The game’s approach to DLC is as unorthodox as its gameplay. Rather than have a shoehorned selection in the game’s main menu that allows you to access the additional portions, new areas in “The Old Hunters” have been seamlessly woven into the existing world. Near the Cathedral Ward area, there’s a makeshift graveyard. Standing near it normally prompts one of the game’s other-worldly creatures to whisk you into the air before crushing the life out of you. Once the DLC is installed, that creature teleports you to the Hunter’s Nightmare; a place filled with blood drunk hunters and other foul beasts.
If there’s one thing you should know about “The Old Hunters” expansion, it’s how to approach it. This all depends on whether or not you’re in New Game+. Sony recommends a level of 65 for average players accessing the new areas, but that’s only going to cut it if you’re not in New Game+. I imagine most people player “The Old Hunters” DLC will have already beaten the game, which means they’re in the middle of a New Game+ playthrough. If that’s the case, you’re going to need a level of about 130 to cut it against these bosses, because they are some of the most difficult in the game.
Difficult is good in the world of “Bloodborne.” Anyone who has pumped dozens of hours into the game are clearly looking for a challenge, and “The Old Hunters” delivers. The $20 price tag provides more than a dozen hours of content. My time with the expansion clocked in between 15 and 20 hours, if you include the couple extra hours grinding out additional levels in order to be formidable against the expansion’s four new bosses.
The expansion has ten additional weapons to add to the arsenal and plenty of new enemies to use those weapons against. As someone who used the starting sawblade throughout the entire “Bloodborne” campaign, this is a welcome addition. Some of the new weapons are quite powerful, and will surely replace whatever weapon you once loved in the pre-expansion game.
Another new feature of “The Old Hunters” is the addition of NPC helper hunters. Specific areas of the expansion, as well as parts of the pre-expansion game, have places to summon the help of an additional hunter. The hunter will then accompany you, helping to take on any creatures or bosses you encounter. Being an active participant in the battle will give the hunter time to heal. Each helper has a finite number of healing items. If they die during a boss fight and you were unsuccessful in defeating the boss, the helper can be summoned again.
The addition of A.I. hunters is great for anyone who doesn’t want to play online, but still wants a co-op experience. Unfortunately, the actual A.I. within these characters isn’t that great. They’re not particularly smart when it comes to engaging enemies. Anyone worth their salt at “Bloodborne” knows that every enemy encounter should be strategically approached. If there’s a group of enemies, throw a pebble to get a single enemy’s attention and pick them off one by one. The helper doesn’t share that same game knowledge. He or she will just charge into every enemy they see, which puts you in harms way when battle could’ve been avoided completely. The helpers are somewhat helpful during boss fights, but I wish there were specific commands you could give to keep the helper in line.
Poor A.I. in the helper hunters can’t stop “The Old Hunters” from achieving greatness. This is a meaty and challenging expansion that fans of “Bloodborne” have been waiting for. Take a step into the Hunter’s Nightmare and remember why “Bloodborne” is one of the best games of 2015.
9.0 out of 10