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Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree kicked my ass all over again

Published Jun 10th, 2024 5:54PM EDT
The Land of Shadow in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.
Image: FromSoftware

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In preparation for my demo of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, I went back and played about 15 hours of the base game to reacquaint myself with the controls and get ready for the challenge of the new content. When I walked into my appointment at Summer Game Fest, my hosts asked me which build I wanted to use. I chose strength, since that’s what I’d been playing with on my own save file. Then I sat down and died five times.

Shadow of the Erdtree is the first Elden Ring downloadable content. It’s a “companion story” for the base game, so you will not need to finish Elden Ring in order to access it or to understand it. That said, you’ll probably want to be at least level 100 before you enter the new map, which you can access after defeating Starscourge Radahn and Mohg, Lord of Blood. Touch a rotting limb where you fought Mohg to be transported to the new area.

The Land of Shadow is about the size of Limgrave and Liurnia combined, and just as densely packed with enemies, items, and dungeons. In fact, there are over 100 new weapons to collect, with eight new weapon types. My favorite is the light greatsword, which takes everything I loved about the huge swords in Elden Ring but makes them lighter and quicker. Best of all, if you hold down L2, you enter an intimidating stance from which you can execute powerful moves. Or just slowly march toward your opponent and see if they run away out of fear.

Unfortunately for me, that tactic wasn’t effective on any enemies I encountered. After arriving in the region, I ran into a few shambling spirits that I took out in a few quick slices. Confident I was ready to take on the rest of the DLC, I jumped on Torrent and began riding toward an enormous iron being roaming the gold fields. I should also mention that it was on fire, and as soon as I got within 100 feet of it, it started kicking dozens of firey rocks in my direction. I was encouraged to leave, but I rushed in anyway. Two kicks and a stomp later, I was dead.

At this point, my short demo session was already nearly halfway over, so I rushed to the Belurat Tower Settlement Legacy Dungeon. This dungeon looked and felt unlike anything else I’ve seen in Elden Ring. In fact, it reminded me more of a Castlevania setting. It was full of large and small spider-like creatures, creepy worshippers, and, of course, one of the most unsettling, impossibly difficult boss fights you’ve ever seen.

I gave the Divine Beast Dancing Lion battle one valiant attempt, but my lack of familiarity with the build I was provided (and a general lack of knowledge about the new boss) doomed me from the start. So, I handed the controller over to someone who knew what they were doing and watched (most) of the rest of the fight play out.

The Dancing Lion cycles through a series of elemental attacks, including lightning strikes and ice waves, and has more than one phase, so you’ll have to adjust your strategy.

If you’re looking for more Elden Ring, that seems to be precisely what this DLC provides. You can bring your new items and weapons with you back to the base game to kill the old bosses in new and exciting ways, but Shadow of the Erdtree does not change the formula. That said, there do seem to be some major story implications in play, as the Bandai Namco representatives were especially cagey when I asked them about how the plot of the DLC connects to the main game. Something to watch out for if you’re into the lore.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree launches for PS4, PS5, Xbox, and PC on June 21.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.