Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Expansion Promo with Title

Elden Ring – Shadow Of The Erdtree: Difficulty Discussion

6 minutes read

“Prepare to Die” has been a marketing beat for FromSoftware since 2011 when they released the original Dark Souls. Prior, the studio was already making a name for itself as a creator of difficult games that required the player to apply critical thinking. Since this is the case, the discussion throughout this article is a tale as old as time. It resurfaces every time the studio releases a new game or DLC. That means, with the recent release of the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC for Elden Ring, there has been a ton of discourse about this topic once again. My goal with this write-up is twofold. The first is expressing my opinion on the overall difficulty of the DLC and answering the question “Is it too hard?”. Secondly, I want to hit some points as to why I believe some players are struggling and provide some tips.

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Elden Ring Tree Sentinel fight promo image

Accessing Shadow of the Erdtree requires the player to defeat two endgame bosses. This means most players will enter the DLC at about level 150. Also, this will often be the case because that’s the level the community has agreed upon as a meta for player vs. player. Due to this and how leveling works, I believe this is one of the reasons players are struggling. You primarily get stronger in the new content by searching for Scadutree Fragments. This type of system is typically not how FromSoftware approaches new content releases. Usually, the core leveling mechanic of that game stays the same and it performs scaling to bring the content within range of your character. In my opinion, the game that did this the best was Bloodborne with the release of The Old Hunters DLC.

Searching for these fragments causes two main issues in my opinion. First, it can often be unclear how to get your next one since they are obtained in a few different ways. Also, I feel this new system causes a mental change within the player and they fail to continue leveling up the traditional way by spending runes. Leveling up normally is still very beneficial because the fragments are a multiplier of your current stats.

Tools of the Trade

Elden Ring Maiden Clutching Staff

This DLC release for Elden Ring added many new weapons and gear. Due to this, I highly encourage you to try new things. For example, I found a new Sorcery spell called Impenetrable Thorns. It causes hemorrhage, and the bleed buildup is improved by having a higher arcane stat. This spell fit into my build, and it was even useful against bosses. The reason I hear players are against trying new weapons and equipment out is because they need to be leveled up.

If you completed the base game, you have acquired many bell bearings that should have been turned into the Twin Maiden Husk at the Roundtable Hold. By doing this, you will have access to purchase many items including what’s needed to level up weapons etc. The only exception is you can’t purchase what’s needed to acquire the final level for an item. These are limited but even then, you can still make whatever you want end game viable.

Some Things Don’t Change

Elden Ring Armored Warrior with Sword to Shoulder

FromSoftware has a history of releasing difficult post-game content and it’s often more so than its base release counterpart. The Old Hunters DLC For BloodBorne is another example of this and prior to Shadow of the Erdtree if was looked at as FromSoftware’s hardest expansion. Unfortunately, history has repeated itself in a few ways that aren’t ideal. The next major pain point to mention here would be the camera. I personally felt more often than it should the camera would be getting stuck during a large boss fight. An early game example of this would be while fighting Divine Beast Dancing Lion. Which for most players will be the first boss you’ll experience in the DLC. Either that or my character would be blind to a major attack that some bosses were performing.

As a long time, Dark Souls fan, I am mostly desensitized to the issues like this, but they can’t be excused. Especially when those problems involve a game like Elden Ring to require perfect execution from the player. The other major pain point to go over is technical performance. I played primarily on pc and at time the framerate would dip heavily, or it would freeze for two seconds in the middle of a boss fight. My gaming rig is way over the recommended specs, and the game was installed to an SSD. Since this was the case on high-end hardware. I can only imagine what players with lower-end machines are experiencing.

Don’t Give up in Shadow of the Erdtree

Elden Ring Warrior on Horseback facing off Dragon

These issues aside, I feel the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC isn’t too hard. I think as long as players take the time to explore the world for Scadutree Fragments, level up base stats, and open to trying new things that you will succeed. I often see players online speaking against using certain things in Elden Ring because they want a “purer” experience. The most controversial one would be the Mimic Tear summon. It’s looked at as a crutch by many members of the community. Just remember, FromSoftware added these for a reason and the game will become harder if you avoid these in-game options.

Shadow of the Erdtree is far from perfect. Due to the occasional poor performance or the added level mechanic not always working as intended. For example, you’ll acquire some Scabutree fragments by killing optional bosses that could be easily missed. I am purposely being a little vague to avoid spoilers. To wrap things up, Shadow of the Erdtree is difficult but no one should be surprised by that. Even though it’s flawed in its own ways, FromSoftware gives you the tools needed to succeed. The recipe for success is variety. For example, there is a shield in the game called the Erdtree Greatshield, and it’s fantastic at deflecting magic back towards the caster. I found this to be incredibly effective during certain story boss fights.

Author Credit: Alex Patsy.