The DS3 DLC has dropped! Let the obsession continue!
A Little Backstory
There have only been a handful of times in my life when I’ve been completely consumed by a video game. I’ll go for years without playing video games and then all of a sudden, one will come along, sink its claws in, and I’m done for for a solid few months. Up until a few years ago, the last game that sucked me in was the original Resident Evil for the original Playstation…in 1996…I was serious when I said YEARS.
Resident Evil had everything I loved: horror, puzzles, required precision, a suspenseful and ever developing story line. It was beautiful, if not eternally infuriating. Keep in mind, back then, there weren’t a bazillion forums and online resources to refer to when you got stuck somewhere. My brother and I would just have to hack away at it until we figured it out. It was truly the original embodiment of having to GIT GUD. Every time we did figure out a puzzle or finally progress through a boss though, the victory was that much sweeter because WE did it. We didn’t look up the answer, we didn’t watch someone else do it so we’d know how it’s done, it was all us.
Fast forward a decade and some change, and my husband and I were in a Game Stop selling his old gaming consoles and all the games that went with them. It took a while for them to test everything, so we spent quite a bit of time browsing around the store. At the time, I didn’t keep up with current games. I knew nothing about any of the games I was looking at other than the latest incarnation of the Resident Evil games. Then I came across a cover that sparked my interest. The game was called Bloodborne.
When I pointed it out to Chad, he said he actually thought I might like it. He hadn’t played it before, but it had sort of an old English horror feel and he had heard it was supposed to be really good but was also supposed to be one of the hardest games out there. Challenge accepted! I had to see what this was all about for myself. When we bought it, it had already been out for about a year so it was dirt cheap compared to the newer games they had available. I think it was priced around $20 and it didn’t cost us anything because of all of our trade-ins. Best Trade Ever.
Right from the get-go, I loved it. English accents, werewolves, an ominous opening sequence and an overall really flippin’ creepy vibe. It was fantastic. I searched every nook and cranny. I didn’t want to miss ANYTHING. Having never played a game like this though, I was completely unaware of things like leveling up your weapon or fortifying your weapon. I was also completely unaware of online play options. It took getting annihilated by Father Gascoigne a few dozen times before I realized there had to be a way to do more damage to him. I played through the entire game solo and got the platinum trophy before I started co-op playing. That’s right, SOLO PLATINUM TROPHY!
Along the way, I discovered Twitch. Another instance of love at first sight. I noticed how most of the streamers kept accidentally referring to their lost echos as “souls”. What the heck were they talking about? The longer I watched Twitch, the more I heard about how Bloodborne was made by the same company as and was strongly influenced by Dark Souls. I looked up a few clips of both Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2, but they were much older games. Being so spoiled with the beautiful environment and updated graphics of Bloodborne, I knew any impressiveness of Dark Souls would be lost on me. But then, Dark Souls 3 was released.
Of course, I HAD to try out Dark Souls 3. I played through the entire game, got the platinum trophy, the first DLC came out, played through that, now the second DLC was just released this week. I have not gotten through the second DLC yet, but I’ve put enough hours into both games and switched back and forth between them enough to have noted the main differences and pros/cons between the two. If anything changes by the time I get to the end of the second Dark Souls 3 DLC, I’ll be sure to update this post. Until then, here we go!
Dark Souls III vs Bloodborne
The Story Lines
Both DS3 and BB have incredibly interesting and complex story lines that continue to unfold as you play through the games. DS3 has more a medieval-fantasy theme with knights, gods, demons and the undead. BB is more about a twisted cosmic-horror theme with beasts, abominations, crazed hunters and nightmares.
For both games, I highly recommend reading item descriptions and paying attention to NPC dialogue to actually learn about the story as you go along. They’re both pretty convoluted and can be confusing. DS3’s story really requires you to have played the first two games to fully appreciate what’s going on in each area. While not necessary to play the game, knowing why your fighting what you’re fighting at any given time adds so much more to the game play.
Alternatively, you could watch lore explanations for both games on YouTube. I’ve posted the ones we’ve watched and enjoyed below but beware, the DS lore particularly can turn into a bit of a rabbit hole and send you on a multi hour journey learning every odd and end there is to discover. I personally prefer BB’s story but that’s mostly because I adore the horror genre and haven’t played the first 2 DS games. Bloodborne was my first. It’s hard to get over your first. ;P
Reflective of their lore, both DS3 and BB environments are extremely ornate and really quite beautiful. Both have fallen cities, hidden paths and false walls that lead to bonus areas. I completely missed Ebrietas on my first BB play through. My jaw dropped when I saw someone playing her on Twitch and realized I somehow missed an entire boss fight, yeah, A LOT of hidden gems.
Bloodborne, particularly in the DLC, gets REALLY twisted. You kind of become numb to it after playing it for so long but I went back to the DLC after taking a break for a few months and man, is it creepy.
Other than the obvious theme differences, both game environments are very similar so it’s hard for me to say one is better than the other. Again, I just fall back on BB because of it being my preferred genre but if you’re into knights and dragons, Dark Souls will be quite the treat for you.
The Play Mechanics
This is probably the biggest difference in my book and it’s another reason I’m glad I played Bloodborne before playing any of the Dark Souls games. Simply put, BB is much faster paced. It rewards you for taking risks and going all-in when fighting your enemies. DS3 requires you to take your time and play more defensively to succeed. It is much more intricate when it comes to character builds and offensive skills. Let’s break each game’s mechanics down a bit.
First of all, there are no shields. Well, there may be one or two but they’re pretty much useless. This should be the first hint that BB is not going to reward you for playing defensively. While this may be frustrating for those who are used to playing with a shield, the game more than makes up for it with bonuses on the other end of the fighting spectrum.
There is no magic or “focus” bar. There are no spells, miracles, or pyromancies. You’ve got your health bar and your stamina bar and that’s it. You can imbue your weapon with things like fire or bolt, but you’re always using a melee weapon. There are no AOE attacks or ranged magic attacks. It was great as a beginner, because there were fewer things to worry about. Pick a weapon, level it up according to its attributes, add gems according to who you’re fighting and you’re good to go.
When in doubt, keep hitting. Bloodborne has this great mechanic where when you’re hit, your health bar goes down, but you’re given a few seconds to try to get all or a portion of that health back. Every hit you deliver in those few seconds regains part of your health. While it still doesn’t completely support getting greedy, it definitely encourages you to take that extra swing or two after you’ve gotten hit, rather than back up and heal right away.
Insight is another mechanic, similar to DS3’s embers, which allows you to co-op when playing in online mode. Additionally though, insight also allows you to see things that otherwise are invisible in the game. Basically, it’s how crazy your character has gone. If you’re being crushed by an invisible force, it’s because you don’t have enough insight to see it. If you’re being gouged by a frenzy attack, it’s because you have too much insight to fight that enemy and your character is going completely mad. So…flippin’…cool.
Bloodborne’s quick dodge, as opposed to DS3’s roll, also adds to BB’s faster play style. I love this mechanic so much. I really think it makes the fighting flow so much better and it’s just more enjoyable to play and watch. Your character quickly slides in whatever direction you choose and there is no “fat rolling” to deal with.
Concise, smooth and fast. That’s the play style you get in Bloodborne.
Dark Souls 3 Mechanics
Shields galore. There is even a shield in the new DLC that you literally need both hands to wield and can be used as weapon as well as a defensive shield. Everything about the game rewards defensive maneuvers. Even when you’re watching the pros in their speed runs, none of the boss fights seem to end as quickly as they do in Bloodborne. The game expects you to take your time and fight with care. You will not only not be rewarded for getting greedy, but you flat out just be killed for it.
Miracles, sorceries and pyromancies, oh my! In addition to melee weapons and shields, there are magic attacks as well. There is a third blue bar for “focus” that enhances these magic attacks so it’s your choice if you want to level up your strength first (how hard you hit), endurance first (how many times you can hit in a row before needing to recover for a few seconds) or focus first (how many magic or powered attacks you can dish out before having to replenish). Magic attacks are not to be underestimated though. I recently co-op’d the Dragon Slayer Armor and summoned a character wearing rags as armor, used the chaos blade on herself before we went in to reduce her health to almost nothing, added a group buff, then proceeded to deal 3000+ damage hits with the lightning spells she was using. I was dumbfounded. I’ve got to research that build. Needless to say, if you stack the right attributes, ranged attacks can be just as powerful as melee attacks.
The video below is one example that gives you a little on pyromancer build lore, and then goes on to explain how to create a pyromancer build.
Fat rolling: when size matters. In Dark Souls 3, if your armor and weapons weigh more than what your character is able to carry, you start to “fat roll”. Your controller vibrates every time you roll and you roll much more slowly. So depressing. You also have to be strong enough to wield certain weapons. If you equip a weapon you’re not strong enough to use, you’re not able to swing it properly and your character will sort of wobble around after attempting it. You really need to pay attention to every aspect of your character build when leveling up in this game. It’s all about planning things out ahead of time and knowing what interacts with what to reap the greatest rewards during your fights.
Rings can make your build. You’ve selected your armor, shield, weapons, spells, but what about your rings? Rings are a great example of why people talk about certain “builds”. They have a faith build or a sorcery build, etc. You’re only allowed 4 rings so you need to choose wisely and choose rings that will enhance your character the most. You could select rings that each do something different, but the benefit really lies in selecting rings, weapons and spells that all give benefits in the same areas. This way, instead of having slightly higher stats in several areas, you can have insanely high stats in a few areas and really start to reek havoc on your enemies.
DS3 takes PvP to a whole other level. While Bloodborne does have some pvp capabilities, it’s no where near as elaborate as it is in Dark Souls 3. When in online mode, you can invade someone else’s world if they’re wearing an ember, even if they don’t want to be invaded, much like you can in Bloodborne. You can intentionally be summoned to someone’s world because they want to play pvp. Depending on your covenant, you can invade as a “mad dark spirit” where you can kill everyone, both on the host’s side and on other invaders’ side. You can be summoned as a phantom to help the host. Or, also depending on your covenant, you can be auto-summoned to help a host in need or kill a host who is trespassing. Many of these summoning mechanics occur to create the maximum amount of chaos. If you’re invaded by one, others are likely coming. Additionally, there is now even an arena that can be accessed that is solely meant for pvp play.
I didn’t much care for pvp initially but I’ve found once you get through the full game a few times, pvp can actually be a lot of fun. It forces you to create the best build possible, or you’ll constantly die. It’s also a great way to farm souls if you’re trying to level up or make some big purchases. I couldn’t believe how many souls were dropped for every invader/host killed. Of course, if no one else is playing online, pvp is going to become harder but with the new DLC out, it’s pvp galore so enjoy it while you can!
Chalice dungeons in Bloodborne are really unequaled in Dark Souls 3, but perhaps are there to fill the vast pvp void. It was really hard to figure them out at first, but I’ve included a video below that is pretty thorough in explaining the ins and outs of them. The best parts of the dungeons, to me, is that there are bosses and weapons you can find in them that aren’t in the main game so you really haven’t experience the full game until you’ve gone through all of the chalice dungeons…and there are A LOT of them. Some of them change every time you create one, others are always the same. Many look similar though, which makes it really difficult to remember where the heck you are and where you need to go. But that’s kinda part of the fun of it. 😛
Give Them a Try!
I can’t recommend both of these games enough. If I absolutely HAD to choose between them, it’d be Bloodborne all day long, but again, that has a lot to do with the subject matter and the fact that it came first in my world. Both games are beautifully done and highly addictive. Shoot me a message if you ever want to play online! My brother and I have plans to pull a late nighter tonight getting in some serious DS3 DLC time. Woot!
Have you played Bloodborne or any of the Dark Souls games? What did you think of them? Do one of these games sound more appealing to you than the other? Comment below!