The Hunter’s Nightmare
So the DLC. You get here via the same method you get the the Nightmare Frontier after you kill the Vicar right outside the chapel. Once you load into into DLC area you find yourself right inside the chapel. But things are a tad different. For one no one is here, and theres only two ways in and out. Straight ahead and to the right where you find the hunters workshop in the base game but that’s closed off for now and is just a shortcut. So out the front we shall head and find ourselves in a familiar local. Disappointingly so in some ways. The area that makes up this first third of the DLC is largely a rehash of the Cathedral Ward and Central Yharnam with the Nightmare Frontier smooshed into it and yes that is the scientific term. It’s all fine really but doesn’t pull this off as well as later areas in the DLC or in the Dark Souls DLCs reworking of Dark Root Basin but it’s fine. Really it’s fine. It’s fine. Not too far in you find the first of the Old Hunters. One of the primary enemies in this fist bit is actually hunters that are not as toned down from the NPC hunters you fight in the main game as you might think. They hit hard as hell at any level and when I ran in here to grab the Whiligig Saw getting caught by them was a death sentence and it’s not much better as far into the game as I am either. But if you can parry them you’ll have no real issue here at least until you fuck up or have to deal with two at once. And you will. They also look a bit weird. They have weird eyes that make them look a bit like that blue dude from the PS2 Legacy Of Kain games and it’s a tad out of place. It’s a bit too exaggerated all told but we can talk about how From’s Art team gets a tad lazy in spots when we talk about Dark Souls III. The other thing you’ll likely notice first is that there’s a lot more men turned into beasts hanging around at once than you see in a lot of other areas and they don’t really pose much of a threat and in spots will go out of their way to avoid you. This is a big Theme of the DLC. This whole thing is a dream scape of the first hunt and the things that lead up to it and how it went (Spoiler: Poorly). Granted it’s only as literal as a dream can be but you’ll find insight here none the less. The section here is the Cathedral Ward area and is largely the same. It’s a fun twist on the area but I’m not getting paid by the word so that’s where I’ll leave it. There’s a few types of hunter here the blunt bone whip using scarecrow dudes, and some guys in top hats with a weapon called the Boom Hammer which is a hammer that instead of a transformed state has a buff akin to a weapon called the Tonitrus that let’s its next hit explode for a burst of damage. It’s cool. Actually there’s a lot of really cool weapons here and in this DLC in general. You get the blunt whip thing here, there’s the Whiligig Saw, The Rayuko, the arm of an Amygdala which is sort of alive? Lots of cool stuff. You’ll also find in the Cathedral proper the corpse of a Cleric Beast in the thinking man’s Jesus pose. You have to go up and examine this altar to get an item that let’s you progress past the first boss of the DLC. After this you you make your way to the right of the Cathedral which is the base game leads of to the Gaol area but here leads into the subsection of Central Yharnam that has The Loop. Here you can find a beast man who is sort of in between the Werewolves and the DWHVLAAIVAs. He’s actually an NPC hunter that has a special rune equipped and the beast claws as his weapon who attacks in weird ways thanks to the combination. If you take him out you also get the rune and can use the Beast Claws the same way he does and take on his appearance. Past this you get to the last section which is the blood river with skinned people in it. Look, it’s the first hunt some people were bound to get skinned it’s just how things go. You’ll find more ticks here but a bit harder to kill and in larger groups. You’ll also find a cave here that has a hunter with a gatling gun (one of the new guns you can get in the DLC) who is such a pain in the ass that I haven’t bothered killing him and I think a blood starved beast in there as well but it’s dark and the gatling dude sucks so I have no idea and you can’t make me find out. Also in the river is a shortcut back to the lamp and past that the second section of the blood river which is a section of Yharnam toppled over with more damn dogs, I hate dogs, and barking crows, I hate barking crows. Here you find the bonfire before the boss and the Whiligig Saw which right before pick that up a slug beast in a shell falls from the sky and screams ala Morrowind, the worst Elder Scrolls game. This implies something important about the construction of the nightmare in that if something falls from above here there must be something above us. Something I should mention is the cthulu church guards that that hang out outside the lamp building that look cool are though to fight and are never seen again after this and aren’t used super well. That’s kind of true of this whole section of the DLC honestly. The later stuff is great and enough for me to call this the best DLC in the series but this bit is a tad meh for sure. Okay let’s get on to the main event:
LUDWIG THE ACCURSED
This is the best and worst boss fight in the entire franchise. It’s hard as hell, by far the hardest boss fight I’ve fought in any of the Souls games. It took me over a hundred tries and I have beaten this game like 5 other times including this boss twice. By the time I beat him I was dodging back and forth having learned every god damn move he had in his first phase like the dance you so often see combat described as in video games. It was a week long effort and at the end I felt alive in a way games really make me feel let alone ones I’ve played so much. And also if I’d just come back when the game wanted me to I’d have done it in like a day as this is one of the few bosses that really expects you to be at a certain level. It would still be a damn hard fight even then though. He has a number of attacks that are instant kills at most levels and all are dodgeable but work on a very specific timing. To list a few: his bite attack if you get hit more than once, his jump attack if you try to roll away from it will end you most of the time so just run away, his arcane vomit (God the eyes on the inside of his second mouth are just the worst) attack can kill you if you get caught in it, and worst of all a charge attack where he starts screaming, well, screams more than normal anyways, and then rushes forward in an attack that only builds focused on health will survive, and all of these are fast enough that if you’re trying to pull off a charge attack you’re likely screwed. So don’t do that! You have to really learn the fight on this one no doubt. There’s no room for error but if you put the effort in you’ll find you won’t really need more then you’re given (we can talk about difficulty options later it’s just a bigger conversation than this one fight or game). Even as fast as he is this isn’t a Bayonetta/DMC style fight where you can never tell when or where an attack is coming from. The whole fight takes place in a largely featureless room and it pays off in readability, which in turn forces you to just stare at him. And he is awful to look at. It’s one of the triumphs of the game. It takes things that should be unknowable nightmares you can’t bare to look at and makes you stare at them and makes sure they never lose their horror, that you never feel comfortable just looking at them and forces you to stare for hours at them until they haunt your dreams with their horse like visage. Once you get him down to about half health he gets to his second form after a short cutscene where he talks about his guiding moonlight and how it was with him all along, and pulls the sword from his back that the game carefully highlights in the cutscene that pays the first time you take on the boss. And after that he stands on his back two legs and moves gracefully and wields the Moonlight blade with skill and it’s just so creepy after a week of animalistic screaming nonstop. It’s just a fantastic example of how to do horror in a game like this I can not speak highly enough of it. The second phase of the fight is not anyway near as hard as the first. His attacks don’t hit as hard and are easier to dodge out of mid combo. It’s not easy by any means and he can still take you out pretty quick but most of the difficulty of this phase is getting here enough to learn his new moves. I have to say I really love this fight but in the same way that I think Gascoine is too much for where it’s at in the game I think this fight is too much for the start of this DLC. I would swap him out for the secret fight in the chapel I talked about earlier and make Ludwig the secret final boss of the DLC. If the rest of the DLC was as hard as this first bit I wouldn’t mind it, but here it forces you to get much better at the game than the rest of it requires and makes it all seem a tad easy. Having said that others have had different experiences with that so who knows
Get it you’ll find insight. Do you get it? Do you? I slay me though sadly I am not worth many echoes
I don’t get why people use the phrase Soulsborne when Bloodborne is clearly a Souls game in all but name. I guess it’s technically more precise?
There’s a skinless dude right before the Ludwig fight that drops blood vials and even with all the ones I used fighting the boss I still had over 500 vials in storage by the time I was done
I liked that April Fools joke to see if other people could even see it and now I can’t unlike it and I feel very hoisted by this