That’s life, isn’t it? One day, you’re a righteous and goodly warrior fighting to protect the citizens of Yharnam from the beastly scourge, and the next, you’re a huge, hideous horse-mutant with an anger management problem. Let’s try and piece together what’s going on with Bloodborne’s Ludwig.
Who Is Ludwig?
Bloodborne, like all Souls games, isn’t exactly forthcoming with its lore. Let’s start at the beginning, then: Ludwig was a zealous warrior who became the first of the Healing Church’s hunters. He founded the Healing Church Workshop (upon which the Hunter’s Dream is based) and is spoken of highly by some NPCs in the main game (Gehrman himself, for instance).
Before Ludwig, the Church would conduct clandestine attacks on those that had become beasts (or those they suspected would), trying to keep the truth of what was happening from the people. As the beasts became ever more huge, lumpen and hideous, the people could hardly fail to notice them, and Ludwig championed a new approach: inform the Yharnamites, arm them, and set out on larger-scale and publicized beast hunts.
The brave hero who led the way became known as Ludwig, The Holy Blade, and the hunters who came after him (‘heirs to the will of Ludwig,’ as the description for the Radiant Sword Hunter Badge dubs them) were also referred to as Holy Blades.
What Happened To Ludwig?
As is revealed as the player progresses through the game, the more righteous and holier a person is, the more hideous a beast they tend to become (hence the Cleric Beast, Vicar Amelia and more). The events of Bloodborne unfold after Ludwig’s time, but in the DLC The Old Hunters, we encounter the sorry creature he ultimately became: Ludwig the Accursed.
Accursed is probably an apt name for this grotesque monster. It’s huge, horse-like, brilliantly disgusting even by Bloodborne’s standards (how the heck do they come up with the designs for these things) and moves in a way that’s… just indescribable.
Despite all of this, there’s still an echo of his previous humanity in that grim body. The game subtly suggests that there is in all beasts, in fact, that they retain some of their minds and memories. There are hints of this in the fact that the transformed Father Gascoigne still recoils at the sound of the Tiny Music Box, and that fact will prove super important in the boss battle with Horsey McHorseface here.
How Do You Beat Ludwig The Accursed?
Well, that’s a darn good question. The Old Hunters itself is notorious for being a step above the main game in terms of difficulty, and Ludwig the Accursed is often regarded as one of the hardest bosses in the whole game. He deals huge damage and is incredibly aggressive, and midway through the battle, he becomes an entirely different opponent. Does all this sound like a good time? That’s because it isn’t.
You encounter Ludwig the Accursed in an area called the Underground Corpse Pile, early in the DLC, very close to the Nightmare Church lamp. You’ll be thankful that there’s a lamp very close by, because this boss (mandatory to progress in the DLC) can be a major roadblock.
It’s a real test of your mastery of the fundamentals of Bloodborne’s combat. Watch and react, target its weak points (its limbs are breakable, as is its head, which will grant a visceral attack opportunity), do not get greedy. It has a deceptive mix of slow and telegraphed attacks and quicker ones, but its wide, sweeping range means that you can get a real advantage is you stay beneath/behind it. Not at a distance that will trigger that mule kick, though.
Take advantage of its (minor, though every little helps) weakness to fire if you can, and for the sake of absolutely everything ever, watch for it to pause and screech for a moment. That’s the tell for its charge attack, which is fully capable of one-shotting you (depending on the new game cycle you’re on and such).
Oh, and did we mention that, once you get its HP down to half, the Ludwig-thing adopts an entirely different form? A cutscene plays in which he discovers the Holy Moonlight Sword, seems to communicate with it, and regains much of his sanity and composure. From then on, you’re fighting Ludwig, the Holy Blade, who stands tall and fights by slashing his blade in 3-4 hit combos for the most part (yes, there are Zelda-style energy beams to avoid).
The key thing to remember, again, is to remain close and dodge through his quick, sweeping attacks, rather than away from them. As before, go ham when you stagger him (you can concentrate on particular sides to get multiple staggers, or keep hitting a ‘broken’ limb for the extra damage), but do not get greedy: he has some devastating AoE attacks at his disposal, which are telegraphed by his raising his blade.
What Makes Ludwig’s Holy Blade And The Holy Moonlight Sword So Good?
So, yes. Generally speaking, Ludwig is not a friend to Bloodborne players. Relentlessly stomping on someone’s hopes and dreams and crushing them into the carpet doesn’t do much to ingratiate you to them, funnily enough. Still, the character remains popular, largely as a result of the two fantastic weapons he brings to the mix: Ludwig’s Holy Blade and the Holy Moonlight Sword.
The first is a quick, silver sword that transforms into a heavy-duty greatsword. It’s been regarded as one of the best weapons in the game since its introduction, as it’s monstrously powerful, perfect for a quality build (leveling Strength and Skill both equally) and the transformed mode can stagger enemies and obliterate them in a trice. It was known as the scourge of PvP and ‘easy mode’ in PvE for a reason. Most Bloodborne players know the power of Ludwig’s Holy Blade. You can buy it from the merchants’ shop after obtaining the Radiant Sword Hunter badge, which is through the previously-locked door next to the Cathedral Ward lamp (you need to defeat the Blood-Starved Beast in Old Yharnam to access that area).
The Holy Moonlight Sword is a curious case for a number of reasons. This DLC-only blade is a reference to a recurring From Software weapon, which appears as the Moonlight Greatsword in the Dark Souls games and the Large Sword of Moonlight in Demon’s Souls.
In its transformed mode, the weapon makes heavy use of the often-neglected Arcane stat, boasting special moves that allow the player to fire beams of Arcane. Ranged damage is a huge asset in PvE (the AI of the enemies tends to mean that they just can’t handle it), and can be incredibly effective against human players as well.
As with Simon’s Bowblade, these ranged moves expend Quicksilver Bullets (although their damage increases with the Arcane stat rather than the bowblade’s Bloodtinge), but they’re very strong and make the Holy Moonlight Sword feel completely unique. A lot of its moveset is reminiscent of Ludwig’s Holy Blade, and it’s wielded in a similar manner, but in the end, they’re both excellent picks.
You obtain the Holy Moonlight Sword after defeating Ludwig the Accursed/Ludwig, The Holy Blade. Whatever he became later in life, he died as a proud (albeit distinctly horsey) warrior, as befits such an important character in Bloodborne lore.
One last protip: after winning the battle, don a church-related piece of garb and answer ‘Yes’ to the question his disembodied head asks you (“Are my Church Hunters the honorable Spartans I hoped they would be?”). Nothing will change, and you’ll get the sword either way, but it’s just polite. Poor guy.