Elden Ring Review

10
Beebom Score
Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the most well-crafted DLC in the Soulsborne series. It features incredible boss fights, gorgeous landscapes, multiple new weapon types, and amazing lore drops that tie up the game perfectly. Sadly, issues like the camera angle remain an issue in some boss fights. There are also some reskinned bosses. Thankfully, these are minor concerns compared to the masterpiece created by FromSoftware.
Pros
Features the hardest bosses yet
Massive map and content for a DLC
New weapon types flip combat meta
Ties up base game's plot holes
Extremely well done dungeons
Cons
Some reskinned bosses
Dreadful camera angles in some boss battles
Buy Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree ($40) Right Arrow

“Ahh, were you guided here by Kindly Miquella?” asks Needle Knight Leda in Moghwyn Palace near Miquella’s Cocoon. “Touch the withered arm, and you too, will be transported,” and so I touched Miquella’s hand, confident to enter the Realm of Shadows, unknowing of the pain, misery, and ultimate glory awaiting me in the land where it all began.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree perfectly ties up the base game, filling most of the plot holes, my hunger for stronger enemies, and a desire for different playstyles. After playing 50 hours of the early preview, dying more than a thousand times (and crying bloody tears), fighting absolute despair on multiple occasions, and spending hours analyzing item descriptions and NPC dialogues, here is my review of the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC.

Shadow of the Erdtree Story: Tying up the Loose Ends

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC takes place in the Realm of Shadows. We pick back up as the Tarnished and follow the steps of Miquella the Kind, the golden child. However, you are not alone as Miquella’s trusted followers accompany you along the journey.

A Tale of Ambition, Loyalty, Duty, Betrayal, and Birthright

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

The main story of The Shadow of the Erdtree revolves around following Miquella’s path through the Realm of Shadows and finding his journey’s goal. Over time, I got to meet more of Miquella’s followers, some completely faithful to him, while others more doubtful. As the proverbial chosen one, it was my job to help each of the followers find the answer they were seeking, either emboldening or withering the faith they had in the golden child.

The overarching stories of each of Miquella’s followers and the complexities they create in the game is another FromSoftware masterclass. Although I cannot reveal the exact details of the main story, you can count on it being impactful and easy to understand compared to the base game’s main story. This for me was pretty amazing.

Messmer’s Folly and the Persecution of the Hornsent

  • Hornsent Grandam Requesting Vengeance Upon Messmer
  • Messmer Impaling the Omens

Apart from Miquella’s saga, we have an equally important storyline ongoing – Messmer and his persecution of the Hornsent, the native of the Land of the Shadows. Long ago, Marika and the Golden Order waged a war on the Hornsent Tribe. During this war, Messmer purged the Hornsent tribe from the Realm of Shadows.

Among the several NPCs in the game, I found two Hornsents who clearly showed open hatred for Messmer and the Golden Order, requesting the tarnished to exact vengeance. The story gets more interesting when you delve into Messmer’s past and find the reason behind his stay in the Realm of Shadows.

Origin Lore Tying Up Loose Ends

Finger Ruins of Rhia Elden Ring DLC
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

Apart from Messmer and Miquella’s storylines, the Shadow of the Erdtree also reveals a ton of lore behind the origin of the Fingers, Frenzied Flames, the Scadutree, and Dragons. While I won’t spoil anything, I will tell you that, there are entire areas in the game completely dedicated to each of the important sections I mentioned above.

Even if you don’t care much about the story and the characters, I recommend you scour through all the item descriptions because it was worth it to me.

Gorgeous Open World Abound with Secrets

As anxious as I was waiting for Shadow of the Erdtree, I also wanted it to be big. Well, what do you know? As far as DLCs go, the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is massive, even bigger than many AAA games of today. The map is approximately the size of Limgrave, Caelid, and a large part of Liurnia combined.

The map is full to the brim with content and multiple layers leading to hidden paths, bosses, and areas. The Realm of Shadows is also gorgeous to look at and explore, with a challenge, secret, and loot around every corner.

Death Knight Elden Ring DLC
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

Just like the original Elden Ring, every area in the game looks distinct and exploration never becomes a fatigue. The best parts about exploring the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC are the new dungeons. Each dungeon has depth and a different layout, which was starkly missing in the base game. Many of these dungeons had multiple levels, with Stakes of Marika at each level until you reached the bottom.

One of the dungeons I found was completely pitch dark, making it unexplorable without the Lantern. There were several levers at multiple levels that I had to use to turn on the lights in that dungeon, which I felt was a really cool mechanic. The dungeon bosses have also received some well-needed love. Dungeon fights are much more memorable compared to the original Elden Ring.

New Enemies Elden Ring DLC
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

Erdtree features a large number of new enemy types found throughout the Realm of Shadows. While there are a few carry-over enemies and reskins, the larger number have unique looks and different fighting styles, all of them posing a different challenge to the players.

Many enemies have multiple abilities, similar to Ashes of War, which adds yet another color to the combat in the overworld.

Gameplay is Bigger, Meaner, and Stronger

Let’s face it. While variety is good, we want hurt. Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree elevates the pain by adding stronger enemies. And by strong I mean, a lot stronger compared to the other DLCs in the Soulsborne series.

Having finished all the Soulsborne DLCs by FromSoftware, I can, without a doubt, say that Elden Ring’s DLC has the toughest bosses and enemies. This has been largely made possible by the new leveling system, which prevents overpowering builds from completely steamrolling these new DLC bosses.

New Leveling System

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree leveling System
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

On that note, the Realm of Shadow has two new leveling items — Scadutree Blessing and Revered Spirit Blessing. Players need to find Scadutree fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes to turn them into their counterpart blessings.

The Scadutree blessing increases the damage output and decreases the damage taken by players, while the Revered Spirit Ashes does the same for Spirit Summons (including Torrent).

These blessings can be found throughout the Land of Shadows. While you will chance upon some near Miquella’s signs, others will be in random locations and after defeating certain bosses in the game. However, note that this new leveling system only works in the Realm of Shadows and not the Lands Between.

Prepare to Despair and Bask in Glory

Rellana Twin Moon Knight boss fight Elden Ring DLC
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

One of the major criticisms for Elden Ring was how easy it was to create overpowered builds and completely shred the in-game bosses. This naturally took away the joy of fighting them on equal footing. Imagine having to hold yourself back from using certain builds or Spirit Summons to make the game more challenging.

Well, FromSoftware heard the player’s concerns and they have delivered. The DLC bosses are hard, really hard even with summons. Almost every boss is extremely aggressive and deals a high amount of damage while having a massive health bar.

Bayle The Dread Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

On top of that, most of the bosses (including dungeon bosses) have multiple phases. Many of the bosses will DPS down your Spirit Summons, including Mimic Tears, not letting them have a significant effect in the fight.

Some of the enemies also take almost no damage, unless you become crafty. The Furnace Golem is one that barely takes any damage from normal hits, but a well-placed Hefty Fire Pot will make it explode.

Without giving any spoilers, the final boss of the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is, in my opinion, is the hardest boss in the entire Soulsborne franchise.

Having said all that, the boss fights, except a few ones, are extremely well done in the DLC. I particularly loved the Divine Beast Dancing Lion and Messmer boss fights.

Shadow of the Erdtree Flips Elden Ring’s Combat Meta

Elden Ring DLC Reverse Hand Swords
Image Courtesy: Elden Ring DLC Preview

Shadow of the Erdtree changes Elden Ring’s entire combat meta on its head, giving players a lot of room to gallop to take on the DLC bosses. The DLC packs new weapon types and more than 100 new weapons. I particularly loved the throwable weapons, as they completely changed the game’s melee combat dynamic.

For example — putting aside the new Throwable Dagger weapon type, you can literally throw Spears and Hammers with a charged normal attack. This way you can engage enemies at a distance while wielding melee weapons.

Throwing Messmer's Spear Elden Ring DLC
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

One of my favorite weapons in the DLC was Messmer’s Impaler, which can be obtained using Messmer’s Remembrance. The Great Spear, on the other hand, could be thrown at max charge and would deal explosive fire damage.

On top of that, the permanent Ash of War of the weapon allows players to do a ridiculous move combo, performed by Messmer during the boss fight, which is going to be hard to dodge in PvP.

Beast Claws Elden Ring DLC
Video Courtesy: Elden Ring DLC Preview

Other than the Throwable weapons, the Hand-to-Hand arts are also an incredible addition to the game. It adds a new layer to fast close combat and finally enables the monk build many players have been playing using mods.

There is also a new status effect called Eternal Sleep, which puts weaker and susceptible enemies in eternal sleep. Although we have yet to see how it works in PvP, I can already imagine Eternal Sleep being one of the new PvP meta.

Graphics and Performance

Besides the game’s amazing lore and more than difficult combat, I also wanted to show you how it performed during my testing. As such, I decided to test the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC on a mixture of settings with both Ray-Tracing on and off.

Do note that the new Elden Ring DLC lacks frame generation or DLSS/FSR. However, I don’t think it needed that anyway. Here is my testbench:

Test Setup

CPU: Intel i3 8th Gen
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 4060
RAM: 16×2 DDR4 RAM@2400MHz
SSD: WD SN570 500GB
Monitor: 1080p@144Hz

Right off the bat, I will say that Shadow of the Erdtree DLC runs as smoothly as the original Elden Ring. The DLC’s new areas look absolutely gorgeous and all have a distinct look, making them stand out.

At High settings, Erdtree ran butter smooth with a constant 5560 FPS. There were barely any FPS drops or stutters.

Celurian Coast Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

I then decided to crank up the game to the highest settings with Ray-Tracing set to Maximum. But unfortunately, the performance tanked quite a bit. The range immediately dropped with the game giving me just about 20-30 FPS with an average of 23 FPS.

The PC also had to do some heavy lifting with 67% CPU utilization and 64% GPU use. Turning off Ray-Tracing at the Maximum graphics settings improved the performance, jumping to a constant 30 FPS, with the utilization dropping to 36% and 40%, respectively.

Our copy of Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree was relatively free of any major glitches. The most I ran into were some bosses not spawning for 10-15 seconds after entering their arena. An early game patch will likely fix most of these annoyances. However, they weren’t an issue to the game’s overall experience.

Sadly, It’s Not Entirely Perfect

Reading through you might agree that Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is arguably the best DLC released by FromSoftware yet. It’s nearly pitch-perfect. But the operative keyword is almost. Sadly, I did come across a few issues and have a couple of concerns.

Even the Camera Angle is Harder

  • Camera Angle Issue Elden Ring DLC Boss Furnace Golem
  • Camera Angle Issue Elden Ring DLC Boss Divine Beast Dancing Lion
  • Camera Angle Issue Elden Ring DLC Boss Golden Hippopotamus

Remember how I mentioned the overpowered builds as one of Elden Ring’s issues? Well, one of the bigger critiques about Elden Ring was the bad camera angle for some of the bosses, such as the Death Birds.

Sadly, instead of fixing it, the problem has been notched up to the extreme with many of the Elden Ring bosses and enemies. As it stands, there are cases when you’re better off not locking on them in combat. A few examples of bad camera angles were:

  • Furnace Golems: These beasts are so massive in size, that it is impossible to keep track of their entire body. Sometimes both of its feet don’t fit together on screen, while other times, the entire upper body cannot be seen. This often led to getting hit by attacks I couldn’t see coming.
  • Divine Beast Dancing Lion: This is one of the early game bosses and a nightmare to track with the lock-on system. He has extremely aggressive move sets and moves his head wildly, which is also the most likely lock-on spot for the enemy. This led to complete confusion while I was fighting him. Ultimately, I had to disable the lock-on to defeat him.
  • Golden Hippopotamus: This is the enemy that I had the most trouble with. This is also the only boss fight I did not enjoy. Why? Because the real boss was the bad camera!

Excessive Aggression = Panic Rolls

Naked Panic Rolls Elden Ring DLC
Image Courtesy: In-game Screenshot

While not inherently a criticism, this is more of an observation. See, I enjoy fighting aggressive bosses and the Shadow of the Erdtree sees no exception. However, almost every boss in DLC has excessive aggression, often dumbing down the combat to panic rolls with lightweight.

Honestly, I found myself missing the slow but deliberate attack patterns of most of the Dark Souls bosses; see they were still hard because of their attack timing and rotation. Elden Ring already had aggressive combat in many of the main base game bosses, but it truly feels notched up to the top in the DLC. Like I said, not a critique but an observation so take it how you will.

Reskinned Enemies and Bosses

  • Reskinned Enemies Elden Ring DLC
  • Reskin Tree Spirit boss Elden Ring DLC

Yeah, Shadow of the Erdtree introduces a large number of new enemies and bosses. Sadly, the DLC also comes with some of the base game bosses, which I particularly disliked. It was fine to meet a couple of the normal mobs from the base game in specific areas. This includes previous appearances like Carian Knights and Sorcerers in Castle Ensis, which is ruled by Rellana, the younger sister of Rennala.

I did not want to fight another Ulcerated Tree Spirits, Magma Wyrms, and other reskinned Dragons, which appeared a lot often than I expected.

At least some of the dragons were reskinned into Ghostflame Dragons, but the Ulcerated Tree Spirits and Magma Wyrms literally looked the same and had the same attack pattern too!

Thankfully, in the grand scheme of the Shadow of the Erdtree, there weren’t that many duplicates to have a massive impact on my experience. However, they were still mildly annoying.

Verdict: Is the Trip to Realm of Shadows Worth It?

There’s no doubt that finishing Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree has been a trip to hell and back. However, after investing 50 hours in the DLC’s world, fighting its deadly bosses, and coming out on top, I think I have an answer.

Yes, Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is absolutely a must-purchase for every Elden Ring and Soulsborne player. I consider this DLC to be the best in the FromSoftware franchise. Yes, it’s better than the Dark Souls 3 DLCs, which previously held the top spot for me.

Erdtree adds a ton of lore and nicely ties up Elden Ring’s loose ends. While the price might initially seem steep, my experience told me that it’s well worth it. Every boss added to the DLC is a challenge and feels very well crafted. The new weapon types are an absolute blast to use. The cheery on this death cake is the new open areas that pack distinct looks and tons of secrets hidden in a classic FromSoftware way.

The Shadow of the Erdtree completes Elden Ring in more ways than I can reveal in the review. As such, I wholeheartedly recommend Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC to all Elden Ring and RPG players alike.

Beebom Score
10
Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is the most well-crafted DLC in the Soulsborne series. It features incredible boss fights, gorgeous landscapes, multiple new weapon types, and amazing lore drops that tie up the game perfectly. Sadly, issues like the camera angle remain an issue in some boss fights. There are also some reskinned bosses. Thankfully, these are minor concerns compared to the masterpiece created by FromSoftware.
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