Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree trailer offers deep lore, giant flaming bosses

AI SaaS

Character on horseback overlooking a burning, distant tree
Enlarge / There’s a lot of meaning in this image for studied fans of Elden Ring, but confirmation will have to wait until June.

Bandai Namco

A gameplay reveal trailer for a heavily anticipated expansion to Elden Ring has arrived, and it suggests that more of the big bosses, cryptic but epic-scale storytelling, and brutal combat fans have come to expect will be available in the Shadow of the Erdtree expansion. The downloadable content arrives June 21, 2024, and costs $40; preorders are available now (Steam, PlayStation, Xbox).

Shadow of the Erdtree takes place in “The Land of Shadow,” seemingly a kind of prequel setting to the main Elden Ring, potentially inside a deity’s dreams. You can never be too sure, but the presence of certain characters, and the suggestion that you will access the new content by touching the arm of a major but previously unexplored character, suggests you will be traveling through their memories, their dreams, or some combination thereof. The very first image you see is of a player character riding up to a cliff and seeing a flaming tree—perhaps not the Erdtree central to the main game, but a precursor of it that is hinted at in the game’s lore.

Gameplay-wise, there are many new things to notice, including hand-to-hand combat, far more powerful crossbows, new spells and weapons, and a whole host of large, epically detailed, seemingly unfair boss battles.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree gameplay reveal trailer.

It’s been almost a year to the day that Bandai Namco announced an expansion to Elden Ring, the 2022 title that brought open-world elements (and a George R.R. Martin backstory) to FromSoftware’s series of notably difficult games, most famously seen in the Dark Souls series. The game won multiple game-of-the-year awards (including at Ars), sold 12 million copies in 17 days, and almost immediately had fans speculating about what could be explored in future downloadable content.

One big unexplored aspect, at least physically, was the game map’s inaccessible Colosseum-like arenas. Those were filled in by a free multiplayer DLC in December 2022, allowing players to team up and battle inside.

What remained, and what players and pundits expected to see in this more traditional expansion, was Miquella. The twin brother of notoriously difficult boss Malenia, Miquella is woven deeply into the game’s lore, though often cryptically and inconclusively, as is From Software’s style. In the base game, the player only encounters Miquella as a seemingly comatose figure who is trapped inside a cocoon-like structure. It’s a lot of content and effort for a character of which you can only see one arm. Shadow of the Erdtree‘s trailer suggests the game will fill in lots of the backstory of Miquella and the forming of the Elden Ring world as a whole.

Miquella is suggested to have had a larger role at one point by cut content found inside the game. The sole image released prior to today’s trailer, of someone with long flaxen hair riding what looks like Elden Ring‘s mount, Torrent, also points to Miquella. Add in the many roles Miquella played in the game world’s landscape, along with Malenia’s obsessive protection of her brother—she is “Malenia, Blade of Miquella,” as most players who seek her out will hear many, many times—and it seemed almost inevitable.

This post was updated to include the DLC price.

AI SaaS

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