I’ll admit it, I hated the From Software community. That’s a strong word, but I certainly didn’t like them. A nameless group that I never met, but could classify together as a collective of gamers who liked – no – loved From Software’s games: Demon Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, and the latest, Bloodborne. I’m not saying my dislike was justified, because it wasn’t. I had no right to judge anyone, but I couldn’t help it. There was this aura of pretentiousness that always seemed to reside in that community whenever I ran into them on a forum post. Little did I know that it was my own vanity and misconception that led me to those views. Everything changed when I decided to try Bloodborne.
I never played any of the earlier From Software titles. They didn’t look interesting to me, and that’s okay. I have the right to see a game and think, “Nah, I’ll pass. Doesn’t look fun to me.” Those words are what can spark the rioting torches of the community that supports From Software so strongly. It’s not that Dark Souls doesn’t look fun, it’s that I’m not up to the challenge. Claiming any of the games look annoying and repetitive is met with claims that you aren’t good enough to play it or have the patience for it. I didn’t go and pick fights with the community or anything, but I had my opinions about From Software’s games and decided to stay clear.
I stand by my point, Demon Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls II still look slow and cumbersome to me. After beating Bloodborne (and loving it), I have zero interest in playing the earlier games. That’s okay, I don’t have to like every From Software game, and as I learned, many people in the community understand that. It wasn’t until I was so invested in Bloodborne that I decided to visit the subreddit for spectacular game. I expected snobby elitist players claiming they were the best at Bloodborne—the toughest game out on current gen. I’m ashamed to admit I actually thought that, because I couldn’t have been more wrong.
At least I wasn’t the only one to think this way. Jordan Pailthorpe, a Producer for the Engagement Lab at Emerson College told Kotaku not too long ago his thoughts on the community:
“I think there is a disconnect between why there is a fervent community of people who like the Souls series and how they are represented collectively,” he continues. “Sure, there are those who identify as ‘hardcore gamers’ and feel Dark Souls validates their misguided elitist perspective, but I think that’s a very minor group. I think the majority who appreciate these games do so because it forces people to talk to each other. The game intentionally creates a viral moment of interest where everyone is trying to parse the game together, to uncover mechanical secrets and share strategies for progressing that would be incredibly difficult to do alone.”
There are definitely elitists that stand out in the community, so when you are looking at it from the outside, it is those people you see the easiest. These elitists are the people I had experience with and I wrongly grouped the entire community into a collective of self-proclaimed hardcore gamers. Only when you look further you discover the real community of caring, deeply devoted gamers that are more than happy to help and discuss their favorite game — as I would soon learn.
I needed an answer to a question and I knew it was a really dumb question, but I needed an answer. I was expecting someone to tell me off, claiming that question has already been asked and answered. But that didn’t happen. Even after I got the answer I realized I sounded like an idiot too, but I got the responses. They didn’t make fun of me, or say if I was more skilled I wouldn’t have to worry about that. They told me what I needed to know, and suggested what I should do instead. I was honestly shocked by how kind they were. I hung around the subreddit and learned that the From Software community is one of the tightest knit, caring, and devoted communities in gaming.
Yes, there are a couple people who are sour apples, but many people in the community are more than willing to help each other. Point out tips, suggest new strategies, and have long conversations about the lore found within Bloodborne. I’ve never seen a community so eager to test out experiments and fill in gaps that Bloodborne leaves blank.
There is no map in Bloodborne, so someone created an accurate one for everyone to use. Before the official guide was released, there was nothing to tell you how the game worked. The community made a detailed graph with accurate statistics explaining how everything works. This graph on PVP Blood Echo drops is only one example of the length gamers would go to explain how Bloodborne worked. Others would even show videos proving their theories. They read H.P. Lovecraft’s books to further understand the lore of Bloodborne and share it with everyone. Even this person wrote a enormous analysis on the lore of Bloodborne. Not to mention the countless video guides for item locations, boss strategies, and whatever else needed figuring out. There was no official guide at first; no place to find the answers. The community came together to solve all the riddles, and let me tell you, there are plenty of riddles.
This community went above and behind what I’ve seen before to make Bloodborne a game that has encaptivated me for a month. A whole month! I haven’t loved a game so much in a long time, and I can thank From Software’s community for that. I had to rely on other players like me (a lot better admittedly) that solved the tough questions. They made the experience that much more complete. I didn’t understand half of what I was seeing, but reading someone else’s theory put the picture in my clear mind.
Aside from the sheer impressive amount of investment the community put into solving Bloodborne, it was the bend-over-backwards attitude that many people had to help others that really stuck with me. Here’s even a person thanking the community. He was going to quit, but the community gave him enough support so he kept playing. This isn’t strictly about answering question on a forum page, it’s about literally getting into other people’s games to help them.
For those that don’t know, the way Bloodborne works with co-op is slightly confusing. Essentially, you both have to ring bells. One bell is asking for help (Beckoning Bell), and the other bell is looking to help someone (Small Resonance Bell). The game connects the two players and off they go. The person that joined the game doesn’t advance their own story, so everything they do – minus gaining blood echoes and insight (experience basically) – will be ignored when they leave. That means when someone offers help to another player, they are expecting little in return. They are doing it for the sole purpose of helping someone else out in their game.
The thought that you can call for help and people will join your game for little in return is a very generous game mechanic. Many people have written about other players showing them shortcuts, item locations, and traps to avoid. A majority of the time it is all about getting help with a boss. The most frustrating part of Bloodborne can be getting stuck at a boss, and some people are stuck for literally days. Calling for help is not frowned upon (by most people), and there is an entirly different subreddit devoted to connecting people.
The people who join the game of the Host can die without causing the Host to have a game over. This allows the supporters to take on a majority of the fight. I’ve called for help and had the person do most of the fighting. My job is to help where I can, but stay alive. I’ve taken this philosophy on myself when I support other people. I make sure I do a majority of the fighting and never let the boss target the Host for too long. There are times I will happily sacrifice myself to give the Host a chance. When a boss is weak, I like to go all out and do my best to finish them off, or lower their health so they are barely alive. Many times I die doing this, but it gives the Host only a strike or two away from winning the fight. Usually, in my last breath, I see the other player land the finishing strike so I know they won. It’s a good feeling helping people out like that, and it’s something the community is more than happy to do.
Those that know Bloodborne know that there is also the ability to invade a person’s game with the aim to kill them. It can only happen when you are asking for help, so you can’t be invaded at all times. Still, asking for help and getting another Hunter looking to kill you isn’t exactly the best feeling, but it can lead to awesome fights like the one below. These two hunters also showed amazing dueling etiquette, something I’ll discuss soon.
When I heard this was a thing in Bloodborne I thought “Who would purposely ruin someone else’s experience?” So when someone invaded my game, I was terrified and didn’t want to lose all my Blood Echoes. You can’t leave the world and go back to the safe location until they are dealt with. I pulled up my big-boy pants and went hunting.
When we saw each other we both froze. I gripped the controller tightly ready for him to strike. They didn’t. They bowed to me. I didn’t move and waited for them to strike first. The person bowed a second time. I fumbled through my menus trying to remember where the gestures were. I finally found them and returned the bow. It was only then they started coming towards me. We fought and I actually came out on top. It was a fun fight and I felt more accomplished beating another player than most bosses (okay, that’s not quite true).
I immediately went to reddit to share my story about this duel and in doing so, I saw other threads about duels in Bloodborne. I had no idea that there is a whole chivalry guide to dueling other players. You are supposed to bow and wait until both players are ready. You aren’t supposed to heal because it wastes blood vials which could be valuable to some players (we both healed, I was unaware of this rule and believed I healed first so he/she copied me). You’re supposed to wait until the Host is finished fighting enemies and the area is clear for a proper fight.
I was again astounded by the generosity and etiquette the From Software community had. All these unwritten rules that were agreed upon back in the Souls games. In fairness, there is no reason to do any of these and many people don’t. That’s okay, they don’t have to follow the unwritten rules, but it is always cool to see another hunter obey the dueling laws of the community.
Even better are all the stories you hear of nice invaders helping the person instead of hurting them. The video below is of someone with no health and a lot of blood echoes begging for his life. The invader understands and leaves the game instead of fighting him. He wouldn’t be much of a challenge anyways, but all the same, a pretty generous way to act.
Another story talks about an invader leading the Host to a shortcut, letting him get back to the check point, and then fighting him. The invader won the fight, but when the Host spawned at the checkpoint, his blood echoes were right there waiting for him. He didn’t lose anything. The invader wanted a fun fight, not to ruin the Host’s experience.
It is reading stories like this, and seeing some actions first hand, that really make me regret ever hating the From Software community. I was totally wrong. Well, not completely. There are definitely some people that think anyone who doesn’t like Bloodborne are quitters or not skilled enough. This thread addresses that very fact, but the first response actually defends those “quitters.” Some do call them quitters; others say they were in the same boat with the Souls games.
Now that I’ve played Bloodborne I find myself leaning towards them—only slightly. I think a game like Bloodborne is a challenge that everyone can overcome, and only playing a few hours then stopping isn’t giving it a just chance. Then again, I have no right to think that way, as each gamer can determine if they are having fun or not. I still haven’t played the Soul series and have no intention to play them.
When people ask if they should try Bloodborne or not. I tell them I never wanted to play the Soul games, but Bloodborne is now on my top 10 favorite games of all time. I tell them to give it a chance, but I make sure they understand something. I tell them it will be brutally hard at first, and they may not like it. But if they can beat the first two bosses, then they will fall in love like I did.
It wasn’t just Bloodborne that I love. It’s the community that made the entire experience that much better. I really do mean that, I think a big reason I enjoy Bloodborne so much has to do with the amazing community. I was wrong for judging the community so quickly and harshly with no real justification. Now that I’ve beaten Bloodborne and have lived on the subreddit for weeks, I like to think I’m officially apart of that “pretentious” community. A tight knit group that may jab at people who insult their favorite game a little too quickly, but will give anyone a chance as long as someone gives them a chance.