Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC Analysis – Absolutely Everything We Know So Far

Elden Ring’s long-awaited DLC, “Shadow of the Erdtree,” finally got its first trailer, alongside a series of interviews from Elden Ring’s Creative Director Hidetaka Miyazaki and an updated digital storefront. And what does all this new information tell us about Shadow of the Erdtree? Well, as it turns out, quite a lot, and not all of it very clear.

Thankfully, we’re here to help break it down. By deeply analyzing the gameplay trailer, in combination with the interviews and official storefront (plus our knowledge of Elden Ring’s lore), we are going to tell you everything there is to know so far about Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree.

Before opening the trailer, let’s go over the basics: Shadow of the Erdtree will release on June 21st, 2024 for all Platforms that support the base game. It will cost $39.99, with an upgraded version including a digital artbook and soundtrack costing $49.99.

The DLC is going to be, according to Miyazaki in interviews with IGN and Eurogamer, the largest that From Software has ever made, with informed speculation indicating that it is likely to contain more content than some of their previous titles. The surface area of the DLC, Miyazaki stated, is “larger than Limgrave,” and seems likely to be more densely packed even than that, though it will have “fields, legacy dungeons, and other dungeons,” like the core game.

Lastly, Miyazaki’s interviews indicate that Shadow of the Erdtree will be in-line with the difficulty that From Software has been known for, but that the content is expected to be around the same difficulty as the “endgame” of the base game. This is in contrast to some of From Software’s DLC, like Bloodborne’s “The Old Hunters”, where the DLC was noticeably harder than the base game. Then again, considering Malenia (Blade of Miquella, who has never known defeat) is in Elden Ring’s endgame, maybe it is good that FromSoft isn’t pushing the difficulty too much further.

Aside from those tidbits, Miyazaki’s interviews and the storefront also confirmed that there will be plenty of new content in the DLC, including “more than 10” new bosses, many new weapons that require 8 new weapon categories to classify, and a “new element of progression” to keep players going.

But, you probably came here for a lot more than just those basic facts. Let’s talk lore and gameplay, and break down the Shadow of the Erdtree Gameplay Trailer shot-by-shot to figure out as much as we can about the DLC.

Before we get into the trailer, there are a few other important details hiding on the main store pages for Shadow of the Erdtree and Elden Ring on Bandai-Namco’s website. There is a surprising amount of context given to us here, which both gives us a good idea of what’s to come, and will help us understand some parts of the trailer a bit more clearly.

To start, let’s look at the new Shadow of the Erdtree section that has been added to the main game’s page. It begins with an image of someone — presumably the player character, the Tarnished — riding atop Torrent in a field of gold, with ghostly headstones surrounding them.

Behind, there is a city built onto clifftops, with many bridges and tall towers which are of similar architecture to Leyndell and the rune towers (but that city is definitely not Leyndell, at least not the one we’re familiar with), and a building that resembles the real-life Parthenon. Around the city, there are a number or forests, also elevated on clifftops.

shadow of the erdtree storefront screen 1

Finally, there is the Erdtree itself, and it looks… Different than we remember. Well, we will get into the why of that later, but for now, just remember that this gold-sapped, leafless, black version of the Erdtree exists. It is also gnarled and curved, unlike the straight trunk of the Erdtree in the Lands Between.

Accompanying this first photo, we have a paragraph with the title “A New Story”, giving us a lot of details. Parsing them, we can understand that the DLC will take place in the Land of Shadows, the Tanished will be guided by Miquella somehow, and that this Land of Shadows is where Marika ‘first set foot’, and we also know that this Land is out of the Erdtree’s way.

Most of this we will delve into later, but the most striking piece of information won’t come up again later, and that is that Marika, the goddess who started the Empyrean lineage and who is the mother (or father; it’s complicated) of the demigods whose runes we are claiming in the base game, apparently “first set foot” in the Land of Shadow.

While that doesn’t tell us where she came from, it certainly does reveal something interesting: that Marika did not “set foot” in the Lands Between first, and that presumably her time in the Land of Shadows informed what eventually became of The Lands Between by the time we get to them. While infinite speculation could be made about this, for now we will leave it at that: Marika spent time in the Land of Shadow before coming to the Lands Between.

The next section, entitled “Exploring a Familiar World Full of New Secrets”, is less exciting, but it does reveal some about traversal in the DLC: namely, that players will be able to transport seamlessly to and from the Land of Shadows, making it more akin to a new area in the game, rather than an entirely disconnected experience that will remove you from the base game.

The picture accompanying this section shows something that doesn’t come up anywhere else in the marketing material so far: In a dense bog (of course), we are shown a hunch-backed creature with a bulbous head, glowing yellow underneath black skin. This creature has a strong resemblance to the “Wormface” enemies in the base game, which spew Death Blight and can be found in a sunken valley in the Altus Plateau, as well as on Mt. Gelmir and in Crumbling Farum Azula. The difference here being the yellow-orange glow, indicating a creature that has been touched by the Erdtree.

The environment is also interesting. While swamps are a staple of FromSoft (and, in fact, Miyazaki himself has been “reflective” of that fact in his interviews), this densely-forested bog looks both unlike anything else in Elden Ring, and unlike anything else in the marketing (including unlike the other swamp, which we will discuss later). Despite it’s novelty, we can’t glean much from this except for the existence of a new, swamp-like area, but we do appreciate the Bloodborne vibes.

shadow of the erdtree storefront screen 3

Then, we come to the final section of the main page of the store. The text of this next section is entitled “A Further-Deepened RPG”, and it explains what we already knew: that new weapons, equipment, weapon skills, magic, enemies, boss encounters and plotlines will be introduced with the DLC.

That isn’t particularly interesting, given we had already assumed as much, but the image accompanying it — presumably showing off some of this new magic — is pretty interesting. It shows the Tarnished splayed onto all fours, with golden porcupine-esque barbed tendrils shooting from his back. He is wearing a new set of armor (we are pretty sure), and is being flanked by two blurry, unfamiliar stone enemies (who are presumably about to have their day ruined by whatever the attack does). Behind, there are several figured impaled through the chest by giant beams and elevated.

We won’t be speculating on the entire added roster of stuff that will be added with Shadow of the Erdtree, but we will say that if all of the new stuff looks this cool, then shadow of the Erdtree will be a huge success.

shadow of the erdtree storefront screen 2

After that incredibly interesting spread, we can check out the Shadow of the Erdtree page itself, where we can find this poem:

shadow of the erdtree poem

Some of what is revealed here we already know from before: The Land of Shadow, obscured by the Erdtree, where Marika “first set foot”. However, the next lines add a lot of interesting context: they begin by implying that the Land of Shadow has been flung into battle (not that different from the Lands Between’s Shattering, a war that took place between demigods preceding the events of the base game). Furthermore, that the destruction was wrought by “Messmer’s Flame”. We will get into who Messmer is later, but keep that in mind.

In the next section, we learn that Miquella — who you might recognize as a decaying hand in a cocoon in Mohg’s arena, or as Malenia’s twin brother for whom she is the blade of — went to this land. Apparently, he split his soul out of his flesh, implying that the body in Mohg’s cocoon is a lifeless husk, and that Miquella is actually in the Land of Shadow, where he has been stripped of everything, including his lineage and “all things golden”, implying that Miquella now exists totally outside of the grace of the Erdtree.

The final lines then conclude with, essentially, a call to the Tarnished, our player character, stating the Miquella is waiting for “the return of his promised Lord.” Given that the Tarnished is destined to become Elden Lord at the end of the base game (in most endings), and given that we play as the Tarnished, it stands to reason, then, that Miquella is waiting for us, the player character, within the Land of Shadow.

That is about all we can figure out from the store pages, and all this work will really help us contextualize a few things that happen in the main focus of this analysis: the Shadow of the Erdtree Gameplay Trailer, which we will now be able to fully analyze in order to figure as much out as we can about the DLC.

Now, let’s get into the meat of this: The Shadow of the Erdtree Gameplay Trailer. From Software is known for having trailers that reveal many secrets, sometimes even ones that can’t be pieced together in the game itself, and this trailer is no exception. Between the environments, enemies, new items, background details, and voiceovers, we are bound to get a lot out of this trailer as we break it down shot-for-shot to learn what we can about the upcoming DLC.

Shadow of the Erdtree Gameplay Trailer, for reference

The trailer begins by fading in from black on a pair of feet, standing on a familiar venue: Mohg’s Palace. This should be immediately recognizable to many, but this is the arena where we fought (the real) Mohg, Lord of Blood, in the base game. In front of the figure, blurred in the distance, we can see the cocoon containing Miquella (or at least Miquella’s body), whom we know Mohg kidnapped and planned to start a lineage using. Based on what we know now, however, the body in the cocoon is a husk, left behind when Miquella split away from it and entered the Land of Shadow.

As for the feet, while we can’t be sure who they belong to. The hem of the dress and shoes don’t match any of the primary female NPCs in the Elden Ring, and if it has appeared before, we are unfamiliar with it. Though it shares design elements from both Melina’s and — funnily enough — Kenneth Haigt’s robes, it isn’t a perfect match, and so it is likely that this is either a new character, or is simply meant to be a placeholder for a robe-adorned Tarnished.

1 melinas feet in moghs boss room

As the trailer begins, we also hear a male voiceover. He says, “Pure and radiant, he wields love to shrive clean the hearts of men. There is nothing more terrifying.” This unidentified voice (at least, unidentified to us; Vaati hasn’t let us know yet) seems to be talking about Miquella, whose characterization in item descriptions throughout Elden Ring fit with the description of him being ‘pure and radiant’. 

Purity and radiance, however, is also connected heavily with the concept of the “Golden Order”, an Erdtree-obsessed group in the Lands Between whose goals, as implied by the Golden Order ending of the game, seem to be to clean everyone’s minds in the Lands Between so that they can be brainwashed into being perfectly harmonious. This tracks with the idea of Miquella “shriving clean the hearts of men”, and would explain what the narrator finds “terrifying” about that. 

2 miquella entry to dlc

As the narrator says “There is nothing more terrifying,” a close shot of Miquella’s cocoon is shown, implying both that the DLC will heavily involve Miquella — something we already knew — and that the extended arm reaching from the cocoon will be the “portal” into the DLC — something that will later be all but confirmed.

Next, we fade to black, fading back in to a shot along a road in a field. Yellow light — not coming from an Erdtree but rather from the sun — bathes a fog-covered landscape. In the distance, towers right and bridges form, and a forest can be seen to the right. After a moment, a Torrent-riding Tarnished comes into frame, riding along the road toward the structures.

3 limgrave like area sunny no erdtree path bridges

This shot is actually very similar to the earlier promo picture from the Elden Ring website, with one notable difference: the distorted Erdtree is not visible behind the city. Though the screenshot appears to be taken along a similar angle, it lacks that feature, implying that the dark version of the Erdtree is located in a different place than that promotional shot showed.

Then, after a splash screen for Bandai-Namco, we can see the rider continuing through the field from the side. Now, there are ghostly headstones popping out of the golden grass, with a similar spectral effect to the ghosts found throughout the Lands Between. In the distance, we can see various ruins, cliffs, and white decaying roots, as well as a familiar sight: a map marker.

4 still no erdtree through ghostly grave filled trail

In the base game, these markers hold map fragments, which reveal parts of the world, and so their presence in the DLC basically confirms that field areas and an overall open-world feel will return in the DLC.

After From Software’s splash, we next see the Tarnished rider come up to the edge of a cliff, where we then see the distorted Erdtree behind a city, looking virtually identical to the promo shot from the website. There isn’t much more to add here, aside from the fact that we can tell more about the geography of the cliffs here.

5 a shadowy erdtree gold veins destroyed in city not leyndell

This does raise the question of whether the angle was simply odd in the earlier shot showing the city, preventing us from seeing the Erdtree, or if the earlier shot was of a different cityscape entirely, separate from this one beneath the dark Erdtree.

Next, we see what looks to be a Carian knight (at least, based on the armor), knelling before a surprisngly-clear Great Rune. The presence of the knight — and within a blue environment like the ones they are associated with — begs its own questions, but what is much more interesting is the Great Rune. While it somewhat resembles Renalla’s “Great Rune of the Unborn” inverted, it isn’t an exact match, meaning this one is likely a new, unique Great Rune.

6 carian knight in front of mysterious sigil bridge in background

While we don’t know who this Great Rune belongs to, it almost certainly belongs to someone. In the base game, all of the Great Runes belong to one of the Demigods who you fight throughout the game, and compromise parts of the broken Elden Ring rune (the one on all the box art). This Great Rune seems to be no exception: it appears to have been taken from the Elden Ring, specifically the left circle and the central cross-like beam.

As for who it belongs to… Well, we already know about one Demigod who will be present in the DLC, has been all over the marketing, and almost certainly drops a Great Rune: Messmer. While we can’t be sure, it seems very likely that what we are seeing will be Messmer’s Great Rune, unless there are more Demigods than one in the DLC. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help us figure out what it actually does, mechanically, but it’s something.

Next up, we have a character, presumably a Tarnished, standing in front of a red sky and some crags. They are wearing a new set of armor that resembles gladiator armor, and resting on a new sword with a unique flared design. This is obvious a new weapon, and the unique shape of the blade might indicate that it is even in one of the 8 new weapon categories that we know will be added with the DLC.

7 armored knight big sword red sky

Next, we get another voiceover. We actually can’t tell if the speaker is the same as before, though it is close enough that we think it is. The unidentified voiceover says “In that forsaken place, blood must spill. The blood of your fellows, the Erdtree faithful.” This seems to imply that the Land of Shadow is a “forsaken place” where “blood must spill” (as is customary in a FromSoft game). The last line of this opening speech is very interesting, however, as it implies that the blood being spilled is of “your fellows, the Erdtree faithful.” 

If we assume the narrator is speaking to the Tarnished, this would imply that the Land of Shadow is especially deadly for us, who survive only due to the grace of the Erdtree, and that Miquella might be one of the dangers there. At first glance, this seemingly contradicts the store page information we looked at earlier, implying Miquella is waiting for and guiding the Tarnished and that he is guiding. But, the cryptic phrasing could imply that there are other dangers in the Land of Shadow, and even if Miquella was a threat himself, it wouldn’t be too odd from FromSoft to make an enemy out of someone you’re meant to trust.

While that line is playing, a new shot depicts a huge, kneeling figure holding a jar (not a living one, though) with both hands, and wearing a new set of armor. The environment around this figure is mostly generic, aside from a strange column with a very unique, curling design. We will see these columns later, be we can’t help but think that the curling design might be symbolic of a snake. And, well… there is a very prominent snake elsewhere in this trailer.

8 jar knight bulky greyish sky twirly column

We then get a very brief tracking shot of a figure laying in a field of purple flowers and glowing mushrooms. The figure is wearing a white mask and robes similar to those worn by the White Masks in Elden Ring, the most familiar member of which is surely Varre (the guy who calls you maidenless), and the environment appears to resemble a cavern when you look far enough back.

9 blue field masked figure on ground pretty flowers

While a White Mask might seem out of place at first, we have to remember that the White Masks are servants of Mohg, who kidnapped Miquella, the focus of the DLC. As such, it seems very possible that at least one White Mask would, on orders from Mohg, enter the Land of Shadow looking for the real Miquella, and have perished along the way.

After that brief shot, we see a throne room. A Tarnished is approaching a throne in a room illuminated by blue-flame braziers. On the throne sits a ruler of some sort, adorned in a blue gown, a regal headpiece, and collar frills.

The bluish glow is similar to the one we saw earlier with the Carian Knight, and the outfit and environment seems somewhat reminiscent of both Raya Lucaria and Caria Manor, so it seems likely that there is some connection there. Perhaps the noble Caria family fled to the Land of Shadow when the Shattering war began, leaving their knights and obligations (such as to Ranni and Renalla) behind.

Next up: Poison Swamp.

11 swamp trees town walls torrent

Yep. That’s another poison swamp. Thanks Miyazaki. The Tarnished is riding toward what looks like a town wall in a sparsely-planted swamp, possibly underground. While this is a new location, not much else can be gleaned from this. Except that Miyazaki, now “reflective” about poison swamps, has nonetheless included yet another poison swamp.

We then cut from that to a portrait, deeply yellow in color. It depicts two people: a solemn, withering man in the foreground, sitting or kneeling, and a young woman with brains standing behind him, with a hand on his shoulder.

12 portrait yellowed standing woman maiden sitting lord

While it is difficult to figure out much from just this, it does evoke similar images and ideas throughout Elden Ring of a Tarnished and their finger maiden, though the specific identities of either figure in the painting is unclear.

After this, we get a series of three shots exploring several disparate areas. Let’s look at them together:

  • A Tarnished is making their way across a walkway in some sort of room with dozens of dangling jars. The prominence of jars in this trailer is certainly interesting, though we don’t really know what to make of it. If we had to guess, though, this specific shot depicts one of the dungeons that will feature in the DLC, though beyond that there isn’t much to go off.
  • A Tarnished walking up a chain-supported stone pipe (it’s not a column; look at the base) above a huge pool of lava, all within some large, stone structure. It appears that the pipe, with a spinning mechanism housed within iron bars on the bottom, might be dispensing the lava that fills the chamber.
  • A view of the city we’ve seen elsewhere, as shot from the forest we see near it. The stone city is reminiscent of Leyndell, including having the Land of Shadow’s Erdtree nearby and extending over it, but is ultimately clearly different. One thing of note, but that we will come back to later, is that the top sections of the city appear to have levitating, black fragments being pulled from them. This effect reminds us of Crumbling Farum Azula, with debris suspended in a constant vortex, but is much calmer, with much smaller pieces.

While the city is shown, a voiceover from a female narrator begins: “They were never saints. They just happened to be on the losing side of a war.” The voice seems to be Malenia’s, given the similarities between the two when we compare that line to her dialogue before her bossfight in the base game. If so, this would imply that Malenia is destined to show up in a prominent role in the DLC, perhaps with a questline expanding upon her role in the base game. Since Malenia is the twin sister of Miquella and has been awaiting his return, this would make sense; finally, there is a path for her to find her long-lost brother.

The question of who the narrator is talking about is very unclear. All we know about them is that they lost a war, that Malenia has a negative view of them (since they “were never saints”), and that information about them will presumably be found in the Land of Shadow. Even if they are a faction we know about in the lore “Malenia doesn’t like them” and “Lost a war” covers… well… most factions in Elden Ring.

While the second half of the voiceover is playing, we finally get a good look at an enemy (can you believe the trailer waited so long?). In what appears to be the same golden fields as earlier shown, there is a giant golem-like creature that resembles a huge brazier with a face and limbs. It stomps, fire exploding around its food as it does, though we have a feeling whatever this is has much deadlier attacks than that.

16 brazier golem covered in fire fire giant symbol field twirly column

What’s easier to miss is the background, helping place the geography of the location. Behind the golem to the right, we can see more curly columns like the one we saw earlier, informing us where that is. To the left, we can see the false Erdtree, closer than in some other shots, as well as the city in front of it. Wherever this golem is, it seems to be at a crossroads of sorts, and near that earlier knight.

After that, we can see a creature which is somewhat similar to the “wormface” enemies from the base game, but with a defined mouth instead of worms. It is also more snakelike — fitting with the snake motifs we’ve noticed before.

17 deathworm grab bluish sky hell attack like those deathworms

Whatever this enemy is, it is in the process of grabbing a Tarnished by its mouth, raising them in the air before spitting them out harshly, in an attack that is sure to kill me at least a few times. The moonlit sky in the background all but confirms that the day/night cycle from the game returns in the DLC.

After that, we get what might be one of the most interesting designs in the trailer. We get a good look at a set of double teeth — flat, human-like teeth behind lion-esque fangs — as they snap shut. Then, a shot of a bare foot setting in place, red robes flowing around, in an obvious parallel to Margit/Morgott from the base game. Then, we see it, in it’s full glory.

18 the coolest lionlike curled omen stuff blue eyes curly columns city

Yes, that does look cool as heck. And yes, it does look like it’ll chew my Tarnished up for dinner a dozen times. But, apart from looking incredibly cool, this boss has some very notable features. Most striking are the pale, blue eyes, standing out from the rest of it’s appearance. We don’t know what they signify, but given FromSoft’s reputation with eyes — especially enemies with glowing eyes — we’re sure it’s something terrifying or tragic.

And then there are the many horns on the creature’s body, closely resembling those of an omen, as can be seen on both Morgott and Mohg in the base game, as well as many of their kin in the Leyndell sewers. This implies that this creature — which already bears some resemblance to the Omen brothers — is almost certainly connected to Omens, and maybe even specifically to them. If there are two demigod bosses in this DLC, we’d hedge our bets of this being the second one apart from Messmer.

Just to make sure you don’t miss it, too, make sure to notice more curling columns surrounding the boss’s arena, which appears to be within the city itself.

We next see gameplay of whatever this boss is, as he leaps in the air and then snaps down with fury toward a Tarnished, shattering the ground as he lands.

elden ring shadow of the erdtree official gameplay reveal trailer 1 26 screenshot

Then, the boss rises up on his legs — the dark Erdtree clearly visible behind him — and starts shooting a stream of smoky death blight. For those who don’t remember the frogs or the wormfaces, that’s the cloud of smoke which accumulates death, which kills you instantly. The implications of the boss having the ability to spew death are unknown, though it must be noted that the environment looks like it could connect to Crumbling Farum Azula architecturally, which is also one of the places with the deathblight-spewing wormfaces.

The last shot of the boss is somewhat confusing, as he twists and contorts in the air, with scales and a serpentine body visible. Lightning accumulates in a ball above him before fading out, and the trailer fades to black without answer as to how that attack functions.

19 hellish lightning attack lionlike boss city strange contortion

Considering the tying of Messmer and Rykard in with snake imagery, the lion-like head of the boss, and it’s omen-like horns — not to mention its two sets of teeth and complex attack types — whatever this being is seems to draw inspiration from several disparate sources. While we aren’t sure if it can talk, it might be the key to answering a variety of questions we still have about many of Elden Ring’s characters, even as it raises new ones itself.

When the trailer fades back in, we finally get a good glimpse at who looks to be the final boss of the DLC: Messmer the Impaler. While he name is said in the trailer, we actually know that is who it is because he is featured in the Collector’s Edition under that title, which we will look briefly at at the end of the analysis.

We get four fairly brief shots of Messmer here: one at the level of his knees, where we see his elongated proportion and a thin, red snake that will accompany him throughout the trailer, then a shot of darkness in his hand turning to a red flame, evocative of the fire giant’s flames. Then, a shot of him in front of a statue, flame in hand, letting us get a good look at his impaling spear and interesting details. Finally, a shot of his face, illuminated by the flame, where we can see yellow eyes, which usually indicate the presence of the frenzied flame, a typically destructive influence in Elden Ring’s lore.

If Messmer is as important as the other marketing material implies, then his little pet snake might prove very important — and in fact might connect to the curly, snake-like architecture we saw earlier. Then, there is the idea that Messmer is likely an agent of the Frenzied Flame, his yellow eyes and deep red flame bearing similarities to other Frenzy-inflicted beings like the Fire Giant. And lastly, of course, there is the spear itself which — especially when considered alongside his snake — evokes the Serpent-Hunting Spear in Rykard’s boss arena.

While we observe all this, a new voiceover starts. Given the subject, we are presuming this to be Messmer. He says, “Mother, wouldst thou truly Lordship sanction, in one so bereft of light?”

Now that’s an interesting on. Firstly, since Marika is the only “mother” who could sanction Lordship (capitalized in the transcription), it implies that Messmer is a child of Marika, making him yet another demigod. He then goes on to question someone, presumably the Tarnished, for being “bereft of light”. This despite the fact that the Tarnished has the Erdtree’s blessing, and despite the fact that Messmer apparently resides in the Land of Shadow – a land implicitly and explicitly “bereft of [the Erdtree’s] light.”

Does this imply that Messmer isn’t from the Land of Shadow, or that he somehow remains connected to the Erdtree despite being in it? And could he be speaking to someone other than the Tarnished, like Miquella, who is actually severed from the Erdtree? These questions can’t be answered yet, but they do raise interesting questions as to what plotline Messmer, a known boss, will be involved with.

Next, we get a series of shots, all clearly meant to showcase some of the new player abilities. These are all a treat. In order, we see at least 6 new abilities, each showcased in interesting environments. Let’s do these rapid-fire:

  • A new weapon or set of two weapons, alongside a new ash of war which sees the Tarnished dash past their enemy and slash back against them. This is used against a hunched enemy holding a candle sconce, with Omen horns on his head and tattered rags as a cloak. This environment is very obviously a cave-like dungeon, and we can see a door in the background.
  • A Tarnished throwing a new kind of throwing knives at a ghostly, black enemy. Despite only being throwing knives, 4 shots from them causes enough stance damage to stagger the enemy, implying an improvement to throwing weapons (or, at least, those specific throwing weapons). There is a shadowy town in the background.
  • A Tarnished in a blue hood and white dress levitating, summoning butterflies, and using them to attack zombie-like enemies in what appears to be the main city, dark Erdtree behind her. Butterflies have some connection to Malenia, further implicating her involvement in the DLC.
  • A Tarnished uses a spinning kick move against a knight-like boss. This is interesting, as it might imply an expanded roster of unarmed attacks, as the Tarnished — looking their Bloodborne best — doesn’t appear to be wielding a weapon.
  • A Tarnished is throwing at some enemies on a bridge. It explodes in fire. It’s really cool. That is all.
  • A Tarnished in a heavily forested area — resembling the forest we’ve seen to the right of the DLC’s main city — loading a shotgun before unloading it as a fully automatic, fire-projectile-firing weapon against a shielded soldier.
  • Finally, a Tarnished at the edge of a cliff, with a giant, red-furred bear head. The bear head roars, similar in appearance and effect to the Dragon Incantations which transform the Tarnished’s head into a giant dragon’s during use. Bear Incantations? In Elden Ring, that’s far more terrifying…

While these abilities are playing, the unknown male speaker (not Messmer) chimes in to say “I presume you, too, are keen to know. Just what Kind Miquella is doing here.” This simply implies that we are in pursuit of Miquella (which we already knew). Funnily enough, unless “here” doesn’t refer to the Land of Shadow, we already know the answer: Miquella is in the Land of Shadow because he split away from his body, and he is waiting for the Tarnished in the Land of Shadow in the meantime.

The next series of shots seems to showcase a variety of unique enemies and environments. We don’t have much information about any of these, so we will go over them briefly:

  • A red-garbed figure with two swords engages the Tarnished in a field of blue flowers and luminescent glow. Her fast movements and the environment remind us of Sekiro bosses. It should be noted that this appears to be a different area than the similar-looking flower patch where the White Mask’s body was earlier.
  • A rider on a giant armored war-boar (yes) holds his massive blade up to the sky, and it is infused with a frightening purple energy. This is in a clearing near a scraggy forest, the dark Erdtree visible in the background.
  • A hippo-like creature runs along the ground, mouth ajar, before rising up and coming back down to cover itself in golden energy normally associated with the Erdtree in the base game. The move looks similar to the promotional image of the Tarnished spouting porcupine-like spines from his back. The boggy environment has dense vegetation and is near steep cliffs.
  • In a subterranean, purplish-area, a skeletal creature with top-heavy proportions rides a white horse whose back half is rotting. It has a blue gem in its chest. As we watch it, it tosses a bone boomerang at a Tarnished, barely missing before returning to the creature.

Next, we cut to what is sure to be one of the more iconic parts of this trailer (and the DLC, if it is present as a cinematic), we see a decayed person in ragged clothes. Through their eye, a stake has been driven. Their lower half is gone, but hoisting up the body just below the shoulders are two spines which closely resemble Marika’s crosses/stakes that can be found throughout the game, themselves symbolizing parts of the Elden Ring.

36 marika staked corpse pulling stick

This poor soul is reaching with both arms for the stake impaling them, and appears to try to pull it out. However, the uneven stretching of the thing’s neck indicates that, if it succeeds, its head is coming off with the stake. Who this character is and what their connection is to Marika’s stakes, we don’t know. But it does look really, really cool.

Messmer then speaks again, saying “Those stripped of the Grace of Gold shall all meet death. In the embrace of Messmer’s flame.” While this line is really cool, all it really does is confirm that Messmer wants to kill those who have lost the “Grace of Gold”, and that he will use the incredibly destructive “Messmer’s flame” to do so. The use of “Messmer” in third person begs some question as to whether he truly is the speaker for these sections, but given that “Messmer’s Flame” seems to be the official title of something (and how cryptic everyone in Elden Ring speaks), that can be easily explained.

As Messmer’s line plays, we cut to him, clearly in battle with the Tarnished. And… well, let’s just get a blow-by-blow:

  • Messmer runs toward the Tarnished and leaps. His long, thin, red snake friend encircles him.
  • He bringes a spear of deep red flame down toward the Tarnished, which explodes in more fire on the ground.
  • In a follow-up attack, black swords sprout from the ground out of the fire, still wreathed in it.
  • Messmer summons his giant spear from even more red flame, looking ready to strike again. His cute little snake friend hisses behind him.
  • The Tarnished prepares to attack with a weapon that looks something like a blade-welded, double-sided spear, raising it above their head for a charge.
  • Before the Tarnished can attack, he is speared by a smaller blade by Messmer, who lifts up the Tarnished and shoots deep-red fire up onto him.
  • After a fiery slash, the Tarnished then rises into the air, sword in hand, with golden wings behind him, in a move very similar to a familiar Crucible Knight attack (which has never been accessible to the player before).
  • The last shot shows the Tarnished charging, wings out, at Messmer, also prepared to strike. It also looks like a really good desktop wallpaper.

Our very informed takeaway of this is that this fight is going to be a nightmare. We suspect that Messmer is going to be the final boss of the Shadow of the Erdtree, and if FromSoft has proven anything with the final bosses of their DLC’s, it’s that they tend to be harder than anything in the base game. And the base game, this time, had Malenia.

Prepare to die, folks.

As the final parts of the battle play, we conclude the voiceovers with the female voice we think to be Malenia. She says, “Come, now. Touch the withered arm, and travel to the realm of shadow. I will not be far behind. May we meet again.”

This all but confirms the suspicion that Miquella’s rotting arm, extending from his cocoon in Mohg’s palace, is a “portal” to the DLC, and also seems to confirm that Malenia will have an expanded role and plotline in the DLC, and even seems to be an ally. Finally, we can let Malenia know that we know where her brother is without her activating Waterfowl Dance (though we’re sure she will find an excuse to do so anyway).

After fading to black and displaying the DLC’s logo, we briefly come back in to see a golden figure — who may be Miquella, divested of body — slowly moving their hand as they come into frame. Then, we see that hand framing the dark Erdtree from below. The dark Erdtree is illuminated from behind by an incredibly bright light, and there is a spectral, white visage above it resembling leaves.

It seems that, whatever Miquella is doing in the Land of Shadow, it involves this dark Erdtree, then. We already know we will be following his footsteps, so surely that dark Erdtree (one could say, the Shadow of the Erdtree) is going to be pivotal for us as well.

After a few pieces of marketing material showing the game’s poster, release date, and the DLC reward (the “Ring of Miquella” gesture), we get a glimpse at what the $249.99 Collector’s Edition of the game will have to offer.

48 collectors edition shot unique look at things art book

Of note here, Messmer is referred to as “Messmer the Impaler”. We can also see that the box that the Collector’s edition comes in has a crest that can also be seen on Messmer’s back, implying some kind of crest or other symbol of status.

The crest has a wreath of flame — possibly indicating the Frenzied Flame. On the right side is a braided circle, evoking druidic imagery and possibly connecting to the Crucible Knights. Finally, in the center, we have a sword — not Messmer’s spear — with a snake wrapped around it, the symbolism there being obvious given Messmer’s unknown snake companion.


And, with that, the Shadow of the Erdtree Gameplay Trailer concludes. And, we just have to say… it’s a lot. Between all the many connections and allusions to other parts of Elden Ring’s lore, the dozens of new areas and enemies shown, the cryptic voiceovers, and the other details, we feel that we’ve done a pretty good job spotting things and trying to tie them into the base game where possible, while trying to figure out what exactly the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC will involve.

That said, there are almost certainly other details or connections we didn’t notice — From Software is notorious for hiding hints and references like that — and most of what we did notice can only be partially known at this stage. Until the DLC actually releases on June 21st, we can only speculate about most of what will be involved. That said, this trailer has given us more to work with than even the average FromSoft trailer, so there plenty to fuel that speculation.

Let us know in the comments below if you noticed anything we missed, or if you made any connections we didn’t. Guessing what will be in the DLC based on trailers and marketing, after all, is half the fun.

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Graves
Graves

Graves is an avid writer, web designer, and gamer, with more ideas than he could hope to achieve in a lifetime. But, armed with a mug of coffee and an overactive imagination, he'll try. When he isn't working on a creative project, he is painting miniatures, reading cheesy sci-fi novels, or making music.

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