Monday, December 21, 2015

The "I don't have to have a topic" show: Bloodborne edition

I couldn't come up with a real topic for a post today, and I spent so much time tonight playing Bloodborne that I don't have the energy to write a real one anyway. So here is a description of what I did in Bloodborne tonight.

I started off at the Nightmare Church lamp in the expansion, because I took a few first shots at Ludwig last night. What a miserable fight that is: the size of a giant boss and the speed of a hunter. His combos keep killing me before I can do anything. Eventually I'll have to learn some actual strategies, but for tonight I put that aside in favor of stuff from the main game.

I had gotten to the area before Mergo's Wet Nurse and hadn't really expected to fight it any time soon, since I still have the expansion and some miscellaneous collecting and grinding to do before I want to be forced into New Game +, and I figured once I started the final chain of bosses I'd decide to finish despite that. But then I found out they'd added the Blood Rock to the Insight shop, and I really wanted to +10 my Holy Blade. I used the one you find in the Nightmare of Mensis to +10 my Saw Cleaver, because it had been my main weapon for most of the game and I'm fond of it, but at my current level the Holy Blade is objectively a better option. And you can only buy Blood Rocks with Insight after you defeat the Wet Nurse, so the choice was clear.

I was talking about the game with a friend at work today and he told me it was an easy fight. I thought, Well, maybe for you, because I tend not to do well with giant enemies. But no, he was right: it's surprisingly easy. I have no idea why the official guide lists it as an S-ranked fight. Those melee combos are vicious, but it's so slow that getting behind it and hacking like mad is no problem. I died once because I tried to attack while the clone was out instead of just dodging (and because I still had my triple-stacked Moon runes on instead of the defense and HP boosters I use on bosses), but the next time it went down without much trouble. It only even used Nightmare Veil once. Which makes sense, as something that blinds you more than it does your enemy is a terrible attack. I almost felt bad for it watching it flail around halfway across the room.

So after the fight I went directly to the Insight Shop, bought the Blood Rock, and perfected my Holy Blade. Then I used all my collected Coldblood items to augment the 72,000 echoes you get from the Wet Nurse, and leveled up three times to reach Level 100. (Yes, I am kind of overleveled. I like it that way.) For a long time I was doing a very balanced physical build, with equal amounts of Vitality, Endurance, and Strength, moderate Skill, and low Bloodtinge and Arcane. But the more I used the Holy Blade, the more helpful extra Skill became, and lately I've started thinking it might be nice to use the Threaded Cane in New Game +. So I've started boosting Skill as well. Right now my Vitality, Endurance, and Skill are around 30, while my Strength is 36. Bloodtinge and Arcane are all the way down at 11. I keep wanting to add some, but by now it's like, what's the point?

Then I approached Gehrman, in theory just to watch the cutscene and get a sense of how he moves. But I was able to do so much damage with each combo that I thought, Maybe I could win this tonight, and in fact I did just that on my third try, the first in which I took him past phase one. It was a close thing, though: I had no vials and about 20% HP when he took the final hit. In some ways, the first phase was actually the hardest for me: it's tough to gauge when he's using that hook maneuver, and those combos are brutal. When he pulled out the gun I thought, I'm doomed. But while I got hit a lot (I don't know how to dodge bullet spreads in this game), it never did much damage or delayed me while I was close enough for him to attack. And his forward rolls kept putting him in an ideal position for me to get off a nice combo. The third phase was brutal: I never worked out how to dodge the midair attack, so if he'd used that after I ran out of vials I would have died. But at the end he stuck to basic melee attacks, and while he staggered me twice I had just enough time to dodge away before he could hit me with a visceral. Also, I just kept hitting him while he built up that area of effect attack, not even bothering to dodge, and while I took a lot of damage that way, I could heal and he couldn't.

So Gehrman died, and I quit out immediately before the Moon Presence could kill me and take my Echoes. Which turned out not to exist. I didn't realize the game withheld the ones Gehrman drops until you kill the Moon Presence, although it makes a lot of sense. I didn't try the Moon Presence at all, because I definitely don't want to get caught up in fighting it, win, and wind up in New Game + before I'm ready to be there.

I did some other, less interesting stuff tonight, including checking out how boring it was to grind for Blood Stone Chunks using the Scourge Beasts in the Upper Cathedral Ward (answer: very). But this post is already long enough, and of no interest to most of you anyway. So I think I'll just call it a night.

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