Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review


When I reviewed Elden Ring when it released back in 2022, I praised it for it’s incredible design and worldbuilding and said that it would be a game that I would likely return to for a long time to come. And I did, as do many, many others. To this day, I continue to find new areas and enemies that I’ve never come across, even though I had thought I’d seen just about everything the game had to offer. I don’t know of any other game that is as dense with things to do, see and uncover as Elden Ring. Now 2 years on, FromSoftware are about to release their largest expansion they’ve ever made for one of their titles, and it makes Elden Ring so much bigger and provides a massive amount of new lore and worldbuilding. It’s so large and dense with things to do and characters to meet that it feels like a sequel rather than an expansion pack. Where the Elden Ring base game redefined how the industry saw open world games, Shadow of the Erdtree is going to set new expectations for how a DLC expansion should be done.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review

If you’re super sensitive to spoilers and don’t want to know much about the contents of the expansion. The short review is, it’s amazing, it’s probably everything you wanted more of if you’re already an Elden Ring fan and it’s absolutely worth picking up. If you enjoyed the base game, you won’t be disappointed.

So, Shadow of the Erdtree is a large scale DLC that expands on the base game in some pretty substantial ways. Though I must point out up front that it is very much designed as late game content. Many DLC/Expansion packs for games these days often act as character side-stories or additional modes designed to utilise the game’s existing systems in new and often non-canon ways. Not here. Shadow of the Erdtree is closer to a sequel than it is to a typical piece of DLC in other games and is designed to be accessed once you’re already at the closing end of the base game.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review

To access the content you will have to have defeated both Starscourge Radahn and also Mohg, Lord of Blood in the main game, something that’s pretty challenging in itself. This has story implications, but it also acts as a skill check to ensure you’re ready to face the foes you’re about to face in the new areas of the expansion, as you need the skills and insight gained from the base game to triumph over the enemies and obstacles presented here.

After defeating Mohg, if you approach the cocoon in the Mohgwyn Dynasty Mausoleum and interact with the arm dangling from it, you’ll initially be greeted by an NPC named Leda and invited to join her companions and follow the traces of Miquella in an attempt to learn more about the God and their fate. I expected to learn a lot more about these characters that were often referenced in the main game, but I was actually surprised at how story heavy Shadow of the Erdtree became, and how many new and interesting NPCs we’d come across in this new portion of the game.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review

Interacting with the aforementioned cocoon will see you taken to a brand new area called the Shadow Realm (yes I thought of Yu-Gi-Oh every single time it was brought up too). A massive area that sits separate to the map of the main game and as the name suggests, is a land covered by the Shadow of the Erdtree.

With a massive new land to explore, as you might expect, Shadow of the Erdtree comes with a lot of things to see and do. In this aspect, it’s very much more of what made the base game so amazing. You’ll come across plenty of brand new weapons, armour sets, skills, spells and Ashes of War to enhance your character and allow you to be better equipped to take down the challenges of the Shadow Realm. There’s new NPCs to meet and a huge amount of Elden Ring worldbuilding and story to uncover. Bosses. So many awesome and challenging bosses. Many new areas to explore, with surprisingly varied biomes to discover. Only a small portion of which have been shown off in the marketing trailers. A personal favourite of mine was the Abyssal Woods thanks to its creepy tone and greater focus on horror and a sense of dread. There are also multiple new Legacy Dungeons, an aspect of the base game I really loved and highlights why the world and level designers at FromSoftware are some of the best in the business. The Shadow Keep Legacy Dungeon ended up being one of my favourite areas in this DLC. As you uncover its various entrances, it becomes somewhat of a hub for the Shadow Realm itself. It’s very open to how you want to approach it and it so cleaverly interweaves on itself.

Shadow of the Erdtree also introduces 2 new progression systems for your character. Scadutree Blessings and Revered Spirit Ash Blessings. These blessings are powered by finding Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes scattered throughout the Shadow Realm. These items are what are used while within the Shadow Realm to strengthen your character and level up and are only available to be found and used while within the region of the DLC. If you do decide to leave the realm and head back to the Lands Between, these blessings do deactivate. Which is something I grew to appreciate as it lets both realms maintain their level balance and let’s you enjoy the challenges of each area rather than the skills and new systems of the expansion breaking the base game.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review

Levelling up also works a bit different in the DLC content compared to the base game. Here you’re not collecting runes to then earn the ability to tweak individual character attributes to increase your proficiency in key areas and overall ‘level’. Instead you will use your collected Scadutree Fragments at a Site of Grace to increase your Scadutree Blessing level. Doing so will grant you a percentage based buff to your attack power and also your damage negation when you use the blessing. Similarly, Revered Spirit Ash blessings will provide attack and defence boosts to your Spirit Ashes when used in battle.

This new system still feels like a levelling system, but its perks exist only when you’re in the Shadow Realm. Much like in the base game where it’s recommended to adventure elsewhere, collect runes and level up when you face an encounter you can’t beat, Shadow of the Erdtree does the same thing by typically giving you the ability to find a different place to explore when you can’t beat an enemy, increase your Scadutree level and then come back and try again, now with better stat boosts.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review

Overall Shadow of the Erdtree is what I would call the perfect DLC/Expansion pack and it does everything I want from this kind of content. It builds upon the core systems that made the base game so great, without breaking what was already there, it provides so much new content when it comes to areas to uncover and bosses to defeat. And it massively expands on the lore and story from the base game and answers questions many had about its characters. As i mentioned before, Shadow of the Erdtree feels more like a sequel to Elden Ring than it does a piece of DLC content that is just trying to pull more money from it’s playerbase and get you to dive back in for a handful of hours. It respects your time and money, gives you a ton of new things to see and do and is another showcase highlighting that not only are FromSoftware some of the best in the business when it comes to making games, they also really care and respect their playerbase.

A PS5 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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Played On: PS5

  • + Expands on the base game in massive new ways
  • + So much new lore to uncover
  • + Gives you so much more of what made Elden Ring already amazing
  • + Is substantial and well worth the cost

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