I’m sure that most gamers weren’t expecting FromSoftware to suddenly announce that Elden Ring would be receiving a DLC expansion called Shadow of the Erdtree with absolutely no fanfare. Regardless, to many, this is nothing but good news, as Elden Ring was arguably the most popular game of last year and cleared 20 million sales in the span of a year. For FromSoft to simply announce the DLC and then provide no details is a show of confidence on its part and almost instantly made me want to go back into the Lands Between once more. However, with no real confirmation of a release window or anything to go on besides the name, what could we possibly expect from Shadow of the Erdtree? Well, based on how the developer has handled previous DLC within the Souls series, we can make some reasoned predictions and keep our expectations realistic.
First of all, it’s fairly safe to assume that Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is going to add some new area to the Lands Between for us to explore. Whether that area is directly connected to what was already established is more debatable, as Dark Souls III’s first DLC, Ashes of Ariandel, was entirely removed from the world, as was the case with Bloodborne: The Old Hunters. Most likely if you’re going to want to gain access to this DLC in-game, you’re going to have to already be fairly familiar with the world and search every nook and cranny for a way to access it, since it probably isn’t going to be haphazardly attached onto what was already present in the base game.
Once we do get in there, we can expect a much stiffer challenge than in the main game. While Elden Ring could fluctuate wildly in terms of difficulty based on when you access certain areas and your own build, traditionally Souls DLC has included some of the hardest challenges within each respective game. When I met them for the first time, Artorias from Dark Souls, Sister Friede and Slave Knight Gael from Dark Souls III, and the Orphan of Kos from Bloodborne were by far some of the hardest fights in their respective games.
FromSoft DLC typically assumes you’ve already mastered the basic mechanics and behaviors of enemies, so it throws wild challenges at you and hopes you survive. I am not looking forward to the day I have to fight a boss that’s even harder than Malenia, but I know there’s going to be a boss like that here. I just know it.
But in terms of how many bosses you can expect to find within Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, you should probably expect to have your hands full with a plethora of bosses, for better or worse. Elden Ring had the most bosses in total out of any Souls game, but that was due in part to repeating several miniboss designs ad nauseum and sometimes pairing up those minibosses together for frankly poorly balanced fights (looking at you, Godskin Duo). So there should be a fair amount of minibosses that litter the world, some of which may be new but some of which may be repeats. There will probably be a handful of original boss fights. On average, new bosses that are included in FromSoftware DLC range from two to five, so go into it with your expectations in check. If there are more than half a dozen of them, I will be shocked.
That’s all well and good, but if you’re someone who is actually able to follow the lore of Elden Ring and the nature of the world, there’s a lot of potential with Shadow of the Erdtree. Adding new story elements has helped to shed light on the worlds of previous games and the characters within them, such as encountering some of the most legendary hunters in Bloodborne and expanding upon one of the Great Ones referred to within the game. There is a lot to unpack within the world of Elden Ring, and it’s always fun to do some minor speculation on what could happen. Plus, if past DLCs are anything to go by, then nothing is off the table, since we can engage in time travel, travel to parallel worlds, or discover some new untold area that no one even knew existed.
Based on the name of the Elden Ring DLC being Shadow of the Erdtree, then it’s highly likely that the story will revolve around some element of the eponymous tree. If so, then it may be possible to see the creation of the tree itself and the war against the giants, which resulted in eradication of the Fire Giants and their Fell God. Might we travel back in time to the Mountaintops of the Giants and engage in that war, killing the Fell God ourselves? Could we be taken back in time to the Night of Black Knives, which led to the Shattering that is still felt in the world of the game? Perhaps we may directly explore some of the fallout of that event, with the DLC maybe taking a focus at the literal shadows of those that exist outside the Golden Order, Those Who Live in Death, or go deep beneath the Erdtree to explore its roots and the corrupting influence of the Deathroot?
This is all speculation of course, but it’s fun to just try and theorize what our next adventure in the Lands Between could be and just how much more time we can spend inside of it. We’ve already seen that FromSoftware is keen to offer high-quality DLC and has brought numerous new features to Elden Ring post-launch. So even if we are conservative about what to expect, Shadow of the Erdtree is a piece of content to keep our eyes on.