Emoting in front of the Scadutree in the DLC for Elden Ring.
Screenshot by Pro Game Guides

Shadow of the Erdtree isn’t the first FromSoftware DLC to get blasted on Steam

My favourite negative review is "Scadu blessings are dumb pls dont do this again From" (They aren't dumb)

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is currently suffering one of the more curious fates in modern gaming: it has earned stellar critical acclaim and is moving serious copies while receiving surprisingly mixed user reviews on Steam. History will show it isn't the first FromSoftware DLC in such a position, however.

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Adorned with the title "Universal Acclaim" and an impressive aggregate score of 95 on Metacritic, Shadow of the Erdtree is certainly enjoying its status as a critical darling. And shortly before the much-anticipated DLC released on June 21st, 2024, the base Elden Ring game reached a mind-boggling 25 million copies sold. You can't argue with those numbers.

Yet in what feels like a parallel universe, Shadow of the Erdtree has garnered a "Mixed" user review ranking on Steam from 42,746 reviews as of writing. While gripes concerning the expansion's punishing difficulty level are to be somewhat expected, the bulk of the complaints are focused on the game's poor performance on PC. Players are reporting that their framerate drops to 30 or lower during certain boss battles – even for players on high-end rigs.

But it's the constant framerate stutters that are especially problematic for a game that is so focused on precision and timing. I myself experienced serious stuttering back in 2022 when I began playing the base Elden Ring. So much so that I had to set it aside for several months before returning to it and finding my issues to have mostly been resolved.

Dark Souls III Ashes of Ariandel DLC was also hit hard on Steam

Ashes of Ariandel official concept art.
Image via Bandai Namco

But if we look back to October 2016, when Elden Ring developer FromSoftware released the Ashes of Ariandel DLC for their hit game Dark Souls III, we can see that this title too was panned by users on Steam, with 2,254 negative reviews compared to 3,273 positive reviews. The DLC is currently sitting at a 71 on Metacritic right now, garnering a "Mixed or Average" critics score. This isn't exactly a great score, and speaking frankly from personal experience, it's absolutely deserved. For a DLC that wasn't trying to go for the enormous scale that Shadow of the Erdtree has to offer, instead opting for a more focused and contained experience, the cracks on show in Ashes of Ariandel feel more foundational.

Ashes of Ariandel was the first major DLC released for Dark Souls 3, and it didn't set a great precedent. One of the first and most shocking issues with it was its incredibly short overall playtime. For anyone with a mid level character, you could push through the entire package in an hour or two, which considering the scale of Dark Souls 3, and considering the hefty price tag of $15 (which hasn't seen much in the way of reduction despite being nearly a decade old), people felt perhaps more than a little robbed.

It's not as if those handful of hours were particularly exciting either, as Ashes of Ariandel had little substance; it was a collection of (admittedly) visually impressive environments interlaced with nothing more than a ridiculous amount of hostiles, which had very annoying tendency to gang up on you, and one very impressive final boss (a critique that has been coming up more and more in the negative reviews for Shadow of the Erdtree).

Many players (myself included) were irked by the clear lost potential, and some strong showcases of that FromSoftware skill we've all grown to appreciate. Sister Friede is one of the best bosses in the entirety of Dark Souls 3 in my opinion, and that's a sentiment shared by a lot of the player base. Sister Friede (and her dad) offered a challenging fight, set in a great arena, with an impeccable soundtrack and a visually and mechanically impressive three phases. But, Sister Friede is often the only thing you'll hear discussed at length from Ashes of Ariandel, which doesn't bode particularly well as to the quality of the product as a whole.

You couldn't pay me to remember a particular area name, or a particular piece of loot from Ashes of Ariandel, whereas I could tell you exactly what I was thinking when I first touched the egg and got to see the future of Lordran in The Ringed City.

If I were to describe The Ringed City in a single word, it would be final. If I were to describe Ashes of Ariandel in the same way... it would be forgettable.

Now as for whether or not Shadow of the Erdtree shares these issues, the answer is a simple no. Shadow of the Erdtree is not a perfect piece of DLC, and it is absolutely deserving of critique. The difficulty and performance issues aside, Shadow of the Erdtree has some dodgy boss encounters, clear balance issues, and some rather unintuitive navigational paths. (With Shadow Keep coming to mind in that it can lead to either one of the final bosses, an end-game area, or an early game boss, and some extra areas to explore at any level.)

Is all of this deserving of the influx of negative reviews it's getting? No, but my hunch as to why Shadow of the Erdtree is getting so much flack on Steam is that in the midst of such glowing critical praise and a skyrocketing player count, a relatively small but highly outspoken minority of players need to air their grievances somewhere. And what better place to do so than in Steam reviews, where voicing your frustrations can have a palpable effect on a game's user review rating?

What's for sure is FromSoftware desperately needs to fix the expansion's performance issues (the 1.12.2 update reportedly has not helped). What I'm not so sure about is whether Shadow of the Erdtree's "Mixed" rating on Steam will last as long as Ashes of Ariandel's. Eight years is a long time – and a lot can change in that time. Hopefully people soon see the distinct quality on offer despite the issues, and it can return to the rating it deserves, whilst also ensuring these critiques are made known in a constructive manner.

Curious as to whether someone has achieved a hitless final boss run in Shadow of the Erdtree? Then be sure to take a look at our piece on the World’s first hitless Shadow of the Erdtree final boss run has been achieved on Pro Game Guides.


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Author
Image of Ivan Krasnov
Ivan Krasnov
Ivan Krasnov has been a writer for over 7 years. His areas of interest include shooters like Call of Duty, Apex Legends, and The Finals, but also RPGs like Cyberpunk: 2077 and the Dishonored franchise and single-player experiences like God of War and The Last of Us. Ivan has a double major in History and Russian from Oberlin College and when he isn't gaming – he is playing music and touring Europe with his band.
Author
Image of Connell Watson
Connell Watson
Hotline Miami understander, rat aficionado, lover of boomer shooters - Freelance Writer at ProGameGuides.

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Shadow of the Erdtree isn’t the first FromSoftware DLC to get blasted on Steam

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