With the DLC being packaged in with the full game and being sold as a unit, it’s possible that some people will be starting their foray into Yharnam for the first time soon. Most of the joy in Bloodborne comes from figuring things out for yourself and I will attempt to not get into things you really SHOULD be figuring out for yourself (where to go/what to do sort of things). But there’s a difference between being difficult and reveling (as babes) in the joy of discovery and being completely inaccessible.
To that end I’ll outline how to painlessly ease into getting your butt kicked and loving it.
The first headscratching item for most players is character creation where it asks you to choose a background. This background influences your stats mildly. First, let me say that any background is really OK. The difference in numbers you see isn’t going to make or break your character so feel free to choose any that you really want for your first playthrough. Mostly these backgrounds will play a role with min/maxers, otherwise, just pick one you think sounds appropriate to your playstyle.
Vitality - Your health
Stamina/Endurance - how many times you can swing your weapon in succession/how far you can run without needing a break. Also affects resistances
Strength - how hard you hit with certain melee weapons. All starter weapons are governed by strength
Skill - how hard you hit with certain melee weapons
Bloodtinge - affects your firearm strength and also the chikage’s transformed mode
Arcane - how hard you hit with certain arcane weapons. Also raises the drop rate (discover statistic).
Certain weapons have certain statistic requirements but I’ll let you play and figure that part out for yourself. For the beginning of the game I’d recommend not worrying TOO much about bloodtinge/skill/arcane. There’s a soft cap at 25 - raise your vitality/endurance/strength to near these levels if you’re really not interested in the minutiae of weaponry. You won’t have access to certain weapons, but you’ll be fine for the first half of the game at least. Then you can start leveling other stats.
All three starting trick weapons have strengths and weaknesses. The threaded cane is a pretty risky choice for your first playthrough as it needs a lot of room to maneuver. The Saw Cleaver is pretty amazing looking, boasts quick attacks that use far less stamina than the axe but at the cost of lower base damage. The Axe is slow. When it’s in trick mode you cannot fire your gun. However, I’d recommend it to everyone on their first playthrough as it sports the most OP spin move this side of the Rio Grande. If you hold R2 to charge your attack you have the opportunity to hit enemies in front of you TWICE with a power attack, PLUS it will knock back most medium/small enemies.
Equipping items at Iosefka’s clinic
You are meant to die to the werewolf. Once. Go into the Hunter’s Dream and talk to the things on the ground. They will give you your starting weapon. Equip it. The game doesn’t really tell you how to do this and the typical, enter inventory, click on item doesn’t work.
Hit the option button on the PS4 controller to bring up your menu. Go to the second row and select an empty box. The left 2 boxes are for firearm, the right two are for your melee weapon (you can have 2 of each). For now just put your gun in one, and your melee in the other.
Equipping armor is done the same way only via the third row instead of the second. The Fourth row is for quick use items bound to the square button. You can place things like Molotov’s or pebbles, or poisoned knives here. Press down on the d pad to cycle through them in combat and square button to use.
Don’t attack Iosefka’s door. You’re nothing more than a beast.
Parrying and Visceral Attacks
Learn to parry. Enemies basically have a base animation where they circle you or walk around warily. Any time they exit this animation it means they’re about to attack. As soon as they leave the animation, give it a beat, and then fire your gun at them. Learn to do this it will save you many many blood vials.
Visceral attacks can be achieved one of two ways. The easiest (for me at least) is to parry first. When an enemy is parried they fall to their knees or have a stagger animation. Run up so you’re touching them, and do a basic R1 attack. This is a devastating blow that will frequently 1 hit kill an enemy. If not it will reduce their HP substantially. Bosses (although it seems pretty inconsistent so I’ll say SOME bosses) can be parried. This actually makes the first boss fight much easier.
The second way to do a visceral attack is to use a CHARGED R2 attack from behind an enemy. It’s a “backstab” attack but it’s pretty finicky. You have to be RIGHT next to them which is difficult as the difference between walking and jogging is a hair’s breadth of pressure and anything more than a sneak will alert enemies to your presence. Also you can RUN by holding circle.
About That First Boss
Do not lock on (R3). For some reason From Software decided to put their buggiest fight first and the camera in lock on mode is NOT your friend. Just leave it off unless you’re going to try to parry. Also as for most bosses, the strategy is to try to remain behind a boss.
The Starting Area
Until you reach the first boss you cannot level so don’t worry overly much about blood echoes.* Use this area to learn the range on your weapon, how to parry, how to dodge, how to love. Doors and windows with a red lantern mean that an interaction can take place there. Most of these are just flavor/atmosphere but some are quite helpful and may yield helpful items over time.
Also learn not to aggro 10 enemies at once. The fire section of the starting area gives you a chance to use pebbles or rifle shots to lure enemies out of a crowd. You’re not Rambo, you cannot survive a 6 on 1 at first.
*Not TECHNICALLY true. You CAN find a Madman’s mask lying on the ground in one area of the game which you can use to gain insight and level up. However, I’d recommend ignoring it for now. You do NOT need to level up to beat cleric beast.
Many games use a checkpoint system and at first blush it seems Bloodborne does as well. Lanterns allow you to fast travel across the map however you have to light them first. Do not fall into the trap of always searching for a lantern. Most lanterns are guarded by difficult boss enemies.
Instead, Bloodborne rewards you with shortcuts for those that have the skill to find them. Change your mindset from “getting to a lantern” to “explore the map thoroughly,” it will save you frustration and your sanity over the long term as you’ll learn the nooks and crannies of the map. It’s more Metroid than Final Fantasy 13.
Certain areas are great for farming certain items. There are sections of the game where you can get tons and tons of blood stone shards (the base item needed for upgrading weaponry on a basic level). There are sections where you can get 20 blood vials in 2 minutes or so. Pay attention after the first boss to what sort of items the enemies are dropping in certain areas in the game.
Don’t worry about dying. Yes, obligatory “YOU WILL DIE A LOT” but think about it. When was the last game you played where you DIDN’T die a lot? I die as much in Bloodborne as I do in Tomb Raider. I’m bad at video games but even I learned to be decent at Bloodborne. It’s rewarding as hell when you finally stab your sword/axe into that stupid boss that’s been spraying you with poison and is so damned cheap and oh my god I hated that guy...erm, and the words, “PREY SLAUGHTERED” instead of “YOU DIED” flash on the screen.
If you’re really stuck, use the Beckoning Bell. I tried to use it at one boss though (that poison spraying boss is a real bitch) and no one came so YMMV.
Don’t walk around with XXXXk blood echoes. Just....spend them. If you’re far away from a lantern, assume there’s a shortcut somewhere. There’s no shame in backtracking all the way to the lantern to go spend your echoes. You can always just sprint past the enemies to get back to where you were. Heck, you could, if you had enough gumption, and skill (OK this MIGHT be impossible) just run past all enemies and try to do an all boss run.
I hope this has helped some, and if you have more questions, feel free to leave them below. You can always reach me on Discord if you want to have a lively Bloodborne discussion.