It’s clear that FromSoftware wanted Covenants to play a big role in Dark Souls, but they’ve never been implemented particularly well. After Demon’s Souls more or less let players run wild and free, Dark Souls introduced Covenants as a means of uniting sects of players under a singular banner. Unfortunately, the cumbersome and confusion rooted in Covenants have left fans cold on the concept ever since.
Bloodborne’s interpretation of the concept isn’t much better for what it’s worth. Covenants feel like even more of an afterthought than they did in Dark Souls, but they aren’t included haphazardly. Rather, Covenants in Bloodborne exist as a means to offer players unique rewards (which has arguably been their main purpose since Dark Souls.)
The League is one of the few Covenants in Bloodborne, led by none other than Valtr. Joining The League is simple enough (in theory,) but getting Madara’s Whistle and the other rewards associated with the Covenant will require hunting Vermin down. Literally.
Forbidden Woods Shortcut
Unlike other Covenants in Bloodborne, there isn’t actually any unlock criteria for joining The League. Players have access to the Covenant from the moment they first meet Valtr, who is stationed inside of the hut right next to the Lantern in Forbidden Woods. This hut is normally locked, however, tied to a shortcut that’s found deeper within the stage.
Anyone going through the Forbidden Woods for the first time will have to find this shortcut before they can actually meet Valtr and join The League. Fortunately, the shortcut isn’t too far off from the beginning of the stage. Be very careful traversing the woods, however, as there are environmental traps placed throughout liberally. From the Lantern:
- Head across the bridge and make sure not to trip the log trap.
- Keep on the right path.
- Hug the cliff side until hitting a dead end.
- Drop down below.
Along with a torch wielding Huntsman, there will be a field of white flowers down here. Kill the Huntsman and then cut through the flowers.
- Follow the path and take the first right.
- Head into the gates to find a small hamlet.
- Walk up the hill until reaching water.
- Carefully traverse through the water, avoiding enemies and cannon fire.
- Once back on land, head up the hill towards the cannon.
Behind the cannon is a building. Head inside and go all the way down until reaching the bottom floor. At the very bottom, head left to cross a bridge that leads to a hill connected to a shack. Pull the lever inside the shack, ride the elevator up, and unlock the hut’s door from the inside. You’ll now be back at the start of the Forbidden Woods with the shortcut unlocked. Valtr will also be here, ready to accept more Hunters into The League.
Valtr is the Master of The League and tasks his subordinates with exterminating any and all filth in their path, working together united under the same banner. The League doesn’t just go after any targets, however. Specifically, members of The League gain the ability to perceive Vermin once they join.
As Vermin are described in-game as the root of man’s impurity, Valtr and The League seemingly have noble intentions. Valtr will immediately offer players acceptance into The League when spoken to, even imploring them to reconsider should they refuse. If players accept Valtr’s offer (and there’s really no reason not to,) he’ll hand over the Impurity Rune – a Rune with several effects.
As a traditional Rune, Impurity increases a player’s health by 2% when in co-op. The Rune also represents a Hunter’s allegiance to The League. Successfully helping players defeat a boss in co-op will drop a Vermin if Impurity is equipped, and doing the League Oath gesture is even slightly changed.
From Dark Souls to Bloodborne, every Covenant has its means of unlocking new rewards. For The League, players are tasked with hunting down Vermin to crush. As mentioned, Vermin can be obtained by helping hosts defeat bosses while equipped with the Impurity Rune. Although this is the most reliable method of grinding Vermin, it’s possible to earn some in single player.
Vermin can be obtained by completing Chalice Dungeons with the Impurity Rune equipped (though drops aren’t guaranteed,) killing the three Red Eye Hunters in the Hunter’s Nightmare (as part of The Old Hunters DLC,) and summoning Valtr to help fight Ludwig, the Holy Blade and Laurence, the First Vicar. Should Valtr survive the fight, players will earn a Vermin.
Unlike most Covenants in Dark Souls, ranking up in Bloodborne never requires much grinding. Players only need a single Vermin to reach Rank 2, with 5 total needed for Rank 5. The Rank 1 reward for joining is the aforementioned Impurity Rune. The League’s rewards for reaching Rank 2 are:
- League Cane.
- League Oath.
The League Cane is not a weapon, but an item which allows players to look up other members of The League. While not a practically useful item, The League Cane speaks to the camaraderie at the heart of the Covenant. The League Oath is The League’s signature Gesture. Normally players will place their right hand over their chest while doing the Oath, but equipping the Impurity Rune changes this to the left hand. The rewards for reaching Rank 3 are:
- Master’s Iron Helm.
- Madara’s Whistle.
The Master’s Iron Helm is a fairly lousy piece of headgear, but it comes with an Easter egg. If you summon Valtr while equipped with the Master’s Iron Helm, he won’t be wearing his helmet – suggesting the reward is actually the hat off his head. Madara’s Whistle is the real prize, though, one of the most unique Hunter Tools in the game.
Using Madara’s Whistle
Madara’s Whistle scales incredibly high with Bloodtinge, making it fairly useful for Gunslingers. That said, the Hunter Tool is something of a double edge sword. Using Madara’s Whistle summons a snake directly below the player – and they will do damage if Hunters don’t immediately dodge.
Using Madara’s Whistle requires keeping a careful eye on Stamina and positioning. The Hunter Tool does considerable damage when connecting with foes, but that goes double for the player. Madara’s Whistle is a risk/reward tool at its core.
Next: Bloodborne: How To Make An Overpowered Mage
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