Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review — Tarnished But Whole

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review

It’s been almost 2.5 years since Elden Ring became a pop culture phenomenon, selling a staggering 25 million copies to date. Fans have been eagerly awaiting the expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree, which expands onto the main story of the base game and introduces the Tarnished to a new area — the Shadow Realm.

Before we dive into the review, there are a few things you must know. To gain access to the Shadow Realm, you must first have slain two of the main bosses in Elden Ring. These are Starscourge Radahn and Mohg, Lord of Blood. Once those two are out of the way, you meet Needle Knight Leda, who invites you to join her and her compatriots in searching for Miquella (the brother of Malenia) in the Shadow Realm. That is as far in detail as I will go to avoid spoilers. After all, Elden Ring is about the exploration and unique journeys players create along the way.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree
First steps into the Shadow Realm | FromSoftware

Shadow of the Erdtree dives into lore touched on in the base game and is not afraid to explore it further. I’m not fully invested in Elden Ring’s lore. It’s a lot to digest. But I fully expect some deep lore videos to be surfacing on YouTube once the fans deep-dive into every nook and cranny the Shadow Realm has to offer – and I’m excited about that.

The Shadow Realm is a forsaken place. Everything in it is dead, dying, or dilapidating. Exploration in Shadow of the Erdtree felt endless, just like the base game. Of course, it doesn’t quite get as large in scale as the main map, but the $55 price tag on this expansion is well justified with the content provided. The Erdtree dominates the horizon no matter where you are in the overworld, and whether you are standing in a nice green field or a rotted slush pit, there’s always a gorgeous view of the Erdtree. FromSoftware has expertly crafted a map that feels so new and original with a bounteous assortment of environments and terrain to explore.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Review
Exploring on my trusty Spectral Steed | FromSoftware

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Two new rare items are introduced in Shadow of the Erdtree, called Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes. These items are found across the Shadow Realm and bless players with stat boosts once activated at Sites of Grace. These stat boosts are only active while in the Shadow Realm and are negated when ventured back to The Lands Between.

Many new equipment and materials can be found in the Shadow Realm, with the most hefty equipment being dropped once a boss is slain. The new equipment, Ashes of War, and Spirit Ashes are fantastic and will encourage players to try different approaches to their combat style. That being said, I popped the platinum trophy on Elden Ring, so I stuck with my overpowered build, which got me through Shadow of the Erdtree just fine.

Absolutely breathtaking scenes thanks to the Erdtree | FromSoftware

FromSoftware loves to cause extreme cases of rage quitting in their games, and I’m happy to say that they have not held back in Shadow of the Erdtree. The main boss battles are extremely challenging, which forced me to change my playstyle countless times. I was stuck on two in particular for hours and hours, but I somehow prevailed after taking a much-needed break. The character designs are what you would expect from FromSoftware, with most main bosses hosting an epic cutscene to start the engagement. These cutscenes often indicate a tough battle ahead, so it was bittersweet whenever one would load up.

The soundtrack, like the main game, is integrated with the gameplay so effortlessly. The weight of each moment is felt, particularly in boss fights. At times, the music playing felt deeply personal to the bosses. And let’s face it, you don’t get much dialogue before you are passionately stabbing them with your weapon, so the added personal touch in the music grounds the boss characters quite a bit in the short time you know them. As frustrating as the boss fights may be, they are the most well-directed and cohesive aspects of the game.

Diverse landscapes can be found in the Shadow Realm | FromSoftware

The whole time I was playing Shadow of the Erdtree, I felt so much joy (in lieu of the healthy frustration that comes with it). I forgot just how much I loved Elden Ring and how proud I felt upon completing it. Riding around unknown lands on your Spectral Steed, exploring dungeons reading messages left by other players, and defeating challenging enemies. It all instantly fills me with a sense of euphoria. This truly is one of the greatest videogames ever made, and if this is the final expansion to Elden Ring, its legacy will live on and stand the test of time.



Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is the expansion that the fans have so eagerly been waiting for. With more brutal challenges and exploration around every new corner, Shadow of the Erdtree is a masterclass expansion on par with the most exceptional expansions of all time, such as The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine DLC and Cyberpunk 2077’s Phantom Liberty.


  • An extremely great amount of content
  • Shadow Realm has many different breathtaking environments to explore
  • The exploration in this game is still enthralling
  • Soundtrack still slaps
  • Story is engaging, even if you aren’t a lore buff
  • Challenging boss fights 



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