Bloodborne: The Old Hunters: How to beat Ludwig, the Accursed
Bloodborne: The Old Hunters is arguably one of the most difficult experiences you will ever get from a video game, and if you've found yourself reading this guide, chances are the first boss, Ludwig the Accursed, is giving you a considerable amount of trouble. Well, fear not, dear reader, for today I will be your guide and hopefully I will help you to defeat one of the most challenging bosses in gaming history.
Although we've already given you a brief overview of how to defeat the bosses in The Old Hunters DLC, this in-depth guide should help you in equipping the right gear, summoning the best NPCs, and give you a little more detail on how to avoid Ludwig's powerful attacks.
The beauty of games like Bloodborne and the Souls titles is that there is a lot of freedom in terms of how to approach different situations. With that said, I found the following equipment to be extremely helpful in the fight against Ludwig:
Ludwig's Holy Blade: It has the power of a charging elephant when fully upgraded and used in its 2-handed form, yet is still incredibly efficient in its 1-handed form.
Whirligig Saw: Because Ludwig is a beast, the Whirligig Saw also works well, although the moveset can take some getting used to.
Whichever weapon you decide to choose, make sure that it is fully upgraded.
There are 2 ways to approach this depending on how good you are at dodging. Ludwig does 2 types of damage, magic and physical, so you can stack defense for either. Personally, I found it a lot more difficult to dodge his physical attacks so it was more beneficial for me to mitigate physical damage rather than magical.
The best way to choose runes is to look at your fighting style and find where you are coming up short. A combination of the runes below should help to make this fight go a little smoother.
Anti-clockwise: Boosts max stamina
Arcane Lake: Arcane damage reduction (use this if you prefer to stack arcane defense)
Clockwise: Boosts max HP
Communion: Increases max blood vials
Guidance: Boosts rally potential (allows you to regain more HP when attacking immediately after taking damage)
Lake: Physical damage reduction (use this if you prefer to stack physical defense)
Impurity: Allows you to summon Valtr (I highly recommend this unless you are on NG+ and above where he can't be summoned for this fight)
The first thing you want to do is obviously ensure that you have stocked up on blood vials. The easiest way to do this is by farming the area before the boss gate. Upon leaving the lamp, head towards the blood river. To your left are the two Cthulhu giants you faced to get to this point. Sneak up behind the first one and perform a backstab. If you have a powerful weapon (I found that a fully upgraded Ludwig's Holy Blade was incredibly effective), you should be able to kill the giants with one or two hits while they are climbing back to their feet.
After killing the first one, try to draw out the second by moving in the direction that the first giant was facing. Once he appears, sprint back to the lamp and wait until the giant gives up and moves back to the middle of the previous area. Once he does this, you will be able to safely sneak up behind him and take him out the same way that you dispatched the first. He should drop about 4 vials.
Once you've taken care of the giants, head back in the opposite direction and up the ramp. As you get to the top, turn right and sneak up behind the enemy lying in wait. A single backstab with a powerful weapon should easily kill him without the need for follow-up attacks. Drop down to where the corpse of the slain enemy fell and kill the zombie banging on the gate. This zombie doesn't attack you and can usually be killed with a single attack. He drops about 5 blood vials each time so if you need to farm, your best bet is to kill him, go back and kill the Cthulhu giants, reset, and repeat.
On your way back, make sure to quickly kill the two crows near the zombie as they can knock off quite a sizable chunk of your health.
Summoning for help
Of course, you could summon other players to help out with this fight but there are also 3 AI companions available to assist you with this fight (There's only 1 in NG+ and above).
Old Hunter Henriette: From the lamp, head down the stairs to your left. Her summoning lamp is left of the bottom of the staircase. Unfortunately, Henriette is fragile and tends to run directly into Ludwig's AOE attacks so don't expect her to last very long. She is the only Old Hunter you can summon for this fight on NG+ and above.
Valtr: If you have joined The League covenant and equipped the Impurity rune (and you aren't on NG+ or above), you can find Valtr's summoning lamp near the 2 crows before the entrance to Ludwig's cave. He is by far the best summoning option and manages to survive for most of the fight.
Younger Mandaras Twin: Remember where you fought those 2 Cthulhu giants? Go back there and hug the right wall until you find a narrow pathway, which you can follow to find his summoning lamp. You will also need to make sure that you have the Impurity rune equipped and although he isn't as strong as Valtr, he's a much better choice than Henriette.
Once you have stocked up on blood vials, equipped the best gear, and summoned 2 Old Hunters, you're ready to face Ludwig (You may also want to use some fire paper before you go in). Here's what you need to know:
Ludwig starts the fight on all fours and will perform a running attack immediately after you pass through the fog gate. Dodge left and take a swing or two at his back legs before dodging backwards to safety. During the fight, he will swing at you with his right claw so your best bet is to try staying on his right (your left) back leg.
When he jumps high into the air, hold down the sprint button and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Don't release the sprint button until a few sends after he has landed because the shockwave can be deadly. It's very important that you don't hesitate and you must ensure that you have given yourself enough room to sprint in a straight line.
Ludwig will occasionally charge at directly at you and your dodge timing needs to be impeccable as this attack, like the jump, can easily one-shot you. He also sprays ooze at you occasionally but this attack doesn't do too much damage and is easily avoidable.
At about 50% HP, Ludwig will transform and pull out the Holy Moonlight Greatsword. In some way, this part of the fight is easier because he's less aggressive, but his attacks hit much harder. He will fire crescent-shaped blasts of magic towards you which hit really hard, but once you get used to the timing, they are quite easy to dodge.
When you see Ludwig raise his sword into the air, run as far away as you can because he will follow up with an extremely powerful AOE attack that will likely kill off any of your summoned NPCs (except Henriette who usually dies in phase 1 and rarely ever sees this portion of the fight).
The best position for this phase is the same as the first: stick as close as you can to his back legs. His physical attacks are much easier to dodge in this phase and if you move too far away, he tends to rely heavily on magic blasts.
That's about all you need to know for the fight. Hopefully, I've provided you with enough information to take down this beast and claim your hard-earned souls (as well as the rather nifty Holy Moonlight Sword).