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The Shadow of the Erdtree sets a new standard for video game expansions

The Shadow of the Erdtree sets a new standard for video game expansions

author image Shreshtha Ahmed |

July 1, 2024 at 10:30 PM BST

Two years ago, FromSoftware released what would become one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, Elden Ring. Naturally, expectations were through the roof for its highly anticipated expansion, The Shadow of the Erdtree. And after 30 hours and hundreds of deaths later, I can safely say that, in typical FromSoft fashion, they absolutely did not disappoint.

Do not be mistaken; this is not your typical expansion. Shadow of the Erdtree delivers more than what today's $70 games fail to even come close to. The world is rich, dense, and filled with points of interest. From the very beginning, it teases you with places you can see but can't reach just away. Paths lead below the surface and reach the highest of the ruins. The game shows you the way where you have to go from the very beginning but encourages you to explore with ludicrous amounts of jaw-dropping visuals. As I was transferred to the realm of shadows and saw the big tree in the distance, I was swiftly reminded of the first time I sat foot in Limgrave, being reminded of my maidenless state by Varre.

Already terrified of what lay ahead, I sat out on my journey to conquer the realm of the shadow. It didn’t take much time before I found myself falling in love with the new weapon types that came with the expansion, such as the Great Katanas, Backhand Blades, etc. On a high, I made my way to slay the giant furnace-looking thing in front of me but was quickly reminded of the fact that this is still a From Software game when it two-shot me before I could even land a hit. But it was not all pain and suffering when I found out about the Scadutree Fragment and the Revered Spirit Ashes which would help me and my spirit buddy survive a bit longer.

Shadow of the Erdtree is, without a doubt, one of From Software's most difficult creations, especially when it comes to bosses. The game pushed me to a point where I died way more times than I would like to admit. As someone who didn't find the base game all that challenging, this expansion humbled me at every point of my journey.

However, even though the bosses are difficult, they're not unfair, which makes the feeling of oh-so-satisfaction even sweeter when you finally beat that one nightmare inducer after getting rammed over and over again by his crazy boar.

There is a saying that you can only truly appreciate FromSoft’s bosses after you beat them. I can finally say, with full confidence, that Erdtree contains some of my favorite boss fights of all time, with a certain frenzied flame-wielding serpent-controlling boss replacing Isshin the sword saint as my all-time favorite. With almost 40 new bosses which contain a dragon fight putting Midir to shame and the final boss making Melania seem like a cakewalk, you will die. A LOT.

Moreover, with secrets in every corner of the world, exploration never felt boring or forced, with areas hidden away in corners of the world just like the base game. Even though the story is simple and easy to follow, you can still delve into and appreciate character quests which, as always, have some of the craziest outcomes and the finest of rewards.

There are a few technical issues to be expected, as is the case with any FromSoft game, mainly pertaining to the boss fights. Gaol Knight and Commander Gaius had very janky hitboxes. The difficulty of the game heavily inclines to these for being the reasons and it is honestly a very easy fix and can be patched with next releases of the game.

Frankly, though, those things hardly crossed my mind as I was slaying masterfully crafted fights in one of the most beautifully designed video game worlds.

With Shadow of the Erdtree, FromSoftware has raised the ceiling on what to expect from game expansions. Elden Ring was already one of my favorite games, and this expansion improves upon it in almost every way imaginable. This experience will surely stick with me for years to come. Shadow of the Erdtree is not only the best thing I've played this year, but also the best video game expansion I've ever experienced.

Shreshtha is a sub-editor at The Daily Esports.