Pointing at the Erdtree in Elden Ring.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

3 Things Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree can learn from past FromSoft DLC

"Let us go together. My dear consort, eternal." - Ranni the Witch.

Time ticks by so slowly on the approach to the release date for Shadow of the Erdtree, and I for one couldn't be more excited. Not only because it's more of that aggressively sad FromSoft writing I love so dearly, set in an incredibly interesting new world space, but because I believe Shadow of the Erdtree will be the end of an era.

Recommended Videos

What does Shadow of the Erdtree mean for Elden Ring?

Shadow of the Erdtree will be the only DLC Elden Ring receives, rightfully so in my opinion. But that means that whatever FromSoft works on next will likely be yet another new IP. With Dark Souls long since over, and Elden Ring ready to meet its end, perhaps the fantasy age of FromSoftware is too.

Emoting before the burning Erdtree in Elden Ring.
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

All my existential panic about the end of my formative years aside, having only the one DLC means that FromSoft needs to get Shadow of the Erdtree right, so, let's look to some of the developer's older DLC and see what worked, what didn't, and what Shadow of the Erdtree might be able to do differently.


Elden Ring is already off to an exceptional start in this regard, as this has always been one of the core issues with all previous FromSoft DLC. In previous games, FromSoft has always simply elected to make any DLC released flat-out harder than anything from the base game, and it's understandable why. There's a distinct difficulty in releasing DLC for games such as these, as FromSoft has to be ready for players who have long since finished the base game content, especially so for Elden Ring.

In previous games, starting with Dark Souls, FromSoft's answer to this was to simply make the DLC much harder than anything in the base game, meaning that a high-level character still had to really push themselves to get through it. However, this was always much more of a slapdash solution than anything actually meaningful, and it could feel like a letdown to see the many hours you'd put into getting a build just right, upgrading your weapons, and spending all of those sweet, sweet souls go to waste the second you came up against the Sanctuary Guardian in the original Dark Souls' DLC. This also meant that you couldn't really interact with any DLC you had until you were strong enough, which was a shame for players who perhaps couldn't sink in quite as much time as I once could, as an unemployed teenager.

Emoting in front of an enemy in Elden Ring
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

FromSoft has listened to this common complaint, however, and Shadow of the Erdtree will be its first DLC to actively include a feature with the sole purpose of resolving this issue. Details on how this feature will work are still hazy, but what we do know is that Shadow of the Erdtree will implement something called 'Attack Power' which Miyazaki discussed in an interview with Famitsu, something that has already confirmed to be inspired by one of the developer's other titles, Sekiro. In Sekiro (which has a vastly different formula to the 'Soulsborne' games we know and love) the only way to meaningfully improve your character is by defeating bosses; doing so would increase your health, posture, and other stats in the absence of traditional levels or gear.

While we don't know exactly how this new system will work, the core concept is that no matter how over or under-leveled you are, the DLC will provide you with a decent challenge without making you feel too weak, or too strong. You won't be able to simply rune farm for hours, get yourself a +25, and call it a day; you'll need to progress in the new way the DLC intends.


Please, put down your pitchforks and torches, I'm not about to say what you think I'm going to say. (Plus some other lovely people already figured out how to make Elden Ring a bit easier).

What I mean by accessibility is not how easy the DLC should be, but how easy it should be to get into to begin with. I'm sorry, but nobody can sit there and tell me that going to Darkroot Basin, killing a Hydra, talking to an NPC, then going on to do a good portion of the rest of the base game to get the Lord Vessel, going to the Duke's Archives to find and kill a single crystal golem (of many in the area) to get a broken pendant, then going back to Darkroot Basin to interact with a portal that is hidden off to the side is in any way normal, or intuitive.

Praying before the burning Erdtree in Elden Ring
Screenshot by ProGameGuides

And while yes, you can of course just 'look it up', I've never particularly enjoyed Googling something I'd rather have figured out in-game on my own. Thankfully, due to my love of the lore, and my ample hours in Elden Ring, I and many others already know where the DLC expansion will be, and what you have to do to get into it. But I don't think you should have to already know, or look it up, I just think there should be a hint.

I also don't think it should be some great big expositional cutscene, or a wall of text saying 'GO HERE AND DO THIS', as neither would be in line with that subtle storytelling FromSoft has always favored; but perhaps a few notes scattered around, even some new NPC voice lines. (Perhaps even new boss dialogue - looking at you Malenia.) Anything to give a new player who wants to figure things out on their own a way of doing so.

As a fun anecdote, back when I first played Dark Souls 3, I played way after launch and all the DLC had already been released. I beat the game, beat The Ringed City, and I thought to myself 'That's strange, could've sworn there were two pieces of DLC for this.' Lo and behold, I'd already done Ashes of Ariandel, I'd just had absolutely no idea. At the time, I'd just assumed I'd stumbled into a higher-level area accidentally (especially considering my experiences with The Painted World of Ariamis in Dark Souls 1, in which it appears in the base game) and worked my way through.

That one boss

You know exactly what I'm talking about with this one.

Artorias of the Abyss, Sir Alonne, Slave Knight Gael, Ludwig the Holy Blade.

Shadow of the Erdtree has to have that one boss that stands out above anything else available - not even just in terms of difficulty, but in terms of that ever-present wow factor in nearly every FromSoft boss. Each of the bosses listed above just had that little bit of magic about them.

Fighting Artorias of the Abyss in Dark Souls 1
Image via Bandai Namco Entertainment

From Artorias with his exceptional story, his connection to Sif, and his outstanding design.

Sir Alonne had his beautiful arena, and Slave Knight Gael had that pervading sadness of watching the world you've loved for so many years turn to dust before your very eyes.

And Ludwig the Holy Blade, with perhaps the single greatest piece of music ever conducted for a video game providing an epic soundtrack to his boss fight.

Elden Ring already has its fair share of absolutely outstanding bosses, with FromSoft pouring its years of practice into an already exceptional base game. I for one firmly believe that Malenia, Blade of Miquella, is the single most beautiful boss they've ever designed, not to mention their most difficult by far.

  • Emoting in front of Malenia in Elden Ring.
  • Death by Malenia in Elden Ring.

So they've got their work cut out for them with Shadow of the Erdtree, but if the trailer is anything to go off, we've got some outstanding ones to look forward to.

All in all, it's difficult to really give FromSoft merit for potential improvement, because by its very design Elden Ring was made to set so many old wrongs right. But hopefully, with some adjustments to scaling, some more accessibility for the DLC, and just one more really cool boss, Shadow of the Erdtree will be the crowning achievement in FromSoftware's incredible legacy.

If you're looking for more Elden Ring content and are trying to prepare some for the new DLC, check out our guide on where to find Somber Smithing Stone 7s here at Pro Game Guides.

Pro Game Guides is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Connell Watson
Connell Watson
Hotline Miami understander, rat aficionado, lover of boomer shooters - Freelance Writer at ProGameGuides.

Write A Comment

3 Things Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree can learn from past FromSoft DLC

Comments are on moderation and will be approved in a timely manner. Please read the following rules before commenting:

  • All comments must be on topic and add something of substance to the post
  • No swearing or inappropriate words
  • No asking or begging for anything free
  • Do not attempt to start a poll in the comments
  • Comments in all CAPS will be removed
  • We reserve the right to remove a comment for any reason
  • Do not impersonate a staff member or influencer

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.