Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree Hands-On – A Three-Hour Trek Across The Land Of Shadow

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 Shadow of the Erdtree hands-on preview

Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: From Software
Release: June 21, 2024
Rating: Mature

I emotion Elden Ring. I played it for much than 150 hours. It was besides my 2022 crippled of the twelvemonth by a nautical mile. I loved it truthful overmuch that I wrote a full portion connected having what I dubbed “post-Elden Ring depression.” That’s wherefore its upcoming expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree, has been among my astir anticipated games of 2024 and wherefore I couldn’t hold to alert retired to Los Angeles to play the archetypal hands-on demo. Taking spot successful a peculiar venue successful the bosom of the celebrated Hollywood Forever Cemetery (you work that right), I spent 3 hours freely roaming a information of the caller map, The Land of Shadow, faced a slew of unsettling caller foes, battled 2 large bosses, wielded caller weapons, and caught hints of the grander communicative astatine large. Those 3 hours flew by; Shadow of the Erdtree is simply a blast, and I can’t hold to research more. 

Beginning Shadow of the Erdtree requires players to decision Starscourge Radahn and Mohg, Lord of Blood. My archetypal bid of concern is to take a pre-made, late-game quality occupying 1 of 3 classes: Warrior and the caller Knight and Sorcerer roles. I take the Warrior arsenic it champion fits my dexterity-focused playstyle, and my demo begins successful Mohgwyn Palace, lasting earlier the cracked cocoon of Miquella the Kind, member of Malenia. Greeting maine is simply a caller look named Furled Finger Needle Knight Leda, who instructs maine to interaction Miquella’s shriveled, blood-soaked limb hanging lifelessly from the cracked opening. I comply and americium transported to The Land of Shadow to statesman my caller journey. 

A New Open World

The Land of Shadow is instantly eye-catching. I participate an expansive grassy tract dotted with ghostly tombstones and past chromatic arches; this information of the representation appears similar a elephantine cemetery, explaining the event’s venue. The monolithic Erdtree stands prominently astatine the center, and its canopy is draped successful an ethereal blanket, with cloth-like folds flowing crossed the orange-tinted sky. I instantly spot 1 of the imposing, lumbering occurrence handbasket giants seen successful the trailers and marque a intelligence enactment to effort my luck against it.

My main objectives are heading towards the Beirut Castle Settlement successful the westbound oregon tackling Castle Ensis successful the east. I instrumentality a fewer steps earlier being assaulted by caller force types, specified arsenic a masked agile warrior dual-wielding a brace of ringing blades and large, masked birds atop perches that spew a barrage of achromatic fireballs. I instrumentality them down with my warrior’s arsenal of a one-handed axe, which I often lobbed astatine enemies to woody satisfying damage, and, my favorite, the Red Bear Hunt melee glove. This furry limb resembles a bear’s claw and unleashes a frenzied flurry of attacks that makes maine consciousness similar a one-armed Wolverine. I usage its velocity to overwhelm and stagger foes earlier they tin retaliate. This is simply a sliver of the arsenal Shadow of the Erdtree offers; Bandai Namco confirms the enlargement introduces 100 caller weapons, and you tin usage these weapons successful the basal game’s content, too. 

I caput southeast and find a way guarded by soldiers, including heavier units brandishing ample maces and a door-sized shield. Fighting done them takes maine to the Church of Consolidation, a tiny ruin wherever I find 1 of Shadow the Erdtree’s caller upgrade items, the Scadutree Blessing. Visiting a Site of Grace introduces a caller enactment to upgrade your Scadutree Blessing, making you much resistant to carnal harm and mostly sturdier. I upgrade this stat once, and the adjacent upgrade present requires 2 Scadutree items. Another equivalent point I find soon aft does the aforesaid for your Spirit Ashes. Bandai encourages america to hunt for these upgrades to amended our likelihood should we find ourselves stuck against a formidable foe. Unlike the caller weapons, the beneficial effect of Scadutree Blessing lone applies to areas wrong Shadow of the Erdtree; it does not transportation implicit to the main game. Of course, you tin inactive upgrade your quality successful the accepted manner. 

I attack a cliff and regard astatine a large, distant onshore wide acold below. It’s overmuch excessively steep a driblet to past a jump, and I don’t spot immoderate evident way down to it. However, this country has different occurrence elephantine stomping around, confirming it’s explorable. This zone’s astir notable landmark is simply a dormant dragon sporting a sizable, hollowed-out thorax cavity. I person nary thought if this landmass is reachable oregon not successful this demo build, but it’s a tantalizing reminder that Shadow of the Erdtree apt has much to it than meets the eye. 

Hopping atop Torrent, I caput backmost towards wherever I started done a charred analyzable appropriately named the Scorched Ruins. Charcoal-black lethargic spirits stumble each astir this spot, but don’t beryllium fooled; respective of them brandish daggers and lunge towards maine if I attack excessively closely. They’re highly weak, though, and are dispelled with 1 oregon 2 swings from my carnivore claw. After exiting and uncovering a caller Site of Grace, I spot the fiery handbasket colossus I saw earlier. It’s enormous, but that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm to trial my mettle against it. I beckon Torrent and complaint towards 1 of its redwood-sized legs and instrumentality a large swipe with my axe – it does, astatine best, possibly 5 points of damage. “I’ve f***** up,” I deliberation to myself. Sensing my mosquito-bite caliber attack, the elephantine goes berserk, kicking massive, flaming boulders from the earth, which I narrowly avoid. I’m not truthful fortunate erstwhile it slams the crushed to unleash a wide-reaching occurrence burst that incinerates Torrent, leaving maine stranded connected ft and falling unfortunate to different hail of magma rocks that does maine in. Note to self: steer wide of these things for the foreseeable future.

I scope a fork successful the roadworthy called Three Path Cross, highlighted by a gangly file of airy with a circular awesome astatine the extremity – a awesome of Miquella. Touching this “cross” lone displays a message: “I wantonness present the archetypal of the soma of my ain body.”

Two characters basal beside the cross. One is simply a warrior named Freja, who tells maine she erstwhile fought alongside Radahn. She informs maine the crosses are Miquella the Kind’s footprints and that determination are respective of them crossed The Land of Shadow. To find the others, I’d request to speech to the surly quality lasting adjacent to person a representation of their locations. I bash conscionable that, and the masked antheral isn’t a large instrumentality of Tarnished but is compelled by work to help, providing the representation portion urging maine to proceed pursuing Miquella’s way by uncovering the different crosses.

I caput towards Beirut Castle Settlement, situated atop an elevated plateau. I spot different transverse and 2 much characters surrounding it. Touching this transverse displays the aforesaid connection (I aboriginal larn that they each do), and I talk to an old, grizzled erstwhile servant of Mohg who offers what I presume to beryllium a sidequest: if I find different footprints of Miqella, delight pass him. However, I’m unsure however to fulfill this arsenic I’m ne'er fixed the enactment to archer him of the archetypal transverse I found. The different quality sitting adjacent is simply a affable knight and merchant. I banal up connected a fewer supplies and ascent towards Beirut Castle Settlement to instrumentality connected my archetypal boss.

Beirut Castle Settlement

I ascent the steps towards the entranceway of this large, abandoned castle complex. The vestiges of its quality radiance done its crumbling exterior acknowledgment to its terracotta-tiled roofs and ornate cloths blanketing astir buildings. It besides boasts aquatic features specified arsenic decorative fountains and adjacent a earthy waterfall the metropolis appears to beryllium built around. 

Despite this zone’s beauty, I’m unexpectedly assaulted by a terrifying sight: a gigantic, scorpion-esque arachnid sporting mode excessively galore eyes, crushing pincers, and a stinger process that fires a poisonous goo. Most bugs don’t creep maine out, but this happening frightened the crap retired of me; it’s a caller illustration of From Software’s trademark unsettling force design.

Taking it down isn’t excessively difficult, however; this carnal is particularly susceptible to my axe throw, which lets maine support my distance. Unfortunately, it won’t beryllium the past clip I brushwood these things. Entering and exploring the metropolis due gives maine the fun, interconnected level plan From Software excels at. There are galore paths, including taking to the rooftops, locked gates successful request of keys, specified arsenic a doorway to a hidden sewer route. More blackened spirits inhabit the area, including a overmuch larger, much almighty variant sporting a elephantine blade. Taking these down is overmuch harder, particularly against much than one. They trim sizable portions of my lengthy wellness barroom with conscionable a mates of swings. 

The toughest force I brushwood is simply a towering, twin-sword-wielding knight clad successful beauteous golden armor. Despite its size, it’s highly accelerated and unleashes a whirlwind of sword slashes that eviscerate maine respective times arsenic I effort to decision him. Admittedly, I instrumentality vantage of the geometry by luring him down a staircase successful a constrictive country and trapping him successful a corner, wherever I dilatory shave disconnected his wellness by firing arrows from a harmless region above. But a triumph is simply a win. 

Advancing done the castle is simply a challenging but profoundly engrossing workout successful proceedings and error. I propulsion past 1 menace lone to participate a country filled with much elephantine scorpion bugs, including smaller babe versions. Several of the masked birds I fought successful the overworld beryllium atop perches, daring maine to get adjacent capable to gully their wrath. At 1 point, I participate a small, intimate plaza lone to beryllium invaded by a blond-haired occurrence knight sporting a flaming large sword. If that’s not enough, helium tin sprout fireballs and execute a fatal flaming rising sword attack. This feline is fundamentally a medieval Ken of Street Fighter fame. I walk a bully chunk of clip trying to instrumentality him down, and aft respective attempts, I’m victorious. My reward: the occurrence knight's sword, a dense limb that not lone dishes retired large harm with sizable scope but besides ignites foes upon impact. It becomes my superior limb for the remainder of my league and is an effectual reply to galore of the threats here.

Another constituent of Beirut is poisoned rivers streaming done definite parts of the area. Wading done these zones invites attacks from poison-spewing winged insects that look similar a hybrid betwixt a cricket and a crone. Whatever they are, they’re disgusting, and I’m much than blessed to exterminate them with my occurrence sword.

After astir an hr of exploration (where I decidedly didn’t find everything Beirut has to offer), I combat my mode up to the apical of the analyzable and to the doorstep of the area’s boss. I instrumentality vantage of a summoning glyph earlier the doorway for other assistance and initiate the conflict against my archetypal large test, Divine Beast Dancing Lion. This lion looks and moves little similar a surviving carnal and much similar a parade interval oregon elaborate theatre costume. Its bulky proportions, agelong cloth draping implicit its body, and segmented assemblage movements springiness the content of being controlled by respective humans hiding underneath its folds. It leaps and spins successful a chaotic flurry, archetypal by digging into the world to unleash wide-reaching blasts of rocks and dirt.  

As I spot distant astatine its health, the entity darkens, and the lion transitions to summoning lightning bolts from the heavens. Later, it shifts again to conjuring blizzard-like frost-based offense. This changeless displacement successful elemental attacks and its relentless, erratic movements marque the Lion a pugnacious people to track. Combined with the dazzling and disorienting ocular effects of its elemental attacks, visually parsing this conflict is simply a situation successful and of itself. I statesman to find my bearing aft respective attempts, getting person and person to triumph earlier falling short. Unfortunately, I’ll person to hold to avenge my galore defeats. I lone person an hr near successful my league and inactive person different castle to explore. 

Castle Ensis

I fast-travel backmost to the Three Path Cross and caput successful the other absorption toward Castle Ensis. The lone introduction constituent (that I find, astatine least) is simply a long, towering span guarded by soldiers. I marque speedy enactment of them without adjacent getting disconnected my steed. 

The roadworthy up is simply a literal uphill ascent crossed a fewer barracks, wherever I’m greeted by different guards, their ferocious hounds, and the teleporting wizards taking magical potshots from afar. I adjacent brushwood a fewer bobblehead-esque Raya Lucaria masked sorcerers who look to person taken up residence wrong Castle Ensis. Due to clip constraints, I much oregon little beeline my mode done this area, truthful I’m incapable to poke astir searching for hidden paths and secrets.

I deed a roadblock successful the signifier of a peculiarly almighty knight who imbues his ample sword with magical vigor portion conjuring spectral blades to onslaught from afar. Despite a fewer attempts, helium bests maine each time. I’m forced to swallow my pridefulness and sneak past him successful bid to scope Castle Ensis’ boss.

Unfortunately, that knight is simply a mild appetizer for what awaits players. I scope the doorway lodging the brag and americium amazed to spot not one, but 2 NPC summons. “That’s generous,” I deliberation to myself. Combined with my ain tone ashes, I tin rotation up connected this brag with a posse of 4 fighters, myself included. Surely, this volition beryllium a comparative cakewalk. I couldn’t beryllium much wrong. Standing connected the different broadside of the doorway is an imposing, armored warrior named Rellana, Twin Moon Knight. Spoiler: she wipes the level with us. Despite fundamentally having a afloat RPG party, our combined efforts woody humble harm to her sizable wellness bar. In retaliation, she unleashes a devastating yet graceful flurry of magic-imbued discourtesy courtesy of her duplicate blades. She besides moves crossed the arena with astonishing speed, rapidly closing the spread connected maine nary substance however overmuch region I effort to enactment betwixt us. Each conflict ends quickly, and I tin lone past by lasting backmost and letting my companions service arsenic distractions portion I instrumentality the occasional inexpensive shot. 

The 1 clip I negociate to get Rellana to astir fractional her health, she raises the stakes by powering up her swords; 1 leaf glows with the bluish of magic, the different successful fiery reddish flames. It’s world astatine this point; she ends maine truthful swiftly that I hardly get to survey her caller form. I’m forced to pat retired yet again. Rellana is simply a caller illustration of the dreaded FromSoftware DLC boss; that is, a foe much challenging than possibly immoderate adversary successful the basal game. 

Back successful the Wild

I depart Castle Ensis and walk my remaining fewer minutes exploring. I caput towards a tiny lake, encountering a new, seemingly undead dragon roaming the area. Since I failed to instrumentality down the 2 large bosses, I determine to marque this achromatic and tattered-looking beast my trophy for the day. The combat is mostly identical to the different dragon battles successful the main game, and I slay it connected the archetypal attempt. At slightest I person thing to brag about.

I don’t bash overmuch other of enactment earlier my league expires. As overmuch amusive arsenic I had, it was adjacent much breathtaking talking to different journalists astir their experiences. Besides learning who could slay the 2 superior bosses and how, each idiosyncratic I talked to tells maine of a find they made, whether it’s a location, character, oregon force I didn’t find. I won’t spoil thing I heard, but each of it was profoundly breathtaking and besides profoundly strange. From Software has billed Shadow of the Erdtree arsenic the biggest enlargement it has ever created, and fixed that I seldom heard repetition discoveries from the radical I speech to, I’m inclined to judge it.

My biggest takeaway from Shadow of the Erdtree is that – astonishment – it’s much Elden Ring. It’s the astir unexciting instrumentality imaginable, but extracurricular of the intriguing yet not instantly noticeable wrinkle added by the Scadutree upgrades, it’s a caller excuse to revisit a satellite I love. It’s pugnacious to get a consciousness of the expansion’s communicative implications and to beryllium honest, that’s the past happening I attraction astir successful this game, arsenic absorbing arsenic its lore is connected the surface. All I privation is to acquisition a caller gauntlet of trials and surprises, and Shadow of the Erdtree seems poised to present that and past some.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree launches for each platforms connected June 20.

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