Optional tutorials give everything away…
Default tutorials for offline players are scattered accross the place. They attrack the player’s attention through animations that add to the ambiance of the game. Bloodbornes tutorials are fully integrated and add to the experience rather than disrupting it.
When the player is near a tutorial message, it will take more importance. The player will see which control to use to interact and never has to think about what to do or how to do something, they will always find the information nearby. Players only need to decide what they want to do or not, explore the game, its mecanics and figure out how to progress.
The messages used for tutorials are also the ones crafted to communicate online. So while teaching the game to the player and encouraging exploration, the tutorials also train players to interact with each other. When they discover how to write messages, read and vote for other player’s messages, they already know how the mecanics work.
…but players are in control of the experience they enjoy most
Tutorials require an interaction to read them. They can be completely skipped, but they can hardly be missed. It is possible to play the game for the first time and never open a tutorial dialog, or only when stuck. A player could be kind of stuck because of not reading a tutorial. But they could not be stuck by accident. It will be a decision from the player not to read the nearby message that even tells him what to do next. It is easy to fix the issue if it happens, because the player made a conscious decision, not a mistake.
The tutorial texts are clearly written. They are contextual and only appear when they make sense, so they are also never confusing. They can not be read at an inappropriate moment. Players only need to ask to be held by the hand and taken to the next step. Even traps and solutions are “spoiled” so that the player knows what to expect from the game.
Players can decide to struggle or explore by themselves if that’s what they like, or to follow the guide and take the tour. Even with the first fights this is the case. Unlike many other games, Bloodborne (and the souls series) give player control over when the first fights start.
It leaves space for setting the mood and allows the player to get scared first, or rush into the action. As a result, the game adapts well to different play styles. The player can experience different approaches freely, like sneaking, frontal attacks, dodging. Only if he fails will he get the tutorial, and even then, he can go through it quickly, enjoying only the storytelling aspects of it.
Even later in the game, though less so in Bloodborne than in dark Souls 1 and Demon souls, players find various path adapting to their preferences : exploring first, beating bosses as they come or even farming a little to get that upgrade. The next step is always obvious. The player knows where to go (though this is not true only for Dark Souls 2). Thing is, he can always decide to explore everything else first, or go straight for it.
Players who complain about being taken by the hand too much love to take by the hand other players
Playing online adds a whole other level of help, between players. Trolls do exist and try to trick players into doing something stupid. They use messages like “jump” to trick people into suicide. However the pre-defined messages are great for interesting communication while blocking out the violence that custom text could generate.
Even better, the couple of trolls usually find their messages voted down, and players are globally nice to each other, mostly giving away (too much) valuable information to get through the game.
Though the souls games provide room for PVP and confrontational fun, it is equally likely to “meet” friendly faces and experience the same feelings of being akin and mutually helpful as one might in thatgamecompany’s Journey. I’ve seen more than one player stay offline for fair of being spoiled by the nice attentions of other players.