Customizing the character’s appearance doesn’t really match the player’s logic
Character creation screens are usually complex. The one of Bloodborne is also complicated.
Despite generally implementing usable features and shortcuts for players, the character creation screen is somehow awkward. The screens are very cluttered with many different unrelated settings. Some things are grouped together, others separated. For example, I’ve seen players get really annoyed by face presets changing the skin color of their character.
Advanced options are sometimes difficult to locate
The structure of the menu is not very intuitive. The depth in menus at which content can be found also varies awkwardly. While it does somehow make sense, players fail to notice some advanced settings they are looking for. The logic of the menu is different from their expectations.
Even when they found options and want to edit their choices, they need to search again. It doesn’t really encourage players to make advanced changes, despite it being a screen where most players I’ve seen try the game spend hours.
Choices are difficult when you’re not certain of their exact impact
The appearance can also be difficult to decide on with clothing on. You don’t get the details of the character’s features. Players don’t know what is due to the cloth and what is due to the choices they make. The head size in particular was hard to figure out for some players I’ve watched play.
The gender issue
Worst of all, some basic features like changing the gender require 5 inputs to be carried out. It is one of the first choices, and it’s good it’s there, but it makes it confusing that you have to first select the gender, then chose the one you want, confirm, then validate your choice.
Since there are only two choices, it could have been a switch with a simple confirmation dialog. Keeping both a male and female set-up to let the player experiment without loosing his configuration would be even better.
I am curious why it was implemented that way. Maybe too few people tried to switch between genders to compare character options, so it wasn’t considered an issue. Maybe it was too late to take in account feedback or too complicated to change the whole editor for this “small” change. I saw mostly women want to try this, also in other RPGs or adventure games. Maybe it’s specific to women, and if they aren’t part of the target audience, then nobody cared to add the feature for them. Or there were more important issues to fix and improvements to make that were directly impacting the gameplay vs. the character creation.
Building the wrong character class : why it is okay in the Souls series but not in Bloodborne
After deciding the physical features, the player still needs to decide his build. Typically in RPGs, players will decide their class and use skill points according to what they expect their play style will be like. Unlike RPGs, Bloodborne – and the soul series – have a strong emphasis on exploration. Not everything is made clear from the start so the player can enjoy the discovery. Earning the information to understand the game is part of the fun in Bloodborne.
Players don’t mind making the wrong decisions…
Every player I’ve watched trying a game in the souls series has re-rolled their character after 10 to 20 hours of gameplay. They had the wrong build and didn’t like the play style they had. Some of them tried the “naked” guy for fun, then went back to the start to experience a slightly lower challenge. A couple did the contrary.
One decided they wanted to use a different weapon and thought their previous investments in skills were all wrong.
In Demon and Dark souls 1 & 2. Players did have vague information to build their characters. They did sometimes re-roll their character after experiencing the gameplay. But they never complained about lacking information to make the right choices. They complained about the choices they made not being what they want after all, but the choices were on them and completely voluntary.
…they mind being punished for making uninformed decisions.
Some information is not fun to try to guess when playing for the first time. In bloodborne, the player creates his character with no clue about what the “bloodtinge” means and how it is going to influence the game. The player also sees “blood echoes” and doesn’t get the idea. When they played the souls series before, they don’t expect to start with “souls” to spend.
Unlike in the other souls, players complained to me while creating their character that they lacked some information to make decisions about the choices in statistics. When they realise they need to re-roll, they blame it on the game if they feel they didn’t have enough information to make their own mistakes.
The wording can also be confusing at times. For example, some players wondered about terms like “Endurance” and “Stamina”, which are really similar.