If ever a PS4 game deserves its own extensive strategy guide, it’s Bloodborne. Sony’s PS4 exclusive by From Software has rapidly become the PS4’s most essential title, adored by fans of Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls series, as well as a fair few new fans, myself included.
I know what many of you are thinking, ‘why do I need a guide book, when the internet is out there?’ It’s a fair point and one impossible to ignore during this review. But having browsed multiple online wikis and read the weighty 550 pages of this guide with official information gathered from the devs themselves, it’s clear that this hardback guide is an essential purchase for fans of the game, whether they’re just getting started, looking for ways to finish off those last few bosses, master the incredible depths of the Chalice Dungeons or discover new weapons and how to use them. No stone is left unturned.
In this extensive review, you’ll find an overview of what you’ll find in each of the game’s thick chapters. We begin with the Training Manual, which is worth reading even if you’ve already sank a few dozen hours into the game, especially as the in-game tutorials are as bare bones as they come.
Each character creation option is discussed and the HUD is fully explained. More useful is the complete breakdown of the Weapon Info stat screen. Elsewhere, an example of a neat shortcut the guide revealed for me was the personal effects menu (click right side of touchpad) as an alternative to the quick items menu. This was fantastic for making my quick item inventory much less crowded for boss encounters.
Naturally, levelling up and Blood Echoes get some decent coverage, along with the costs for each upgrade and how much you can expect each stat to increase. And just in-case the in-game descriptions of the individual stats and their significance wasn’t clear enough, they’re delved into also.
The combat section of the training manual is where you might pick up an extra couple of tricks and the intricacies of the camera and different attacks are explained. Where the hell was the explanation of a quick 180-turn in the game! Also, did you know that the Visceral attacks aren’t always the most damaging option?
The section on rolling and quickstepping is particularly interesting, as are the facts about invincibility frames (or iframes) that will make life in Bloodborne much easier, allowing you to be more aggressive. Damage calculation and damage types are subjects you’ll also want to look at.
The second chapter is your step by step guide for the entire campaign (minus the Chalice Dungeons – they come later). This chapter is best consulted when you’re truly stuck, or when you’ve already explored plenty on your own. Don’t get me wrong, this would be perfect to guide you through entirely first time, but then you’d be robbing yourself of the sense of discovery that is one of Bloodborne’s best features.
Should you need it though, the chapter is incredibly detailed and has plenty of maps, listing all locations of doors, shortcuts, items, Insight, weapons, enemies, ambushes, traps, hunters and NPCs. Screenshots from the game to help show where a map-location relates too (as there’s no in-game map) are handy, but some pages could perhaps have benefitted from a few more screens.
Info boxes for each area provide a neat breakdown of what enemies you can expect and there’s a recommended character level listed, so you can have a quick peak and see if you should perhaps hold off for a while (yeah right, get stuck in!). A full-item list is handy, especially with highlighted ones for the most important pickups.
The Bestiary chapter is a disturbing look into the minds of the From Software crew, and you may be surprised by just how many enemies you’ve not seen yet. After seeing some of their stats, you’ll be glad of any additional help the book provides. There’s a lot of information to take in for each enemy, but the opening pages of the chapter take the time to explain the data.
HP stats and Blood Echo drops are listed for every enemy and their stronger versions found in later stages of the game too. Charts list their complete defensive stat lineup against different types of attack or element. There’s a block of text too explaining what attacks to look out for and weaknesses to exploit via timing, manoeuvring or the use of specific weapon types. As with the campaign chapter before, you should at least have a go yourself before consulting this guide, but it’s undeniably useful for the enemies that you struggle with, or know to take too long against. You can feel smug too if you find your tactics against some oft-defeated enemies are in-line with the recommended ones.
The second half of the chapter is dedicated to the many Bosses, with more in-depth strategies along with a key strategy box-out if you want the short version. In addition to the statistical breakdown, each of their attacks is listed along with information on whether they are interruptible -essential information if you’re wondering why your quicksilver shots aren’t staggering them.
This chapter makes for interesting reading in general, mainly thanks to the incredible artwork design of these creatures. I was a bit disappointed to not see any background information on the bosses to pad out the lore of Bloodborne’s world though. They’re simply disturbing creatures, but this would have been a great opportunity to learn their story.
Chapter 4 prepares you for the gruesome depths of the Chalice Dungeons, which is home to many fine items to make your weapons much stronger, an essential part of preparing for Bloodborne’s tougher challenges. There are extensive guides for the preset Chalice Dungeons, with similar walkthroughs to those found for the main game.
While impossible to provide maps for the randomly generated Root Chalice maps, there are plenty of hints and examples of the traps you’ll come across, which should take the edge off a little. The pros and cons of using Additional Rites during the creation ritual are discussed along with explanations on where to find the materials for ritual ceremonies to unlock the dungeons.
The penultimate chapter is one of the most useful, Arsenal & Attire. There are in-depth details for everything you could think of for every weapon; where to get it, damage multipliers for every attack, type of damage, impact type, stamina cost, gem advice and more. There is even frames-per-second information on every weapon so you can judge their speeds and see which frames of an animation actually count as an attack.
Most of the melee weapons have three pages of information, including full breakdowns of each move available in both regular and transformed mode. There’s an overview for each weapon, but fans will really enjoy the recommended tactics for each weapon’s form. Comparing the stamina stats to the damage output is fantastically in-depth for anyone wandering which moves are more effective for a weapon.
This is a great chapter for those of you thinking about trying out a new weapon. As well as the necessary stat level requirement, you can get a good idea if the style and moveset would be a good fit for the way you play with the character you’ve been pulling through the nightmare or a fresh one with a new range of stats.
There’s not as much information required for the Left Hand weapons (the guns), but again, the information is a great help when trying to decide on a new one after your initial choice. Did you know there’s a freakin’ cannon?
The remaining parts of the chapter go into detail on the healing items, thrown weapons and the potentially very important support items like the Beast Blood Pellets, Elixirs, elemental papers, bone marrow ash, Marks and Arkane items. Need to know what weapon fortification items are available? What effects can you expect from gems? What’s that key for? What Caryll rune does what? Every single item in the game is covered and explained.
If you’re tired of looking at the same old character, there’s a complete guide to all the attire to be found in the game, including stats and location. But as you already know, the clothing is something of a pros/cons minefield, so this might not be a particularly essential part unless you’re looking for a particular set of defensive capabilities. Or maybe you want that massive witch hat you saw on YouTube?
The concluding chapter features the Hunter’s Appendices. Here you’ll find event flow charts for all of the NPC characters in the game and their quests, which is very handy for tracking events if you’ve been grinding for ages. The pages on the lesser known facts about how your Insight level affects events in the game are very useful and revealing too.
Trophy fiends will enjoy the complete guide, but perhaps not the bit where it tells you that you’ll have to finish the game three times to grab the Platinum. All that remains in the final few pages is a lore index for specific topics and another index with references to every item’s description and map location. There’s also an exclusive 14-page interview with Bloodborne’s director, Hidetaka Miyazaki -an intriguing read for any fan, complete with exclusive artwork.
The quality of the writing is of a high standard, with great depth and explanations of some difficult concepts. The occasional spelling mistake is a slight letdown though, and ones you’d expect a spellchecker to pick up on (‘theey’ -they, or ‘ocst’ -cost, for example). Perhaps they’ll be fixed for the digital version that is yet to launch as a PlayStation Docs item for anyone that buys the book. A cracking read for sure though overall.
- Weapon guide is essential
- In-depth walkthrough with plenty of maps
- Every item, enemy and NPC is covered
- No lore/background story info on bosses
- A few basic spelling mistakes
- More screenshots needed for walkthrough
The Short Version: This really is an incredibly comprehensive guide with information on everything a fan could ask for. The value for both new hunters and seasoned pros digging into the deep layers of Chalice Dungeons is undeniably excellent. The writing is strong and does a great job of explaining some of the tougher in-depth elements of the game that you’d struggle to master otherwise.
We don’t score guide books reviews.
We’ll be on the lookout for the best deals for the Bloodborne Collector’s Edition Strategy Guide in the future. For now, you can pick up The Bloodborne Collector’s Strategy Guide for £19.99 at Amazon. American readers can find it for a very nice $24.57 at Amazon US too.