Bloodborne deserves way better than 30fps on the PS4

Bloodborne in excelsis.
(Image credit: Fromsoftware.)

Last month Sony's Jim Ryan casually confirmed that more first party PlayStation games are coming to PC. "Particularly from the latter half of the PS4 cycle our studios made some wonderful, great games," Ryan said. "There’s an opportunity to expose those great games to a wider audience and recognise the economics of game development, which are not always straightforward. The cost of making games goes up with each cycle, as the calibre of the IP has improved. Also, our ease of making it available to non-console owners has grown. So it’s a fairly straightforward decision for us to make."

The first exclusive is Days Gone, due in spring, with no others announced so far. There have been calls for the usual candidates: God of War, various Naughty Dog games, Spider-Man, etc.

But let's get real. Though I may be a PC gamer, my favourite game ever is Bloodborne, the 2015 PlayStation 4 exclusive by Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware. It's not too hard to imagine the corporate backstory to this game: Sony had seen Demon's Souls turn from a PS3 exclusive into the cross-platform Dark Souls phenomenon. Thus it approached FromSoft and Miyazaki with a big bag of money and said 'please make us a PS4 exclusive like Demon's again, do whatever you want.'

Bloodborne, the hunter's nightmare.

(Image credit: Fromsoftware)

That's my head-canon anyway because, as someone who's played every one of these games to the point of exhaustion and written extensively about their design and lore, Bloodborne's world of Yharnam feels like Miyazaki's most personal, self-contained, and perfect creation. 

The greatest games are the most coherent: the worlds in bottles so fully-formed, so enveloping, so thought-through in every detail the player forgets about the glass. In Bloodborne the player character heals through injecting blood, the reason they and others have come to the baroque and fog-muffled streets of Yharnam: blood that runs from higher planes down into the corpse-filled sewers, and stains and twists and corrupts everything it passes through.

Making contact in Bloodborne.

(Image credit: Fromsoftware)

Bloodborne has been called Lovecraftian, an over-simplification of a game which takes iconic elements from many myths to build its own Frankenstein's monster. This is science fiction of the 19th-century breed, where humankind’s ambitions are desperately rubbing up against rudimentary technology and tantalisingly incomplete notions of how bodies actually work. An atmosphere of experimentation, lanced around the edges with electricity, and at its core—then as now—is blood. The stuff of blood, what blood does, and how it might perhaps be improved on.

Human drive pumps relentlessly through Bloodborne. The marketing suggested this was merely about werewolves. But the pace and the way in which Yharnam’s secrets unfold has no equivalent, both in how the game allows the player freedom to explore widely, and in how it escalates the nature and scale of the undertaking. The journey changes, goals shift, the player begins to question where reality lies.

Buddies in Bloodborne, including a familiar one.

(Image credit: Fromsoftware)

Oh… I'm racing ahead of myself. The argument for Bloodborne coming to PC isn't just that it's a classic, but that it's currently stuck on Playstation 4 hardware: you can stream a version of it using the Playstation Now service, but it remains the PS4 version. Bloodborne was not updated in any performance related way for either the PS4 Pro or PS5 hardware. It's trapped in a 30 fps cage, on a console that is entering its later years.

Bloodborne would need work and, obviously, FromSoft and Miyazaki are focused on Elden Ring. But it doesn't need the kind of generational overhaul that Bluepoint recently performed on Demon's Souls, and by far the biggest technical hurdle is the framerate—because other elements of the game are designed to work around it. Except that the Bloodborne/Souls dataminer Lance McDonald recently managed to get it running in 60FPS on PS4 Pro hardware.

Sony should look at that and be embarrassed that a solo coder, albeit a man of remarkable talent, is giving Bloodborne nuts more hope for the future than it is.

At one point Bloodborne coming to PC would have been inconceivable. It may not have been the highest-selling exclusive on the PS4 overall, but it's one you can truly call a system-seller. I bought my PS4 for Bloodborne, and many others will say the same. Six years on, however, that task is over and, even more than that, the commercial argument has flipped: Bloodborne on PC is near-guaranteed to be a smash. For Bloodborne to just stay as a PS4 title in 2021 feels like no-one wins.

If ever a game deserved a new lease of life, a chance to throw off the shackles of hardware surpassed by technology, it is Bloodborne. "Grant us eyes," chant several characters throughout Yharnam, and PC gamers must join that choir: seeing, in this case, will be believing.

This is a game like no other, and a wider audience needs to see just what they've been missing. Dark Souls is not Miyazaki and Fromsoft's masterpiece. Sony have been keeping the real jewel to themselves all this time. For Bloodborne to stay on PS4 hardware any longer is a loss for players, for the game, and for Playstation itself.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."