Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Release Date Announced, Trailer Revealed

Over two years after the release and overnight mega-success of Elden Ring, the long-awaited DLC for From Software’s smash hit finally has a full trailer and a release date.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree was announced Wednesday with a trailer drop and the unveiling of a pre-order page on Bandai Namco’s website for a $250+ collector’s edition that includes an art book, a statue of a new antagonist character in the DLC, and the soundtrack of the game in addition to either a game code or hard copy of the title itself. The website then immediately crashed, because that’s where the interest and demand level is for what seems like it might legitimately be the successor to one of 2022’s consensus games of the year, and not just a standard expansion or addition.

Original promotional image for Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.

Previous to the trailer dropping, the only news that From Software had released about Shadow of the Erdtree had been a single preview image depicting an androgynous golden-haired youth riding a spirit horse much like the player’s mount Torrent from the base game through fields of wheat towards a blackened, twisted great tree in the distance bleeding gold. In true From Software storytelling style, the trailer released Wednesday did not directly engage with the character in that image until the very end of its three-minute runtime, when the youth appeared again, from behind, from above, and mostly out of shot, for a very brief cameo.

The favored fan theory is that this is Miquella, the abducted child brother of notorious optional boss Malenia, and that the DLC will revolve around…whatever he’s been up to. Those who did enough digging and prodding in the base game will have found and killed his abductor, Mohg, Lord of Blood, and seen the great torn cocoon on his altar with a hideous arm hanging from it. Nevertheless, there were multiple implications in the lore (at least according to the professional lore guys) that Miquella lies dreaming in his own personal R’lyeh, waiting to be awakened. And everyone familiar with the DLCs from the Dark Souls trilogy and Bloodborne said: that sounds like post-release content.

These theories appear to be good ones — said altar and cocoon appear in the video’s opening seconds, and the voiceover later mentions Miquella explicitly by name — but the meat of the trailer concerns gameplay in Shadow of the Erdtree, loosely stated. Broadly speaking and with some key exceptions (like the cool beast monster who is all over the trailer), the first third contains vistas that the player will visit, the second third contains new weapons, armor, and movesets the player can wield, and the final third contains the bosses that the player will be wielding them against. Nothing against the first third, as it’s quite beautiful and the golden shadow effect that limns the entire landscape of Miquella’s presumptive dream-world is very nice, but those familiar with Elden Ring know what an Elden Ring landscape looks like: fields, great crumbling manors, a hideous poison swamp, lots more of what looks like deathblight than they’d prefer, a great stoneworks filled with lava, and so on, all with a great tree stuck in the middle of it.

In the second bit, with the new weapons and attack animations, we get some real meat. In quick succession, we see Tarnished: perform new dual katana attack animations, use thrown knives as what appears to be a dedicated attack style instead of item use from inventory, cast what appears to be a dire new AOE incantation spell for Faith users, engage in spinning flying roundhouse kicks, throw gigantic jar bombs, and run bolts through a flywheel-operated crossbow like a machine-gun. Fist-weapon users have always been some of the most questionably-served of all the movesets in From Software’s games, and if they’ve got Tarnished running around throwing Liu Kang-type kicks, they might have finally taken off the limiters that relegated that particular playstyle to challenge runs.

Statue of Messmer the Impaler included with the Collector’s Edition.

You’ll probably need all that new action, given some of the guys that are running around Miquella’s presumptive dream. The main big bad is the guy the whole DLC seems to be branded around instead of Miquella himself: Messmer the Impaler. We know his name because it came out alongside the big statue of him in the collector’s edition. There’s more than a slight outside chance this guy is either actually Miquella or some aspect of Miquella, because Elden Ring specifically loves to have its demi-gods running around with a couple different names and appearances on their tab, but his entire vibe reminds the experienced Elden Ring player a lot more of Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy, and his eventual boss form, the God-Devouring Serpent. Fire and snakes were that guy’s whole deal, remember, and Messmer not only has a name starting with M — names starting with M or R are big tells of divinity in the world of Elden Ring — but he has the grace of gold in his eyes that marks him as a demi-god. He also looks like a world-class pain to fight from the gameplay we see here.

Still, eager players who have stalled out at New Game+ 3 or 4 in the base Elden Ring experience are no doubt more than ready to die ten times to this guy trying to figure out his attack patterns — but they’ll have to pay $40 to do so. This is by far the most expensive DLC that From Software has ever run for one of these games, but if they’re doing so with the promise of a truly expansive, one-stop-shop for the post-release experience (as many of those other titles double or triple-dipped with multiple $20 purchases), the studio almost certainly has the brand equity for players to buy in on it. We’ll find out on June 21st, 2024.

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