Let’s make no mistake; I’m a huge Souls fan, and I love Bloodborne equally. Heck, I actually believe that Bloodborne in many ways surpasses the two Dark Souls games, though it does fall short in other categories.
In short: I see the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne as equals, so whatever I say from here onwards shouldn’t be confused with hate or negative criticism.
As a big admirer of Miyazaki, From Soft, and their collective work, I’ve invested hundreds of hours in Dark Souls 1 & 2, and around 70 odd hours in Bloodborne. Despite many similar mechanics, there are enough differences to make the two entirely different experiences.
Bloodborne is offense-oriented, with you being the hunter, the one to kill everything as it defends itself from you. In Dark Souls, you are the survivor, grasping on to the last glimmer of hope left in a dying world. Dark Souls is classic dark fantasy, while Bloodborne is true Lovecraftian horror.
Despite the differences though, it is not a secret that Miyazaki’s extensive creative direction of Bloodborne has influenced his work on Dark Souls 3. We saw at Gamescom that Dark Souls 3’s combat was faster than the predecessors – heck, the overall pace of the game was faster, silkier, almost Bloodborne-esque.
That’s a good thing, but Dark Souls is, once again, an entirely different feeling game to Bloodborne, which is why I feel that despite the wonderful inspiration that Miyazaki could get from his own work on the horror action-RPG, it would be wise to avoid implementing certain aspects, or learning from the mistakes made in Bloodborne (let’s not kid ourselves by pretending that it didn’t have minor flaws).
For this reason, I’m going to go out and note down a few elements in Bloodborne – good or bad – that I do not want Miyazaki implementing in Dark Souls 3. Here goes:
Shields Need to Be Important
You’re given a joke of a shield in Bloodborne relatively early in the game – not to protect yourself from the bloodthirsty beasts or the Eldritch abominations that lurk in the game’s expansive world, but as a mockery of the slightest misconception that any defensive item would be of use in the game.
This should not happen in Dark Souls 3. Dark Souls has always been about careful planning, about being strategic and tactical, and that is where shields come in handy.
Certain types of arrogant Dexterity-based players will tell you that you’re pusillanimous if you’re wielding a shield, but only because they’ll be too ashamed to admit that they were also forced into wielding one in at least a couple of scenarios in both Dark Souls 1 and 2.
With no HP recovery and no privilege of spamming anything remotely similar to a Blood Vial, shields become your go-to items for proper defense against certain types of foes in the Dark Souls game, and it should remain as such to emphasize on tactical combat.
Thankfully, we’ve seen enough footage of Dark Souls 3 to suggest that this is a concept perfectly understood by From Soft, and shields will likely be as important as they were in the previous Souls games.
Don’t Make the Best Areas Optional
One part of Bloodborne I did not truly enjoy during my first playthrough was to discover that some of the best content was entirely optional, and hence extremely easy to miss. Places like Cainhurst Castle (arguably the most loved area in the game) and Upper Cathedral Ward could be skipped as if they never existed, yet they were the most spine-chilling areas in the entire game.
It wasn’t just the areas itself though. Optional bosses like Martyr Logarius (screw that guy) and Amygdala were some of the most technically challenging in the game, and also some of the finest designed.
The fact that some of the most memorable content was optional made it seem underwhelming when going through it, because the sheer challenge of areas like Nightmare Frontier and Upper Cathedral Ward (those Brain Suckers can go eat a dick) continuously played the devilish thought in one’s head, “This is an optional area, it’s okay to leave it if you’re finding it too difficult.”
While optional bosses and areas are always a welcome, it’s important that the ones that deliver the best experience are a part of the main progression. Yes, Miyazaki games are always non-linear, but imagine if a place like Duke’s Archives (similar to Cainhurst Castle) was made optional in Dark Souls 1. Yeah, not a very fun thought, is it.
Cheap Boss Mechanics
Yes, I’m talking about Micolash, Host of the Bullshit. Arguably the most obnoxiously designed boss in Bloodborne, the Micolash boss battle is anything but fun, and is further exacerbated by the character’s terrible tendency to spam a certain ability that can one-shot you, and that too after a long and tedious series of chases through some boring hallways. You guys know what I’m talking about here.
It’s not only Micolash that suffers from this though. The Loran Darkbeast (same design as Darkbeast Paarl, but eighty times the asshole) and his straight up ‘fuck-your-camera’ attitude is also just plain bad design, and goes completely against the game’s mechanics, because you’ll be eating a paw or three in every try simply because Mr. Darkbeast decided to completely screw up your angles, irrespective of whether you were locked on or not.
Oh yeah, how could I forget the nonsense the last Shadow of Yharnam tends to spawn when 10% of his health is left? Yeah, I’m talking about those huge snakes with seemingly limitless range that come out of the ground, give you absolutely no window to dodge or evade, and just one-shot you with a single swipe. Again, with such a cheap mechanic, your only hope is praying that those snakes spawn somewhere that would result in them missing you completely with their attack. How fun.
Micolash is obviously the worst example of them all due to his RNG that either allows him to spam A Call Beyond continuously, or not at all. You just have to pray that the next time you finish chasing him, he won’t end it with with RNG gods going, “Teehee, here’s a dozen A Call Beyonds for you.”
I’m really hoping there’s no such bosses. And no, we don’t want another Bed of Chaos either.
Balance Out the Areas
Dear lord, you’d think Byrgenwerth would be the best place ever after the hell you had to go through in the Forbidden Woods with the creepy snake clusters and snake men.
After spending some gruesome 4 hours or so exploring the woods (the biggest area in the game) and defeating a boss (or three bosses) that seems to be four hundred nautical miles away from the lone lamp (despite the two shortcuts unlocked), you’re introduced to lore-wise one of the most important parts of the game, and also the pivotal area of the main gameplay.
Yet, apart from a hundred duels with that obnoxious huntress bitch in the building, there’s almost nothing to do. Four shortcuts in a place that is smaller than my house – that’s what I had to go through snake-hell for?
Despite having some amazing areas, some felt way too big (Forbidden Woods, Yahar’gul), while others were disappointingly small.
That inconsistency is fine for the most part, but considering just how pivotal Byrgenwerth is in the game, it should’ve been made a memorable experience, just like how obtaining the Lordvessel was from Anor Londo in Dark Souls.
Apart from these few points, I can’t really think of anything else that Bloodborne did too wrongly that couldn’t be taken inspiration from. I still play the game to this day, and I’m mighty proud of my Blade of Mercy wielding skill-based hunter.
As for Dark Souls 3, well, I’ll be going in a more traditional direction with a medium-to-heavy armored straight sword-and-shield wielding undead.
If you feel there are more elements from Bloodborne you wish should not be present in Dark Souls, please do share them with us in the comments section below.