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Elden Ring has effectively taken over the gaming world and has seemingly shattered the boundaries that once existed between the hardcore gamers that defined FromSoftware’s past games and the mainstream audience that generally eats up action RPGs. Because of this boundary being broken, some fans of Elden Ring might be tempted to look into the past games in the Souls-like genre, and if Elden Ring is the 1A game in the FromSoftware catalog, then Bloodborne is surely 1B.
Bloodborne was my favorite of the Souls-like games for a long time. The dark, gothic atmosphere mixed with incredibly fast-paced combat that relied on aggression instead of defensive tacts just vibed with me in a way that previous games did not. Add in a completely insane story that’s both creative and terrifying, and you had one of the most special games out there. Then Elden Ring came along and completely floored me. I’ve never been as absorbed into a game as I currently am with Elden Ring. It takes everything that made Dark Souls and Bloodborne amazing and throws them into a blender. The result is one of the greatest games of all time.
While there are plenty of similarities between the games, there is also so much that makes them different. We’re going to dig into both games and see what makes each of them tick and determine the better of the two in the process. Both games are all time, so it’s all about preference here.
Main Differences Between Bloodborne and Elden Ring
All of the games in the Soulsborne franchise share similar DNA, but plenty differs between them.
- Bloodborne is a game that completely gets rid of the blocking ability seen in other games by FromSoftware. Instead, you’re forced to dodge and parry with your gun to be effective in combat, whereas Elden Ring is more deliberate combat-wise, requiring careful defense, timing, and use of the Ashes of War attacks to be successful in battle.
- Elden Ring is a game that is 7 years Bloodborne’s senior, and because of that, it has use of a more high-power console to work with in the form of the PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC, whereas Elden Ring is restricted to the PS4 currently.
- Bloodborne doesn’t have much armor or weapons to find throughout the game, whereas Elden Ring offers you tons to discover throughout your playthrough, offering many ways to play as the game progresses.
- Bloodborne has trick weapons, which have multiple different forms with different attacks, whereas Elden Ring has normal weapons, but you can two-hand any of them to get extra damage and new attacks as well.
- Elden Ring is an open-world game that has a map and the ability to explore via your horse. There are also tons of side areas to explore and optional storylines to pursue. Bloodborne is an open world as well, but there is no map, and the areas are far less open and more constricted than Elden Rings. There is side content, but not nearly as much as Elden Ring. The story takes one of two paths, whereas Elden Ring has multiple permutations.
- Elden Ring is a dark fantasy game that has elements of horror throughout, whereas Bloodborne is a gothic horror game that has elements of science fiction.
- Bloodborne has DLC, whereas Elden Ring has yet to have any, seeing it just released last month.
- In terms of how the story is told, Elden Ring has more exposition from characters that help you understand what’s going on, whereas Bloodborne, on the other hand, tells its story through item details, location surroundings, and hints from NPCs.
Elden Ring tells its story in a variety of ways. You have the random NPCs you’ll come across during the game, but for the most part, they only offer vague hints of what’s going on in the world. The opening sequence does a good job in detailing the state of the world in Elden Ring, and it’s supported by some powerful voice acting to explain the gravity of the situation.
The plot concerns the shattering of the Elden Ring and the mad scramble the entire world is in to reclaim it and become the all-powerful Elden Lord. Involved in this hunt are the demi-gods and you, one of the Tarnished. In between all this is a mysterious presence called the Two Fingers that exert their will over everyone.
The characters you run into run the range from fascinating to one-off and rather boring. The main characters of the story are compelling, and as you peel back the layers of the story more and more, things get stranger and stranger culminating in a wild sequence of events to finish out the story that is still somewhat vague as to what they truly mean.
Some of the best writing comes from the main bosses in the game, the demi-gods. They speak with an epic gravitas that shows both their power and desperation of the situation you all face.
Everything from the dialogue to lore descriptions you find throughout the game is expertly crafted, giving that FromSoftware feeling at every turn and leaving you with endless mysteries to solve.
Bloodborne is the shining achievement by FromSoftware when it comes to world-building. You’re essentially thrown into the fire at the start of the game with little to no explanation of what’s going on, but as you progress and befriend more characters, you start to see the picture being formed.
You play as a hunter who is on something called the hunt. Your hunt takes place in the land of Yharnam, which has its townsfolk slowly going insane and turning into beasts. Things spiral out of control quickly, and you’re thrown into a world of old gods, insane sorcerers, a living nightmare, and more. The plot is a slow burn that shows itself through bits of dialogue and the studying of your surroundings and enemies.
The characters in Bloodborne are all beautifully creepy in both their design and tone and none overshare their story at any point, leaving you to follow breadcrumbs to unveil their true backgrounds.
The lore is simply outstanding here, and with each boss you face, the story gets clearer and clearer, and in an interesting twist, you’re not exactly the benevolent presence you’ve been made out to be.
You are a voiceless character in Bloodborne, and it functions to dehumanize the hunter as well as put you in their place.
Elden Ring is an incredible-looking game artistically and graphically. While the lighting effects aren’t exactly breathtaking, everything else is. The textures are razor-sharp, and there is tons of detail bursting from every seam here.
The Lands Between is one of the most gorgeous game worlds I’ve ever had the pleasure to explore. It starts out looking like your typical fantasy realm, but as you travel more and more, you’ll see some truly incredible sights with some of the best designs in videogame history.
The exploration here is simply incredible, and there are so many hidden optional dungeons and areas that you can only find via your exploration. In a first for an open-world game, the map is completely devoid of markers telling you where to go and what to see; instead, areas of interest appear as certain designs on the map itself, leaving you to explore them if you find it.
The interior dungeons are designed brilliantly as well, bringing the feeling of a Dark Souls game right into Elden Ring in a way that feels fully organic. Sometimes, the optional dungeons are a bit repetitive in their design, but they always retain a unique quality and have certain twists that keep them feeling fresh 50+ hours in.
The characters are a bit less impressive looking, but they’re still filled with detail, and you won’t be getting up close to their faces anyway. Enemy design, on the other hand, is some of the best FromSoftware has ever come up with, and from the first boss, you’ll see some of the most horrifying and creative designs imaginable.
Combat is similarly impressive, although Elden Ring tends to use several animations that can be dated back to the first Dark Souls game. The weapon designs are all fantastic, and the magic system here is unbelievable to witness, with gorgeous particle effects flying everywhere and colors bursting from your screen.
Despite it being 7 years old at this point, Bloodborne still looks fantastic compared to most modern titles. It’s a much smaller game scope-wise than Elden Ring, but that doesn’t stop it from packing some incredible-looking art design and great-looking textures. Every bit of this gothic horror show is dripping with atmosphere and detail, and some of the areas in this game are among the best I’ve seen in any game to date.
The combat looks the best of any game in FromSoftware’s library due to the quickness and unique abilities of each of the weapons, and it creates a beautiful scene when the action ramps up.
While it doesn’t get to boast a huge open-world as Elden Ring does, it instead creates an intricately crafted set of areas that interconnect with one another, creating a cohesive land that makes sense both structurally and thematically.
The characters here are pretty bland-looking for the most part, but it serves as a nice dichotomy to how horrific the world of Yharnam has become, and despite some lackluster textures, it works. The enemies are incredibly well-realized, producing some of the scariest creations ever seen in a game.
The hub area of the Hunters dream is a particular standout for me, as it creates a beautiful retreat from the nightmare of Yharnam, all while hinting at something being very wrong with this world as well.
One thing Bloodborne has over Elden Ring here is the creepiness and dread created by the environment. As you progress through the game, things get weirder and weirder in the places you’re traveling, and no game tells a story with its environment better than Bloodborne does.
Elden Ring has a very interesting audio style compared to most games. For the majority of your first 20 hours or so of play, you’ll be treated to the slow-building horn sound that accompanies you through Limgrave. This changes into thrilling orchestral pieces when you run into bosses in the open world and slows to a creepy crawl when you start exploring the dungeons of the area.
With each new section of the game you discover, a new ambient soundtrack accompanies you. None of these are particularly memorable, but they add a nice amount of gravitas to the moment and never really get too annoying, so, in that way, they succeed.
The music for the bosses of the game is an incredible one. Each main story boss has a unique score to it and seems to be made to fit the mood of the fight. For example, the music against Godrick the Grafted is an epic track that is appropriate for the lord of Stormveil Castle, while the fight against Renala is a very quiet and creepy jingle that just crawls through your skin while you fight.
The audio for the fighting is another thing entirely. It’s really hard to get on FromSoftware here when they’ve made one of the greatest games of all time, but it must be said that many of these sounds from swords and shields and spells are the same ones from Dark Souls 10+ years ago.
The enemy sounds throughout are amazing as well, with a variety of snarls and roars that will put a chill into your bones, though some of the more over-the-top spells sound incredible, and the special effects that accompany some of the Ashes of War attacks are amazing to listen to as well.
Voice acting is a mix of great and boring here as the typical low speaking and vaguely emotive characters that have come to define FromSoftware games are here yet again.
Bloodborne has some of the most memorable music of any game out there. The music starts pretty unassuming, with a creepy dirge overseeing your time exploring the town of Yharnam, but this quickly changes when you visit Hunter’s Dream for the first time, and from there, you’ll have a variety of different ambient soundtracks playing over your horrifying journey.
A standout for me, in particular, is the boss music of this game. Every single boss you encounter has its soundtrack, and each one is wildly different. Things start off with the Cleric Beast and the frantic soundtrack that accompanies the close-up fight that ensues. Each track surrounds the fight it supports beautifully, though, with the best of all being the music to the Mergo’s Wet Nurse fight, where a delightfully creepy lullaby track plays over a horrifying creature attacking you desperately.
The audio that accompanies the combat is particularly special here. FromSoftware gets to try out guns for the first time here and nails it, with each one exploding with ferocity whenever they’re used.
Magic is very well done here as well, and it’s impressive because the spells on hand in Bloodborne are far from your run-of-the-mill RPG spells. These are weird attacks, and the sounds that accompany them are just as strange, which works perfectly.
The voice acting here is somber and dour, which fits the mood of the game perfectly. Every character has a particular personality that comes out through their voice acting. Standouts to me are the Doll that guides you throughout the journey and Father Gascoigne, who displays a hunter succumbing to the hunt most violently and tragically.
Gameplay / Core Mechanics
Elden Ring was meant to shatter a lot of the boundaries that have defined the FromSoftware games of the past, and because of that, it’s much more accessible. There are several unique gameplay features and mechanics that come to define Elden Ring.
Like most FromSoftware games, you will make your way through dungeons and scores of enemies to face the boss of the area so you can progress your journey. That’s here again, except now, you’re not restricted to facing one boss. You have an entire world to explore here, and although certain areas will be far tougher than others, you will have tons and tons of places to explore if you can’t get past a particular place.
Accompanying you on your journey is the horse Torrent, and this makes traveling the vast map a far quicker and more enjoyable experience. Torrent can double jump, making previously inaccessible areas now accessible, and can also use wind springs, which launch Torrent high up in the air and lets you access tough to reach areas of the map.
Combat is similar to past FromSoftware games, and the vibe here is patience and capitalizing on enemy openings. You can use a shield to defend, and depending on the shield type you have, you can parry your enemies, which opens them up to a critical attack. You can also dual-wield weapons if you have the strength to do so. You can also use magic as well and there are tons of unique spells to learn here.
Spirit Ashes and Ashes of War are two mechanics that will come to define your experience with Elden Ring. Spirit Ashes allow you to summon spectral companions to aid you in tough battles throughout the game. There are tons to discover, and they can often be the key to victory.
Ashes of War are special attacks that you’ll find throughout the game that you can attach to specific weapon types, and you can interchange them with different weapons throughout, allowing for all kinds of different strategies.
One of the best features of Elden Ring is the Stake of Marika, which is a checkpoint system that often places you right by a boss encounter that you previously failed, so you don’t have to make your way through scores of enemies again just to face them. You will also have sites of Lost Grace which act as checkpoints throughout the world and dungeons. Here, you can change up your spells, change out Ashes of War, allocate your healing flask and magic flask usage, and level up.
Multiplayer is available here as well, and you can summon other players and NPCs to help you in boss fights, fight PVP in the open world, or you can summon them to just travel the world with you as well. There are certain areas cut off from multiplayer though most of the game is playable in this way.
In between your dungeon crawls, you can visit the Roundtable Hold, which is a hub area that has many secrets and shops to discover as well as a couple of fights. It’s here that you can upgrade your weapons and purchase new weapons and spells.
The story happens in the background throughout the game, but you can undertake several different quests that will lead you to a variety of different endings, and some of the endings still haven’t been discovered at this point.
There are also hidden mechanics to discover with each boss fight. Certain hints throughout the game might lead you to a useful item in a fight or a strategy that wasn’t apparent before.
For the first time in a FromSoftware game, there is a map that you can use to see where you’re going, and instead of the typical markers that fill up the map, you will mark places yourself. Different terrain will signify different places to explore, and you must learn this on your own while playing.
Overall, Elden ring is one of the most complex games out there and requires some serious attention to detail to grasp all its various systems.
Bloodborne is one of the more straightforward of the FromSoftware games, although there are plenty of unique gameplay features and mechanics to keep you interested through the 60+ hour journey.
Bloodborne takes place in an interconnected world that’s filled with shortcuts and secrets to discover. You will fight your way through various locations and defeat the bosses of each to progress in your journey.
The combat here is incredibly fast-paced and is marked by one thing in particular. You cannot block. Instead of blocking, you must utilize the dodging system, which lets you dash to the side, back, or forward while fighting.
Another unique system at play is that when you are damaged, you have a small window of time to attack an enemy and regain your health. This works on bosses as well and can be incredibly crucial to your success.
Unlike previous FromSoftware games, here, your healing items are accumulated over time instead of resetting when you rest at a checkpoint. This can lead to more careful resource usage as it depends on how many healing items you’ve found.
Combat is done through magic, melee, and a variety of different guns. Each melee weapon has a unique secondary form that can completely change how you play the game. The magic system utilizes various kinds of strange techniques to produce attacks against your enemies or buff your character. Guns uniquely enough are rarely used for damage here, and instead, they are used as a counter system to open up your enemy for a Visceral Attack, which often kills them in one hit.
The Hunter’s Dream acts as the hub area here, and it’s where you will upgrade your weapons and armor, buy new ones, and level up. There are also hidden areas here that unlock throughout the game as well as Chalice Dungeons, which act as their own game, giving you hours and hours of exploration in randomly generated dungeons of increasing levels of difficulty.
Multiplayer works similar to Elden Ring, letting you summon players to fight against, fight with against bosses, or explore levels together. Certain areas are cut off from summons, though, such as the Hunter’s Dream.
You can go on several quests throughout Bloodborne as well, but they must be discovered on your own. Certain quests and items will impact the ending, too, so always explore new areas and old ones as well.
Insight is a fascinating system that works throughout Bloodborne. The more Insight you have into the game, the more the game world will change. Certain enemies become visible after acquiring enough Insight, and current enemies will start to unleash different movesets. Not only that, but the world will change too, becoming more demonic-looking.
There are several optional areas to explore, and some of these will lead to different endings, while others house new boss fights, weapons, armor, and spells to use.
Currently, there is no DLC for Elden Ring as it was only released a month ago. To date, though, the majority of FromSoftware games receive DLC of some kind, so you can expect to see Elden Ring DLC coming out at some point as well.
Bloodborne’s DLC comes in the form of The Old Hunters. This is an 8-11 hour adventure that introduces multiple brand new areas as well as new bosses to fight, items and weapons to find, and characters to meet.
For those who found Bloodborne too easy, The Old Hunters will throw some of the toughest bosses you’ve ever seen at you, providing a challenge to anyone brave enough to attempt them.
Which is Better?
This is one of the toughest questions in gaming. Before Elden Ring, Bloodborne was far and away from my favorite FromSoftware game. Now? I think it’s Elden Ring. The way it revolutionizes the open world should be a game-changer in the industry, and the astounding amount of places to explore, weapons and armor to find, and bosses to defeat is just unreal. There are also tons of endings to unlock, questlines to take on, and countless strange mechanics that haven’t even been figured out yet.
Bloodborne is still an absolute 10/10 in my book, but if there was such a thing, Elden Ring would be an 11/10. In terms of the pure atmosphere, it’s hard not to give the edge to Bloodborne, though, as the game world is just incredibly well built and realized.
The combat is awesome in both games, so it depends on preference. Those that want methodical and varied combat options will prefer Elden Ring, while those who like a faster pace to their combat that emphasizes timing and aggression will undoubtedly prefer Bloodborne.
You cannot go wrong here. Both have fantastic stories, great combat, beautiful graphics, hours upon hours of gameplay, and challenging and epic encounters that you will remember for years to come.
There aren’t many games out there like Elden Ring and Bloodborne, but there are similar ones that definitely can suit what you’re looking for.
Elden Ring Alternatives
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Dark Souls 1-3
- Horizon: Forbidden West and Horizon: Zero Dawn
- The Surge 1&2
- Dragon’s Dogma
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
- Lords of the Fallen
- Demon’s Souls
- Devil May Cry 5
- Remnant: From the Ashes
Question: Which is the harder game, Elden Ring or Bloodborne?
Answer: Bloodborne is a bit tougher because of the lack of being able to block, but some challenges in Elden Ring will leave you speechless with how tough they are, so it’s a tough choice. FromSoftware has already had to nerf several bosses in Elden Ring.
Question: Can you play the whole game of Elden Ring with a friend?
Answer: Almost. Certain areas will prevent your summoned friends from entering, but for the most part, they can play everything with you at the cost of not having Torrent to ride on the open world with.
Question: Which is the best Souls-like game?
Answer: It’s Elden Ring. As the culmination of everything FromSoftware has learned about game design over the past decade, Elden Ring stands tall as the crowning achievement of the company.
As you can see, you really can’t go wrong here. Both games are fantastic and stand in as two of the best games I’ve ever played. Both are very tough, too, so if you’re going to take on the challenge, prepare yourself because it’s going to be an incredibly fun and bumpy ride.
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