Platform(s): PlayStation 4
With the core Bloodborne experience feeling complete and contained, many of us wondered how they would be able to provide a fulfilling expansion that didn't feel like a complete cash grab. The Old Hunters covers the time period of the hunters before the events of the main game. You are transported into a representation of the past within a Hunter's Nightmare. The biggest issue I have with this expansion is the way it's accessed. I fully appreciate that they integrated the experience into the game, so it feels more connected than a simple main menu selection would entail. The issue is that unless you look it up or are lucky, you will likely not know how to access the content since it's accessed in a very strange way. You need to acquire a specific item from a specific location, then you need to venture to a specific area and have a very specific thing happen. I know my descriptions are vague, but the point is that the game requires a really specific way of accessing the content which is not clearly presented to the player. For normal game content this would be perfectly fine, but for content we are paying a premium price for, they should not make it so difficult to find. On the bright side, you can see instructions on how to access the content on the Bloodborne content. Having to take that extra step may seem creative, but is really a hindrance.
With that complaint out of the way, you'll find that the 19.99 spent on this expansion will be well worth it. The environments are some of the best creations in the game thus far, along with some of the most fun creature designs. My favorite was the fishing hamlet, which is approximately the middle section of the expansion. It has a very different feel from the rest of the game and the creatures have this very barnacle sea-faring feel to them. There are also new sound effects for some of the creatures and they can be bone-chilling. The music is consistent with the main game.
So aesthetically the expansion is just as pleasing as the base game (arguably it's better), but how does the game actually play? Being in the past while there were more hunters, this means that rather than hunters being unique occurrences who don't respawn, they are normal enemies in the game. This helps to provide a much higher level of challenge than the main game. Too often I've played expansions that play like a sequel, in the sense that they don't assume you've played the original game and thus don't progress the difficulty in an appropriate fashion. In short: the expansion is hard as heck. You get thrown into situations where you have literally no room to breathe, which is only somewhat emulated in some of the nightmare sections in the main game where you have PvP turned on for you. There is one section where you'll have a wide open area with multiple enemies (ranged and melee), a giant beast that is hard to dodge and take down on top of a creature that launches high damaging player-seeking projectiles. This forces you to create a plan of action before entering the area then executing it flawlessly piece by piece. This sort of challenge really made the expansion really attractive to me, and I actually enjoyed it more than the base game as a whole.
Some of the most creative puzzles and level designs are found in the expansion as well. While the base game started to get repetitive to me after a while, with the only thing keeping me going was looking forward to boss battles, this expansion is fun throughout. Speaking of bosses, extremely fun and creative bosses can be found in The Old Hunters. There are only 5 bosses, but each of them is quite unique and extremely fun. In fact, the last boss was one of the most fun battles I've dealt with in gaming. It was extremely precise, difficult and satisfying. To help fuel the experience, the player is given access to a multitude of new weapons to play with. Most of these weapons are found through exploration, rather than purchase.
I ended up putting in about 15-20 hours into the expansion to acquire 100% completion. That's about a third of the time the main game took me. At a third of the price of the base game (at launch), I'd say this is a perfect value for the player that is itching for more Bloodborne. There are a lot of neat lore nods as well that will please fans who really enjoyed the lore in the main game. Keep in mind that the expansion does scale with your New Game + in the main game, so I'd recommend tackling it near the end of whatever play through of the main game you are on.
With stunning environs, satisfying challenges and exciting bosses, The Old Hunters is an extremely satisfying expansion for the avid Bloodborne fan that adds a good amount of content. If you own Bloodborne, you should own this expansion.
- Teepu (Bowser05)