Getting ahead in Bloodborne
Bloodborne is infamously hard. Even if you’re genuinely good at games, you’re going to die over and over again. It’s part of the process.
However, you also need to be smart to avoid Bloodborne becoming so frustrating you end up with a gamepad lodged in your TV. We’ve been playing the game for dozens of hours now, so have a few tips and tricks to share to make those first hours in Bloodborne’s hellish world that bit more, well, comfortable.
From making your character to exactly what some of Bloodborne’s mystery terms actually mean, here’s a round-up of our top Bloodborne tips and tricks.
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Picking a class
As with the other From Software games, picking a class is important. It’s not just about choosing one that suits your play style, but about how hard you want to be on yourself too. Some are designed to be harder than others. Especially at the beginning.
In Bloodborne, they’re called Origins. But they’re effectively the same old collection of character stats we’re used to.
For your first game, forget Cruel Fate and Waste of Skin. As the names suggest, they’re harsh classes. Just for the ultra hard-core? Absolutely not, but they’ll make the first few hours especially tricky.
Cruel Fate has a focus on the Arcane stat, which governs the use of magic weapons. But it’s a while into Bloodborne before you’ll even meet one.
Waste of Skin is tricky because it starts you at level 4 instead of level 10 like the other classes. You start off as a weakling, but can therefore customise your stats better than with any other class. It’s worth considering once you’ve memorised the first Bloodborne area, which minimises the level issue.
All the other classes are reasonable choices, but for a real all-rounder try out Milquetoast, which has fair stats in all areas.
What do the stats mean?
As ever with a From Software game, Bloodborne doesn’t go out of its way to explain anything in the game. Here’s a quick look at what each actually means:
Blood Echoes: This is Bloodborne’s currency. It’s important, but not when selecting a class. Don’t factor this into a class choice.
VItality: The biggest factor in deciding how many hit points your character has. Along with your defence stat, this governs how much damage you can soak up.
Endurance: This one affects, primarily, your stamina bar – the green bar you’ll see below your health bar. It takes a hit whenever you attack, roll away to dodge or run. It’s very important in staying nimble, especially if you use a bigger weapon.
Strength: Obvious one, this. Strength is the primary stat that affects the damage done by standard melee weapons.
Bloodtinge: This is initially the most confusing of all the stats. Bloodtinge affects the power of your firearms. To start with they’re pretty weak compared to your main weapon, so if you want a ‘mostly gun-firing’ character, you have a tough road ahead.
Arcane: Determining magic skill, Arcane isn’t much use during the first stages of Bloodborne, but will come in handy later.
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At the start of the game, you wake up in Yarnham. It’s a city that has made its way so far down the drain it’s basically post-apocalyptic.
The flavour of apocalypse for this scene is a strange disease that turns people into nasty werewolf-like characters, plenty of whom you’ll get to meet further down the line. You enter Yarnham as the hunt is happening. It’s a city-wide purge Bloodborne doesn’t even try to explain, but means there are gangs of enemies to deal with right from the off.
But first, we have to deal with a werewolf. As you stumble down from the starting room, the clinic, you’ll meet a near-death werewolf. On first attempt you’re meant to die. You’re unarmed, and we’ve not yet managed to kill the thing with karate chops alone.
On your death you’re taken to Hunter’s Dream. This is Bloodborne’s hub area. It’s safe, it’s where you level-up and where you can transport to other areas of the game.
On first visiting Hunter’s Dream you’ll pick up your starter weapons, by interacting with hotspots up the stairs near to the point where you wake up, post werewolf-mauling.
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You need to pick between three melee weapons and two ranged ones. On the melee side, there’s a saw, an axe and a cane.
They break down into a pretty typical spread of weapon types. The Axe is big and powerful, the saw is faster and slightly less powerful while the cane is very nimble but doesn’t do a huge amount of damage.
Try to match up the weapon to the class you picked. We favoured the axe for its great charged attack, but the general consensus seems to be that the saw is the most versatile.
The ranged weapons are even more clearly separated. The blunderbuss is a short-range weapon that fires pellets out at a fairly wide angle, and can be used to knock back a gang of enemies running towards you. It doesn’t inflict all that much damage, though — none at anything but close-range.
The pistol has a longer range, and inflicts more damage, but only hits one target. It’s not going to be all that useful when a whole gang of enemies is running towards you. For most classes, the blunderbuss is more useful.
After choosing your weapons and making your way back to Yarnham, make sure to equip them before taking on the werewolf again. As usual Bloodborne doesn’t help you out here, but if you cant work it our for yourself you might as well give up.
If you think you made the wrong choice, don’t worry. After you kill the first boss you’re able to buy all these weapons from the merchant in Hunter’s Dream (along with some others).
How weapons work in Bloodborne
Bloodborne takes quite a different approach to combat to the other From Software games. You cannot rely on a shield, and the game forces you into a more aggressive combat style.
However, after you’ve taken damage, you can actually regain much of the health by hitting back within a certain amount of time. It’s a neat mechanic that makes combat feel more action-heavy than, for example, Dark Souls II. You still need to be careful, though – it’s not much good if you end up getting hit again trying to regain some of your health.
Main weapons also have two ‘modes’. They can be used as large weapons that do more damage, but are slower and may rule out being able to use a firearm, or smaller single-handed weapons that have slightly less damage, and generally less range. You can flick between these two modes fairly rapidly by pressing L1, but it’s not so quick you can do so easily mid-combat.
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How to level up
Blood Echoes are used to buy items from merchants and to level up. Initially, you can buy some items from the merchant in the bird bath (well that’s what it looks like) in the Hunter’s Dream hub, while you level-up by talking to the doll, also in Hunter’s Dream.
However, for the first chunk of the game the doll will be an inanimate object: it needs to come to life before you can spend Blood Echoes on improving your character. We’re yet to work out the exact trigger that makes the doll come to life, but we had explored most of Yarnham before it did. And lost about 10,000 Blood Echoes in the process.
Rather than simply stockpiling Blood Echoes while waiting for the doll to awake, consider buying improved armour from the merchant in Hunter’s Dream. There’s a full set of ‘Yarnham’ gear to be had that’ll suck up 2500 Blood Echoes. There’s no way to keep Blood Echoes safe directly so buy this gear to avoid just losing that early currency.
Stockpile items to ‘reserve’ cash
So you can’t keep Blood Echoes safe, but you can keep an indirect store of them by stockpiling items. In Hunter’s Dream, one of the tables in the house lets you store items. These can then be sold when you need an extra cash injection to level up.
In other words, don’t just sell items as soon as you no longer need them. Store them instead and sell them when you need the cash.
Check in on the messengers every now and then
Messengers are the creepy little grey guys you see in floor hotspots, and they also sell you stuff in Hunter’s Dream. More of them appear as you defeat bosses and progress through the game, unlocking more ‘layers’ of equipment.
There are also other fountains in Hunter’s Dream, one at the side of the main house and one in the little hidden garden behind it. These aren’t unlocked too early in the game, but it’s best to check up on them every now and then in case a new messenger has popped-up.
The O button is you best friend during combat. Whenever you meet a new enemy, instead of soiling yourself and mashing the attack button, try to observe it. Each enemy has a series of attack patterns. Learning them is how to really get ahead in Bloodborne, much more than levelling up your character.
Avoid at all costs getting surrounded by enemies. Even if you know attack patterns, that won’t come in too handy when a whole bunch of them are being pelted at you at different intervals, at different angles.
If you picked the blunderbuss as your starter weapon, use that to delay their attacks as they approach, then use a swiping attack that will hit more than one enemy. Killing enemies earns you Blood Echoes, although there are also plenty of items that can be ‘used’ to earn you them too.
What are Lamps?
In Dark Souls II, Bloodborne’s predecessor in all but name, bonfires are used as continue points. In Bloodborne, there are lamps instead. They play much the same role – our assumption is that the slightly more modern lamp was seen as fitting in better with the more modern aesthetic of Bloodborne’s gun-filled world.
When you use a lamp you can teleport back to Hunter’s Dream, where you can effectively ‘cash in’ any Blood Echoes you’ve earned by killing enemies. However, doing so also resets the enemies throughout the game. They all re-spawn.
Unlike Dark Souls II, enemies don’t stop respawning after a while either. In Dark Souls II, this was a measure to stop players simply mining a single area over and over again to level up, unbalancing the game. It seems From Software has decided that the more active combat minimises the issue of the player becoming overpowered: you’re never immune to a good mauling in Bloodborne.
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Dying and Losing Blood Echoes
Died again? Well, it happens a lot in Bloodborne. However, unless you die somewhere particularly nasty, there’s not necessarily that much of a tax on death in the game.
When you die, you lose your Blood Echoes and are transported to the nearest lamp. However, the Blood Echoes are only truly gone if you die again without re-collecting them.
You can find your lost Blood Echoes by tracking back to where you died. They’ll either be there as a glowing mass on the floor, looking a bit like a steaming mass of dog mess, or an enemy will have nicked them. Any enemy in possession of your Blood Echoes will glow, in the eyes. Kill them and you’ll regain your stash.
Killing the first boss – Cleric Beast
Getting past the first couple of bosses is the first set of big hurdles you need to get over. The Cleric Beast is the first you should encounter, and it’s found on a rampart of the upper area of Yarnham, behind a pair of werewolves.
These werewolves are very tricky to kill, so we recommend exploring until you find the shortcut that takes you ahead of them. It sits in the dark house where you’ll find the enemy in a wheelchair – just go up the stairs and you’re there. Alternatively, lure the werewolves to this house. You can get in, but they're too big to fit through the door, giving you the advantage.
To defeat the Cleric Beast our top recommendation is to take your time. This boss’ behaviour stays pretty consistent throughout the fight, and its attacks aren’t too hard to dodge a good 75 per cent of the time. So just don’t get greedy, just take it slow. With careful use of the dash move, you can get behind the boss when it tries to attack you and give it a heavy attack, before dodging out of the way to avoid getting stuck by any of its follow-up hits.
You’ll ideally want to level-up your character a little first, though, or it’ll take an age.
Killing the second boss – Father Gascoigne
If you take a few wrong turns you may find yourself up against Father Gascoigne before you encounter the Cleric Beast. We think he’s trickier than that boss, so think about heading back if you find Gascoigne first.
He’s a hunter like you, but has been infected by the lycanthropy virus, as you find out during the fight. When his health is reduced to around 15-20 per cent, he turns into a giant werewolf.
Even before this, though, he’s pretty tricky. We had the most luck when luring Gascoigne up to the flat paved area up the stairs. Below this, where you start, is filled with gravestones that can stop you from avoiding his attacks successfully. Up at the top area, Gascoigne’s attacks are also easier to predict.
By dodging out of the way of his slashes, you’ll find enough of a window to charge up a heavy attack that should knock a fair bit of health off him. It may be worth upgrading your weapon if you find the battle very hard. Once he transforms into the werewolf, the fight becomes even trickier as those gaps are very small. You may want to keep some Molotov Cocktails handy, as there’s not enough time for super attacks in this last stage.
What is insight?
Insight is left initially as a mystery in Bloodborne. However, within Yarnham you’ll pick up a bell that uses Insight to let you summon other players to help you in the game’s trickier bits.
At certain points Bloodborne simply gives you additional Insight, but you can also gain extra Insight by using an item called Madman’s Knowledge. These are, like most things, just found around the game world.
How to upgrade weapons
As well as levelling up your character, you can upgrade your weapons. Using one of the tables in the house of Hunter’s Dream and items called Blood Stone Shards, you can significantly increase the damage they inflict.
In the early part of the game, these are most commonly dropped by the half-werewolf enemies. You can upgrade your weapons three times before the upgrade cycle will move onto a new catalyst. This is there to limit how much you can super-charge your weapons in the first area.
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Don’t forget you can run and slide down ladders
Your character in Bloodborne is pretty nimble. More so than you may realise to start with. Don’t forget that using the O button you can run and slide quickly down ladders.
Some enemies will follow you up and down ladders, so use the slide move to get a lead on them.
Have any other tips and tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments below.