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    bloodborne: Greatness awaits as hardcore hack ‘n’ slasher enters final straight

    That’s just like a Dark Souls rookie: bringing a knife to a chuffing huge greatsword fight. From Software has always provided a plethora of eviscerating, barbecuing, bludgeoning tools to help dispatch the game’s demons. Remember the Drake Sword? Fab at slaying dragons, right? How about Santier’s Spear, eh? Don’t pretend you didn’t twirl it around humming lightsaber noises while pretending to be Darth Maul at his Liam Neeson-offing best. Yet regardless of how potent the Souls games’ arsenal proved, their weapons could never Optimus Prime themselves into fresh slaughtering tools. Why hello Mr Sword-whip! We’ve a feeling you’ll be more than a little fond of another sword we’re about to introduce, too…

    Revealed in the artbook that comes with the Japanese limited edition of Bloodborne, the ‘Greatsword Of The Church’ is a hulking blade that appears to hold a bond with the Kirkhammer. C’mon, you’ve not forgotten the colossal joint mallet/sword monstrosity, have you?

    Well, this new pious blade rocks a very similar handle to that mighty transformable hammer. Could certain weapons in Bloodborne level up into new, more devastating forms? The book also shows the Greatsword in two flavours one of which is wrapped in rags. Could this act as some form of seal which needs to be broken before the sword can be fully levelled up? It would hardly be new territory for From Software. The Star Wars-aping spear in Dark Souls II we mentioned has a rotten fat rock you have to bust apart before it gives up its full PvP potential. That a simple sketch can provoke such pondering is further evidence Bloodborne will surely preserve the enigmatic mystery which makes the Souls series so beguiling… and murdery.
    “There’s far more  to the world of yharnam than grizzly jack the ripper cobbles.”
    A Class Apart
    While you mentally tick off the days until the game’s release on 27 March, let’s switch focus to an area that’s not had much light shed on it since last autumn’s Alpha: classes. Though this may well change for the final game, Bloodborne currently has four different player styles. From what we’ve played so far, they don’t offer quite the same variety as, say, picking between Cleric or Warrior in Dark Souls II. Regardless, they should still have a significant impact upon how your cloaked hero approaches battle.

    First, there’s the Saw Hunter: a class that comes equipped with the Saw Cleaver (oooh, rusty) and a pistol. Next is Axe Hunter, which offers a Hunter’s Axe and a heavy pistol. Then it’s on to Church Hunter: a battle type where you hunt clergymen with a Super Soaker swirling with holy water… that, or a class with the Kirkhammer and a blunderbuss. Finally, the Black Plume Hunter wields Warped Twinblades for extra-special stabby time and a more agile version of Bloodborne’s pistol. With combat now much more focused on aggression (due to From ditching the block button), learning the quirks of each class’ killing tools will prove vital. Bagsy first go on Church Hunter…

    See The Sights
    If there’s been a slight concern amongst all the gushing pre-release coverage for Bloodborne, it’s that the world of Yharnam may lack the visual variety of a Lordran or Drangleic. It’s an easy assumption to make after all, From has only really shown Gothic streets that mimic Victorian London so far. Our advice? Stop worrying. Aside from building peerless combat systems, the Japanese studio has also proven itself a world-builder of the very highest calibre. Few developers can squeeze such elegant under-the-radar detailing into their environments as Hidetaka Miyazaki’s team.

    Besides, there’s far more to Yharnam than grizzly Jack The Ripper cobbles. You may not find yourself in a greenhouse patrolled by a 70ft butterfly (a la Dark Souls’ Darkroot Garden), but there are likely to be several surprising locales stuffed into the final game. There have already been brief glimpses of Hemwick Cemetery a warmly lit, mist-filled graveyard that is far prettier than Corpse Central has any right to be. Or how about the Forbidden Forest? The twisting shrubs of these woods couldn’t be further from the grimy pavements that dominated the Alpha. Also, they totally house a massive snake.

    From Software’s last three Souls games on PlayStation have redefined what hardcore can mean in the medium. No other studio boasts work which proves to be so harshly intoxicating or as brutally rewarding. Should Bloodborne mimic Dark Souls’ wonderful balance of painful perseverance and giddy triumph, you’re most likely in for a classic. If this isn’t PS4’s first true essential exclusive, we’ll Kirkhammer our temples in for sure.

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