Elden Ring’s long-awaited DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree, promises a return to the awe and wonder of the original game. In our initial three-hour playthrough, we felt the same sense of discovery and challenge that made the base game so captivating. This new expansion introduces a brand-new realm filled with fresh discoveries, formidable foes, and powerful new gear, ensuring that even seasoned players will find plenty to enjoy.

Entering the Realm of Shadow

Our adventure began at the Cocoon of the Empyrean Site of Grace, the familiar battleground of the optional boss Mohg: The Lord of Blood. This time, an NPC named Leda awaited us, asking if we were also summoned by Miquella. By examining the cocoon, we were transported to the mysterious Realm of Shadow.

In typical Elden Ring fashion, the first enemy we encountered quickly ended our progress, a stark reminder of the game’s enduring challenge. The initial steps into this new realm were reminiscent of our first journey into Limgrave, with various points of interest like a crypt, scorched ruins, a distant castle, and a towering flaming brazier enemy all inviting exploration.

Overcoming Early Obstacles

Despite our level 150 character and powerful gear, the DLC wasted no time in presenting formidable challenges. A random enemy with dual-wielded chakrams attacked with relentless ferocity, setting the tone for the difficulties ahead. After defeating this foe and earning a small reward, we proceeded to the first major dungeon: Belurat.

The ultimate objective in the DLC is to follow Miquella’s crosses, guiding players along the plot-critical path. Our first cross bore a message: “The Gate of Divinity Lies in the Tower sealed by Shadow. That is surely where Kind Miquella is headed. We are no Empyreans but we must locate the path that will lead us there. I will follow the crosses east.”

Exploring Belurat

Belurat is a substantial dungeon, larger than Castle Morne but not as vast as a Legacy Dungeon. It features numerous optional side paths and a variety of new enemies, from small and gigantic scorpions to ambush-ready guards, perched Gravebirds, and heavily armored knights. Each enemy encounter was a new challenge, adding to the excitement and difficulty.

The dungeon’s boss, the Divine Beast, Dancing Lion, was a formidable opponent. To succeed, we used the new summon Black Knight Commander Andreas and switched from the heavy-hitting Fireknight’s Fire Greatsword to the agile Backhand Blade. The boss’s second phase alternated between ice and lightning power-ups, adding further complexity to the battle.

Conquering Castle Ensis

The second main dungeon, Castle Ensis, evoked memories of Caria Manor but without the terrifying hand monsters. It featured numerous magic-wielding enemies, including a giant in Carian Armor and a challenging Carian Knight. This knight guarded Relanna, a boss that took considerable effort to defeat.

Relanna combined melee sword skills with powerful magic attacks, becoming even more dangerous in her second phase with her swords imbued with red and blue flames. Her devastating version of Renalla’s Full Moon added another layer of difficulty, making her the toughest boss in our preview.

New Mechanics and Rewards

Shadow of the Erdtree introduces new mechanics to aid players. Scadurtree Fragments, found throughout the Realm of Shadow, can be turned in at a site of grace to reduce enemy damage. Revered Spirit Ash blessings increase the damage dealt by spirit summons.

During our limited time, we discovered numerous new weapons, talismans, armor sets, cookbooks, crafting guides, and an Ancient Dragon Smithing Stone. The new weapons featured unique properties and weapon arts, offering fresh gameplay experiences. Notable examples include the throwable Heavy Smithscript Axe and the versatile Backhand Blade, which can be dual-wielded for powerful attacks.

A Promising Expansion Awaits

Our three hours with Shadow of the Erdtree were packed with discoveries and challenges, yet it was clear there was much more to explore. Just as our session ended, we were about to investigate another path marked by Miquella’s cross, leading into what seemed like one of FromSoftware’s infamous poison swamps. Additionally, we learned from other players that we missed at least one other dungeon with an exciting boss fight.

Fortunately, the full release of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is just around the corner, set to launch on June 21. In the meantime, check out our comprehensive guides on the new weapon types and how to prepare for the DLC.

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