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Bloodborne's 1.03 patch tested

Digital Foundry finds massive load time improvement, but frame-pacing issue remains.

Today's circa 200MB Bloodborne update (bringing it to version 1.03) improves loading times hugely over the unpatched release - but to what extent can it be felt? We put this to the test on the stock 500GB PlayStation 4 HDD to see how the update improves the experience for most players.

We also have another test to show how a cost-effective 1TB hybrid SSHD changes before and after the patch. Each of these times is measured to the exact frame the screen cuts to black, though it is worth noting there is a variance of one second to either side of our test figures.

The result? As promised, almost every area selected via the Hunter's Dream hub now loads 5-15 seconds faster. It's a success across the game's early spots especially, but there are also areas where From Software over-delivers.

The real game-changer is Bloodborne's improved respawn loading times. Previously players were forced to wait up to 44 seconds to revive in complex areas like Central Yharnam. But with the patch now installed, a whopping 26 seconds is cut off that loading screen after dying. This means respawns at the Central Yharnam lamp now take just 18 seconds on a stock PS4 HDD.

Better than that, respawns in Old Yharnam are now 32 seconds faster, with our test taking only 21 seconds total after dying just crossing the initial bridge. It's an upgrade that puts the stock PS4 HDD close to the results on a Hybrid SSD without the patch - and also narrows the gap when patch 1.03 is installed on that drive.

Bloodborne Loading Times Stock PS4 500GB HDD (Patch 1.01) Stock PS4 500GB HDD (Patch 1.03) Seagate 1TB SSHD Hybrid (Patch 1.01) Seagate 1TB SSHD Hybrid (Patch 1.03)
First Floor Sickroom 36.7 30.2 32.6 25.9
Central Yharnam 41.1 33.8 33.5 28.6
Respawn at Central Yharnam 44.4 18.0 33.9 15.7
Great Bridge 35.1 29.1 28.0 26.0
Tomb of Oedon 30.0 25.5 24.8 21.6
Cathedral Ward 48.3 38.5 36.6 31.1
Old Yharnam 45.8 31.6 36.5 24.6
Respawn at Old Yharnam 53.5 21.3 39.0 16.0
Return to Hunter's Dream from Old Yharnam 12.1 11.6 10.4 10.4

As a bonus, From Software also jazzes up the game's loading screens. Rather than flashing the plain "Bloodborne" logo every time, we now have a rotation of new item descriptions (a la Dark Souls) to fill the space. It's a step forward in every sense, minimising the game's frustrating downtime between each death, and targeting the bugs that most needed fixing.

Unfortunately, the frame-pacing issues we reported on at launch persist even after patch 1.03 is installed. This means the frame-rate still feels very uneven, despite the average being 30fps - something that hopefully is recognised at From Software for a future patch.

The new loading screen: more interesting, and you'll see less of it.