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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Review

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This is without doubt the easiest review I have ever had to write. There is new DLC available for Elden Ring, it is flipping awesome, go and buy it. 5 stars. Thank you and good night. 

Apparently, the editor needs to see a few more words thrown at this review, so I shall do my best to oblige. Coming from FromSoftware, Shadow of the Erdtree is the first major expansion for the critically acclaimed (not least by me) Elden Ring. Promising new enemies, a new area and lots more stuff besides, is this the expansion we have been waiting for?

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Can you compete in Shadow of the Erdtree?

The story found in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree was always going to be interesting, having to fit into the overarching story neatly and not feeling out of place or shoehorned in. And luckily, the guys at FromSoftware know how to do this. 

The Realm of Shadow has been kept apart from the Lands Between for as long as anyone can remember, and now we Tarnished are invited to follow in the footsteps of Miquella to try and track him down. But be wary – we aren’t the only ones tracking Miquella, and while some people may want to help us, many more will want to hinder us, or stomp us into the dirt! Along the way, comes some insights into Miquella and Marika’s hidden pasts… Any more narrative is up to you to find. 

A note on how to access Shadow of the Erdtree and you’ll need to have beaten Radahn and Mohg, Lord of Blood. Once Mohg goes down, up pops an NPC in his area who invites you to touch an arm, and with that you are transported. Best be ready!

In terms of the presentation, and there’s no doubt that Elden Ring has always been a great looking game, and Shadow of the Erdtree carries on that tradition. Immediately familiar and yet very strange, the area that we have to explore in the Realm of Shadow is a big one – about the size of Limgrave in the base game according to the developers. It does however feel bigger than that, with so many underground places to explore that there is almost a danger of it being too big. 

And of course, every inch of it is stuffed with new and strange enemies, ranging from odd shadow people all the way up to massive, screen filling Ghostflame Dragons, and everything in between. I don’t know if it is just me, but my level 262 character, who has cleared the game multiple times, gets absolutely battered by even basic enemies in this expansion and it really is like starting a whole new game where you are the wimpy kid on the block. The bosses are mental (whoever created the Dancing Lion should probably talk to someone) and they all look great. 

The sound is up to spec as well, being as awesome as always, and pretty much everything here is perfect – I’ve had no slow down or stuttering on my Series X despite frankly obscene amounts of particle effects flying about. The cutscenes are also worthy of special mention, as they are pretty awesome too. 

So what else does Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree bring to the table, besides more of everything that makes Elden Ring great? Well, there are entire new categories of weapons, such as thrusting shields that can be used for defence and attack, as the name might suggest. There are lots of new weapons and armour to find, usually by prying them from the dead hands of enemies. Unarmed combat makes its debut too, allowing you to use palm strikes and kicks against the foes. Quite how effective punching someone in a suit of armour will be remains to be seen, however!

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree review 1
Shadow of the Erdtree – a brilliant expansion

New areas? Well we have those. To follow the path the game wants us to, you can find Stakes of Miquella dotted about – these are like tall, golden crosses that show us which way he went. Usually near these stakes will be another new feature – Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ash. What these do is enhance your stats, and the stats of your Ashes of War (good old Mimic Tear has never been stronger!), but only while you are in the Realm of Shadow – if you go back to the Lands Between, they become ineffective. These basically allow you to become stronger without levelling up, which is handy for my character, as I have to gather over 600,000 souls in order to gain one level!

New enemies? Check again. In particular are the giant furnace golems you will see wandering about (trust me, you can’t miss them). These are massive foes, but they can be killed (I’m not telling you how!) and if you do manage to take one down, they supply new Crystal Tears for the flask of Wondrous Physik, so they are worth trying. The rest of the foes have nothing in common, except one thing – they all hit like a truck, and will kick your ass if you take even the slightest liberty. Constant attack spamming seems to make parrying almost necessary, and while you can get a bit of distance to make things easier, they will hunt you down. 

One thing to be aware of is that if you move outside of a powerful enemy’s patrol area, they will often despawn and respawn back at their start point – I have been surprised a couple of times like this, having lured them away and then run past, only to have them appear right in front of me. This is properly, properly hard, and I am loving every moment in some kind of weird masochistic way. 

So are there any drawbacks to Shadow of the Erdtree? Well, there are no new achievements which makes me sad in a way, but in another makes me happy – I think Elden Ring has to be my proudest 100% completed game, so I’m not losing that. Other than that, I have no issues and have loved every blood soaked moment. 

In conclusion, Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is an awesome expansion. It is hard, but extremely satisfying, and gives you the opportunity to explore Elden Ring like never before. 

Go and buy it. 5 stars. Thank you and good night!

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • So, so hard
  • So, so satisfying when you figure it out
  • Massive new area to explore
Cons:
  • No new achievements
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Bandai Namco
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 21 June 2024 | £34.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>So, so hard</li> <li>So, so satisfying when you figure it out</li> <li>Massive new area to explore</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>No new achievements</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Bandai Namco</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 21 June 2024 | £34.99</li> </ul>Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Review
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