People always say that a change in scenery can be therapeutic. After the frustration Vicar Amelia brought on, it was with some relief that I left the claustrophobic streets of Yharnam and move into the next major areas which revolve around dark, oppressive forests. The next two bosses were far more trivial than the areas that lead to their lairs, a welcome change for me. It was amongst the witches and tombstones of Hemwick Charnel Lane that I faced my first invader.
After the jump, snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?
Bloodborne offers a unique mechanic for PVP and co-op. As I mentioned in my last entry, you can ring bells to summon help or to offer yourself as help for others. However, when you ring your summoning bell and call another player into your game, a bell maiden spawns somewhere in the area you are currently exploring. The bell maiden rings a sinister bell which allows a player to be summoned in as an adversary. Once in your world you can only get rid of them by dueling them or by making it to the boss of the area at which point they are dismissed. You can also prevent yourself from being invaded if you can track down the bell maiden and kill her before someone is summoned to your world. I personally like this change to the system. In Dark Souls invasions could happen at any point when you restored your humanity. By allowing you to track down the maiden and close yourself off from invasions, it gives the player the chance to allow or deny invasions, while still encouraging cooperation.
My first invader struck while my friend and I were making our way through Hemwick Charnel Lane. Armed with Ludvig’s Holy Blade (which I later learned is absolutely amazing) and a shield (really?), the challenger approached and did without the customary gesture salutations that invasions in Dark Souls usually entailed. Sadly for him it was not much of a fair fight as it was 2v1, however, even in his defeat he cost my friend and I a fair amount of quicksilver bullets. As this was my first invader I was rather tentative and we allowed him to heal a fair amount. Later I learned that the item “numbing mist” disables healing effects and is an effective tool both as the invader and as the invadee. Additionally, learning to disrupt the healing animation with shots from your offhand weapon is necessary to reduce the ability of your opponent to deal with damage. As a reward for our victory we each received blood echoes.
Pressing on, my friend and I cleared out the Hemwick Charnel lane boss which gives access to the rune tool. Runes are the equivalent of Rings in the Souls games which give upgrades to defense against attacks, offer healing from visceral attacks, or give additional blood echoes for each kill to name a few out of the many possible effects. Along with upgrading and socketing blood gems into your weapons, runes allow you to play the game according to your own style, and buff your strengths while trying to minimize your weaknesses. The most impactful rune thus far has been the ability to heal from visceral attacks. This means that in addition to the return system to regenerate health, getting a parry or backstab on an enemy also returns a portion of your health without dipping into your precious supply of blood vials. If you get the right runes and blood gems you can see your damage skyrocket by 40-60%.
The area known as the Forbidden Woods is full of a variety of enemies based on snakes. This area is long and treacherous, though once you have opened the shortcuts to the boss, you can make it from the starting lantern to the boss in no time flat. My friend and I very easily took this boss down and I spent some extra time here engaging in some co-op to help others along. By doing so I was able to accumulate enough blood echoes to upgrade weapons, purchase some armor sets, and boost my insight level to prepare for the challenges ahead.
Andrew Kneller is a chemistry graduate student and avid gamer. When he isn’t busy kicking laser tables and trying to teach undergrads, he and his wife play videogames and watch movies together. You can find him on the Quarter to Three forums as TREOS. Check out his Rogue Legacy game diary here.