Over the last six weeks I’ve put a fair bit of time into From Software’s two recent games. Dark Souls 2 – Scholar of the First Sin was released recently for the Xbox One and Playstation 4 after coming out on the 360 and PS3 last year. Bloodborne came out roughly at the same time and was basically the one really good PS4 exclusive to come out in a good while.
You have limited funds and you don’t know which one to get?
Well to serve as a mini review for both games I’ve decided to try and do a bit of a comparison between the two. I will confess that I haven’t finished both games on the current gen platform (XB1 for Dark Souls 2 and PS4 for Bloodborne) but I had completed Dark Souls 2 on the 360 last year. I have put 40+ hours into both so I think I have a pretty good idea as to how they play though.
There have been a lot of reviews on these games separately so I won’t be focusing on what is it to play a Dark Souls game. The only comment I’ll make is that if you’ve never played a Dark Souls game it is an action RPG game that has completely old school brutal game play. You will die a lot and it is very unforgiving, particularly if you are used to playing other third person shooters where the combat is quite easy by comparison (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, The Witcher 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition).
What this article will do is give you the pros and cons of both games so that you can make a more informed decision about which one to play first (you really should play both if you have the budget).
I’ll get this out of the way first – Dark Souls 2 is my favourite. Bloodborne has tried to surpass Dark Souls 2 with improved graphics, some major changes to game play and a Victorian London setting. But I just think Bloodborne can’t live up to the mighty game that Dark Souls 2 is.
So a quick breakdown of the two games:
Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin (XB1 and PS4)
- Amazing flexibility in character class creation. Whether you want to defend as a shielded warrior or fling huge powerful spells as a wizard at range, or something in between, it is possible with Dark Souls 2.
- Huge world with lots of different paths to take and discover. This is in part because the XB1 and PS4 version of the game has all three DLC included as well. So a 60+ hour play-through of the original game has just been expanded by another 20-30 hours. You are looking at 100 hours through your first play through alone.
- Certain game mechanics are just excellent. The famous Estus Flask is even better in Dark Souls 2 and it basically means whenever you visit a bonfire (safe haven) however many Estus Flasks you’ve found it will refill to that amount, plus the potency can be upgraded as well. So, for example, if you have found 5 Estus Flasks that is how many health potions you have after every stop at a bonfire.
- Runs great at 60fps. Both platforms run Dark Souls 2 most of the time at a solid 60fps. I’ve played it on the XB1 with no frame-rate issues at all (not that I can tell).
- Multiplayer. With the current gen (XB1 and PS4) versions of the game you can have up to five other players to help you. As per any Dark Souls game there are restrictions to this – you can’t be too greater a soul difference to the person you are summoning.
- There is variety to the levels, both in terms of design and colour. Dark Souls 2 has some wonderful bright levels. It isn’t dark all of the time.
- Graphics are good, but not cutting edge.
- On the XB1 version that I played during very lengthy sessions I have had Dark Souls 2 crash on me (freeze and then dump me back to the dashboard). It didn’t happen very often but does seem to happen during lengthy sessions.
- Story is nothing really new. If you’ve played the original Dark Souls it is just a rehash of that story.
Bloodborne (PS4 exclusive)
- Looks gorgeous and really shows off the PS4’s power.
- New setting. Call of Cthulhu Victorian London setting.
- Interesting story.
- Different style of combat. In Bloodborne you can trick out your weapon on the fly by making it a two handed weapon. Each weapon has a different animation too. You can also carry around old style pistols and blunderbusses to stun your enemy. If an enemy hits you and you hit it back quickly you can recover most of the health lost. This is a great new game mechanic.
- Chalice Dungeons. These are procedurally generated dungeons that get harder and harder the further you go down them. This is a good way of earning necessary blood echoes (Bloodborne’s equivalent of souls) to level up.
- Standard health potions now: no Estus Flask style healing. This is the biggest step backward for Bloodborne. I spent quite a bit of time going back to earlier areas to farm for health potions because I no longer got the automatic flask top up when I rested at the bone-yards. I think they need to re-introduce this mechanic to Bloodborne.
- Dark almost all of the time. It looks so great, why can’t we have a bit more variety in some of the levels and show a bit more daylight. Keep in mind I haven’t finished the game so it is possible some lighter areas come later (I am about 3/4 of the way complete).
- Not much variety as to how you develop your character. There is hardly any magic and you only get one shield which (intentionally I’d say) is useless at defending anything. From Software want you to play aggressively so if you want a ranged or defensive character, forget it. Even with the guns you have they only stun the opponents and don’t tend to do a lot of damage. I remember my dismay when I fully upgraded a portable cannon I had found only to realise you had only 2 shots with it and that used 20 bullets (which are scarce). If you are good at countering and riposte in the Dark Souls games you’ll probably not be worried about this at all but I always played a defensive warrior so I definitely noticed the difference.
- Difficulty spikes at times. I know these games are meant to kick your ass into the mud but Bloodborne was absolutely brutal at times, even for so call normal foes. Then again, keep in mind I am use to playing a different style of combat.
- It’s a PS4 exclusive. Come on From Software, I know Sony probably paid you a truck load of cash but don’t go making Dark Souls 2 multi platform only to then announce your next game is back to an exclusive again. I really hope XB1 players see this in future, although that is very unlikely.
- Load times. Yes, the latest patch for Bloodborne has improved this quite a bit and it no longer takes 30-45 seconds to load after you die but it is still much longer than Dark Souls 2. Obviously due to the prettier graphics it does still take a while to load.
So there you have it, Dark Souls 2 is the clear winner because of the above reasons. If you only have an XB1 then the decision is pretty easy – get Dark Souls 2. If you have a PS4 I’d still recommend Dark Souls 2 if you had to pick between the two. Having said that Bloodborne is still a great game and the best PS4 exclusive out so far.
Feel free to ask any questions or comment – I’d be happy to answer them.