Okay, so here's what we knew about Bloodborne after its E3 2014 reveal: First, it's a collaborative project between SCE Japan and From Software. Second, it's a PS4 exclusive. Third, uh, your character has a shotgun or something? There really wasn't much to go on. But if you're dying to know more about Bloodborne, I have great news: I've seen it in action during a live demo, presented by none other than director Hidetaka Miyazaki himself. Let's get started.
First and foremost: Bloodborne is very much a spiritual successor to the Souls franchise. It's an action RPG set in the 19th century, and takes place in the gothic city of Yharnam, a once-great metropolis now besieged by a horrible plague. Everyone afflicted transforms into horribly disfigured creatures, which are regularly hunted by surviving mobs of people. You are one such hunter.
Miyazaki says Bloodborne's systems are built around three key themes, all of which might sound familiar to Souls vets: exploration of the unknown, perilous combat, and a unique online concept. Though no information was shared about Bloodborne's online component, Miyazaki did talk at length about the exploration and combat. The former is very much about discovering not only the physical game map, but also how Bloodborne's various systems--battles and character progression, for instance--come together to impact the overall flow of the experience.
Then there's combat, which is what sets Bloodborne apart from the Souls franchise. Think about a typical encounter in Dark Souls for a second: the first time you engage a certain type of enemy, you circle around it, shield raised, and spend a few minutes learning its attack patterns. It's a very passive playstyle. Miyazaki describes Bloodborne's combat as "proactive"--it's just as punishing, in the sense even the most basic of enemies can and will destroy you if you're not smart, but the moment-to-moment flow is a lot faster.
You have no shield, but you can quickly roll dodge or sidestep with incredible speed. Your weapons--a short-ranged shotgun and a badass saw cleaver that can change form mid-combo--force you to play aggressively. Make no mistake: that doesn't mean this is some Dark Souls / DmC hybrid; but the only things that will save you from towering beasts in Bloodborne are your own abilities.