There's nothing like the thrill of competitive multiplayer, but sometimes it's better to kick back and play alongside your friends and family instead of against them. With Co-Optimized, we highlight and discuss games that are best played together.
When it comes to tough games, few match the brutality of Bloodborne. Repeatedly dying is a big part of the game, until you can gather the experience, equipment, and knowhow to defeat the boss--all so that you can be pummeled by the next one. But, as it turns out, you don't have to face these challenges alone. Bloodborne has a cooperative mode where up to three adventurers come together to battle a boss. However, forming a co-op party is no straightforward task. Also, participating in a co-op game comes with more than a few strings attached.
Hosts can invite two other players to join their game by spending an Insight Point (acquired by completing various tasks) to sound the Beckoning Bell. You'll have to ring the bell twice if you want two players to join. Joining players must be in the same area as you, and reply by ringing a Resonant Bell. The catch is, there's no guarantee that there will be anyone in the area when you ring the bell, or if they'll respond if they are. So, there is a slight chance that you'll ring the bell and no one will join. One way to get around this is to set up a password protected game with a friend, but that friend must be at the same point in the game (or further) than you, or else they can't join.
Fortunately, the Bloodborne becomes pretty straightforward after that. They party of players set forth to defeat the boss. There are no group strategies to consider, nor do powers build up to greater effect. All players simply do their best to pile on the damage until the boss is defeated. If you're having a lot of trouble with a boss, one way of getting past it is by inviting a player who has progressed further than you. They might have the power and equipment to quickly dispatch the boss for you.
Bloodborne's cooperative element is tied specifically to a boss. Once it is defeated, the party disbands and hosts will have to ring the bell again if they need more help. Similarly, players return to their individual campaigns if the Beckoner is killed in battle. This being the case, Bloodborne isn't really a social multiplayer game. Co-op players don't share health, nor do can they revive fallen players.
Its cooperative gameplay is almost completely functional. But even though the game doesn't really have a cooperative campaign, hosts can game the system a little by ringing the Beckoning Bell far in advance, which allows players to fight together until the boss fight.
Players that join a host to help defeat a boss receive Insight Points and Blood Echoes for their efforts, which can be spent on upgrades and equipment. But joining a host is mostly for that player's benefit. Helping another player kill a boss that you haven't defeated yet does not apply to your game. The creature will be alive and well again once you return to your game, and you can either use the Blood Echoes you earned to upgrade and face him alone, or ring the Beckoning Bell for yourself.
Bloodborne might not be a shining example of cooperative play at its best, but given how tough its bosses can be, it's a well-appreciated feature. Ringing the Beckoning Bell can be a shot in the dark, especially later on down the road when many players have moved on to advanced areas. At the same time, joining a game is a matter of convenience, and depends on whether or not you happen to be nearby when a Beckoning Bell is sounded. Even fighting alongside others can feel like a somewhat solitary experience, since everyone pretty much looks out for themselves. You're either helping to pile on damage, or you're acting as a decoy so that someone else can. Still, the one major benefit of fighting alongside others is learning new strategies, which can help you in your own game.
There's also plenty of loot to be had by helping others. When it comes to games like Bloodborne, you need every advantage you can pick up.
For more information about how to start a Bloodborne Co-op or PvP Multiplayer game, check out our handy guide.