Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree review

by on June 18, 2024
Release Date

June 20, 2024


There were many times while exploring the Realm of Shadow I was left in awe at the scope of what existed within, whether it was in the beasts roaming the lands, the depth of its environment as I rode across its plains, or the intricate structures of some of the towering castles and structures. Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree gives you so much more to explore and see, offering great depth to both the story and gameplay, and consistently challenging you to push yourself in battle. I couldn’t have asked for a better expansion to an already perfect game.

Upon entering the Shadow Realm, you find yourself mesmerised by the fields of the Gravesite Plain, littered with glimmering transparent gravestones and tall grass. That sense of wonder returns instantly as you see both the purity and danger of your surroundings. There is no linear path to follow, only the crosses of Miquella to guide you on your quest to find out what happened to him, and every inch of the map is littered with secrets, new gear to find, hidden paths, and dangerous enemies to vanquish. Trepidation and patience. Fear and satisfaction. Risk and reward. This is FromSoftware at its best.

While the Shadow Realm isn’t as large as the Lands Between, there is still a hell of a lot of ground to cover. Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is huge, and you’ll find so many wonderous places as you trek across its world, but a huge part of that exploration is found in its verticality. In Scadu Atlas, one of the DLCs larger areas lit by yellow sky and burning light, I was riding parallel to a huge gorge that seemed so deep and inaccessible until I found those familiar stone tablets jutting out of a cliffside. I began to jump down, gradually descending until I was able to step foot on a completely new area.

In Shadow Keep, one of the Legacy Dungeons, I had just made my way across a huge bridge. Upon riding an elevator into the keep, I continued ascending through a great library, rotating platforms, and stone stairwells until I finally reached the very top and encountering one of the toughest yet most rewarding boss fights of the entire DLC. This depth of vision is a constant theme and I was always presented with a web of intricate paths and caverns, leading to new and exciting areas I never thought I would get to see.

When you traverse deep underground, across fallen pillars and through dark caves to reach the Cerulean Coast, your jaw will hit the floor at its ineffable beauty. The realm of Shadow feels different yet familiar, and while there is so much of the DLC that feels like uncharted waters, there are places that hold significance in memories of the Lands Between. I remember finding similarities to places such as Ranni’s Rise and Raya Lucaria, and even a cathedral that bared resemblance to Bloodborne filled me with joy, but no matter where I ventured to, I always got goosebumps at the wonder and scale of such a beautifully designed world.

Of course, no FromSoft game would be complete without its boss fights. You’re never able to rest easy as there is always something to push you to your limits and challenge you in fresh new ways. The first boss you encounter is the Furnace Golem, those huge wicker-like brazier creatures that have been one of the focal points of the trailers, and within minutes of entering the new realm, you can attempt to take one down (hint: do not attempt to take one down!). After I made my way through my first Legacy Dungeon of Belurat, a tower settlement filled with winding streets and dangerous enemies, I fought the first proper boss: the Divine Beast Dancing Dragon.

It moved with grace, lunging forward with speed and purpose, and if its devastating melee attacks don’t hurt you, its affinity with lightning, fire, and ice will. It’s the perfect challenge to start with, reminding you just how brutal Elden Ring can be, but always offering room for every single one of your abilities to thrive as you learn its attack patterns. Everyone has that one boss from the original that took longer to kill than any other. Mine was the Fire Giant, and in Shadow of the Erdtree, I found my new Achille’s heel in Rellana, Twin Moon Knight.

She obliterated me on far too many occasions, using her swift movement with a blade and fire damage to weaken me until those damn moon attacks akin to Rennala finished me off. She has that Carian magic that catches you off guard, but also moves like Malenia, fusing two of Elden Ring’s most interesting bosses into one, and while she posed one of my biggest challenges from the DLC, I was also fascinated by her grace and style. There are other bosses you’ll encounter in the wild, like a huge bear and various dragons, as well as that a huge golden hippopotamus with golden spikes, but it’s the story bosses that leave you speechless.

Not only are you contending with these bosses strewn across the Realm of Shadow, there are also a ton of formidable enemies that won’t stop until you’re dead. Shadow Undead that overwhelm in numbers, huge birds that will rip you apart, Messmer’s knights who can do severe damage up close, and giant scorpions that can roll at you or spit poison. These are just a taste of the creatures you’ll meet, and despite the wealth of dangerous foes populating the realm, I was never perturbed, never held back by my anxieties. I just wanted to push forward and uncover the secrets of Miquella, of the realm, and of the terrible war that raged between the Golden Order and the people of that once lived here.

In an effort to offer aid to your new adventure in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, there are two new blessings that can be acquired throughout the Realm of Shadow. Scadutree Fragments improve the amount of damage you do, but also reduce the amount of damage you take. Revered Spirit Ash Blessings do exactly the same as the Scadutree Fragments, except they bolster the attacks of your Spirit Ashes instead. By acquiring these across the lands, you can use any Site of Grace to apply them to your character, however, they will only work while in this realm.

On top of these new blessings, there are new weapons, armour sets, spells and incantations, Wondrous Physicks, Ashes of War, Spirit Ashes, and Talismans. By the end of Elden Ring, many players will have built the perfect peak character and might not want to alter a single element of their build, but there are many new items that feel different to what could be found in the Lands Between, and it’s so much fun when you finally find something new. One of the forests in Gravesite Plains is home to Logur, and after you slay the wanderer you’ll acquire some beast claws that are fantastic for melee attacks.

As a mage, finding a new spell like the Glintstone Trio instantly added to my build, and regardless of your class, there is something for everyone to utilise. While Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree will kick your ass, there is always a helping hand, whether in the wealth of new items to find or the Followers of Miquella that offer help around the world. These followers work much like those back at the Roundtable, albeit scattered throughout the land, offering guidance and their own quests for you to embark on.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is such a phenomenal piece of content that it could easily stand on its own, but rather what it does do is enrich the already incredible main game into something much more. Whether it is the verticality and scale of the new realm, the creative and challenging boss fights, those breadcrumbs of lore that make you want to explore every inch of the map, or the need to uncover every secret area and find new items, FromSoftware has crafted a masterful expansion for those that miss that warm feeling Elden Ring gave millions of people when it originally released over two long years ago.


Breathtaking world
Excellent boss fights
So much to explore and see
Thrilling continuation of the story


Getting one-shotted feels more common

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is a wonderfully crafted expansion that enriches the original experience that exploring the Lands Between provided.