shiny new wrappings. It’s a great game and will easily be in my top ten at the end of the year, but it is far less punishing and much more accessible than what series veterans may have become used to.
The difficulty of Souls games is DEFINITELY oversold by many but, make no mistake, Bloodborne is definitely the easiest one of the bunch.
Images courtesy of Playstation.com/en-us/