How Bloodborne’s Co-Op Helped Me Appreciate From Software Just In Time For Elden Ring
Like my hunter, I first heard of Yarnhem because of his reputation. Through stories woven by those who are either puzzled or frightened by the events that took place in this once great city. More often than not, however, it was some intriguingly bizarre mixture of both. Like my hunter, I arrived late in Yharnam, just after its glory days and just before something new was born. Lucky for me, this new thing wasn’t a spooky horror game, but rather the next entry in a long line of Soulsborne games from developer From Software: Elden Ring.
Even though Elden Ring’s launch was looming when I started playing Bloodborne in January – or perhaps because of it – I decided that Lovecraftian land of gore and terrifying behemoths would be my introduction to the studio’s games. I hoped that with patience and careful observation, I would be able to gnaw through the somewhat impenetrable and highly inaccessible game to get to its essence. That, like so many before me, I could find virtue and meaning in a game filled with immoral people resigned to meaninglessness.
Admittedly, I was excited, nervous, and anxious in every possible way while playing a game known for being difficult, and so I soon realized that the best way to learn was not to throw yourself over and over again into walls and puddles—herd demonic beasts. Instead, I decided to look for some guidance. Now, as a woman who plays games, I admit that a strong reluctance to accept help when it comes to video games is rooted deep within me. I’m no expert, but I pretty much suspect this defiance. Power has something to do with the fact that I was told from a very early age that I would never be as good at games as my male colleagues.
However, the first test I really had to overcome in Bloodborne was admitting that I wanted and needed help. The second, and much more difficult, was to come to terms with it. Little did I know that after accomplishing these two feats, I would find that, despite the emphasis on individualism that is present in most From Software games, what stood out to me most was the value of warmth, humility, and camaraderie. in studio names. A reminder that while the world can be a cruel place, you are not alone in it.
So, before starting Bloodborne, I turned to one of my closest friends (who is also a huge From Soft fan) for help. Luckily for me, he jumped at the opportunity to return to one of his favorite games. I didn’t know much about how co-op works in Soulsborne games – I didn’t realize that there were limits as to where I could call it in for help, and that, even with it, there were parts of the game that I would encounter alone. But despite this, we connected to the voice chat, I pressed the button to share my screen with him, and began my journey through the plague city.
Thanks to his assistance and mentorship – his assurances that he yet struggled against the Orphan of Cos, and definitely needed a friend the first time he made an attempt on Father Gascoigne—the vicious city of Yharnam was a place that filled me with more determination than fear. Every shriek of surprise I let out as the enemy got the better of me was followed by laughter, and every death was followed by a surge of determination, not anger. In the first few bosses, I relied heavily on his help, cursing under my breath the sections where I had to navigate the ruined city on my own, and praying that the summon bell would light up and let me call him sooner rather than later. However, I soon reached several places where, despite my best efforts, the bell would not allow it to help me.
The first battle I fought alone was against two invaders standing to the right of the great cathedral. Even though I was warned that it would be difficult, I beat them on the first try, and the feeling of satisfaction that I felt from this victory cannot be overestimated. I couldn’t believe I did it. To me. A man whose hand-eye coordination, which I always joked about, was best suited for turn-based RPGs and grid-based tactical games. After that, I traveled through Yharnam with a new sense of confidence, and my head was held a little higher. I even called to single-handedly take on several other big villains, including the game’s final boss. In my opinion, I now finally played Bloodborne. What have I done now counted? I showed myself. However, once I adopted this mentality, I realized that I didn’t really know (and didn’t even care) about the people I was supposedly manifesting. to.
So much work goes into debunking the way people play games – what difficulty level do they play them on, do they earn the coveted platinum, did they “walk” past a particularly tough boss or not, did they choose this character in a fighting game… Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for personal growth and for players who are looking for challenges because they are intrinsically motivated to do so. But I soon realized that above all, I let what I was told was “the right way to play Bloodborne” completely ignored the experience I had with it. When I realized this, my disappointment became even greater. In what world, where co-op is the main tool in the game, can you say that using this feature makes the time spent on it cheaper? Why have I and countless others who struggle with these games let this become the school of thought we share?
What’s even more interesting is how much the idea of ”fun collaboration” is ingrained in From Software’s games, even though they’re generally seen as violent and isolating games. In Elden Ring, I defeated three bosses with the help of an NPC who harbored a personal grudge against the boss. In the Dark Souls series, Solaire, Siegmeyer and Black Iron Tarkus have gained fan favorite status due to their relationship with your character and the help they offer you. For yearsFrom Software rewards players for helping others get through their game’s tougher battles, with some even commenting on how joyful experience. In all Soulsborne games, friendly (and often quite funny) messages and wandering spirits from other players light up muddy roads and blood-stained streets, reminding you that you are not alone in your struggle…what do you have it. Despite my preconceived notions and the level of toxicity that can come from the most vocal sects of From Software’s fan base, these games – to me at least – feel as much of a celebration of how many can help make one stronger than themselves. a celebration of how one person can transfer his power to many.
From Software games deserve more than being closed – resigned to a life locked away from intrigued gamers, except for those few deemed worthy enough to own the key. Summoning friends and NPCs, a core mechanic in every From Software game, makes these games accessible to me. If you have been struggling with them, I highly recommend that you try the same. It also made me better at gaming in general, giving me training wheels that I can take off when I feel a little more at ease. Very often, the worst conversations about these games come down to: “They’re hard, just get better or get over it.” They don’t understand that everyone’s definition of “complex” is different, and perhaps just as important, how much more enjoyable it is to offer tools and recommendations that empower others and share their favorite media rather than patrolling it.
For me, “thriving” in Soulsborne, and the virtues I had in doing so, took an unexpected form. Despite being told over and over again that From Software’s games depend on individual skill for success – that these games forge great players using even greater flames – I have rediscovered the value of humility and companionship above all else. In fact, it was in the light of these qualities, and not in the light of the flames of adversity, that I found my resolve and ability—I became stronger. Playing Bloodborne and using the game’s co-op mode, I “succeeded” (or at least decent), ignited the love of the game more than I expected, and left with a valuable reminder that the world is an often a dark and violent place, but I am never powerless or alone.