We’ve already played the Elden Ring DLC and we confirm: It’s t expansion that prepares a real earthquake among fans

Tran Hanh
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June 07, 2024

We played for three hours to Shadow of the Erdtree, the Elden Ring expansion that prepares a real earthquake among fans.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

It looks like Hidetaka Miyazaki has done it again. During the chat before our Shadows of the Erdtree hands-on, the Bandai Namco representative sent us a message from FromSoftware HQ. They apologized for not being present at the event and for taking longer than expected to release the huge Elden Ring expansion.

The fact that this is the largest piece of additional content in the studio’s history is not just a cool marketing slogan. It’s a real promise, one that’s palpable during the three hours we spend experiencing the hostilities of the Land of Shadow. Imagine the overstuffed packaging of The Old Hunters mixed with the level design of The Ringed City, only now brought to the open world with the same sickening attention to detail we enjoyed in the game. If Elden Ring was FromSoftware’s Sagrada Familia, Shadow of the Erdtree is its Sistine Chapel.

Miquella’s Call Has Already Been Heard

The gameplay session put the expansion on an honest footing with the professionals in attendance. We experienced the expansion’s introduction and first steps just as players will on June 21st. The entrance is the one we all knew: the palace of Mohg and the shadowy mummified arm of the egg that protected the shadowy boss.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree - Impresiones ya lo hemos jugado DLC

In The Lands Between, we meet the character of Leda, the leader of this group of characters who travel to the Land of Shadow to answer Miquella’s call. We met the young woman and the rest of her companions in the story trailer, but playing the game will reveal From Software’s intention in placing them in the world. The expansion draws heavily on all the lore they used in the base game, and here they close some circles through the disciples of several of the story’s protagonists.

The introduction is sober. No video scenes, no scripted elements: the first moments of Shadow of the Erdtree interactively color the official art that confirmed its development in February 2023. This field of ghostly tombstones outlines a hill that reflects on the horizon the enormous golden cry of the Erdtree of these lands. Aesthetically, it is unrivaled: it is one of the team’s best works, and at times, it even surpasses the base game.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree - Impresiones ya lo hemos jugado DLC

Our perspective from this point is as follows: on the left and in the center of the image are two huge castles that seem to call out to us to make our way through the world. We are particularly struck by the castle on the left. It seems to be made up of two parts. The lower part is a traditional castle, supported by a huge staircase that leads us inside. Meanwhile, in the upper part, it seems to merge with the towers of a castle formed by shadows, as if it were not real. It is difficult to describe in words, but we assure you that it is a real visual scandal.

Open world? Yes, but with an important twist

Miyazaki warned in his comments over the past few months that the expansion would be more modest in size than what we saw in Lands Between, comparing it to taking up the entire playable area of Limgrave. The few snippets of the map that we found suggest that, but what we didn’t expect was the way he designed the world.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree - Impresiones ya lo hemos jugado DLC

You might see a patch of map in the distance, or a castle that you could just walk straight to, but Miyazaki’s team has designed Land of Shadow so that in order to progress, you must make your way through several areas that act as checkpoints. The castle in the center of the screen is, shall we say, the way out of the starting zone, while the other one on the left serves as an important warm-up for what’s to come as the challenge increases. By comparison, it could be likened to the moment when you walk around the wall of the Altus Plateau to get to the outskirts of the capital without using the first medallion, only here it’s a beast.

It’s great. The map is very dense. Along the way, we find lakes, abandoned villages, character camps that give little touches to the world, optional dungeons… All the pieces are there. And we insist on the word “dense”. The castles are full of undisclosed enemies roaming freely in the typical labyrinthine-level design we have come to expect from this type of building. There are a lot of secrets that our companions have discovered that we have not, and vice versa.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree - Impresiones ya lo hemos jugado DLC

We can already see how certain elements will affect the future of our raid. Miquella’s crosses, seen in the latest trailer, are linked to a side mission that promises to clear up some unknowns about the character, and mystery surrounds the expansion at all levels. What lights our inner fire more than ever is seeing different structures that we can’t tell you about yet and thinking about the number of levels, bosses, and secrets that will be inside.

Moderate challenge, but not for newcomers

One of the million dollar questions is what level of difficulty we are at during the expansion. It must be said that the new stat system is not a system as such. In the Lands Between, we find two items that increase damage and defense for both our character and the Ashes of War. Their appearance is similar to the Golden Seeds from the base game. They are rare and must be redeemed in any Grace to add them to our locker.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree - Impresiones ya lo hemos jugado DLC

This bonus to the performance of the two aspects mentioned is exclusive to the Land of Shadow. Once you leave it, it has no effect on the lands in between. It’s a way to boost stats without having to keep scaling character-specific traits and summons. The jump between having one more or one less is important when facing bosses. Trust us, you will want to keep it in mind.

During the session, we got to face two bosses. The first was a kind of Chinese ceremonial dragon that we saw in the promotional material. Killing the Divine Beast is key to the plot’s progression. Without revealing its movements, we can tell you that it will catch more than one of you off guard. It is not a difficult boss in terms of movement, but it is challenging and requires our full attention.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree - Impresiones ya lo hemos jugado DLC

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The second boss surprises us with its story and context. Of the two, it’s the only one that allows us to summon up to two NPCs at once, which is obviously very bad for its health. It has two special attacks that will send more than one to the screen, although with patience it can be knocked down without a problem. We find more difficulty in the transition moments than at the end of each zone, but it is clear that this is only the beginning.

Hype soars

On a cloud. We ended the session with tired hands and slowed minds after the speedrun we had to do to see everything Shadow of the Erdtree had to offer in its introduction. It is clear to us that the ambition of the team has been captured here without cracks. It’s not for nothing that it’s catalogued as the biggest expansion in From Software’s history. Furthermore, it grabs you, pulls you in, and takes you back to the mystique of those first weeks of discovering the Elden Ring. The road to Messmer the Impaler will be full of emotion in every way.

Review : 4.3/12
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