Published on June 5th, 2024 | by Nathan Misa

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree DLC hands-on preview

ImpulseGamer recently had the welcome opportunity to visit Bandai Namco in Sydney and check out Elden Ring’’s official DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree, ahead of its June 21, 2024 release. These are our first-hand impressions of FromSoftware’s substantial new content expansion.

Two years and several playthroughs later, Elden Ring (read our review) still stands as FromSoftware’s most compelling and content-packed role-playing game (RPG) to-date, which is quite the feat given the legendary foundations it laid with Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne before it.

Like most Souls fans, I’ve been eagerly awaiting more content for Elden Ring to have another excuse to roll another character, and thankfully, on June 21st, Shadow of the Erdtree is finally launching – and ImpulseGamer were lucky enough to preview what it has to offer ahead of time.

For those unfamiliar, Shadow of the Erdtree is the first and only official expansion add-on for Elden Ring that brings a whole new region to explore called the Land of Shadow. Roughly the size of Limgrave in scale and content, the DLC is set to introduce plenty of new dungeons, field bosses, enemies, weapons, upgrades, and other secrets to dig into for your latest playthrough.

The Land of Shadow is, as expected, physically separated from the map of the Lands Between. The preview opens with our Tarnished in Mohgwyn’s Palace, where a portal to the region opens after you defeat Mohg, Lord of Blood (who also appears to have a big role in the DLC’s story).

The new content, which is arriving just over two years after the original game’s launch, seems geared towards fleshing out the mystery behind Miquella, the twin brother of Malenia who is cursed with eternal youth. Miquella followed his mother, Queen Marika, into the Land of Shadow for reasons unknown, and it seems the DLC is poised to answer these lingering questions, as your Tarnished enters the void alongside a number of other characters with their own motives. These NPCs, including the likes of the stoic Redmane Freyja and collector vendor Moore, offer some ominous advice and opinions about Miquella that lore fanatics will no doubt go crazy over.

In this three-hour preview opportunity, however, it was more about getting an experience of the new region and its dangerous threats. To prepare us, Bandai provided a selection of three classes equipped with many of the 100 new weapons (and 8 new weapon categories) included in the DLC. I opted for the STR build with my Tarnished decked out in Roman-esque Gloried Attire armor and wielding the Smithscript Greathammer, a huge weapon capable of being thrown at enemies using a charged up strong attack, which you can bet I took prompt advantage of. Other new weapon types include items such as the Light Greatsword, Beast Claws and even Perfume Bottles.

Upon entering the Land of Shadow, I was greeted by a rather ghastly landscape called Gravesite Plain, appropriately filled with ghostly graves of fallen soldiers, some of whom still roam the area. This desolate plain stood in stark contrast to the giant titular Erdtree in the horizon, casting a glorious golden hue over the many dark battlements, mountains and forests awaiting exploration ahead, and acting as another reminder of how damn amazing the art direction of this game is.

It was not long before I found a new item called the Scadutree Blessing, which is used at a Site of Grace to boost damage negation, but it only takes effect while you are in the Land of Shadow. The two nearest points-of-interest, Castle Ensis and Fort Belurat, felt very grimdark in score, atmosphere and their local inhabitants, who appeared to be a mixture of undead soldiers, giant ethereal brutes with terror-inspiring range of attack, gargoyle-like eagles, terrifying mummified wasps (exactly as it sounds) and a few one-off surprises, such as a field boss with a flaming torch as its head roaming outside the crossroads to both fortifications. Some familiar (annoying) faces from Raya Lucaria, the Glintstone Sorcerers, are also present in some numbers. Overall, the vibe of the Land of Shadow felt very distinct from the likes of Limgrave or even the horror land-scape of Caelid – a very melancholic, eerie region of ruined regal castles and villages.

With only three hours to explore a small starting area of the Land of Shadow (much of the map still remained unrevealed), I set forth with two goals; beat at least one of the area bosses, and find an even bigger new hammer to smash foes with. The first of these objectives landed me in a 30-minute long battle to beat Fort Belurat’s area boss, the Divine Beast Dancing Lion. This flying beast unleashed a torrent of frostbite and lightning attacks that left no room for error, even with powerful Spirit Ashes, while being able to fly away and dart back and forth with frightening speed.

A DEX build probably would have had an easier time matching its speed, but I put the Greatscript Greathammer to work, focusing on breaking its poise through sheer brutality and well-timed hammer throws to whittle away at its gigantic health-bar. Considering the preview period had our characters with max-level stats and talismans, the significant challenge presented here definitely felt both epic and incredibly rewarding once I did manage to beat it (and I got a rather gnarly helmet of the Divine Beast’s head as a reward, matching my barbarian-themed Tarnished), so it’s safe to say Elden Ring fans can look forward to more ridiculously overpowered bosses.

To close out the look (Fashion Souls is a thing, after all) it was only natural I go and hunt for a bigger, badder hammer to smash things. After a few generous clues from Bandai Europe’s representative Stephen, I was guided in the direction of one of the Land of Shadow’s ‘mid-sized’ dungeons, the Ruined Forge, where gigantic automatons slave away at iron deposits amidst searing hot lava. While this particular dungeon had no area boss, it offered plenty of challenges and secrets, culminating in my retrieval of a unique new colossal weapon, the Anvil Hammer, which had one end seared hot by lava, and had be debating which weapon held up the rule of cool the most for the rest of my preview (a throwable, teleporting hammer is hard to beat)!

Overall, the three hours of preview time flew by, and anyone who has dived into Elden Ring would know how easy it is to get lost just by exploring a random corner of the considerable open-world. From the small time I got to explore the Land of Shadow, it’s already clear that FromSoftware have spent the two years since launch well, and worked hard to provide a well-crafted new region, fresh weapon options, terrifying new enemies and bosses and loads of lore and new story to indulge in. For anybody craving more or looking for an excuse to jump back into 2022’s GOTY, Shadow of the Erdtree easily looks to deliver a must-play content expansion.

About the Author'

A senior writer for and former writer for MMGN and Ninemsn, Nathan has been reviewing video games and interviewing talented developers since 2012. As a nostalgia tragic eternally tied to the glorious 1990s, he's always playing retro gaming classics whenever he's not entrenched in the latest RPG, or talking your ear off about why The First Law book series is better than Game of Thrones - to anyone who dares listen.

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