Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the GOAT of Expansions - Review (2024)

My journey in Elden Ring a couple of years ago is still one of my most intense months. I defeated Margit with relative ease as many of the casual community struggled at Elden Ring’s first true wall, killed the final boss within a few hours of reaching the conclusion, and poured over a hundred hours into The Lands Between within the month it launched, before slowly moving on from FromSoftware’s magnum opus.

As I took a step into the Realm of Shadow for the long-awaited Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, I was prepared. Armed to the teeth with practically any build I could think of, a dangerous armory of weapons readily available, and my years of playing Soulslikes, including the notoriously difficult Sekiro, I was ready and willing to take on anything the DLC threw at me.

I was not ready.

Don’t get me wrong, Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree still holds the core gameplay mechanics and ideas that made its base game special. The unparalleled feeling of exploration returns as you find yourself in an entirely new place that feels huge and truly magical, the intense fear of encountering new enemies and not knowing their patterns feels as exciting as Elden Ring itself, and the “huh” moments when you finally crack an obscure puzzle still hits the same.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the GOAT of Expansions - Review (1)

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the GOAT of Expansions - Review (2)

Credit: Bandai Namco

But, Shadow of the Erdtree isn’t for the faint of heart. The magnificent Realm of Shadow may look partly like The Lands Between, but it is much more difficult. Whether you’ve just completed the main story and are diving into the DLC or you’ve spent months grinding for this very moment, you’re likely on the same playing field regardless.

In the Elden Ring DLC, you’re taken to a new world obscured by the Erdtree - a place that Miquella has beckoned you to after you interact with his body behind Mohg. You must follow Miquella’s path to find the god-like figure and unravel the mystery behind the Realm of Shadow. There’s a very tragic backstory found in the world, one hidden through lore excerpts and riddles, just like the bare game.

Shadow of the Erdtree doesn’t require you to interact with the lore and dissect the history and the events of this strange land, but it’s beneficial if you do. Without too many spoilers, there’s a lot of history behind some of the major characters in the base game, and finding this lore strengthens the link between the original narrative and this expansion. Through this narrative implementation, and the sheer scale of the Realm of Shadow, Erdtree feels more like a sequel than an expansion.

Much like the base game, Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree’s world is just as labyrinthine in structure, with plenty of forks in the roads, secret paths, and mysterious regions to explore. You can find yourself on the main path, looking for Miquella, before spotting a dark forest that looks eerily enticing, but you know that danger awaits. The DLC somehow brings back the sense of freedom and excitement that The Lands Between offers, without feeling too similar that it becomes repetitive, and its new locales offer a lot of variety after hundreds of hours spent exploring the original map.

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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the GOAT of Expansions - Review (4)

Credit: Bandai Namco

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I was worried that FromSoftware wouldn’t be able to recapture the soul of the base game. While both Bloodborne and Dark Souls 3 received DLC to expand them, their linear nature lends well to new areas, but creating an entire new open map is a far more challenging task. Fortunately, FromSoft has nailed it, and nothing shows that better than the incredible bosses found in the expansion.

FromSoftware’s bosses are second-to-none in the industry, and Shadow of the Erdtree further proves it. From the Divine Beast Dancing Lion, likely the first major boss you’ll encounter on your journey, to the dreaded final boss that whooped me more than I care to admit, it seems like all of the profits from game sales went on creating bosses that feel more spectacular than ever before - and I absolutely adored having my butt kicked.

Of course, the difficulty spike between The Lands Between and the Realm of Shadow will be jarring for many, many players. However, while you can beat bosses with a Level 1 character by pure luck and skill, the best way is to find Scardutree Fragments across the land that give you DLC-exclusive boosts to your stats, making the expansion mildly easier as you level it up. While it may seem tedious to collect yet another resource, it helps to balance out the experience between those entering the Realm of Shadow as a level 100 and those who have poured hundreds of hours into The Lands Between.

Aside from the final boss, which feels rather overtuned and like a lengthy battle of attrition that can take hours to defeat, none of the DLC feels unfair. Any obstacle can be overcome with a little patience or by exploring the rest of the world to uncover any items or secrets that may give you that desired boost to progress. In fact, there’s a specific item that is solely to help you against the final boss, and it’s certainly off the beaten track.

My only gripe with Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, and admittedly a small one at that, is it feels like more Elden Ring, for better and worse. There’s no real changes to the core gameplay, no major surprises that don’t feel like the same as the base experience, and no huge twists on the theme or the bosses that would make you shocked. That’s hardly a bad thing, considering how important Elden Ring truly is, but for those looking to see a twist on the formula, you’ll likely need to wait for a true-blooded sequel.

In any case, Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is easily the best expansion for a game in years. The closest to a true sequel that you can get, the Realm of Shadow is more of the excellent gameplay, spectacular bosses, and the challenging world you’ve come to expect from FromSoftware. It absolutely recaptures the magic of the original experience, and ties a beautiful, disgusting, and strange bow on the story as FromSoftware wraps up one of the biggest games in the last decade. A true masterpiece of a DLC, to say the least.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the GOAT of Expansions - Review (5)


Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree review

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree sticks to the tried-and-true formula of the base game, delivering an excellent new realm filled with secrets to uncover, terrifying bosses that will prove how bad you are, and a ridiculous amount of lore that will keep you satisfied until the end of the story. A masterpiece in every sense of the word.

10 out of 10

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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the GOAT of Expansions - Review (2024)


Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the GOAT of Expansions - Review? ›

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree gives you so much more to explore and see, offering great depth to both the story and gameplay, and consistently challenging you to push yourself in battle. I couldn't have asked for a better expansion to an already perfect game.

Is Shadow of the Erdtree hard? ›

It's no surprise hearing that Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is hard. However, even hardcore Souls fans are finding the bosses in Shadow of the Erdtree to be extra punishing.

How long is Shadow of the Erdtree? ›

How Long Is Shadow Of The Erdtree's Main Quest? The main questline within Shadow of the Erdtree seems to take players 20-25 hours to complete, depending on whether they rush through it or play it without rushing or worrying about completion time.

How to DLC Elden Ring? ›

After reaching Mohgwyn Palace, you need to defeat the Lord of Blood and use bleed weapons and Mohg's Shackle to stun him in the first phase of the battle. Once he is defeated, interact with Miquella's Cocoon, and you will be teleported to the Gravesite Plain area of the DLC.

What is the hardest class to play as in Elden Ring? ›

There is no questioning that the Wretch provides Elden Ring's most challenging experience by far, particularly in the early game. It continues the tradition of the "Deprived" class from Dark Souls by starting the player as a half-naked warrior with low (albeit balanced) stats and a nigh-useless club.

What is the hardest boss in all of Elden Ring? ›

The hardest bosses in Shadow of the Erdtree are sure to give even veteran Elden Ring players a run for their money.
  1. 1 Promised Consort Radahn.
  2. 2 Messmer, The Impaler. ...
  3. 3 Putrescent Knight. ...
  4. 4 Rellana, Twin Moon Knight. ...
  5. 5 Divine Beast Dancing Lion. ...
  6. 6 Romina, Saint Of The Bud. ...
  7. 7 Golden Hippopotamus. ...
2 days ago

Is Shadow of the Erdtree big? ›

Shadow of the Erdtree is bigger than most full games: Hidetaka Miyazaki must've been pulling our legs when he said its map was 'comparable' to the size of Limgrave. The Realm of Shadow is the size of Limgrave in the same way that Elden Ring is a 30-hour game.

What is the shortest ending in Elden Ring? ›

The Age of Fracture is the easiest and simplest ending to obtain, and might as well be considered the default or standard ending to Elden Ring.

How many bosses are in Shadow of the Erdtree? ›

Elden Ring veterans will know just how secret some of the boss locations are in From Software's gargantuan RPG. So to help you track down all of them, we've put together a comprehensive guide on all 78 Shadow Of The Erdtree bosses and where to find them.

Who is the hardest boss in Shadow of the Erdtree? ›

Messmer the Impaler

Messmer's boss fight is one of the toughest in the entire DLC, and maybe the game. A two-part fight, Messmer begins his onslaught with his mighty spear, which has a huge range. Not only is Messmer fast, but his fire damage and counters make his first phase alone a pain to deal with.

Who is the final boss in Shadow of the Erdtree? ›

Promised Consort Radahn is the final boss of Elden Ring's Shadow of the Erdtree DLC. Radahn is more swift and brutal than he was even in the base game, and the battle's second phase demands nearly perfect timing and pattern memorization.

Is Shadow of the Erdtree the last DLC? ›

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Shadow of the Erdtree is the first and only DLC expansion for FromSoftware's groundbreaking Elden Ring. It takes players to a whole new region, the Land of Shadow, where a new story awaits the Tarnished.

Is Elden Ring DLC free? ›

Elden Ring features free DLC in the form of an update released in December 2022, that introduced the Colosseum battles, where players can engage in new pvp modes and six player multiplayer.

Will Elden Ring DLC be post game? ›

Elden Ring DLC won't require beating the main game, but it involves defeating specific bosses for access. Beating only two main game bosses unlocks the DLC, showcasing the game's flexible progression. Players should avoid beating the main game before the LC, as this can significantly increase the difficulty.

What is the DLC area in Elden Ring? ›

To access Elden Ring DLC Shadow of the Erdtree, there are two requirements: Defeat Radahn. Get to Mohgwyn Palace and defeat Mohg, Lord of Blood.

What is the toughest dragon in Elden Ring? ›

1 Dragonlord Placidusax

One of the hardest optional bosses in Elden Ring, Dragonlord Placidusax is incredibly complicated to even get to in the first place.

What is the most badass class in Elden Ring? ›

Strongest Elden Ring class

The strongest class in Elden Ring is the Hero Class with a starting strength stat of 16. As such, this is a great option for any melee-focused players who want to start making a strength build.

What is the hardest difficulty in Elden Ring? ›

Elden Ring SL1 Difficulty

SL1 difficulty stands for soul level 1, a run without leveling and is the max difficulty in Elden Ring and Souls games.

What is the easiest class in Elden? ›

Vagabond: Ideal for beginners, Vagabonds excel in both damage and defense. Their decent melee stats and substantial health pool make them a solid choice.

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