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13 Things Every Elden Ring Fan Should Know About Shadow of the Erdtree

Even before getting to play the game a couple of weeks ago, I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever been as excited for a piece of DLC as I am for Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree. With nearly 500 hours in Elden Ring across six full playthroughs, the game may not be my most-played game ever (tips cap toward Destiny 2), but it’s definitely one of my all-time favorites. Now, after playing Shadow of the Erdtree for several hours, I can already tell that it’ll continue to have its Godskin Peelers in me for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind, there are a number of elements of Shadow of the Erdtree that really stood out to me during my all-too-brief time with the game. Let’s take a closer look so my fellow Elden Ring sickos know what to expect when they dive into the DLC on June 21.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Screenshot

Touch the Withered Arm

If you played Elden Ring, there’s a good chance that you saw the withered arm hanging limply out of what appeared to be an egg in Mohgwyn Palace. That’s precisely where the DLC kicks off and it means that players will need to defeat Mohg (Lord of Blood if you’re nasty) before they can dive in. Once the area is clear, you’ll meet a new character named Leda. After briefly introducing yourself, she urges you to “touch the withered arm,” which teleports you to a brand-new area called the Realm of Shadow.

This is One Expansive Expansion

As anyone who played the excellent Ashes of Ariandel and The Ringed City expansions for Dark Souls III can attest, developer FromSoftware excels at creating fresh and memorable environments outside of the core game area. Shadow of the Erdtree looks to carry on (and even improve upon) that tradition by offering a massive new area for Elden Ring fans to explore. Although I spent several hours exploring the wide-open plains and labyrinthine corridors of the Realm of Shadow, much of the map was still shrouded in fog, indicating that I was only scratching the surface of what it has to offer.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Screenshot

It’s Certainly a Vibe

My entry to the Realm of Shadow was through the Gravesite Plain, which stretched out before me and was chockful of spectral gravestones and shambling, easily-dispatched low-level enemies. After riding my steed around the area and hitting the nearest map stele to unlock a better view on my map, I decided to do some exploration before forging ahead on the suggested path. Sure enough, I found spooky mausoleum to explore, as well as a dragon peacefully napping in the middle of a small lake. I decided to take a close look at both. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

As I noted above, I’ve played a lot of Elden Ring. So much so that I apparently forgot how unmercifully (and wonderfully!) challenging the game can be. Strolling up to the dragon awakened him and he looked at me for a moment… before launching himself into the air and scorching everything around me with black flame. Yes, Black Flame Dragons are now a thing, and I learned quickly that they are not to be trifled with. After several failed attempts to take the winged beast down, I decided to make my way back to the mausoleum, only to be met by Blackgaol Knight (reminiscent of the Crucible Knights) that summarily beat me down a half dozen times. Ahhhhh, yes, now that’s the Elden Ring I know and love!

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Screenshot

You’re Only as Good as Your Gear

There are a number of new elements in Shadow of the Erdtree that will help you along your journey. I got a chance to try out the Milady, a light greatsword with several balanced attacks that I am already looking forward to using more. I also utilized some new armor from the Oathseeker Knight armor set that looks pretty slick (and offers a good deal of protection for its weight). The most important items I found, however, were the new Scadutree Fragments, which bolster the players Scadutree Blessing. This Blessing, effective only in the Realm of Shadow, allows the player to deal more damage and negate more damage from enemies. Finding as many of these as you can will likely go a long way in determining your long-term success.

Remember Fingercreepers? They’re Back… in Spirit Ash Form!

Fingercreepers (also known as Hand Spiders or Spider Hands or The Worst Enemy Ever) made an immediate impact on even the most diehard Souls-like fans, popping out of the ground to swarm and grab players. Well, they’re back in Shadow of the Erdtree, this time as a Spirit Ash that can be summoned to help the player in battle. I also had the chance to play around with two more additions to the Spirit Ash menagerie: the airborne Gravebird and the powerful Black Knight Commander Andreas. I’m not sure if any of them will ever take the place of my precious Mimic Tear, but it’s nice to have some flexibility.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Screenshot

Double (and Triple and Quadruple and…) Cross

After getting back on track, I came to a crossroads (quite literally). At the end of the main road through the Gravesite Plain, I reached a tree where the road split. Nearby was a glowing yellow cross and some NPCs named Freya (a former ally of our old friend Radahn) who explained that the crosses dot the land and are Miquella the Kind’s (???) footprints. Another character, Hornsent, gave me a map and explained that I could find more of the crosses if I explored. Further up the road, on the way to a large fortress, was another cross and another one of Miquella’s NPC followers. Ansbach, as he was called, asked me to figure out what Kind Miquella (again, ???) was doing in the Realm of Shadow.

What’s the Story, Mourning Glory?

As you might have ascertained from my liberal use of question marks above and as you probably might guess if you’ve played any of From’s other games, Shadow of the Erdtree’s plot is intentionally and deliciously murky. It’s up to the player to put the story’s puzzle together and you can be sure that there will still be a few pieces missing once you finish. The beauty of these games is letting your imagination (or, in many cases, the rabid and lore-obsessed community) fill in the blanks. Personally, I can’t wait to learn more about why Miquella was there in the first place, what the crosses represent, and what he wants with the titular Erdtree.  

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Screenshot

Burn it with Fire!

At last, I made it to the first of the two fortresses in the section of the game I got to play. Upon opening the large doors, I was immediately greeted by a large, hairy scorpion/spider hybrid and nearly a dozen smaller ones that slowly dropped down from the ceiling to swarm me. That garnered a big old nope from me and I quickly moved to dispatch them with extreme prejudice before moving further into the sprawling castle and facing tougher and tougher enemies (though none were as icky as those arachnids).

Choose Your Own Adventure

Like every great FromSoftware game, Shadow of the Erdtree offers players a plethora of choices when it comes to exploration. Do you jump off the path to make your way across the rooftops? Could that dark and spooky hallway actually lead to a shortcut back to the nearest site of grace? Is there an enemy lurking right around the corner next to that shiny item? Playing Shadow of the Erdtree reminded me just how great FromSoftware is at creating environments that provoke emotional responses from players. Whether it’s triumph, revulsion, or relief, you’re guaranteed to feel something as you explore the detailed environs.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Screenshot

Who’s the Boss?

During my time with Shadow of the Erdtree, I managed to make it through both of the castles (full disclosure: I basically sprinted through one of them in an effort to see the second boss) and battle the punishing bosses within. Bosses are always my favorite part of From’s games and these two did not disappoint. The first was named “Rellana, Twin Moon Knight” and was a massive knight that wielded two swords and dealt fast, whirling attacks. Upon getting Rellana to half health, he let out a roar and imbued one of his swords with red fire and the other with blue magic. That fundamentally changes his attacks to deal those types of damage, and he made quick work of me over a dozen times before I finally put him down.

Dance, Lion, Dance!

The second boss I faced, on the other hand, put me down over and over and over. The Divine Beast Dancing Lion moves a lot like the dancing Chinese dragons that you’ll see in parades, but facing off against this monstrosity was no celebration. In addition to its herky-jerky and unpredictable movements, the Dancing Lion occasionally spewed out fog that made it difficult to see more than a few feet. Once it was taken down to half health, it began summoning lightning strike attacks that required precise timing to dodge. I gleefully banged my head against that particular wall over a dozen times before my time with Shadow of the Erdtree was, sadly, at an end.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Screenshot

Yes, this IS Dog

Yeah, that’s right, everyone’s favorite beshelled reptiles have returned! No word yet if any of them are of the papal variety, but now you’ve got an even better reason to explore the Realm of Shadow when Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree launches on June 21.

ELDEN RING Shadow of the Erdtree Pre-Order

Bandai Namco Entertainment America Inc.

Pre-order now and get the following bonus content for the expansion: – ELDEN RING Shadow of the Erdtree Bonus Gesture This is a Gesture that can be used in-game for Shadow of the Erdtree content. *Bonus content will be available in-game when the expansion releases. *The player can also unlock this later in the expansion. Winner of hundreds of accolades including The Game Awards Game of the Year and Golden Joystick Awards Ultimate Game of the Year, ELDEN RING is the acclaimed action RPG epic set in a vast, dark fantasy world. Players embark on an epic quest with the freedom to explore and adventure at their own pace. The Shadow of the Erdtree expansion features an all-new story set in the Land of Shadow imbued with mystery, perilous dungeons, and new enemies, weapons and equipment. Discover uncharted territories, face formidable adversaries, and revel in the satisfying triumph of victory. Dive into the riveting interplay of characters, where drama and intrigue intertwine, that create an immersive experience to savor and enjoy. *Shadow of the Erdtree content requires the base game product. *Other editions are also available. Be careful of duplicate purchases.