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Elden Ring's Latest Patch Makes the DLC Easier

FromSoftware has taken pity on us.

A knight with glowing blue armor stands near a stone pillar, holding a flaming blue and orange sword...
Bandai Namco

Elden Ring is a notoriously difficult game, but its Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is on a whole other level. After beating down both reviewers and players, the first major update after Shadow of the Erdtree’s launch has reduced the difficulty, in a way. It’s an interesting choice from a studio that notoriously doesn’t like to adjust its difficulty in major ways, and it ties into the larger conversation about the designs of Souls games at large.

Called a “calibration update,” according to the patch notes it adjusts the “attack and damage negation curve scaling of the Scadutree Blessing.”

In Shadow of the Erdtree, you collect Scadutree Fragrements, which boost your character's attack and damage negation, as well as Revered Spirit Ashes, which boost the attack and damage negation of your summons. These are essentially the new leveling system in the DLC, and how players are meant to deal with the extreme rise in difficulty.

Scadutree Fragments essentially work as a new levelling system, but you need to really explore the Land of Shadow to find them.

Bandai Namco

The update specifically increases the value of the first half of the blessings you find, but then levels out the values to be more gradual for the second half that you find. It’s an interesting change that doesn’t necessarily make the entire game easier but it does make at least the first few bosses more approachable. The catch, of course, is that you need to explore and make full use of the options the game gives you.

This update comes just days after an interview Elden Ring director Hidetaka Miyazaki had with The Guardian, where he talks about why the studio leaned into the intense difficulty.

“If we really wanted the whole world to play the game, we could just crank the difficulty down more and more, but that wasn’t the right approach,” Miyazaki says, “Had we taken that approach, I don’t think the game would have done what it did, because the sense of achievement that players gain from overcoming these hurdles is such a fundamental part of the experience. Turning down difficulty would strip the game of that joy, which, in my eyes, would break the game itself.”

FromSoftware has been pretty unflinching in the vision for each of its games, Elden Ring included. But the new update for Shadow of the Erdtee feels like it goes a bit counter to what Miyazaki says, but the context of that difficulty is important.

This update shows that there is a potential way for FromSoftware to make its games more approachable for a wide variety of players, when it includes options. The difficulty of bosses and enemies hasn’t been adjusted with the update, it doesn’t change anything about those fights whatsoever. But slightly increasing the scaling of buffs with fragments can make a huge difference in terms of the damage players put out. Crucially, though, collecting these fragments is entirely optional.

This new update should, at least, make the first two bosses of Shadow of the Erdtree much more manageable, with the difficulty levelling out the further you get into the DLC.

Bandai Namco

Players that want to have that overwhelming challenge can simply skip collecting the fragments entirely, or collect them but never use them at a Site of Grace. It’s clear to see how this system is intended to provide a sort of “difficulty option” for Shadow of the Erdtree, but what’s interesting is that it’s being altered at all post-launch. That raises the question if this update is reactionary, or something that was already planned, and that’s a big difference.

If FromSoftware thought the expansion at launch was too difficult so it needed to be adjusted, that’s understandable. But if this is more of a response to player complaints and negative reviews on Steam, it shows that the developer, at least partially, cares about how a wide amount of players have received Shadow of the Erdtree.

I completely respect Miyazaki and FromSoft wanting to stick to their creative vision, and how difficulty ties into that. But I also think making games more approachable and accessible to all players isn’t a bad thing, especially with a game like Elden Ring which has a genuinely fascinating world and story to uncover.

More than anything, the release of Shadow of the Erdtree has proven that we still need to have that discussion on the difficulty in Soulslike games; a genuine, well-meaning discussion free of the hyperbole that tends to dominate these conversations. That’s never been more true if even FromSoftware is making adjustments right after release.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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