Shadow of the Erdtree Hands-On Report – PlayStation.Blog

The land of darkness is calling.

After more than two years of waiting, Shadow of the Erdtree, the massive DLC for Elden Ring, is only a few weeks away. FromSoftware didn’t spend those years receiving the accolades that their first open-world adventure received; Instead, they worked hard on this project, their largest and most ambitious expansion ever.

When I recently had the chance to practice Shadow of the Erdtree, even the small slice I saw made it easy to remember why Elden Ring is so beloved. Arise, be tarnished, and hear of the things I have seen.

We’re not in Limgrave anymore

Shadow of the Erdtree takes place in a completely new area, called the Land of Shadow, and can be accessed by touching the mummified arm found in Mohgwyn Palace in the base game. It is here that Miquella, a character often mentioned but never seen in the main game, travels to in the game’s lore.

The part I explored opened up with a vast grassland filled with tombstones and dark spirits. From afar, I could clearly see what awaited me: a vast settlement, a vast castle, and a dark forest looming on the horizon. On top of that, a giant tree stands there, charred black and gnarled, in stark contrast to the golden tree seen in the main game’s scenery.

While areas in the original game often glowed with autumnal warmth, the dry grass and dying shrubs of this area feel ancient and forlorn. The dungeons and fortresses I explored—Belurat Tower Settlement and Ensis Castle—were claustrophobic and stacked on top of each other. They are filled with winding paths and hidden shortcuts, opening up paths back to the Sites of Grace. I fought through flooded dungeons, lava-filled chasms, and forests alive with an eerie green glow.

Fresh yet familiar, The Land of Shadow feels like a natural extension to The Lands Between and FromSoftware’s mastery of level design is on display here in glorious form.

New opponents are waiting

It wouldn’t be a FromSoftware update without new enemies to face, and in that regard, Shadow of the Erdtree comes out in full swing. The first enemy I faced swooped down on me from atop a pillar and quickly brought me back to the Site of Grace. Then I faced ax-wielding ghosts, birds breathing deadly magic, and knights more dangerous than anything I’d ever encountered before. Huge, fiery beasts hurled brimstone at me shortly after I began my journey, setting the scene for the rest of my time there.

And then there are the bosses. Shadow of the Erdtee will feature over 10 full bosses and additional sub-bosses. Some are required to progress the story and others can be challenged as you feel like it.

I have faced two of these. The first, Devine Beast Dancing Lion, is found in the Belurat Tower Settlement and feels like that classic FromSoftware early-game skill test. The grotesque beast charged across the arena to attack, using a mixture of elemental abilities to keep me on my feet before crushing my poor wizard over and over again.

The second was the magic-using Twin Moon Knight, one of the defenders of Ensis Castle, who used a special double attack on the full moon that filled the entire arena with magical explosions. This devastating ability is difficult to avoid and hurls me into the air before slamming me back down to earth, often with lethal force. And if the twin moon doesn’t do the trick for you, the combination of either of their two pyro-infused blades and glitter stones will.

One thing that was consistent between every enemy I faced was their speed and agility. Without exception, the inhabitants of the Shadowlands felt dangerous even from afar thanks to their ability to sprint, jump, and spin through the air to reach me. Enemies move fast. It’s hard to say whether this is unique to the area I explored, but players should be prepared to get very Get used to that dodge button.

Rebuild your arsenal

Shadow of the Erdtree will introduce about a hundred new weapons for players to explore. From the start, I chose a Greatsword-sized katana, which deals fire damage when it makes contact, and a combat shield with large metal spikes on the edge, turning this protective item into an offensive tool.

Players can also discover eight completely new weapon types. Details about many of these are currently being kept secret, but I was given access to one: Martial Arts.

This new genre allows me to engage in bare-knuckle combat, delivering heavy punches and straight kicks to my opponents. Just like other weapon types, Martial Arts can be assigned a Skill to suit your play style, and I found myself taking a few of the boss’s books by jumping into the air and delivering a series of shots kick at his enemies.

Fighting with bare hands may seem crazy in this world, but I find it remarkably effective. The linear impact of the blows makes it easier to break the enemy’s stance, leaving them open for a quick and deadly finishing blow. Using martial arts is a joy, and if the other new categories are even half the fun, Tarnished will keep you excited about the new weapons.

Strengthen yourself with Grace

Shadow of the Erdtree introduces a new system, called Shadow Realm Blessing, to help level the playing field a bit. Brave adventurers have the opportunity to find and use a new consumable to apply a stackable buff that negates some incoming damage and increases the damage you deal for opponents in the Shadowlands.

This consumable item, Scadutree Fragment, is rare, but can be found scattered around the world if you look closely. Usable only at Sites of Grace, the number of buffs needed for the next buff level increases with each use, but finding them can make your journey a little less strenuous. Of course, if you fancy a tougher challenge, using Scadutree Shards is completely optional and the buff has no effect outside of the Shadowlands.

Shadow of the Erdtree is shaping up to be a worthy expansion to FromSoftware’s already legendary adventure. If you’ve been away from Elden Ring for a while, jumping into this new area will feel comfortingly familiar, but even for veterans, there’s plenty to explore.

Elder Ring: Shadow of Erdtree Launches June 21 for PS5 and PS4 and requires Elden Ring base game play.

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