Saturday, January 28, 2017

Arcane in Bloodborne

Replaying Bloodborne on two new characters, I'm really struck by how great this game is. While not perfect (I hate having to slaughter all of Hemwick whenever I run low on Blood Vials or Quicksilver Bullets. Oh, and I hate that there's no freaking pause button - there's a reason that's a feature in pretty much every game) the game has an amazing sense of tone, ridiculously good level design, and combat that flows in a fantastic way.

I've been playing two characters (the original is chilling out in the Hunter's Dream at the start of his New Game Plus.) The first is a Skill-based character who uses the Blade of Mercy, whose transformed version is a whole lot of fun (and made Micolash way easier than it was my first time around, as I was able to close distance and stun-lock him on the last phase.)

While Skill weapons tend to be much faster and better for multi-attacks, the playstyle is not terribly different from a Strength character.

Arcane, on the other hand, is a very different beast. And one that is equal parts cool and frustrating.

I think every trick weapon has some kind of Arcane scaling, but this doesn't work the way you'd expect it to. Actually, it does on a couple of weapons - those that have inherent magic damage like the Blade of Mercy (which gets a little Arcane damage,) Logarius' Wheel, and Tonitrus, or of course the Flamesprayer or Rosmarinus.

For your standard issue trick weapons like the Saw Cleaver, the scaling only means anything if you have an elemental gem that turns the weapon's damage into magic damage rather than the standard physical/thrust/blunt.

What this means is that, unless you have a gem that adds some physical damage back into the mix, the weapon doesn't really scale with Strength or Skill anymore, and purely goes off Arcane. Which is great if you've got an Arcane character.

The trick is that until you have elemental gems, your main stat isn't going to be doing much.

Thankfully, you can start to get Fire gems relatively early, and until then you can rely on your base stats to get enough damage to make it through the first few bosses. Also, items like the Molotov Cocktail scale with Arcane, so if you make use of those you can get something out of your stat.

The current problem I'm running into is that I have all of one Bolt gem, and I don't know where to get more. Theoretically they can drop off the sideways-mouth werewolves in the Nightmare Frontier, but I've only gotten Crescent gems - a slot I filled a while ago. While I have a complement of Fire gems, it would be nice to get some Bolt options to use now that I'm on a pretty Kin-heavy part of the game (I've defeated every main boss you can do before Rom, except those in the DLC.)

Of course, Arcane also gets fun toys. While I used Augur of Ebrietas on my Strength character, he just had barely enough to use it. Given that it automatically has S-Scaling with Arcane, you can do some really nasty damage with it. Of course, the Hunter Tools tend to take bullets, so you don't get to use them all the time, but they do change up the gameplay in fun ways.

(PS: The fun you can have with the Hunter Tools can make some bosses significantly easier. Using the Tiny Tonitrus, which sends a wave of lightning forward, doing strong bolt damage to everything it hits, I was able to utterly trivialize the Celestial Emissary fight (the smaller kin running toward me all got one-shot by the tool while it took about a fifth of the health of the boss with each strike) and going in against Ebrietas with a bolt (and anti-kin)-empowered Ludwig's Holy Blade and Tiny Tonitrus and I was able to one-shot her as well with relative ease. Obviously, you need enemies that have a vulnerability, and I don't think there's a terribly good Fire Hunter Tool available.)

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