Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is a gift for the faithful



Elden Ring: Shadow of Erdtree it is a humbling experience that will remind you of your beginnings – and early failures – in Ring of Fire.

FromSoftware’s 2022 open-world RPG expansion will hit you harder and faster than anything else in the base game, no matter how mighty you’ve become over the years. Ring of Fire. But for patient and persistent players, Shadow of Erdtree contains some of the most satisfying content in gaming Ring of Fire. The approximately 40-hour expansion is a real test of skill, but with dozens of recent weapons, spells and magical items at their disposal, players have a wider, more compelling range of combat techniques at their disposal.

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Even access Shadow of Erdtree is a challenge. Players can’t dive into it by selecting a menu item like with most DLC expansions. Instead, they will have to defeat two relatively arduous bosses from the main game: Starscourge Radahn and Mohg, Lord of Blood. This is a FromSoft tradition; the developer had similar hurdles with expansions Dark souls AND Transmitted through blood. But only with a fraction Ring of Fire players who have already met the requirements for Shadow of ErdtreeThe DLC is clearly aimed at the most dedicated and persistent players.

As with the base game, Shadow of Erdtree it starts with setting player expectations with powerful recent enemies. Take the Furnace Golem. This gigantic rolling cauldron is one of the first awe-inspiring sights you’ll see on your journey to the recent region, the Shadowlands. Facing it early will likely spell certain death for newcomers to the land, as the golem will spit fireballs, kick burning coals at you, or stomp its burning feet. Like everything else in this expansion, the Furnace Golem is stronger and deadlier than anything you’ve encountered Ring of Fire.








Photo: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco


To compensate for these recent extreme challenges, you will meet recent allies who will lend a hand you on your journey. Like you, there are other warriors searching for the demigod Miquella – and Miquella’s sworn enemy, Messmer the Impaler, who has brought destruction to this shadowy land. At recent campsites marked with golden crosses, Miquella’s followers will act as guides, quest givers and merchants. You’ll follow them and their stories throughout the expansion as they provide a mostly straightforward narrative.

Shadow of Erdtree introduces a recent leveling system unique to this region. Scattered throughout the land are shards of a gigantic rotting tree that looms over the shadow land, much like the giant golden Erdtree of the Lands Between. These Scadutree fragments will magically raise your stats, helping you complete the DLC challenge. I highly recommend hunting each one individually.

Just like the original Ring of Fire, the over-challenge of certain enemies and boss encounters is intended to indicate that you may not be ready to face them yet. Go explore and find more pieces of Scadutree, as your repeated deaths will remind you of. There is a huge area to explore in the shadow realm; Shadow of Erdtree feels much bigger than the creators promised, with detours and secrets that lead to even more secrets.




A ruined warrior lights an altar in the forge in a screenshot from Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree





Photo: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco


The journey through the Shadowlands may seem overwhelming and lonelier than the original Ring of Fire. The Shadowlands are a suitably shadowy and dreary place, and the land itself can feel barren at times. There are diversions to explore, such as catacombs, mausoleums, and recent underground areas called forges, but enormous portions of the shadow realm seem surprisingly empty. There are fewer compelling encounters and side characters, as well as no merchants.

Elsewhere, there are densely packed castles and fortresses, including a huge, maze-like region known as Shadowkeep. This massive research facility is unlike anything else in the world Ring of Fire, serving as a hub where you can find yourself; no less than five exits from the fortress lead to critical locations in the Shadowlands, however these paths can only be discovered by carefully examining the fortress’s intricate architecture. And although you’ll spend a lot of time discovering the secrets of the fortress, the places you’ll end up in are incredibly diverse, from old moss-covered ruins, to a flowery hinterland, to a wasteland filled with the bodies of Furnace Golems.

There is some repetition throughout the expansion. You’ll still fight many of the same enemies from the original Ring of Fire; not every creature you fight is completely recent. Some parts of the geography are refreshingly original, including the region it evokes Transmitted through blood– like a horror movie, with lurking enemies that cannot be killed but can only be avoided by sneaking through fog-covered swamps.




The Winter Lantern enemy walks through the dark fog of the Abyssal Forest in a screenshot from Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree





Photo: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco


Combat is incredibly diverse with dozens of recent weapons available in many recent styles. I gravitated towards a recent class of airy, melee greatswords, particularly favoring a sword called the Milady, which allows for fancy spinning slashes and is reliable for staggering enemies. I ended up respecting my character a few times, testing out the recent awesome katanas for their high power and recent martial arts fighting styles that allowed me to unleash a barrage of kicks and punches. It seems like everywhere there was a gap before Ring of Fireavailable fighting styles, such as between airy and bulky swords, or for weapon types that weren’t ideal for a specific character build, FromSoftware filled those spaces with recent ideas and fighting styles in the DLC.

Again, even with all the recent swords and spells, recent types of Crystal Tears and Talismans, recent recipes and crafting items, there is still an incredible level of challenge in the recent DLC. No recent content will make you a god. If some of the bosses felt like brick walls in the original Ring of Firebosses Shadow of Erdtree it feels like solid concrete reinforced with reinforcing bars. Early game bosses like the Lion Dancing Divine Beast and Rellana, Knight of Twin Moon throw a barrage of attacks at you, shift their elemental damage to keep you guessing, and keep you on the edge of your seat. Everything in the DLC is some form of ruthlessness and meanness Ring of Fire was too arduous for you, here you will only find more arduous challenges.

But there is so much more to experiment and so much more to discover Shadow of Erdtreethat challenges can always wait until you are ready for them. Even after over 40 hours, I’m still wondering how to deal with a particularly nasty dragon. And despite cursing all the bosses I’ve beaten so far because they’ve forced me to give up dozens of times, I can’t wait to go back at some point and start all over again, ready to take on the challenge again.

Elden Ring: Shadow of Erdtree will be released on June 21 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PS5 using a download code provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy can be found here.

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