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Hands-on with Bloodborne: The Old Hunters' new tricks

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Bloodborne players will have a new arsenal of weapons to play with, like a curved blade that transforms into a bow and arrow, and all-new grotesque monsters to fight when the game's expansion, The Old Hunters, launches later this year.

Sony and From Software brought a small playable slice of The Old Hunters to Tokyo Game Show this week, giving us a taste of what to expect when the add-on launches this November.

A handful of new weapons were available in that demo, including the aforementioned sword that transforms into a bow, which is known as Simon's Bowblade. The curved sword is a fun weapon in its own right, giving the player a variety of slashing attacks to use. But transforming the blade into a long bow makes the weapon far more enjoyable — and useful at long distances. Players can fire arrows quickly from the bow or hold the attack button for a longer-drawn but more powerful shot. Even in its bow state, players still have a melee option; they can slash with an arrow held in the hand.

From Software has also added a new cleaver-style trick weapon that transforms into a bladed whip. Unlike the cane, which also has an alternate whip form, the cleaver-whip is heavy and, when in its extended form, slow and hulking.

The Old Hunters demo had a couple of new consumable weapons as well. There's a new timed explosive that can be thrown and, after a few seconds, will detonate. A new magic item, which appears to be a rotten eyeball, can fire small magic bolts.

The new area on display was a valley filled with pools of blood and rotting corpses — some of which appeared to still be alive, or possibly undead, and reared their heads when we disturbed them. A few familiar enemies from Old Yharnam populate the new area, as does a new brand of bloodshot-eyed Hunters. They're equipped with the new cleaver-whip, shotguns and other new weapons we didn't recognize. We did see another new enemy, a bulky axe-wielding giant whose face was thick with roots.

Bloodborne: The Old Hunters

We also encountered one new boss, a twisted melding of multiple creatures that goes by the name Ludwig. That boss seems to be a reference to the great sword known as Ludwig's Holy Blade from the original Bloodborne, and a quick cut scene that played after we'd defeated Ludwig appeared to confirm that association. (Longtime From Software fans wondering where the Moonlight Greatsword is in Bloodborne might find some hints from this new boss.)

Ludwig's a disgusting looking beast, somewhat similar to the Bloodborne boss known as the One Reborn in that it's a gross collection of limbs and faces. The boss appears to be part horse, part human, part Eldritch horror. Unlike the One Reborn, Ludwig is incredibly fast and he can spew forth a stream of white goo that drained nearly all my Hunter's health with one blast. He'll leap and pound players with his humanoid fists, and he uses his rear legs to launch himself at the player or kick them with his hooves.

In the demo, we played as a pretty powerful level 75 Hunter, and managed to defeat Ludwig pretty easily with the help of a computer-controlled ally that we summoned.

Bloodborne: The Old Hunters looks on par with the wonderful experience of the original game, giving players more of what they wanted: all-new weapons to play with, nightmarish creatures to slay and gorgeous, gloomy environments to explore.

The next level of puzzles.

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