‘Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree’ Returns With Glorious New Plains And Familiar Pains – Preview

Miqeulla’s arm hangs freely from the fleshy cocoon behind Mohg during the showdown with the Lord of Blood. Ripped from the Haligtree he embedded himself in, the late Mohg hoped to raise him to godhood but alas, ye Tarnished sealed off that path for good. Stepping into the darkness of his grotesque incubator, the veiled Realm of Shadow shows itself, where another of Marika’s children, Mesmer The Impaler, possesses ambitions unknown but one definitely larger than our own. 

Geek Preview – Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Two years after the release of Elden Ring, the highly-anticipated Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is back to test the mettle of players. Death, overconfidence, and mistakes are all well-trodden paths for those who’ve previously thrown the gauntlet, but the painful combination makes victory all the more sweet and vindicating. It’s been the defining trait of developer FromSoftware’s Souls-like games since its inception, and this upcoming outing expectedly promises a glorious return to the comforting, masochistic formula – if a four-hour hands-on session is any indication. 

As the studio’s biggest expansion to date, there’s a lot of content laying in wait for players. The world, for one, is now much bigger, with the new area extending past the expanse of Limgrave, roughly the same size as the map for Dark Souls 3. A small part of the map was set aside for the preview, featuring two main dungeons, a couple of medium-to-small dungeons including the Western Nameless Mausoleum and Belurat Gaol housing Demi-Human Swordmaster Onze, and several unique enemies along the way. There will be familiar sights, such as crumbling gothic structures, castles in the distance, and ominous gates that can accommodate the largest of giants, shrouded in the literal shadow of the Erdtree, which serves as a nice little nod to its DLC namesake. 

Geek Preview – Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree (2)

On one end of the area that we were permitted to traverse, Castle Ensis – and home to Rellana, Twin Moon Knight – stands defiant of the light with impaled bodies. The streets are desolate with hostile forces patrolling them with dogs, as well as caves and rooms where light cannot reach, allowing mold and dread to set into the stones that make up the walls. Blue-tinted spells by familiar sorcerers and a lone Carian Knight stand in the path of an area guarded by the Twin Moon Knight: a classic dungeon that presents a more-than-adequate challenge for Veterans. 

Yet, something about the air feels more menacing than usual, and the new enemies are quick to dish out that reminder. After all, there’s a good reason why players have to defeat both Radahn and Mohg before venturing into the Realm of Shadow – they are more aggressive than before, with interesting, irregular attack patterns and timings that newcomers will likely struggle with. While regulars should be able to get into the groove of things fairly easily, it’d be prudent to not fall into the pitfall of complacency (business as usual), as the bosses are no walk in the park.

Geek Preview – Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree (3)

Enter the Divine Beast Dancing Lion, a menace in every sense of the word. Residing in Belurat, Tower Settlement, a once lively town that has become nothing but a shadow of its former glory, it will be a fight to remember. Without spoiling too much, its movements are similar to what Lion Dance troupes in East-Asian culture would execute, complete with the fluidity of the performers – or in this case, grafted hands and legs – moving as one with finesse. Going toe-to-toe against it as a Level 150 Warrior proved to be a challenging experience, even with an inventory of weapons at +25 enchantments and stacked with a number of Talismans to increase health capacity and negate physical damage, as the boss brings wide elemental area of effect (AoE) attacks to the battlefield.

As such, you would need to defeat the earlier mentioned Radahn and Mohg, and max out your weapon levels as much as possible before heading in. It’d also be ideal for returning players to build new characters from scratch in order to hone skills, re-familiarise themselves with their desired builds, and farm for runes to be sufficiently leveled for Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

Spicing up the combat experience is the addition of around 100 new weapons and eight weapon types. Between fist wraps that allow players to execute palm strikes on horseback (yes, you read that right) and unleash Kung Fu Hustle-esque moves, a chinese-inspired sword that unleashes whirlwind attacks, and combat-viable throwing knives that conjure up in the hand, slaying enemies was an absolute joy. 

Four hours barely scratches the surface of Hidetaka Miyazaki and FromSoftware’s ingenuity, but Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is shaping up to be a glorious return to new plains and familiar pains. It packs something for different kinds of Tarnished, with combat enthusiasts taking delight in the new weapon additions and familiar rush of adrenaline, and scholars of the game’s lore looking forward to a new story. Meanwhile, the resident adventurer can expect to explore vast landscapes, discovering hidden secrets in every nook and cranny of the map. With all of this content, it’d be easy to mistake it as a whole sequel on its own, and not a companion narrative to the base title. 

Rise again ye Tarnished, and prepare to die.

Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree releases 21 June on all platforms.