Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review – An Untarnished Final Chapter

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review - An Untarnished Final Chapter

“Yo, fuck this game.” That was my first experience with Shadows of the Erdtree. After forcing the game to switch monitors (a toggle it still does not have) and then loading it, I fell straight through the world and died. This caused me to lose all of my runes as I couldn’t get to my body. I went to the new area, something the game did not tell me where to start and saw a named enemy. After going over to it and starting combat, my level 150 endgame character was destroyed in about two seconds. “Yo, fuck this game.”


It’s a stark reminder; Elden Ring is not your friend. No, it’s more like a cat: completely indifferent to you until it wants something. It might roll over and show its belly, but you know damn well there’s a chance it’s going to bite you. Yet, when that opportunity shows itself, you’re going to try and get that belly rub because it makes you feel good, and hopefully, they enjoy it too. That’s Elden Ring. It’s a punishing son-of-a-bitch and damn near broken in some ways, but you know when it hits right, it really hits right. There’s nothing like it.

Elden Ring has always been a game of surprises and moments though. Loading into the first region of the DLC showed big sweeping plains, filled with spectral graves; a huge castle in front, and a giant shadowy Erdtree in the background with veils flowing down from it. It’s a very similar vibe to opening the gate from the tutorial of the base game and stepping into Limgrave for the first time. The game is teasing you with potential moments and vistas you’ll be seeing later, but it’s also a reminder that you have decent control over where you can go.


It’s amazing how fast the scope of Shadows of the Erdtree dawns upon you. At first, the map looks small, a trick the base game does as well, but even as you find map fragments and see the full size of the map you won’t completely understand; this is all about verticality. Everything looks smaller until you realise that looking down from the top of a cliff reveals a whole new area under you, and looking up reveals a whole new area above you. This happens a lot, the game is constantly teasing out areas that exist and you need to find a path to get to them. It adds such a sense of adventure and wonder that makes the world really enticing to explore. That exploration is incredibly important too, due to the non-standard enhancement system.

Scadutree Fragments are used to strengthen your stats, and Revered Spirit Ashes exist to make your summons (and Torrent) do more damage and take less damage. You’ll find quickly that these are very much encouraged. They’re not the most interesting system in the world, but as this is an endgame area enemies are tough as molasses, it’s a way to make things difficult through stat scaling, that gives you a faux-levelling system so you’re not coming in super overpowered. Without these augmentations, enemies in the open world were 1-2 shotting me, let alone bosses. For the more seasoned player who really wants a challenge, feel free to go without. For me though, I took as many as I could find. They’re strewn about the open world and in minor dungeons, adding extra layers to that encouragement to explore.

There’s just so much in the DLC. It’s wild. I looked at the price, compared it against previous Souls expansions and thought that there would be so much less than there actually is. I think all players will find something that works for them. Loads of new sorceries and incantations, new armour, Ashes of War, Spirit Ashes, talismans, nearly a hundred new weapons, not to mention 8 completely new weapon groups. All of these changes mean that the DLC could mean a lot of experimentation in the base game. It’s chock-a-block with new content.

This is all without mentioning the other things, two new legacy dungeons and a bunch of new bosses (and remembrances for cool new weapons) exist to test your mettle, and they will. These are both some of the hardest and some of the coolest bosses in the genre. FromSoft, you didn’t have to go this hard but man am I glad you did.


On one hand, I want to be a bit mad at Elden Ring in the same way I was previously. PC settings and optimisations are still very lacking. I got frequent stutters, one time I booted the game it was in Arabic until I rebooted it, and some of the environmental hitboxes were awful. Sometimes I could jump down a supposed safe drop only to fall through the world, and sometimes I would try and make a jump only to find the collision was so much larger than I expected and it pushed me away. There are reused bosses and environments, albeit with slight twists.

I want to be mad about these things, but it’s a balance. I want to dock points for this stuff and not give this a perfect score but I just don’t know if I can. I love these games despite their faults because as I said before, when they hit, they hit really right. Elden Ring is a cat, and Shadows of the Erdtree is a kitten. Sure, you’ll get scratched and it’ll annoy the hell out of you sometimes, but you’re still going for those scritches and belly rubs when the opportunity presents itself, because you love those little bastards despite everything.


Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree was reviewed on PC with code kindly supplied by the publisher. 

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