He's not exactly J.D. Salinger or anything, but it's rare to get a glimpse of FromSoftware's Hidetaka Miyazaki outside of Japan. But really, who can blame him? He's been a busy guy.
At this past weekend's PSX event in Las Vegas, the Dark Souls director made a rare public appearance for the sake of showing off Bloodborne, coming out on the PlayStation 4 March 27th. Even though Miyazaki's jocular personality feels like a far cry from the bleak nature of the Souls RPG series, his secrecy with Bloodborne definitely keeps in line with his philosophy of not giving too much away. Still, this one-hour talk and demo session managed to provide plenty of new info to a packed house of raving FromSoftware fans.
For this presentation, Miyazaki focused on Bloodborne's chalice dungeons: procedurally generated, co-op-focused areas that have no bearing on the game's story and exist as wholly optional content. By finding a chalice and completing a certain ritual, players unlock this dungeon, and once it's created, the layout remains permanent. Miyazaki claimed the reasoning behind this decision was to give players a sense of mastery over their specific dungeon, which offers a greater degree of challenge than the surrounding game. And while you can have a co-op partner assist you with conquering these area, you can also share your generated dungeon with other players, though Miyazaki didn't reveal just how this would work. (Or just how many chalice dungeons you can create in a single game.)
The second half of the Bloodborne panel featured a live playthrough of a chalice dungeon via the efforts of Miyazaki's FromSoftware colleagues. Admittedly, I bristled a bit at the mention of procedurally generated content—which held the promise of feeling decidedly inferior to FromSoftware's meticulously handcrafted levels—but the dungeon on display could have easily come from any of their past Souls games. The 15-minute walkthrough took the two co-op partners through a three-layered dungeon (which was smaller than normal for the purpose of this presentation) with a surprising amount of variety and verticality: It featured cramped corridors, starkly lit underground caves, and murky swamps crawling with enemies. Through this play session, Miyazaki revealed these chalice dungeons would task players with finding the switch to open the locked boss area—and the horrifying creature lurking behind this locked door would be chosen at random as well.
The Q&A session following the live demo didn't offer up much valuable information, but Miyazaki at least hinted at things to come. While the demo's frame rate looked significantly better then previous hands-on demo sessions I had in the past, when asked about this element of Bloodborne, Miyazaki could only deliver a defeated laugh, along with "please be nice to us." Other answers revealed some very basic facts about Bloodborne: characters will have a similar amount of customization as those in Dark Souls 2, PVP will be present, and it will feature an Undead/Hollow system based on what players preferred from his past games. Unfortunately, the "Praise the Sun" gesture—one of Miyazaki's favorites from Dark Souls and its sequel—might not make it into Bloodborne, mostly because he's afraid of angering Bandai-Namco, who published the games this move first appeared in. Miyazaki did claim, though, that something similar to it may be present in Bloodborne.
Miyazaki has the luxury of keeping Bloodborne bathed in secrecy, though it's at least clear he hasn't strayed too far from what made Souls a success. And, based on what I've played and seen, it offers enough twists on the formula to make it feel like a new experience while keeping the FromSoftware fundamentals intact. Bloodborne's focus on offense and situational weapon use feels markedly different than Dark Souls, which encourages defensive tactics and mastering/upgrading a single weapon for your character build. Even with so little information to go on, I personally haven't seen any warning flags pop up to indicate Miyazaki might be steering Bloodborne in the wrong direction. And with a little over four months left until its release, we don't have long to wait before we know if Bloodborne will be a true successor to the Souls series. At the risk of ending a preview with cliched, vague enthusiasm, the chances seem pretty good.