Review: Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Creating DLC for the Game of the Year 2022, is not an easy task and not one that FromSoftware took lightly. Shadow of the Erdtree is an enormous expansion on the original Elden Ring and brings in an insane amount of extra content. It’s one of the biggest DLCs ever released and reminded me of the good old Witcher 3 games. Shadow of the Erdtree is more than just DLC, it’s an ode to everything that made Elden Ring so successful while honoring the past. Get ready to jump in!

Welcome to the Land of Shadow

Shadow of the Erdtree takes you to a new location called the Land of Shadow. Small disclaimer before we delve in, you can’t access this new land if you haven’t reached a certain point in Elden Ring. If you’re new to the game and want to play the DLC, you’ll have to spend a couple of hours in the base game and defeat a couple of tough bosses before you prove your worth and gain access to the Land of Shadow. This DLC is aimed at the Elden Ring fans who want more and that’s exactly what they will get. FromSoftware doesn’t deliver unfinished games and although they took their time with this long-anticipated DLC it’s worth every second. Land of Shadow offers a completely new open world for you to explore, where you can easily spend an additional 40 hours if you want to discover and defeat everything. For those wondering if the DLC is worthy of its rather high price, it is. This could easily been Elden Ring 2 but instead, FromSoftware decided to make it an expansion to the original story. I don’t say this lightly, Shadow of the Erdtree feels more like a new game than it feels like DLC. As a fan of the original and other Soulborn games, I couldn’t be happier with it.

 

 

From the moment you get transported to this new world, you’ll immediately notice the differences with Limgrave, the original starting point of Elden Ring. Land of Shadow isn’t a happy place and the magical warm light of Limgrave gets traded for haunted souls, rotten trees, and death lurking around every corner. It’s an eerie atmosphere and although it’s a lot darker, there is a mysterious charm about these lands that ask for exploration. During my first couple of hours I thought Land of Shadow would become too repetitive but the more I explored, the more different locations I encountered, all connected to the original game while still offering new insights and lore. As in Elden Ring, I won’t share too many details about the story and the inhabitants of this darker land. Just like in the original, exploration is rewarded with knowledge and pieces to puzzle together the overarching story. Before I knew it, I was deeply immersed in this new lore and Shadow of the Erdtree easily shattered all of my expectations. I expected a fun expansion, but received one of the best FromSoftware experiences instead, not complaining though!

And you thought Elden Ring was hard

Elden Ring is easily one of the hardest games out there and I struggled with multiple bosses for sure. If you’re expecting a more welcoming DLC due to the massive success of Elden Ring, don’t be fooled. Shadow of the Erdtree takes it to the next level and is a lot harder than the base game. Had trouble defeating the final boss in Elden Ring? Well, you better git gud fast! I already spend a lot of hours with this DLC but I must admit that I haven’t defeated all bosses just yet. Shadow of the Erdtree takes the Sekiro route, letting the enemies scale to your level of skills. Are you a ‘Let me Solo Her’ player? Well, even you will be up for new challenges since all enemies and bosses will adapt to your level of skill and will deliver more damage when you’re really good. As a mediocre player who enjoys Soulborne games from time to time, I struggled to get back into the harsh Elden Ring world at first. Luckily, there are a couple of things that will help you out a lot.

First things first, with over 100 new weapons divided over the eight classes, you’ll be able to experiment and create the build that works best for you. My heart always wants to go for powerful close combat options but in reality, I often end up with an agile build that allows me to use some ranged weapons. Clearly, I didn’t mix and match all of the new weapons but it’s clear to say that you can create an entirely new build for your adventures in the Land of Shadow, something I know a lot of veteran fans will look forward to!

 

 

Besides the new weapons, the Scadutree Blessings will quickly become your new best friends. These upgrades will buff your attack and defense so you might stand a better chance against all of those insanely hard bosses. Need more? Look for the Revered Spirit Ash Blessings. These give you a lighter buff compared to the Scadutree Blessings but are needed if you rely on Spirit Ashes to assist you in combat. For every rank, the Spirit Ash Blessings will buff the attack and defense of your summons in combat. A fun little bonus is that they will also buff Torrent, your’ loyal mount. This might come in handy if you want to defeat some hordes while exploring. It needs no further explanation, both the Scadutree and Spirit Ash Blessings are powerful items that you’ll want to look out for. As always, exploration and courage will often give you a better shot at finding these important items so you better prepare to find all of the little secrets hidden in this new world. FromSoftware really gave it their all and just like the base game, it’s extremely rewarding to discover all those small secrets and defeat the new enemies and bosses when step at a time.

Conclusion:

Shadow of the Erdtree is everything DLC for a game of the year should be. It shattered all of my expectations as it’s bigger, better, and more challenging. It’s FromSoftware’s masterclass on how to create valuable DLC and shouldn’t be skipped. Just make sure you’ve advanced enough in the base game before you try to dive back in. Just like in 2022, this is easily one of my best gaming experiences this year.

9.5/10

Tested on PlayStation 5 (Portal)