Bloodborne: The Old Hunters


Review by · November 23, 2015

I have quite the mercurial history with From Software when it comes to their downloadable content. I enjoyed Artorias of the Abyss when it released for the original Dark Souls, but I found the lack of creativity and artificial difficulty in the Dark Souls II episodes to be incredibly disappointing. So it was with some trepidation that I entered the The Old Hunters expansion for Bloodborne, but I’m happy to report that, despite some slight problems with the overall mechanics and network issues, From Software has created probably its most impactful and important piece of DLC to date.

You gain entrance to the Hunter’s Nightmare after defeating Vicar Amelia in the Cathedral Ward. I especially like how the “doorway” connects directly with an original mystery from the main game, which shows a level of consistency that was severely lacking when I played through the new areas in Drangleic. Three new areas await adventurous hunters yearning for a challenge, and the art design and decor of these hellish landscapes do a lot to add diversity to the city of Yharnam. Granted, you’re still seeing lots of dark blues and grays, but the levels themselves bring a refreshing quality that was sorely needed after seeing so many cobblestone streets and creepy forests. The new areas are also fairly large and teeming with secrets. In terms of raw size, I would say it’s quite a bit larger than Artorias of the Abyss, but not as big as the three pieces of The Scholar of the First Sin combined.

It feels like From Software really pushed themselves in terms of the new enemy and trap designs lying in wait for the overconfident player. By combining new and old enemies alike, the developers have crafted some fiendish scenarios that will test every skill you gained during your original trials. A new type of hunter enemy stands in the center of a blood-soaked valley surrounded by those monstrous crows you’re probably tired of killing, while javelin throwing fish-like people attempt to make you a human pincushion as you tangle with their melee brethren. This is From Software at its very best in terms of encounter design. These situations force players to think outside the box and rely on skill and knowledge instead of gaming the AI.

Thankfully, there are lots of new weapons and enhancements available for those who purchase The Old Hunters. There are over ten new weapons and tools capable of pushing back the night, and this alone will probably warrant a purchase from most of the Bloodborne faithful. From oversized pizza cutters (I’m dead serious) to the writhing arm of a formidable boss, you can’t help but stand in awe and giggle at the sheer audacity of the armaments in this expansion. My new personal favorite is the Beasthunter Saif, a nasty take on the saw cleaver but with horizontal slashes and an amazing gap closer for its opening attack. This baby replaced my beloved axe from the main game, and I can’t wait to spend more time with some of the other implements of death.

But the real stars of the show are the new bosses. Four brand new terrors stand to block your adventure, along with a returning favorite with a slight twist, and I’m not kidding when I say that these are the most challenging and fiendish bosses From Software has ever designed. Each one forces players to rethink their strategy and rely on precision timing and careful movement. The incredible spectacle of these fights left me trembling in anticipation and had my heart racing as the final blow was struck. Just try to keep your composure when Ludwig decides to get serious, or when the final boss screams and cries out with each attack.

Unfortunately, there are some technical problems held over from the original game that are starting to grate on my nerves. The camera continues to be your worst enemy at times, failing to keep it together when things get especially heated. The last boss, in particular, has a tendency to dart and use lots of spinning attacks that can leave you completely disoriented and wide open. In a game of inches, it’s kind of annoying when left suddenly becomes right and you’re moving directly into death instead of away from it. The auto-lock was also extremely problematic in places and got me killed on numerous occasions. It was always a little stickier than Dark Souls I or II, but there were moments where it just failed to activate or I lost my target when they were only a few feet away from me. These are all problems I had at times with the original release, but it’s a shame that we’re still seeing them today. The new bosses are pushing the systems and mechanics to their absolute limit, and it would have been nice to see some refinement in order to compensate for what’s being asked of the player.

The Old Hunters also brings a steep increase in challenge that just barely manages to stay on the right side of fair. There were moments that felt more in line with the archers from Anor Londo than anything we’ve seen before in Yharnam, and I was cursing up a storm when trying to deal with the giant axe-wielding bastards who get to use magic area of effect attacks. Lots of enemies have nasty combo hits (much like Father Gascoigne) and will kill you while you’re trying to recover from their last hit. One especially evil battle puts you up against a hunter-type foe with a Gatling gun. In a small narrow cave. In complete darkness. I think there’s a special place in Hell for the designer who thought it was necessary to really highlight the camera problems with this fight…

The arrival of The Old Hunters brings patch 1.07, which adds a new covenant based around jolly cooperation. The League represents my favorite part of Bloodborne. I’m still having fun fighting my way through this nightmare with one of my oldest friends, and now you have some real incentive to help people. There’s also been some much needed balancing to the shops in the Hunter’s Dream, as you can easily buy chalice ritual materials instead of grinding for them. Unfortunately, this latest patch has completely crippled my ability to get online. It seems like a very isolated problem right now, but it’s quite the bummer and worth mentioning.

The Old Hunters is exactly what an expansion should be. It enhances and improves the main game, tackling some of the criticisms leveled back in March and expanding the scope of the adventure. It’s a necessary purchase for anyone who enjoyed their time in Yharnam and closes out the hunter’s journey in dramatic fashion. The new areas, enemies, weapons and bosses feel like an extension of the core ideas and fundamentals of Bloodborne, and shows that From Software’s willingness to drop the shields and focus on visceral combat has paid off.


Incredible new weapons and fantastic bosses push the Bloodborne formula to its very limit.


Some annoying enemies and slight technical problems continue to plague players at times.

Bottom Line

The Old Hunters is the best piece of DLC From Software has ever created. It does exactly what it's supposed to do and makes a great game even better.

Overall Score 90
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Robert Steinman

Robert Steinman

Rob was known for a lot during his RPGFan tenure, and was the Dark Souls of podcasting, having started the site on the format. He was also the Dark Souls of reviewing Dark Souls. It was his destiny.