Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree – New Challenges in the Realm of Shadows

REVIEW – Those who closely follow FromSoftware’s work know that the creator of the Soulslike formula is legendary for the quality of its additional content. So, when Shadow of the Erdtree was announced, everyone wondered if this DLC could match the base game. After all, Elden Ring, which took the well-known formula into an open-world concept, became FromSoftware’s most ambitious project to date, reaping the rewards by winning the Game of the Year award in 2022 and recently surpassing 25 million copies sold.


But does Shadow of the Erdtree truly live up to the base game? After exploring over 40 hours of content, I can confidently say yes. With new layers of exploration, more complex environments, a significantly expanded arsenal of items, and some of the wildest bosses to date, FromSoftware has once again outdone itself.

Shadow of the Erdtree is clearly aimed at Elden Ring’s endgame. The recommended level to face the new challenges is around 150. Even a well-constructed build can struggle against some of the bosses. The way to access the DLC already hints at the level required.


A FromSoftware nem tervezi, hogy örökre lemondjon története legsikeresebb játékáról, ám az egyelőre kérdéses, mikor és milyen formában folytatódik az Elden Ring...


New Challenges, New Adventures


Those venturing into the new region must defeat two optional bosses. One is Starscourge Radahn in the Caelid region, accessible relatively early in the game. The other is Mohg, the “Lord of Blood,” a high-level enemy that, according to the developers, only about 30% of players have defeated so far.

This peculiar method of unlocking the expansion is not unique to Shadow of the Erdtree. Many FromSoftware expansions require players to make significant progress in the main game. This fits well with the expansion’s aim to increase the challenge curve but can be a barrier for those who have advanced to the New Game+ cycle or beyond. These players must choose between facing the DLC at an even higher difficulty or creating a new character and replaying almost the entire game.

Story-wise, Shadow of the Erdtree follows the Tainted One in Miquella’s footsteps, “the Kind,” who embarked on a journey to the Kingdom of Shadows after a war caused by Messmer’s fiery armies left the land in ruins. During his pilgrimage, Miquella was forced to relinquish his most precious possessions, starting with his flesh, until he finally gave up his deepest feelings.



New Areas, New Experiences


The story of Shadow of the Erdtree is a bit more direct than most FromSoftware games. While plenty of lore can be enriched by reading items and dialogues, even those who do not delve into these details will understand the plot.

A core element of the story is the group of NPCs following Miquella. These warriors are found throughout the adventure and play key roles in conveying information and assisting in battles. Interacting with these characters and following their quests significantly impacts the story.

Shadow of the Erdtree also enhances the exploration aspect of Elden Ring. Upon entering the Shadow Realm, the map might initially remind players of Limgrave. However, this feeling quickly fades as you explore the region and encounter diverse environments. The map may seem small at first glance, but the world’s design makes it feel much larger.

One characteristic of the expansion is the presence of vertically arranged areas. Many regions have adjacent paths that form complete areas, rewarding thorough exploration. Curiosity often leads to chasms and caves, which evolve into deep environments or seemingly inaccessible places in the highest parts of the map.

FromSoftware’s art department did an outstanding job creating the world. The locations in Shadow of the Erdtree are easily among the most beautiful FromSoftware has ever created. Castles are rich in detail with excellent lighting and shadow effects. The open areas are diverse, including forests, ruins, settlements, and more. Weather and particle effects are also more prominent. Although this level of detail sometimes causes frame rate fluctuations, as in the base game, it does not affect gameplay.



Combat Challenges and Rewards


The dungeons follow the same principles, with legacy dungeons housing the main bosses. FromSoftware has excelled in level design in these areas, filled with interconnected paths and alternative routes. Shadowkeep and its accompanying Warehouse, for example, form one of the best areas in the game.

Secondary dungeons are divided into caves and dungeons. Most are extensive and share concepts and visuals introduced in Elden Ring. However, there are new themes, and the placement of more traps helps reduce the repetition effect typical of these activities. Sub-boss fights at the end of each dungeon are dynamic and rewarding.

Shadow of the Erdtree does not skimp on introducing a vast amount of new items. Many weapon types, including new categories like the Great Katana and combat styles involving kicks, unique skills, new armor sets, various spells and enchantments, ashes, amulets, recipe books, and more.

Additionally, two new items are part of the expansion’s supplementary upgrade system. Umbratree Fragments and Revered Spiritual Ashes are rare items found on the maps, combinable at Grace points to gain the Blessing of the Shadow Realm. This upgrade boosts the player’s stats and spiritual ashes while in the expansion area. Initially, their impact may seem minimal, but as their levels increase, the improvements in defense and attack become more noticeable.


A Bandai Namco és a FromSoftware hivatalosan is közzétette az első Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC trailert. Ráadásul megerősítették a megjelenési dátumot és még sok mást is...


Deadly Bosses and Tactical Challenges


The bosses in Shadow of the Erdtree are deadlier than ever. Enemies move swiftly, leaving little time to recover health and stamina and few opportunities for counterattacks. Practically all new bosses can close the distance to the player in seconds. Their attack patterns cover vast distances, and most have devastating area attacks capable of ending the Tainted One’s life bar in an instant.

Some may find the boss difficulty excessive, while others see it as a significant challenge. The fact is that FromSoftware has successfully implemented mechanics that force players out of their comfort zones. Elden Ring still offers many tools to overcome these challenges, so thoroughly exploring the areas and rethinking combat tactics if you get stuck in a fight is essential.

The expansion includes some mandatory bosses but also allows for extensive exploration of the map to find many optional areas with great rewards. Additionally, unlimited fast travel between the Middle Lands and the Shadow Realm is possible. This can be particularly advantageous for those who started a new character to play the DLC.



Familiar Faces, Familiar Foes


While the bosses in Shadow of the Erdtree are memorable, the same cannot be said for the average enemies. Some new enemies follow the aggressive approach seen with the bosses, with relatively high damage depending on the player’s Blessing of the Shadow Realm and vitality levels. However, the lack of enemy variation and frequent reuse throughout the DLC is a problem.

Moreover, the overuse of base game enemies is noticeable. From simple dogs, rats, and zombies to elite enemies and some sub-bosses, most enemies we’ve fought for hours in Elden Ring return in the expansion. Some have variations in skills and equipment, but others are simply copied or given a superficial reskin.

It’s puzzling how FromSoftware invested so much effort into creating unique bosses and complex areas but neglected enemy variety. Perhaps the impact of this problem is subjective. Those who haven’t played Elden Ring in a while might not mind the recycling. But recent players will quickly spot the issue. Enemy repetition becomes more evident as you play the DLC, and the lack of motivation for the final areas, a minor gripe in Elden Ring, resurfaces.

This indeed affects the combat experience, creating a dissonance between area enemies and their bosses. In places where you already know the enemies well, you can advance without facing many threats or even choose not to engage them due to a lack of motivation. While this doesn’t drastically diminish the FromSoftware experience, better balance between these factors would better prepare players for the DLC’s significant challenges.

Still, Shadow of the Erdtree delivers on its promise, significantly enhancing Elden Ring’s boss combat and exploration experience. Those brave enough to face the challenges of the Shadow Realm will encounter one of FromSoftware’s best expansions.

-Gergely Herpai “BadSector”-


+ Stunning visuals
+ Interesting story and new characters
+ Innovative new capabilities


– Difficult entry for new players
– Some answers will not satisfy everyone
– Repeating enemies

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Developer: FromSoftware

Style: Looter-shooter, MMOFPS

Release: June 21, 2023.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 8.2
Story - 7.5
Music/Audio - 9.1
Ambience - 9



Shadow of the Erdtree is a worthy expansion to the Elden Ring universe, enriching the game with stunning visuals and an emotional story. FromSoftware once again excels, though the frequent enemy repetition and reused content slightly detract from the experience. The new bosses and areas offer incredible challenges that will thoroughly engage and test players.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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