Published On: Wed, Jul 10th, 2024
Entertainment | 4,786 views

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is near perfect – but here’s what I would change | Gaming | Entertainment


After 50+ hours of exploring the Realm of Shadow, I’ve finally bested the final boss and (for now, at least) finished Elden Ring’s sublime Shadow of the Erdtree expansion. While I was initially taken back by the seemingly high price of the DLC (£34.99 in the UK), I can now confidently say that Shadow of the Erdtree is worth every penny. The Elden Ring expansion is an absolute masterpiece, featuring some of the best boss fights in FromSoftware history, not to mention a huge and absolutely stunning world to explore. When the DLC launched, there was a lot of talk about the difficulty of the game, but for me personally, this wasn’t an issue in the slightest. Is it tough? Yes, of course, but this is a FromSoftware game, so what did you expect? Elden Ring gives players the tools they need to succeed, whether it’s the ability to respec your character, or call upon Spirit Ashes to aid you in battle. If you’re willing to grind and fully explore the world, chances are you’ll be strong enough to overcome any challenge, especially if you’re patient and spend the time learning attack patterns and opportunities to punish. However, while I loved every minute of my time in the Realm of Shadow, there are a few things I think FromSoftware could have done to improve the experience, which I’ll talk about below.

Warning – Minor Shadow of the Erdtree spoilers to follow.

1. Give me one more Legacy Dungeon

This one is arguably more about me being greedy rather than something you can hold against FromSoftware. There is, however, an old saying about leaving people wanting more, and I think this applies to Shadow of the Erdtree (it also ties into my next point).

Shadow of the Erdtree contains two major Legacy Dungeons, which are every bit as expansive and intricately designed as anything found in past FromSoftware releases. Shadow Keep, in particular, is one of the best “dungeons” they’ve ever created.

Sure, there are a few smaller dungeons, caves and gaols that you can explore, but I really wish there was just one more major location in the DLC, complete with all the shortcuts, secrets and unique enemy encounters that we’ve come to expect from the masters of level design.

Still, for less than the price of a full triple-A blockbuster, I can’t complain too much about the lack of sizeable dungeons, but there’s still a part of me that can’t help wanting more.

2. Make better use of Shadow of the Erdtree’s impressive map

This ties into my previous point, but in my opinion, is a much bigger problem. From the dazzling Cerulean Coast to the ominous Abyssal Woods and spectacular Jagged Peaks, Shadow of the Erdtree’s surprisingly vast map is jam-packed with stunning locations to discover.

However, if you were to simply follow the main questline, your journey would be limited to the northern part of the map. This means you would miss out on some of the best locations the DLC has to offer.

I’m all for hidden areas that fill in lore blanks and contain new and useful items, but I think there’s a disproportionate number of these optional areas in Shadow of the Erdtree.

Abyssal Woods, for example, is the perfect hidden area, and I would argue that the same goes for Jagged Peaks. Abyssal Woods, in particular, has a unique gameplay gimmick, which culminates in a fantastic minor dungeon with a brilliant boss battle. If by some small chance I missed this area during my first playthrough, I would have been straight back into the DLC to find it and put things right.

Personally, I think Cerculean Coast should have contained a legacy dungeon that was mandatory for finishing the main questline. While I realise that there is a great location with some major lore implications that’s easy to miss, I think FromSoftware should have taken the quest down south, perhaps to find an item or NPC necessary to finish the main story.

Not only would this have given players a greater incentive to explore this beautiful area, but it would have made the quest feel that much more epic.

3. Too many recycled assets and enemy encounters

Admittedly, I am kind of torn about this one, although it is a problem that carries over from the main game.

Elden Ring features the best open-world of any game, rivalled only perhaps by heavyweights such as Skyrim, The Witcher 3 and GTA 5. Crafting a unique and compelling world is no easy feat, and I genuinely believe that FromSoftware has done as good a job as anybody when it comes to designing a world that you want to get lost in.

Even so, there are quite a few areas that are copy and pasted, particularly mausoleums, caves and gaols. While it does kind of make logical sense for these locations to feature similar enemies and bosses, it does also feel a bit like filler.

Likewise, when you encounter a previous boss multiple times in the wild (like the Hippopotamus, for example), it takes away and diminishes the impact of that initial boss encounter.

4. We want Bloodborne on PC, or better yet, Bloodborne 2

OK, this one has absolutely nothing to do with Elden Ring, but come on FromSoftware and Sony, give the fans what they want!



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