Mesmer's soldier sword piercing blow proves fatal in Shadow of the Erdtree Elden Ring
Screenshot via The Escapist

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Is More of the Same Frustrating Fun (Review)

We hope you missed dying.

It’s been over two years since Elden Ring first arrived and while you’ve probably changed in that time, this game hasn’t. It’s still the masterpiece it was at launch, and now Shadow of the Erdtree has made it even greater.

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Shadow of the Erdtree isn’t a completely new game, but it boasts more than enough content to justify the cost. Shadow the Erdtree is the breath of life Elden Ring needed as fans wait for what FromSoftware is cooking next.

With its stunning visuals, new weapons, and many boss fights, Shadow of the Erdtree will have you screaming and throwing your controller for hours (in the best kind of way). While it’s by no means perfect, this DLC will transport you right back into the world of Elden Ring like you never left.

Welcome to the Shadow Realm

First steps into the Shadow Realm in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot via The Escapist

Elden Ring’s first DLC takes us to a new map, the Shadow Realm, and while at first its structures might seem small, these new areas are built out with verticality. Castles can look basic but once you start going up staircases, taking lifts, or you simply step outside and look to the sky, you’ll notice there’s a lot more to it.

There will be no hand-holding in Shadow of the Erdtree. Just like in the base game, you are set out into the open world with the option to explore or head to one of the new legacy dungeons. These legacy dungeons will make up the bulk of Shadow of the Erdtree’s main narrative, and if you’re adequately leveled you can start attempting them right away. However, it’s when you start exploring that this DLC will remind you what made Elden Ring so great.

There’s an abundance of optional bosses for you to find and conquer throughout the Shadow Realm, and this is where Shadow of the Erdtree makes it abundantly clear, it is not a new game, it’s just an expansion. Some of the roaming bosses and enemies are remixed versions of those you’d encounter in The Lands Between, and while there are plenty of fresh foes to spice things up, nobody will blame you for growing tired of killing dragons over and over again.

New Bosses, New Problems

Mesmer Shadow of the Erdtree Elden Ring artwork
Image via Bandai Namco / FromSoftware

Shadow of the Erdtree shines thanks to its story bosses. All of these enemies feel unique, powerful, and as terrifying as those who haunt The Lands Between. They’ve done a great job at balancing the level scaling, and essentially nerfing players inside the Shadow Realm so that no one can simply mow down these bosses because they’ve been grinding the base game for the last two years. Some bosses even provide incentives to try out the DLC’s new weapons.

These new weapon classes feel great and add even more variety to the already expansive range of ways to kill. I started my adventure through Shadow of the Erdtree with the Great Katana, a new bigger variant of the Katana, but the Thrusting Shield really stole my heart by the end. Whatever way you like to play there’s bound to be something in this new arsenal that satisfies you, so it’s worth giving them all a try.

Exactly What Elden Ring Needed

The dancing lion Shadow of the Erdtree Elden Ring
Screenshot via The Escapist

If you’re going into Shadow of the Erdtree hoping for Elden Ring 2 then sadly you will leave disappointed. However, the expansion is more than what you would typically expect from DLC. It’s the perfect compliment to what we already have that should be sufficient to tide you over until a completely new game arrives.

Simply put, Shadow of the Erdtree feels just like Elden Ring, and that’s exactly what it was made for.

It won’t be winning over any new players. If you weren’t a fan of Elden Ring initially then you won’t like this, but given the millions of people who have already fallen in love with the FromSoftware title, I don’t suspect there will be many customers unhappy with Shadow of the Erdtree.

Verdict: Must-Play

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is available June 21, 2024, on Steam, PlayStation, and Xbox. A copy of this DLC was provided by the publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 5.

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Ryan Galloway
Ryan is a Senior Staff Writer for The Escapist who has been working at GAMURS since 2020. He covers a wide variety of topics between anime and gaming and boasts a degree in Journalism from Murdoch University. Email: [email protected]