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To play Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree, you must defeat some of Elden Ring’s toughest bosses

But not Malenia, thank heavens

A close-up of a withered hand hanging from the cocoon in Mohg's arena in the Shadow Of The Erdtree trailer.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Bandai Namco

Elden Ring: Shadow Of The Erdtree will release in June 2024, but even if you buy it day one, you might not be able to access the Elden Ring DLC expansion’s new overworld areas and dungeons right away. This is an add-on aimed squarely at those in the later stages of the game, as FromSoftware’s own Elden Lord Hidetaka Miyazaki has revealed in a new Famitsu interview – to gain access, you must first defeat two of the main game’s nastier bosses. Yes, I know that all Elden Ring bosses are nasty, but these two are among the worst, in my experience.

The full interview, translated and passed on by Frontline Gaming Japan, includes a bit of broad backstory info. I don’t want to spoil too much, but briefly, Shadow Of The Erdtree takes place in a kind of parallel, primordial realm (characterised by "denser and richer" location design) which appears to be literally covered by a veil – you can see it draping the tree’s branches in the video thumbnail below.

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To enter this shadow reality, you must first defeat Starscourge Radahn and Mohg, Lord of Blood. Not met Radahn? He’s a very large man on a relatively tiny but nimble horse whose biggest party tricks include shooting spears at you and turning himself into a meteor. You'll find him in Caelid. Mohg, meanwhile, is a gross, trident-wielding asshole who specialises in bloodflame and bleed effects. He lives in Mohgwyn Palace. As the abductor of the demigod Miquella, Mohg is potentially pretty important to the DLC’s plot. I'll say no more.

Once you’ve stomped Radahn and sent Mohg packing, you can access the other realm by touching the withered arm hanging from the cocoon in the Mohg fight arena (see article header image). Thereafter, you’ll be able to warp between Sites of Grace in the DLC and main game freely, much as in previous Souls expansions.

Having to off Radahn and Mohg is obviously a bit of a hurdle, but if you’re eager to play Shadow Of The Erdtree you’ve probably done so already. If you're a newcomer buying the game specifically for what you've seen of the Erdtree expansion, it'll be a long and gruelling road. The DLC itself will be challenging but still offer the freedom to avoid tougher enemies initially and grind a bit or discover new equipment before finishing them off. Some of its bosses are optional, too. The Shadow Of The Erdtree story also doesn’t affect the main game’s ending, nor will progress in the main game have an impact on the expansion, so you can skip between them as you please.

It sounds like Shadow Of The Erdtree’s difficulty will hinge on its new, standalone levelling system, which only applies within the DLC areas, and exists independently of your other stats. As far as I can tell, this new system is designed to stop players grinding for a million years in the main game and then wiping the floor with the DLC bosses. Seemingly, higher-level players will find that they are lower-level in the Erdtree progression system, which means that they’ll be able to play the expansion like a first run of the main game – getting your arse handed to you by each boss, as Mother Nature intended, and returning a few hours later with, oh, let's say a Dueling Shield, one of the new DLC weapons. All this is me reading between the lines a little, I must confess.

There’s a bit more in the full interview, but I’m wary of giving away too much. Elden Ring remains one of the best PC games you'll play and certainly one of the best open world games. FromSoftware have always given great DLC expansion, and I can't see Shadow Of The Erdtree breaking that trend, especially if it can deliver a world that is a little less design-by-spreadsheet in terms of optional dungeons and encounters. Thanks for spotting the Famitsu piece, PCGamesN.

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