Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review | PlayStation 5

Shadow of the Erdtree is a well-planned DLC, and it surpasses the base game in terms of sheer brilliance.

By Rayan, Posted 21 Jun 2024

As far as video games go, Elden Ring is simply majestic, and it'll probably remain among the all-time top Souls games for a very long time. Since no words can adequately convey the incredible quality of a game, the only way to fully appreciate Elden Ring is to play it. And when you play the new Elden Ring DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree, you are going to be blown away.

Not only has FromSoftware above and beyond what I had anticipated, but Shadow of the Erdtree may just be their finest release to date, and I was completely captivated by the experience from the moment I stepped into Gravesite Plain. Rather than feeling like a DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree seemed like a brand-new game with an exciting new quest to embark on.

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Shadow of the Erdtree's plot revolves around Miquella, a character introduced but never encountered in the base game. You are transported to the Land of Shadow and tasked to reveal its unknown secrets, including its connection to Miquella. As you travel through the Land of Shadow, you'll encounter several NPCs who, when questioned, provide obscure lore that enriches the game's backdrops. The atmosphere that is being set at the very beginning is outstanding with plenty of side content to uncover.

All of this becomes even more captivating because the DLC is incredibly tough in the greatest way imaginable. It's the tiny things that add up to the big picture that works. Exploring a new location, acquiring a new item, encountering a new opponent, or fulfilling a questline with a non-player character all provide moments of exciting uncertainty. It's completely unique.

Whatever size you imagined this DLC to be, it's absolutely massive. You won't see this kind of release from other AAA studios. What makes Shadow of the Erdtree stand out to me is the world design, which is hard to put into words but is something you can experience firsthand rather than in a review. The scale of the Shadow of the Erdtree's map represents a large world that gives you the same amazement and curiosity the Elden Ring gave. 

Reaching a new area will always leave you in a state of wonder at the enormity and magnificence, followed by an overwhelming sense of anticipation at the possibility of delving more into it. It was exactly the same feeling of excitement and surprise that I had when I first laid eyes on this enormous map.

Even if it's remarkable on its own, that wasn't what drew me to the map. It's not even that; it's the way the world was designed. One thing to notice is how vertical it is. Even while I felt the Elden Ring made great use of verticality, Shadow of the Erdtree makes it look really basic. You can view an extensive area below when you stand on a cliff's edge and stare down. On the other hand, from the same cliff, you can see a completely separate area when you stare up. You can see this kind of verticality in every part of this world.

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This is absolutely mind-blowing; as it adds a level of depth to open-world games that I never witnessed before. Along with several lesser caves that are equally well-designed and three excellent Legacy Dungeons, they are as stunning as the open world map. Among the Legacy Dungeons, there is one that is particularly large and multi-layered, and venturing through it can be an amazing experience.

Lengthwise with this vertical perspective lies the game's endless tease of places you can see but not easily reach. Although it happened in different scenarios in the base game, it happens far more frequently in Shadow of the Erdtree. Navigating the world and exploring most of its locations becomes a mystery that you gradually uncover, with countless minor bits always baiting you with places that are mere of reach.

A large portion of the map will go undiscovered if you don't want to put your effort into reaching them. FromSoftware likes the idea of concealing areas of the map behind invisible barriers like caves or illusory walls. Even in the original game, there were difficult-to-find locations; here, though, it's turned up to an absurd level, to the point where most of the game's areas and bosses are concealed in some manner.

Additional places such as caves, catacombs, and prisons are also available, and every one of them is fantastic too. These are also very well-crafted, and they keep the same kind of beat. They, too, frequently surpass the quality of the base game, as does the remainder of the game. These optional areas are among the finest features of Shadow of the Erdtree, and I'm not exaggerating.

Furthermore, these portions happen to be quite extensive and you'll need to invest time to properly explore them. And you'll frequently encounter secondary bosses in these areas. Despite their lesser difficulty compared to the main story bosses, several of them will still manage to throw you for a loop with their attack mechanics.

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Though it's fun to poke about a visually appealing world, combat is where Shadow of the Erdtree really shines. There are eight unique types of weapons, and each of them is incredible to use. And it wouldn't be complete without adding an extensive number of new incantations and sorceries. I gave each one a fair go, and they're all fantastic. The Light Greatswords, Milady, and Backhand Blade were among my top picks. The sheer diversity of these new weapons despite their already impressive stats was what truly stunned me.

There are now over a hundred new weapons in the game, and many of them feel completely new even when combined with older weapon types because of their boosted attributes. At times, it's the unique abilities of these weapons that grant different buffs, which, when combined with a strong attack, produce a whole new outcome.

It was mind-blowing how many new items were placed into Shadow of the Erdtree. FromSoftware has gone to extraordinary lengths to increase the variety of items and variations at our disposal, both during and after combat. There seems to be an infinite number of new types of cookbooks. As soon as I thought I discovered every possible cookbook, another one appeared that I'd never heard of.

Needless to say, we have an endless number of upgrades for items that already exist in the base game. I wasn't anticipating the DLC to bring such a wide variety of items that work in cycle with this to expand our build possibilities and the ways we can play the game. For instance, regardless of your build or stats, you can use an item called Golden Vow that gives you the Golden Vow buff...it's that simple.

You don’t need to use any Memory Slots, not need to have 25 Faith, or spend 47 FP for the buff. In addition to the improved defensive items and throwing pots, etc., there are an extensive number of new kinds of items that I was not anticipating.

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The best part is that Shadow of the Erdtree is not bashful about showering you with upgrading materials. So, you can pretty much upgrade all the weapons you can find in the game. There are also instances in which new moves are included in the base movesets. For example, several weapons now feature throwing attacks, and you can enter a powerful attack to throw the weapon without incurring any additional FP costs.

These evolved into my favorite new attack type, and will surely be yours too and I'm still amazed by how effective this strategy can be. Since there are plenty of exciting weapons; you might want to experiment with them all and upgrade the ones that fit your playstyle. It is entirely up to you to decide which of many intriguing possibilities you wish to pursue.

Similar to the perfect block mechanism in Lies of P, there was one that guaranteed perfect blocks. Blocking at the exact moment an attack lands will restore some of your stamina and deal a little more damage. This is practically a brand-new feature that has been included in the DLC. The new early game Crystal Tear for your Flask of Wondrous Physick has a duration of three minutes—typically enough to last through an entire boss fight—but unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way.

Most of the boss fights tend to stretch more than three minutes and you can't simply rely on this mechanic. I absolutely loved this mechanic since I mostly rely on dodging rather than parrying or guarding. So, the timing of your blocks is crucial; they offset stamina loss and increase your next guard counter; I cannot exaggerate how wonderfully these work as a combat option in the game.

You have the option to use it with a shield or a weapon. It completely changes the dynamic of boss fights and makes tactical playthroughs much more interesting and satisfying. It was a blast using this on different bosses; in fact, I don't think I ever took it off after getting it.

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Speaking of bosses, Shadow of the Erdtree introduces four main bosses to the game and the number of bosses in the DLC is almost equal to that in the base game. The four main story bosses are Rellana, Messmer the Impaler, Divine Beast Dancing Lion, and Curseblade Labirith. Almost every boss fight was extremely channeling, and I even consider most of these bosses to be among FromSoftware's greatest.

Remember when you first encountered Malenia and spent hours to figure out her attack partners? These new bosses will give you that exact feeling and throughout each boss fight, there are way too many breathtaking moments that will leave you frustrated. The majority of the game's bosses are exceedingly difficult, including advanced attack patterns intended for punishing skilled players and marking a significant improvement over the original game.

Moreover, this is only the apparent part of what these boss fights are about. It will take quite a few tries for even the most seasoned players to get the hang of things. Few of the major bosses have a second phase and as if the first phase wasn’t hard enough to beat when the second started, at one point, I was starting to wonder what else I do to avoid dying.

Having a harsh yet legitimate feeling, the battles are a great pleasure to engage in and undertake. Obviously, Spirit Ashes and NPC Summons helped a bit but didn't lessen the impact. Assuming you make use of those tools—which I think the majority of players will—you will still face significant challenges with regard to the base game. Plus, there's a lot of material here.

Of course, I get that everyone has these feelings about the difficulties; after all, there is a wide range of skill levels among us. You'll be fine, though, because the new progression mechanism is linked to this difficulty. Scadutree Fragments & Revered Spirit Ash, which are to be found all over the place, can now be used to increase your character's Scadutree Blessing level.

Elden Ring, Shadow of the Erdtree, DLC, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Stronger Enemies, Difficulty

You can increase your attack strength by 5% with each level and your defenses by the same amount—but only in the DLC region. Just to give you an idea, your armor might only reduce physical damage by 20% at the beginning of the DLC, but if you level up the Scadutree Blessing to 10, it will instantly reduce damage by 50%. The maximum level that Scadutree Blessing can be enhanced to is 20.

Although you can start with either of them, their complexity is designed to push you to focus on other areas where you can improve. Shadow of the Erdtree stays consistent with this format because the Scadutree Blessings' damage boost and damage reduction are substantial. Another perk is that you can revisit the primal fear of facing an enemy you're not prepared for.

And the happiness that follows from discovering new methods to grow stronger in significant ways through adventuring around the map. It is also important to note that your Spirit Summons and Torrent both have a blessing and upgrade material that is comparable to one another, which means that they contribute to this progression pattern. You can always utilize spirit summons, and return later after you have increased your blessing levels.

Visually, Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is gorgeous. The landscape design is just as breathtakingly beautiful as the base game. How splendid the graphics are; is beyond what I can express. The DLC is so open-ended, that you can explore a wide variety of locations right from the beginning. It seemed like I could pause the game whenever I wanted while exploring the overworld, and take a screenshot of that area.

FromSoftware continues to outdo themselves with each new release; the graphic direction in this one is among the greatest I've experienced in a video game. Although it may seem repetitive, the fact that the environment itself entices you to add to the creation of this unique experience cannot be emphasized enough.

Elden Ring, Shadow of the Erdtree, DLC, Review, PS5, Gameplay, Screenshots, Death Knight, Dungeon Boss

One thing that really bothered me was that some bosses and enemies from the base game were recycled in the DLC, and I faced up against one boss on three separate occasions and another twice in the first zone. Thankfully, I don't mind bosses like that. One such returning boss is the Furnace Golem, which can be thought of as a mini-boss. While occasionally you'll encounter one with a unique gimmick that makes the fight a little different, you'll find yourself battling the same enemy nearly all over the map.

Also, I did enjoy the dragon fights, but instead of receiving unique incantations for each dragon you encounter, you simply receive the same reward all the time. Given the plenty of items you discover throughout the game, it's not a bigger deal though. Since I'm not a big fan of slaying dragons, I thought my hard-fought battles weren't well-paid enough.

There are some opponents and bosses from the original game that make an appearance here and there, but they're usually given new roles to play with, so it still feels like something new. Their return to this new and relevant context is a welcome change from their role as enemies in the original game. More importantly for the sake of level design, they are still employed with great consideration. Even though boss repetition occurs infrequently, when it does occur, the bosses are usually remixed to make them unique, and enemies occasionally simply display new attack patterns.

In the end, though, Shadow of the Erdtree is a DLC for Elden Ring and not a brand-new game. Since the story continues in the same universe, it would be strange to see completely unfamiliar enemies and bosses in the DLC without the familiar faces from the base game.

It simplifies every aspect of Elden Ring and, often, provides a new context for the narrative and settings. Most importantly, there are plenty of new bosses and enemies to face. Nearly all of them are new. So, instead of drawing attention away from the new, the old material merges in and gives it texture.


Overall, Shadow of the Erdtree is a well-executed and thoughtful expansion of Elden Ring. There is nothing quite like Shadow of the Erdtree, and it's way more fantastic than any DLC can be. Just like Elden Ring did, Shadow of the Erdtree re-created the sensation of the base game's first playtime and will remain in my mind for quite some time.

The fighting possibilities are endless, the bosses are mind-blowing spectacles that are a blast to master, and the legacy dungeons are fabulous, and the new upgrading system allows you to relive the base game's progression. I can't help but recommend Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree high enough to anyone who is still unsure of their tastes; it's incredible.

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): BNE LLC, Namco Bandai Games America Inc.
Developer(s): FromSoftware Inc.
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Dark Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Soulslike
Release Date: 2024-06-21

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