Elden Ring: Shadow of Erdtree DLC Review – Unparalleled

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree's focus on excellent level design and brutally difficult bosses makes it a treat for the fans of the genre.

Posted By | On 18th, Jun. 2024

Elden Ring: Shadow of Erdtree DLC Review – Unparalleled

It’s been over two years since FromSoftware’s Elden Ring came out. It was a pinnacle of the formula the developer had perfected over the last decade or so. Borrowing the best elements of the Souls series and integrating them into a dynamic and a rich world made Elden Ring one of the best open world experiences out there. Its expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree, takes everything that worked in the base game and amps it up multiple times, delivering what is arguably 2024’s most exhilarating experience.

Shadow of the Erdtree isn’t your typical expansion you might sometimes associate with an action RPG- a reasonably sized map, a few quests, and a couple of boss fights here and there. No, Shadow of the Erdtree is not that kind of an expansion. Taking place in The Land of Shadow, a map that is larger than Limgrave, Shadow of the Erdtree features an intriguing storyline. After jumping into the expansion, you meet Leda, as she invites you to join her companions through an arduous path through the Shadow Realm, delving into the age-old secrets of the mysterious land. FromSoftware’s stories are never straightforward and most of it is told through conversations between the player character and NPCs, and of course, the richly crafted but sparse cutscenes. This methodology persists with the expansion, resulting in some major surprises and plot revelations. I am not at liberty to talk much about the expansion’s lore, but rest assured the revelations that are in store here will genuinely surprise you.

Much was said about the map design in Elden Ring and how it focused on verticality that twisted players’ minds. Well, Shadow of the Erdtree takes that aspect of the base game and provides layers and layers of vertical space. At one point, I found myself stuck and figuring out how to reach an area which was probably hundreds of feet below me, only to find out that a nearby dungeon was the means to descend there. Exploration remains ever important, and the map design excels at piquing curiosity, pushing players to search for every nook and cranny. In the base game, more often than not, you were rewarded if you dare to venture into an unknown space, and that much is well intact in the expansion.

"Whether the encounter happens during the critical path or inside the depths of a hidden dungeon, Shadow of the Erdtree doesn’t disappoint in the quality of its bosses."

Of course, it wouldn’t be a FromSoftware game if it didn’t feature brutally difficult yet intricately designed bosses. Shadow of the Erdtree doesn’t feature a ton of the bosses like those found in the base game (I mean, a number close to 160 odd is just ridiculous), but it does have dozens of them. Whether the encounter happens during the critical path or inside the depths of a hidden dungeon, Shadow of the Erdtree doesn’t disappoint in the quality of its bosses. They won’t shy away from keeping you on your toes, and more than a couple of them are capable of inflicting one-hit kills to the player.

Multiple encounters can easily rank as some of the most difficult in the genre. As someone who craves astonishingly brutal challenges, Shadow of the Erdtree was right up my alley. Although my player character died numerous times (I have lost count at this point), nothing beats the satisfaction of thrashing an intimidating foe. At the same time, I could also see someone who struggled to complete the base game having a really hard time with Shadow of Erdtree. It’s a rather difficult ask to rank the most difficult Soulslike games out there but personally, I would rank Shadow of Erdtree right there at the top, besides Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Make of that what you will.

elden ring shadow of the erdtree

"Shadow of the Erdtree allows you to procure Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes, which in turn allow you to have specific benefits."

The core gameplay mechanics in Shadow of the Erdtree remain the same as those in the base game. Be it finding crucial items, weapons, or armor- that engaging gameplay loop is intact here. However, the developers have added a number of new elements as well, as far as character progression is concerned. In the base game, your core character progression was based on collecting runes and using them to level up. In addition to that, Shadow of the Erdtree allows you to procure Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes, which in turn allow you to have specific benefits. Scadutree Fragments, for instance, will make your attacks deadlier and reduce the damage you incur.

Revered Spirit Ashes, on the other hand, are buffs that are applied to Torrent or summons, improving the damage they deal. These two mechanics only work in The Land of Shadow, which means should the player move back to The Lands Between, these benefits won’t have an impact. As someone who has played a ton of the base game and was already sufficiently levelled up, I found these new gameplay mechanics to make less of a difference for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally see these buffs making an impact for lower levelled players, especially given that Shadow of the Erdtree is a brutally hard experience. But if you already have high level gear accompanied with the right weapons, you likely won’t see yourself going too much after collecting each and every one of the Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes out there.

FromSoftware’s games have always prioritized art style over cutting-edge visuals, and it’s no surprise that the Shadow of the Erdtree follows that norm. The attention to detail is unreal here, whether the player character finds themself in lush, serene gardens, or hauntingly destroyed ruins, or venturing deep into forests against formidable adversaries. The game offers players many moments that border on horror, thanks to its choice of creepy music and eerie visuals. On more than one occasion, Shadow of the Erdtree managed to evoke feelings reminiscent of Bloodborne, the beloved classic from 2015. The music selection further enhances the surroundings, which have a tale of their own to tell about the dark histories hidden within these unpleasant locations.

elden ring shadow of the erdtree

"On more than one occasion, Shadow of the Erdtree managed to evoke feelings reminiscent of Bloodborne, the beloved classic from 2015."

Just like Elden Ring, I reviewed the expansion on PC. Despite playing Shadow of the Erdtree on a high-end PC equipped with an Nvidia RTX 3080Ti, 32GB of RAM, and a Ryzen 5950x processor, I encountered performance issues when running the game at 4K resolution. In order to stabilize the performance, I had to lower the resolution. While this was a tad disappointing, since I wanted to absorb the game’s full glory in 4K, the exceptional art style balanced things out rather well.

In conclusion, as a hardcore Souls fan, there is a lot to love here. The map is brimming with secrets to find and activities to complete. In many ways, Shadow of the Erdtree draws strong parallels to Dark Souls 3’s Ringed City DLC, emphasizing verticality and challenging boss battles. For many, Shadow of the Erdtree is where players will bid adieu to the Elden Ring experience just like what Ringed City did with Dark Souls 3, but one thing is for sure- FromSoftware’s latest expansion surpasses typical standards, offering an abundance of content comparable to a full-fledged game. While stable PC performance would have enhanced the experience, it doesn’t detract from what is undoubtedly this year’s most exceptional gaming journey.

“So, are you ready to come and die, all over again?”

This game was reviewed on PC.


THE GOOD

Excellent level design, brutally difficult boss encounters, grand music, introduces new gameplay features, exploration is still a blast.

THE BAD

PC performance at 4K is shaky.

Final Verdict:
MASTERPIECE
Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is an excellent follow up to the base game. Shadow of the Erdtree's focus on great level design and fantastic boss fights makes it a must play for the fans of the genre.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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