Never has the phrase bloody hell been more applicable.
The Old Hunters is a DLC/ Expansion pack valued at roughly $20 (give or take for exchange rates and whatnot) and is probably worth twice that amount, but From Software are only masochists, not money gluttons. So instead they hand us the metaphorical olive branch. Then, in typical From Software fashion they proceeded to beat us to near death with said branch to remind us why we’re here.
To start us off I will say this game does not have the same entry method of, lets say, Dark Souls (that being a circuit through the entire game, confusion, then a quick trip to the wiki page). The method of entry to this piece of torturous enjoyment is shoved in your face as soon as the expansion is installed, which is actually quite helpful.
So after picking up the DLC “key” and being whisked away by the Amygdala/Cthulu monster atop the church, I set foot in the first area of the new DLC, and at first was struck at how blatantly it was almost exactly the same as the area I just left. Thankfully however, this is no simple re-skin with some slight tweaks to enemy placements, the cheeky level designers turned the entire place into something out of the disturbed mind of a vampiric gardener. The first portion of the DLC mixes up the original gothic style of the Cathedral Ward area with some weird giant stone things that look like masses of tree roots. It gets even more vampiric with the river of blood, the weirdly assembled masses of corpses all covered in blood and the constant disturbing mockery of previous hells being shoved in your eye sockets.
It is good to be back.
This DLC has traded a lot of the weird monstrosity enemies for the regular blood drunk hunters and the beasts they fight. There were two scenes presenting this conflicted landscape that I personally thought stood out among others in the early DLC. During the first, I followed two small beasties along a weird tree-stone bridge, when a hunter appeared on the other side. Right, I think, I can take this guy easy he looks like a chump with a stick. That aforementioned stick then became a giant bladed whip which pounded both me and the poor beasties into the dirt. The Second moment was literally a minute later and took place in the circular plaza where the church giants used to be. In this Nightmare world however, the plaza is home to a small war between two hunters and a dozen beasties. Obviously the DLC shifts back to that late game Lovecraftian feel later on, to a point where even the bloody weapons become call backs to Cthulu and friends.
Speaking of usable weapons, they managed to pack quite a few (12 I believe) new weapons into this, and to my bloodthirsty delight quite a few of the fun ones appear rather early. Among others, we have the strength version of the Threaded Cane, as mentioned earlier, A falchion like version of the Saw Cleaver, and more unique weapons such as the Boom Hammer (No I did not make that name up), The Amygdalan Arm (exactly is what it sounds like) and the Whirligig Saw (which is basically a giant pizza cutter). A few extra off hand items do make an appearance also, such as a new, slightly stranger cannon and an actually useful magic proof shield. Two magic items I didn’t even use are also present, one shoots eye blasts and the other is a head you throw at people that explodes. New attire is also included (obviously) alongside two rather large cosmetic and game-changing items. Two new Caryll Runes transform you into a beast and a blue cauliflower respectively. These transformations change up weapon move sets, as well as give off passive bonus’s. Oddly these runs are equipped in the spot where the covenant rune would usually reside.
But you don’t play these games for their new runes do you reader? No, what your here for is the big bollock-ticklingly tough bosses right? Well of course I have you covered. Actually all of these bosses, except for one which is just the Celestial Emissary gank edition, are all incredibly well designed and intense. The first two bosses having enormous lore implications, as well one dropping the coolest weapons in the game (hint hint its blue and shoots lasers) and the other the beast rune, really does help cement how awesome they are. The Celestial Emissary take two isn’t great, but is instantly followed by my favourite Hunter boss in the entire game so far. Then right after that you have one of the most disturbing bosses in the game. Like the original, pretty much all of these bosses pump up the difficulty as you do more damage to them, but do so in ways that make the jaws not only drop, but completely detach from the jaw. A highlight of this procedural difficulty curve was with one particular dual wielding sod, whose attacks gradually increased from slightly tough hunter to BDSM enthusiast and finally living amalgamation of all our hates and fears.
I’ve never had so much fun ramming into a brick wall.
Now, I didn’t really touch the updated online components, as the Adversarial play (PvP) never really gripped me like the invasions of Dark Souls, and I avoided summoning out of pure stubbornness. However, I can safely say that connection issues seem to have been smoothed out and co-op play is more common than before, probably due to the new discount sunbro covenant. From what I understand PvP is still fast and furious as ever, but we’re set to see more weapon variety if i’m not mistaken.
Overall? It’s an excellent addition to a game that was good enough for any expansions to be pretty unneeded. The new areas are awesome, the creative direction is solid as ever, the lore expanded enormously. What’s not to like?
But if you’re not sold, I understand. Just remember.
It’s got a sword that shoots blue space lasers. You know it’s top quality.