Best Early Shadow Of The Erdtree Weapons And Armor In Elden Ring
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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree review – One brings shadow

From Software does it again.

There’s not much that can be said about Elden Ring that hasn’t already been said, which is why the prospect of more Elden Ring is so exciting. A follow-up to one of the greatest games ever created has unbelievable expectations placed upon it, but somehow, From Software has smashed those expectations yet again.

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Shadow of the Erdtree is a massive expansion to Elden Ring, sending players to the Land of Shadow to follow in Miquella’s footsteps. It’s an exciting extension of Elden Ring’s combat and difficulty, building off of endgame characters and content, and it’s also full of interesting reveals about the game’s world and lore. Shadow of the Erdtree boasts some of the coolest zones, strongest weapons, and most exciting content in all of Elden Ring, but boy is it hard.

Elden Ring Shadow Of The Erdtree Furnace Golem Feet
Screenshot: PC Invasion

The DLC’s difficulty begins well before it even starts since Shadow of the Erdtree requires you to defeat both Radahn and Mohg before you can access it. This requires a base game character well over level 100 with plenty of upgrades under your belt, so just getting to the DLC is hard enough for most people. Roughly 40% of Steam players have the achievement awarded for beating Mohg two years after release, so more than half of the Elden Ring player base can’t even start Shadow of the Erdtree to begin with.

From Software definitely had these requirements in mind when designing Shadow of the Erdtree, though, because the Land of Shadow is one of the most punishing things the developer has ever put out. Shadow of the Erdtree is Elden Ring cranked up to 11 — for better and for worse.

How The Shadow Of The Erdtree Leveling System Works In Elden Ring, Explained Featured Image
Image: FromSoftware

Shadow of the Erdtree has some of the best bosses, most beautiful areas, and the biggest lore drops in all of Elden Ring, but you won’t be able to rush through it all even with a broken build from the base game. Shadow of the Erdtree employs an entirely unique progression system in the form of Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes — items that boost your stats specifically for the DLC zones — and every aspect of the expansion is affected by them in some way. Every compliment or complaint you can have about Shadow of the Erdtree can be traced back to this progression system.

To put it simply, you’ll get rocked by even the smallest enemies in the Land of Shadow unless you explore the world and seek out Scadutree Fragments to boost your damage output and damage resistance. A good chunk of these are on the main path through the DLC, but you’ll still need to seek them out in optional areas if you want to have an easier time against bosses.

The Scadutree Fragement system is brilliant on paper. It’s a way to reset players back to square one without forcing them to create new characters. The joy of Elden Ring and games like it comes from exploration, never knowing what’s around the next corner or what new weapons await you at the bottom of the next cave. Even with a perfected build and the strongest weapons from the base game, veteran players are forced to relive early-game Elden Ring all over again to collect Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes.

Elden Ring Shadow Of The Erdtree Belurat Tower Settlement Miquella Cross
Screenshot: PC Invasion

This is also why a huge chunk of the map of the Land of Shadow is entirely optional. You can entirely miss areas like the Cerulean Coast on the southern shore of the map unless you take very specific routes through other regions, making new zones feel like treasures in and of themselves. The search for Scadutree Fragments and other upgrades brings players to these areas naturally after they hit a wall like Rellana in the Castle Ensis dungeon, and the not-so-obvious routes to reach them encourage word-of-mouth discussions and smart use of the in-game messaging system.

All of this is peak Elden Ring, but it comes at a cost. When Scadutree Fragments are so coveted, everything else feels like a disappointment in comparison. This is made even worse by the DLC’s prerequisites, as most players will likely have maxed-out weapons and a curated build by the time they reach the Land of Shadow. Delving deep into an abandoned mine only to be met with Smithing Stones just feels like a waste of time. The inherent joy of exploration fizzles out slowly as the game continues to dole out rewards like this.

That’s not to say everything in Shadow of the Erdtree is lame, though. The majority of the new items in the DLC are quite exciting, and the new weapon archetypes in particular are some of the coolest that From Software has ever designed. Hand-to-Hand combat is raw as hell, and the new Light Greatswords are a perfect hybrid between traditional Strength and Dexterity weapons. These are just so rare compared to everything else in the Land of Shadow, especially when you consider how massive the map actually is.

Where To Find The Great Katana In Elden Ring Shadow Of The Erdtree
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Pre-release marketing claimed that the Shadow of the Erdtree map would just be the size of Limgrave, the starting region in the base Elden Ring game. That’s not entirely true, however, as the Land of Shadow is actually a little over half the size of the base game map. There’s also an unprecedented level of verticality on display here, too, which makes the map appear deceptively small. There are so many moments where you’ll look over a cliff with a seemingly endless drop only to find yourself at the bottom of that cliff hours later in a new region that you were sure wasn’t even playable.

It’s clear that From Software applied the lessons it learned from Elden Ring and went even further with Shadow of the Erdtree in such a way that this could have been sold as a full-on sequel. The verticality, for example, is a masterful extension of the sprawling and winding map layout of the base game. The boss fights build on mechanics from the vanilla adventure, too, forcing you to use every tool at your disposal to survive. There’s even a more structured narrative at play in Shadow of the Erdtree as well, something that many players are sure to appreciate.

You’re tasked with following Miquella through the Land of Shadow, which is a great setup that places you on a linear path with a clear objective. The crosses throughout the map serve as landmarks and gathering points for the small band of warriors who are also following in Miquella’s footsteps, a group that you’ll quickly get to know. Plus, the fact that Shadow of the Erdtree requires players to beat most of the game base means the writers can build off of existing lore in interesting ways. There are still massive lore drops relegated to item descriptions and inferences, but Shadow of the Erdtree is a huge step up in the storytelling department for From Software.

Best Early Talismans In Elden Ring Shadow Of The Erdtree
Image: FromSoftware

Ultimately, Shadow of the Erdtree is a stellar second course for Elden Ring fans. It’s a massive, mind-bendingly deep adventure that pushes you to your absolute limit, forcing you to use everything you’ve learned from dozens of hours in the Lands Between to survive the Land of Shadow. It’s a punishing experience that will push back harder than anything else you’ve ever played, but it’s remarkably rewarding.

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is an outstanding addition to one of the greatest games of all time.

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Diego Perez
Currently serving as a Senior Staff Writer at PC Invasion, Diego Perez has been writing about video games since 2018, specializing in live service games like Destiny and Final Fantasy XIV. His work is featured at publications like Game Rant and Attack of the Fanboy (where he served as Associate Editor), but PC Invasion is home to his best work. When he's planning content or writing guides, he's yelling about Ape Escape or grinding Lost Sectors in Destiny. Plus, he has a Bachelor of Science in Telecommunication Media Studies for Texas A&M University.