Bloodborne is going to have shields, but they may not be as effective as you'd think.
Sony's Japan Studio confirmed to IGN that shields will appear in the game after rampant speculation that they may not. Shields played a very large role in From's previous Souls games, of which Bloodborne is a spiritual successor, yet not a single piece of gameplay footage has shown a Bloodborne player wielding such defensive weaponry. When asked about it before, the publisher and developer always stayed mum on the issue. Perhaps it was still being sorted?
At any rate, Japan Studio producer Masaaki Yamagiwa said that shields will come with a caveat: "If you're always standing back and guarding, you'll die very quickly," he warned potential hunters. "So you have to incorporate it into your strategy of how you play and fight."
"We wanted to encourage players to not hide and wait, but instead be more aggressive and pro-active in battle," he added.
It's unclear exactly how shields will be made less effective this time around. Perhaps they'll degrade quicker or stagger you more? Or maybe they simply won't block as many attacks? Probably a combination of all these, I'd reckon.
But hey, Bloodborne has blunderbusses and other cool non-magical firearms. You can't say that about the Souls series.