Like a whole bunch of masochists, the last couple months of my gaming life have been dominated by FromSoftware’s Elden Ring, their most ambitious and arguably best game to date. From getting spat on by giant lobsters to getting shat on by a hilariously unbalanced one-armed woman with bad skin, it’s completely consumed my thoughts in recent times. I was sad to roll credits, but it did compel me to finally return to Bloodborne — and immediately want a remaster.
I’ve picked up Bloodborne on and off a lot over the years, though only ever got as far as beating Father Gascoigne. I’m not sure why that is. The dark and grimy aesthetic is maybe the most arresting I’ve ever seen in a game, and the fact that violence is the answer to most of its combat puzzles makes it one of the fastest, most aggressive Souls-likes out there. It also helps that enemies explode into fountains of the red stuff when you even just graze them. Despite how much Bloodborne is my jam on paper, I’d never really given it the time it needed, but with The Lands Between now on fire after I accidentally got fingered in some basement, I figured now was the perfect time to jump back in.
Almost immediately, I was reminded that people who think all of From’s action RPGs are the same have probably only ever taken a surface level look at a couple of them. Elden Ring and Bloodborne feel like two very different games and while they each have that distinct FromSoftware DNA throughout, jumping between both games gave me whiplash because of how different they are, especially in terms of approachability.
Bloodborne loves wasting your time with a two-minute trek back to more pain, whereas Elden Ring gives you so many checkpoints and tools that you can bash your head against a brick wall more efficiently than ever. Elsewhere, Bloodborne’s Blood Vials don’t replenish like Crimson Tears, so you have to figure out effective loops of stocking them up and returning to that area whenever you’re low, which can just feel like busywork. On the flipside, I’d argue that, even with a lower resolution, Bloodborne’s style is far more memorable and its combat is far chunkier and tenser, despite being less complex. There’s plenty of other differences, but there’s one area where Elden Ring objectively feels lightyears ahead of Bloodborne: the performance.
Obviously speaking, games released in 2015 and 2022 are going to perform pretty differently, though an interesting aside is that both came out in the early years of a new PlayStation console. It should be expected that Elden Ring’s 60fps was far easier for From to hit seven years later, while Bloodborne splutters to 30fps and only 30 consistently (most of the time) thanks to the PS5’s backwards compatibility tech. However, the contrast between them is so stark specifically because Bloodborne wasn’t even the best performing game of 2015 and has, curiously, seen no real, bespoke updates to take advantage of either the PS4 Pro or PS5.
It’s just plain odd that there’s been no improvements, with the step down in performance being so stark between both games that Bloodborne’s jittery frame pacing may give you a headache after the much more consistently playable Elden Ring. It felt like From and Sony were just holding onto to an announcement for a special occasion, but Bloodborne’s fifth anniversary passed by without much of anything, and there’s been no word at any State of Play streams. There’s been an unofficial patch by Lance McDonald that bumps the framerate up to 60, though nothing official from either the game’s official developer or publisher in all this time. According to McDonald, even a simple performance improvement would now be possible thanks to the PS5 knowing when to unlocking framerates for games on old SDKs.
PlayStation is somehow enabling games which are compiled on extremely old SDKs to detect that they’re running on PS5 and unlock the framerate. I don’t know how they’re doing this but it’s extremely cool and must make life for devs a lot nicer not having to retarget a new SDK. https://t.co/UNKezC8Ysi
However, the likelihood is that Sony will end up releasing a paid PS5 version of Bloodborne before it belatedly gets ported to PC, as seen with Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, with those who already own the game on PS4 able to upgrade to the PS5 version for a reduced price. I’m not one to defend this kind of practice at all, but charging a “nominal” fee to upgrade to a PS5 version of Bloodborne that includes the Old Hunters DLC might be able to sway those who’ve previously been put off by the choppy performance.
Perhaps the remaster can even make it so I don’t have to go up and down two elevators, run past a couple of massive pigs, and avoid more snakes than a Metal Gear reunion to be able to get beaten up by Shadow of Yharnam all over again. Some QoL changes would honestly go a long way, especially off the back of Elden Ring. It’s not betraying the game’s “hardcore” nature for it to stop wasting your time as much.
I think I need to specify here that I love Bloodborne, and that’s in spite of its antiquated edges. It is, in fact, my jam, and I can’t wait to return to this world again, whether that’s in a remaster or maybe even a sequel. That said, with so many eyes on Elden Ring and the rest of FromSoft’s back catalogue, I just want more people to go mad in Yharnam with the kind of performance that such a game deserves: 4K at 60fps.
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