Mid fight cutscene against Messmer in the DLC for Elden Ring.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Review: The DLC We Deserved


Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree represents FromSoftware at the height of their ability as a development team, and that is overwhelmingly clear to see, but it's not perfect. (Be warned, for there be light spoilers ahead.)

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The World of Shadow of the Erdtree

Emoting in the Cerulean Coast in the DLC for Elden Ring.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

The world space of Shadow of the Erdtree itself is by far my favourite part of this DLC, and by far the greatest play area FromSoftware has ever created; the Shadowed Lands are beautiful in ways I couldn't even begin to imagine, and struggle to describe. My first few minutes had my jaw on the floor, with that soft but pervasive darkness of the Gravesite Plain and the distant glow of the Scadutree. Then eventually I came across locations such as the Cerulean Coast with those stretching horizons of the sweetest blue, the Jagged Peak with imposing cliffs and oppressive heat, and the abject horror of the Abyssal Woods.You feel the locations in the DLC just as much as you see them, and that is nothing but a total victory for FromSoftware.

This is all without even discussing the fact that these locations are filled with dungeons, settlements, ruins, and secrets just waiting to be found. Dungeons manage to be distinct from the base game, whilst maintaining their familiar charm. Whether it's the cold chill of rather uncomfortable lore revelations in Bonny Gaol, or the nigh industrial feel to the Forges, every location manages to have its own unique identity whilst keeping in line with the general theme of the area. And yeah, it's totally bigger than Limgrave.

Elden Ring was beautiful, but Shadow of the Erdtree is inspired.

Score - 5/5

The Gear

A new weapon (Milady), armor set (Oathbreaker), and stance in the DLC for Elden Ring.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

Truthfully, I was a bit concerned about the new gear going into the DLC. I genuinely thought that some of the new weapons, armors, and talismans would struggle not only to be memorable, but more importantly viable. Thankfully, my fears were totally unfounded.

The weapon variety on offer is frankly ludicrous, with every playstyle being more than catered to. There's my personal favorites in the Light Greatswords, all of which manage to be wildly unique to one another. There's the Dexterity-focused Backhand Blades (the basic one you can find early on is an absolute mainstay in my equipment), and the Cirque for those who enjoy a bit of dance with their wanton murder. And of course there's the new Martial Arts, which are so much fun it's near criminal. I found myself defaulting to these whenever I was particularly frustrated, and they were far more effective than I could've imagined. (Especially when given the Quality affinity.)

Armor truly surprised me, as I thought I'd long since found my forever set. But here FromSoftware have managed to really mix things up, offering sets that switch up the stats you'd expect of given pieces. There's full coverage armor which sacrifices protection for weight reduction, and a set you can get early on that massively ramps up the weight in favor of some of the best physical protection possible.

Talismans have filled in some gaps left in the base game (like the addition of an Arcane boosting talisman), but the primary focus has been on adding some really unique build boosting ones. The Dried Bouquet is a very unique addition for those who focus on their use of Ash Summons, and Rellana's Cameo offers a new way for stance weapon users (like myself) to give themselves a buff.

There's far too many of all of these various items for me to mention them all, but I've yet to find anything which made me think 'meh', so top marks from me.

Score - 5/5

The Bosses

Standing off against the final boss in the DLC for Elden Ring.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

FromSoftware games might be the only ones in which discussing the bosses is one of the most important part of a review. In Shadow of the Erdtree, whilst the majority of the bosses are solid and some genuinely revolutionary, there's a few that miss the mark.

The worst offender for me by far was Commander Gaius, who seems like he was crafted with the sole intention of being as groan inducing as possible. His initial charge attack often had me dead before I'd even finished the fog gate animation, and summoning a Spirit Ash to divert his relentless assaults was next to impossible with his seemingly never ending array of melee and ranged attacks. Torrent was all but useless, so I spent 90% of the fight chasing after Gaius only to die a ridiculous combo with terrible hitboxes. Some other bosses simply lacked that FromSoftware 'oomph', and had some technical issues of their own (such as the Scadutree Avatar, which despite being quite easy, is a drain due to its excessive length and performance-dropping flashy attacks).

The good however were good, and absolutely outweighed the bad. Messmer was awe inspiring and imposing in equal measure, with some excellent design, a strong voice performance; it was a fight that was both extremely challenging but entirely fair.

Bayle was another stand out with his incredible arena and stunning phase transition, and he is only improved further by the addition of Igon, who has taken his place as my new favourite NPC. Igon adds a level of cinematic drama to the Bayle fight that I've yet to see in Elden Ring at large, with his constant shouting and inability to die making him seem just as God-like as you.

But the accolade of my favourite of all, despite some critique within the community and the absolutely overwhelming difficulty, has to go to the final boss. The spectacle of this fight is simply something I cannot ignore, and it'll go down in history as being one of the best FromSoftware have ever done; the narrative excellence of who I got to face off against absolutely carried the fight for me.

Score - 4/5

Final Verdict

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is an absolutely outstanding addition to one of the best games of the generation, and provides an extreme but ultimately fair challenge set against the backdrop of the finest world FromSoftware have ever created.

With more activities to do than you could've ever expected, heaps of exciting and varied new gear to acquire and kit yourself out in, and some of the harshest but visually and thematically stunning bosses we've ever seen, it's totally exceeded absolutely every one of my already high expectations. With some future patches to fix some of the more technically shaky bosses,and admittedly poor performance in certain areas, I have no doubt that Shadow of the Erdtree will remain just as relevant as the original title, and has proven once more that FromSoftware can be trusted to provide us with experiences absolutely no other development studio can.

If you're looking for some more Shadow of the Erdtree content from us here at Pro Game Guides, check out our piece on the Unknown YouTuber who was first to beat Shadow of the Erdtree bosses at level 1, or our guide on How to reach Scorpion River Catacombs in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.

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Connell Watson
Hotline Miami understander, rat aficionado, lover of boomer shooters - Freelance Writer at ProGameGuides.

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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Review: The DLC We Deserved

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