The Orphan and Me: Final Words on Bloodborne

Posted on June 18, 2017 by psu

I beat the Orphan of Kos at Level 4 in Bloodborne. I will qualify this statement in two ways. First, since he beat me a few hundred times before I finally got a bit lucky, it’s not clear how much of an achievement this really is. But I feel good about it. I’m an old man gamer, and this is a fight that a lot of young people give up on even at high level. So I will allow myself a small amount of ego.

Second, I did cheat a little bit by save-scumming with a USB stick in order to avoid farming for Beast Blood Pellets. But all is fair in Soulsborne and cheese, so I’m taking the win as a win.

In my previous fights with the Orphan I had backstabbed him to get to phase two quickly and then flailed about at random until I killed him before dying. I had never really bothered to learn the patterns in the second phase, because none were apparent before I got a lucky kill. Here is a recent fight that is typical:

With this background, I did not give myself more than a 25% chance to ever win this fight. For about the first week this is how it went:

This was not encouraging.

The way you want to fight this guy is by keeping your distance and then going in for backstabs and other attacks with a long weapon that has some range. There are two problems with this idea with a low level build:

  1. The Saw Cleaver has no range. So you die a lot running in to get a hit and not getting out again.

  2. At low level, visceral attacks are garbage. They barely do more than an R2. And they do a lot less than a charged R2 if you are using Beast Pellets. You will get about 3x the damage by doing a charged R2 to get a backstab and then hitting with another charged R2. There is a bit more risk, but it eats away the health bar a lot faster. If you add Beast Pellets to this you can get through phase one in just a few backstabs. Like this:

You can see from the video that the two moves to use to get a backstab are:

  1. When he leaps over you and slams the yo-yo shrimp down.

  2. When he does the double yo-yo swing. Sometimes the second yo-yo swing cancels to that slam attack. In the above video I get two backstabs off of that, but later on I kept dying when the backstab didn’t land. So eventually I would only try for it on a real double swing.

Like all youtube videos about boss fights, this one makes it look easy (until I die). But don’t be fooled. The Orphan is a fucking cheater and you’ll die a lot even when you know what you are doing.

Sometimes you just lose your spacing:

Sometimes you swing and he’s not there:

You get the idea.

I eventually got to the point where I was getting to phase two consistently. I’d do a few runs, fail, copy the old save back (for the pellets… need the pellets). Rinse and repeat for an hour. Then I’d quit do something less frustrating, like debug multi-threaded code that has no locking. Or something less depressing, like a nice Mahler symphony. This went on for a long time. At times I might get good RNG and get his health very low before phase 2, and then die anyway. Like this:

The second half of this fight is a worst case for me:

  1. His moves are fast and have variable timing. I suck at learning timing.

  2. One hit kills you.

  3. His moves can be arbitrarily fast and have infinite range. In particular he will often hit you with a charge from the opposite side of the arena when you are not looking. This happened over and over to me when I was running away from the lightning attack.

After dozens (or hundreds, who knows) of tries I slowly got better at controlling my spacing, recognizing when to delay dodging and when to dodge early, and keeping an eye out for a trans-atlantic missile attack. But I still get it wrong about half the time and each mistake means doing the fight over again. There are five basic classes of attacks to watch for:

  1. Spinny yo-yo shrimp combos. Dodge back if you can, dodge through the first one then away if you don’t have the right spacing. These will also be combined with the deadly double charge attack that you will always kill you as you try to dodge back rather than through. Or it will kill you because you timed your dodge through it incorrectly and got sliced in half by the shrimp.

  2. Leap up in the air and back down again moves. Here the thing is to unlock and roll just as he lands. This was really hard for me to learn. I still get crushed about 25% of the time.

  3. The various pink projectiles of magic death moves. The trickiest one is where he throws the pink gunk at you and then leaps over you and repeats the move. You have to remember to dodge the opposite way after the leap or you die. This is also the major way you die if you got too close to him and tried to take a swing too late. Two seconds later you are dead and covered in pink goo.

  4. Attacks where other people can backstab, but I can’t. There are two of these. There is the straight leap over you, similar to phase one. And there is the slam-slam-slam-slam-leap move where you can walk under and then deliver the backstab. Except I can’t. I get behind and the backstab only lands once in ten tries.

  5. Finally, that screaming lightning summon thing. The lightning comes from the shore, so unlock and run away from it. But be careful, sometimes he’ll charge you from behind and kill you.

I didn’t have the energy to build a death reel montage, and you would not be interested in seeing it anyway. I died a lot. Eventually, I knew that I would have to finally get a fight where:

  1. The phase one RNG was good, so that just before he transforms I could take off a good bit of extra health and have some beasthood left.

  2. My phase two reflexes were good, and I stayed alive along enough to maybe get two lucky backstabs.

And after a few weeks of noodling I finally got this fight:

I guess I used four pellets total here. Like I said, I was bringing them back with that save file. If you wanted to conserve them the two I used in phase two were pretty useless.

So remember:

  1. Backstabs all day.

  2. Save scum for Beast Blood Pellets.

  3. Just keep grinding at phase two until you make it.

People generally agree that the Orphan is probably the toughest fight in the Souls and Borne games. I guess I have to agree. When I started this stupid BL4 run the goal was to make myself learn the fights better, and I think at least in this one case the scheme worked. I know as much about this fight as I want to. When you play a boss enough to regularly see bugs in the animation and attack engine, you know you’ve played too much. Maybe someday I’ll pull that old save file back out and try to learn what’s going on with the phase two backstabs. And then I’ll hit myself in the face with a two-by-four.

So for now this is my last word on Bloodborne. There is nothing more to say. If you want to know anything else, go watch LobosJr. He’ll teach you better than I can anyway.