I Need to Get Way Better at Elden Ring Before Shadow of the Erdtree Launches

It’s time to finally get good.

screenshot from Shadow of the Erdtree
Bandai Namco

The first gameplay trailer for Elden Rings Shadow of the Erdtree is finally out, announcing that the anticipated DLC launches June 21. So now I know exactly how long I have to somehow find a way to beat Elden Ring.

FromSoftware’s latest game is, in no uncertain terms, a masterpiece. It’s hard to think of a way of the developer could even improve on what it did with Elden Ring — at least it was until the DLC trailer dropped.

This being a FromSoft game, I can’t claim to understand much of what’s going on in the trailer. The big boss this time around seems to be a fellow named Messmer, whose glowing red hair gives me immediate flashbacks to both Malenia and Radagon from the original game. It appears you’ll reach the “land of shadow” — a twisted version of the Lands Between — by touching the creepy arm stuck in Miquella’s cocoon in the Mohg boss fight arena. Figuring out the rest will have to until we have hours to pore over item descriptions and consult the ancient tomes (fan wikis) on Elden Ring’s established lore.

Whatever is going on in Shadow of the Erdtree, I can’t wait to play it.

What I do know is that I couldn’t be more excited to play it. From Software has a history of putting out games so good it seems like they can’t be improved, then releasing DLC that does just that. The best of the best, like Bloodborne’s The Old Hunters and Dark Souls 3’s Ashes of Ariandel, offer new challenges and lore that deepens the events of their games. It’s impossible to tell from a trailer whether that will be the case here, but I can’t wait to find out.

There’s plenty to get excited about in the trailer, but my favorite segment is about two minutes in, where we see one player character unleashing a flurry of flying kicks, then another using a rapid-fire crossbow, both new to Elden Ring. A few seconds later, there’s a look at a fight in a field of blue and white flowers that looks like a more surreal version of the arena for Sekiro’s final boss fight, at least to my Sekiro-loving eyes. Part of Elden Ring’s charm is in how it takes elements from From Software’s earlier games and twists them to fit the game’s new world, sometimes more subtly than others.

I don’t want to miss out on all this fun in Shadow of the Erdtree.

Bandai Namco

We won’t know how much of that makes its way into the DLC until June, and if I have any hope of finding out firsthand, I need to get way better at Elden Ring by then. Like so many FromSoftware fans, I was inordinately excited when the game came out. Like, “so hyped my body woke me up at 5 a.m. on release day and I immediately played for 12 hours” excited. I explored every monster-infested corner of the world’s first few regions, galloping with abandon for days on my beloved magical horse. I got weirdly obsessed with the Royal Knight Loretta fight and spent a few nights doing nothing but helping other players through it in co-op. I danced joyfully with the old women at the Midsommar village, until one of them wound up stabbing me in the heart.

In all, I spent 170 hours playing Elden Ring, and I still haven’t finished it. In all my gallivanting around the game’s early stages, I never quite realized how big it was. I’d been pretty careless about my build, picking up whatever spells and weapons appealed to me and never really getting that good at any of them.

Around the time when my options were to fight the scary snake people of Volcano Manor or take on the Fire Giant at the Mountaintops of the Giants, my interest started to wane. By that point, games like Triangle Strategy and Norco were already drawing my attention, and I just didn’t feel like slamming my head against the wall of Elden Ring anymore when there were other games calling to me.

All I want is to flying kick my way across the shadow realm.

Bandai Namco

But now, here’s this Shadow of the Erdtree trailer to bring me back. I want to see the unending horrors of the new locations it adds. I want to get so frustrated fighting the giant lion man in the trailer that I need to take a lap around the block. Most of all, I want to kick all the new bosses right in their terrifying faces. Is that too much to ask?

Technically, I don’t even need to beat Elden Ring. From Software expansions are typically accessed from within the main game well before their actual finales. If the entrance to Shadow of the Erdtree is through Miquella’s cocoon, I don’t have much farther to go to get there.

I’ve beaten every other From Software game since Dark Souls, so I know I can do it if I don't get distracted. The problem is, Elden Ring has so many good distractions. Still, I have a few months before Shadow of the Erdtree’s June release date, so I should be able to pace myself through the original game and avoid getting burned out this time. I just need to keep my eyes on the prize — the chance to beat Elden Ring one flying kick at a time and finally become Ranni’s bride like I always wanted.

Shadow of the Erdtree releases on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox on June 21.

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