Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Review Featured

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review (PC)

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is one of the most anticipated games of 2024, which says a lot since it’s “just” an expansion. FromSoftware’s Elden Ring captured the hearts of the gaming world when it was released in 2022 and left us eager for more. Somehow, in only two years, the studio has created what is essentially another full game that broadens the lore and further expands the brutal and engaging gameplay we loved in the original.

Beyond a shadow

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Shadow of the Erdtree is an expansion in the truest sense of the word. You’re not whisked away to some disconnected world with a self-contained story. The Land of Shadow is as integral to the overall plot of Elden Ring as Limgrave of Caelid, and many of the threads that began under the light of the Erdtree find their end in the shadows of the Scadutree.

The primary questline, pursuing Miquella, is fairly linear. The enigmatic demigod is on a pilgrimage across the Land of Shadow and is casting aside his flesh and emotions along the way in preparation to ascend to true godhood. As you follow in his footsteps, you’ll meet his devotees and discover their motives.

However, Miquella’s story, and that of Marika’s exiled child, Messmer, is just one of the dramas playing out in the Land of Shadow. Off the beaten path, you’ll find clues to Marika’s origins, learn more about the fingers, and piece together the history of the Land of Shadow and the disaster that befell it after Marika sealed it in the Erdtree’s shadow.

Unfortunately, some questions and concepts from the base game remain obscured. Additionally, events in Shadow of the Erdtree take place concurrently with the original, so you don’t get to see the results of any ending. Unfortunately, this is the only DLC Elden Ring is set to receive, so we’ll have to wait for a sequel to learn more about things like the Outer Gods, Ranni, and Melina.

The land between The Lands Between

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FromSoftware undersold the size of the new area. On a map, it’s around the size of Limgrave and Caelid combined, but a 2D plane is misleading here. The Land of Shadow is reminiscent of Dark Souls. There’s a lot more verticality here than in the Lands Between, so areas tend to overlap.

Navigation is more involved here as well. There were areas on the map that took me hours to find a route to. Entrances to some locations are tucked away in obscure caves or at the end of unassuming catacombs. This might sound frustrating, but it makes exploration all the more satisfying. It’s a great feeling to arrive in a new location and realize that hours before it was a distant vista.

Interestingly, we also get a chance to see what the Lands Between once looked like before endless wars between the demigods changed the landscape. In particular, it was hard not to be filled with melancholy as I approached the southeast and saw the rich lands filled with fields of red and blue flowers. These areas would have been connected to Caelid before The Land of Shadow was sealed away and gave us an impression of what that rotted land looked like before Malenia and Radahn destroyed it in the Shattering.

Conquering the shadows

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Fortunately, there’s plenty of substance to fill the new map in Shadow of the Erdtree. You’ll encounter a ton of new weapons (including new weapon types), spells, incantations, armor, and items. You’ll need them all to combat the new enemy types scattered throughout the countryside and dungeons of the Land of Shadow. Some of these new foes are incredibly challenging, and even the most basic of them are a match for a level 150 tarnished.

Despite the jump in difficulty compared to the base game, I never found myself getting too frustrated. Only a few of the bosses took me more than one or two attempts to clear. However, I admit I used quite a cheesy build (strength + faith and Blasphemous Blade) since I had a limited amount of time to make it through the game.

Quizzically, there’s no Malenia equivalent to be found in Shadow of the Erdtree. Given that fight’s popularity, I was expecting a super Malenia to give Elden Ring veterans an absolute thrashing. I kept bracing myself to run into a frustrating boss. However, unless there’s one tucked in some obscure location I somehow haven’t found yet, there’s just none that meets her challenge.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review: Final Verdict

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is a fantastic expansion to one of the best games ever. It slots into the overall journey well, and despite introducing a new map, it feels like a natural ramp-up to the conclusion of your Tarnished becoming Elden Lord. It’s easily 40-50 more hours of content, which is a steal at $40, and FromSoftware has once again proven that it’s the master at proving both quantity and quality that most other AAA studios struggle with.

Positives and Negatives

  • A huge new area with tons to explore.
  • Interesting additions to the lore.
  • Tons of new weapons, spells, armor, and items.
  • Engaging new enemies to fight.

10

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A huge new area with tons to explore. Interesting additions to the lore. Tons of new weapons, spells, armor, and items. Engaging new enemies to fight.
A huge new area with tons to explore. Interesting additions to the lore. Tons of new weapons, spells, armor, and items. Engaging new enemies to fight.
A huge new area with tons to explore. Interesting additions to the lore. Tons of new weapons, spells, armor, and items. Engaging new enemies to fight.
A huge new area with tons to explore. Interesting additions to the lore. Tons of new weapons, spells, armor, and items. Engaging new enemies to fight.

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