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Analysis | Shadow of the Erdtree concludes Elden Ring
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It's been two years since the release of Elden Ring and I couldn't bear to miss the epic world created by From Software.

To the delight of everyone who loved the base game, Shadow of the Erdtree is a robust expansion, which offers another great dose of adventure, memorable bosses and many incredible moments.

A new map to explore

To start the journey you need to defeat Radhan, one of the bosses of Elden Ring's main campaign and go to the place where you can fight Mogh, an optional boss of the journey.

For those who already did all this when playing the original adventure, just go to the location again to find a new NPC and the possibility of entering a portal to the new map.

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The initial feeling was very similar to starting Elden Ring all over again. The map is completely closed, beautiful, intriguing and frightening views on the horizon and an infinite number of paths and corners to explore. If, on the one hand, it is wonderful to have that feeling of discovery and mystery again, on the other, because it is an expansion. The beginning ends up being quite warm and it takes a while to get going, especially if you are one of those who choose to check every corner of the map before heading to the indicated path.

From Software's greatest asset continues to be its world-building and absolute mastery in the discipline of Level Design. Almost the size of Limgrave, the starting area of ​​Elden Ring, the Shadow of the Erdtree map has several so-called “Legacy Dungeons”, which are those castles or cities full of connecting paths and several different biomes, many hidden in different terrain elevations. This makes the map much more dense and packed with content. In total, it took me almost 40 hours to explore everything and I still left a few things unexplored along the way.

All this without letting fatigue take over, as the variation that goes from mountainous peaks and cursed forests to giant, vertical libraries and ruined castles holds the adventure well without that excess that was a bit annoying at the end of the base game. In fact, even the caves and secondary content here seem much more crafted and unique, even if there are some obvious archetypes among them. A special highlight is the exploration of ancient prisons, thematically colored blue in the game, which tell more about the tyrannical use of pots in this universe.

For lovers of history hidden in details, there is a whole new chapter here, explaining more about the past of gods, demigods and legends of this world. The new NPCs, and there are many of them, have new mysterious quests to solve and will result in months of discoveries on internet forums.

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Ruthless bosses

As is also tradition with From Software expansions, there are extremely powerful bosses here, some bordering on insanity. If you enjoyed spending time with Malenia in the base game you can expect a similar experience with at least two bosses from the main campaign here.

Two of them demand so much from the player that it's hard to believe they were balanced without NPC summons in mind. Summons, in fact, play a much greater role in the expansion, since one of the two biggest progression triggers for your character is a buff that increases their power. Facing these bosses alone is a Herculean task because they don't let you breathe at any point, with very little room for attacks or even healing, even by From Software standards. The game's final boss made me sweat a lot and reminded me of the hours I spent suffering with Ishin at the end of Sekiro.

To prepare for them, the main way is to increase your two buffs exclusive to this area of ​​the expansion, which we mentioned above. The first one is for your character. By finding bark from the sacred tree you can increase the level of this buff in the game's bonfires, increasing both attack and defense. As time passes, it takes more shell units to move up a level, so exploring is essential once again. This buff guarantees much more practical effect than increasing attributes, especially for those who are already close to level 200 and do not see greater benefits in one or another increase. The second buff strengthens your NPC summons, and rewards those who do quests to release them in battle.

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New ways to fight

In expansions and DLCs, studios generally take the opportunity to experiment with new ideas, which are often embryos for new sequels or even new games. That's not much the case with Shadow of the ErdTree, which focuses on giving more of what players liked. However, there are some new additions here and there, especially in combat.

There are several sets of armor, spells, enchantments and many items to create with formulas found throughout the world, however, the interesting new features are the weapons. The Beast Claws, a new variation of the claws, are an example. In the base game there were only four different claws and those who liked them will have more options now. Closer combat seems to have been a focus, too. Another new feature is fighting effectively with your own hands, as there are Combat Arts for those who want to fight monsters. After learning the technique from an NPC, you can go around sending punches and slaps, which besides being fun works very well visually and thematically too, especially for those who wanted to play a monk.

Throwing weapons, swords held upside down, giant Katanas, perfumes and much more complete the new ways to play. This content also ends up extending the replayability of the base game, as one of the big things is playing everything again with a different weapon.

Pros:

  • Good Variety of areas and biomes
  • New types of weapons and lots of equipment to collect
  • Wide variety of zombie traps
  • Incredible dungeons with excellent level design

Cons:

  • Little mechanical innovation or experimentation

Final Grade: 9/10

Shadow of the Erdtree is another great dose of Elden Ring, with a dense map, merciless bosses, lots of exploration and more narrative content for this rich world created by From Software. If on the one hand it doesn't provide many mechanical and thematic new features, on the other it gives exactly what everyone wanted, an epic conclusion to one of the most acclaimed games of this generation.

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Analysis | Shadow of the Erdtree concludes Elden Ring

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Analysis | Shadow of the Erdtree concludes Elden Ring

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