It didn’t take long for gamers to start clamouring for Bloodborne 2 – such is the nature of success. Although the more you think about it, the less sense it makes.
It’s only natural that we crave more of a good thing, just ask the blood-drunk citizens of Bloodborne’s iconic Yharnam. But the thirst for a direct sequel, referred to as Bloodborne 2, The Velvet Veil, or whatever some 4chan-dwelling crackpot dreams up, is almost self-defeating.
First of all, ask yourself why you want a Bloodborne 2. If you’re anything like me it will pretty much boil down to how much you enjoyed the original. Now, and here’s the crux of my whole position on this, try to articulate why exactly you enjoyed it. I’m convinced that right there, at the end of this line of thought, lies a very good reason why Bloodborne 2 shouldn’t be made. And I’d wager that Hidetaka Miyazaki agrees.
Hold the pitchforks, and let me explain. At its heart, Bloodborne is a Lovecraftian nightmare masquerading as a gothic mystery. What this means is that the world’s specifics aren’t the most important factor regarding the game’s unique character. Rather, it is the cosmic framework, and therefore underlying rationale, that elevates Bloodborne.
Spoilers for the original game lie ahead.
The cosmic framework of which I speak is of course the presence of the Great Ones, the all-powerful entities that manipulate the world from an unseen, perhaps unknowable location. Without this mystery Bloodborne 2 would ultimately fail, it’s simply too important a part of the game’s DNA.
No worries you might say: just include the Great Ones and craft a new mystery in the same world. The problem with this is that players, with their intricate knowledge of the first game, would inherently understand that the machinations of Bloodborne 2 are the work of a cosmic entity. It’s difficult to craft a fulfilling mystery if the audience already knows, or at the very least strongly suspects, the culprit.
Considering Miyazaki’s expertise in telling ambiguous, opaque stories, he would be keenly aware of this problem. I believe it is a similar intuition that dissuaded him from being heavily involved in the second Dark Souls game; preferring to step away from the series for long enough that it was acceptable to turn the third entry into more of a homage.
The very concept of Bloodborne 2 is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It would either betray the lore of the first game (by not including the Great Ones) or its spirit (including the now expected Great Ones). Either option would be unsatisfactory to large portions of the fanbase, and probably many of the creators themselves.
I will add that escalating the cosmology of the game – by perhaps introducing a new even more powerful entity – wouldn’t solve this problem. Rather it would damage the world’s internal logic and, consequently, cheapen the original game.
Miyazaki has proven himself to be, despite his humble demeanour, a brave creative. It would be hugely out of character for him to betray one of his own creations, even if the financial reward was considerable. He is much more likely to apply his talent to new works, where his canvas won’t be hostage to his past creations.
However – and I hope this thought affects you the same way it does me – there is a different way of thinking about Bloodborne 2. The lines that connect Miyazaki’s games are there for all to see; lore-filled item descriptions, recurring weapons, untrustworthy characters, the suggestion of reincarnation and the multiverse, and forces beyond human comprehension.
He crafts games like David Mitchell writes books; they don’t exist in singularity, but as a web of interconnected ideas and stories. They combine to create a uber work that is more than the sum of the individual parts. In this sense, Bloodborne 2 already exists, it’s just called Dark Souls 3. Think I’m full of shit? Fair enough, but explain to me what you think Patches is doing hanging out in the Lecture Building.
I would argue that all of Miyazaki’s games are spiritual successors to what came before them, and that for the reasons stated above, we won’t ever see a title that is explicitly linked pre-launch to the world of Bloodborne.
That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to play through a future game of Miyazaki’s and experience the same sort of cosmic horror that I associate with the idea of Bloodborne 2. And perhaps then, after I have sufficiently gotten my shit back together, it will dawn on me that I am playing Bloodborne 2.
I adore the richly imagined world of Yharnam, along with fascinating lore regarding the old blood, great ones, and hunters. I just don’t think a game titled Bloodborne 2, or one marketed as a spiritual successor, will do a good job of returning us there.
Yharnam isn’t just a place in Bloodborne, it’s a place in Miyazaki’s mind. And thankfully, now ours as well.