Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is worth your time and money if you enjoyed the base game. For the most part, it's more of the same done better. The environments and some of the bosses are a cut above, enemy placement and interaction really stuck out, and wreaking havoc with the new weapons is almost too much fun.
The Old Hunters is as far above vanilla Bloodborne, as Crown of the Sunken King was above vanilla Dark Souls 2. While there are some rough patches, the rest of this DLC scenario shines bright enough to hide those blemishes.
In the interest of full disclosure: We were provided with a complimentary copy of, and early access to, Bloodborne and The Old Hunters DLC for the purposes of this review.
The new areas are creepier than anything in vanilla Bloodborne. The rivers of gore, background elements that move and struggle on their own, and unsettling noises will feel somewhat nostalgic for Souls fans who remember the unpleasantness of Demon's Souls' Tower of Latria.
New enemies are incredibly fitting for a story about the Great Ones. Many of them make you feel uncomfortable just seeing them or knowing they're around. There's also a cool mechanic with hunters and beasts in the first area.
There are five new boss battles, and a few of them rank up there as the best moments in Souls games period. The first boss in particular has a hell of a “Crowning Moment of Awesome” for Souls fans. I'm not going to say anymore as I don't want to spoil it.
You want new weapons? That's good because there are several awesome ones to be found here. From the hunter's take of a buzz-saw to the mighty Boom Hammer. Expect to see them a lot in co-op/PVP as they're fun and functional.
While part of the free update as well as the expansion, the addition of summonable Old Hunter NPCs in several areas throughout the entirety of Bloodborne is a nice change. They're powerful NPCs, so even newbies can take on some of the harder bosses with their help. It doesn't really undermine the difficulty, as you don't have to summon them if you don't want to.
One of the bosses is incredibly annoying. Not just because he's difficult, but because he has a wonky hit box, an attack that can sometimes register multiple hits if it catches you wrong, and he constantly wails and shrieks in a way that grates on the nerves quickly. Call it salt if you must, but it was the least enjoyable experience I've ever had with a From Software game. Also, continuing another From Software tradition, one of the other boss fights is a somewhat recycled mob battle from an optional portion of the main scenario.
From Software still doesn't care about frame rates. They're the only company I know of that produces games with consistent frame issues and gets a free pass. At several points in The Old Hunters, I experienced unusually choppy frame rates.
The Old Hunter summons are strong in combat, but they're still awful at navigating the area. Drops, ladders, narrow entrances/doorways, or being pushed awkwardly be large enemies (Celestial Centipede at Byrgenworth) will either make them run in place until you fetch them, or just stop reacting to the world altogether.
When Bloodborne released, it was the first reason to own a PS4. A Souls game in everything but name, From Software's latest take on their tried and true formula brought some changes that made the game closer to the character action game genre than the series has ever been,
Parrying was limited, back stabs made harder, weight was removed from equipment, shields were essentially removed from the game, and armor could no longer be upgraded to tank your way through battle. There's no estus flask, going on the offensive restores health, and the dodge has been made into an anime-esque super power. Yet somehow, it remains a Souls game to its core.
Bloodborne kept the Souls series patented difficulty, controls, souls-like currency/level system, upgrade woman, and unorthodox story telling, but it sent the story in another direction. Souls games have dabbled in Lovecraftian eldrich horrors before, but Bloodborne went all in on the theme. Now, like the Dark Souls series before it, Bloodborne is getting its own DLC scenario: The Old Hunters.
Once again hunters will dive into the nightmare, this time to discover the truths hidden in Yharnam's history. We already know this will be a nightmare, but is it the kind you should shell out money to experience? Time to break it down.