5 things to know before playing ‘Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree’ (2024)


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“Shadow of the Erdtree,” the concluding chapter to 2022’s “Elden Ring,” releases Friday and you are not ready — even if you think you are.

Playing through the downloadable content took me about 60 hours, and I’m still discovering new things. I received some help from YouTuber FightinCowboy and the guide writers at IGN, so I’d recommend their platforms as well. And I’m here to pay some of that kindness back with a general overview of what to expect in “Shadow of the Erdtree,” some mistakes to avoid and how best to prepare.

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On social media, I showed off my Level 713 character (the highest possible level in “Elden Ring”) and boasted I was ready. Some of my followers scoffed at me and lectured me that I would probably ruin the experience by being too strong.


Dear reader, they were wrong. The enemies are scaled with the assumption that you’ve built a demigod in preparation. Even at the highest possible level, my maxed-out Sword of Night and Flame did almost invisible amounts of damage to enemy life bars. “Shadow of the Erdtree” warns you early that it has its own leveling system that requires collecting items called Scadutree Fragments to add a 5 percent boost to your attack and defense statistics. The higher your statistics are in the base game, the higher your percentage buffs from these fragments, so cash in that experience.


Don’t skip unusual enemies (especially the zombie ghosts)

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Scadutree Fragments are scattered around the map to incentivize exploration, but they’re also hidden as enemy rewards. One mistake I made: I kept ignoring the skinny zombie ghosts that hold pots or jars above their heads. (They mix right in with mobs of regular zombie ghosts.) I didn’t realize that they usually drop Scadutree Fragments or the new Revered Spirit Ashes item, which offers similar attack and defense boosts to your spirit summon partners. I’ve spent 10 hours retracing my steps throughout the entire game to find these tiny little enemies I kept skipping. Don’t make the same mistake I did.


In fact, make it a point to kill every enemy that seems unique. They usually drop some reward, and in the case of the new monstrous hippo field bosses, it will be more of these stat-boosting fragments.


Explore above and below

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The Shadow Realm is constructed with vertical exploration in mind, so it’s more important than ever to look above and below you to find pathways. Some of the most important areas are behind hard-to-find passages. Examine every odd-looking cliff or slope; chances are it will lead somewhere. Without spoiling too much, I’ll mention some locations to explore with a little guidance.

  • The Moorth Ruins seem unassuming, but keep an eye out for pathways underground, as well as above ground to the north.
  • Shadow Keep is the game’s largest dungeon and one of the most complicated ever made by FromSoftware. Not only does it have numerous entrances and exits, but it’s also a key hub to accessing other important regions. If you think you’re done exploring it, trust me, odds are you’re not.
  • Hidden walls and leaps of faith are old FromSoftware exploration gimmicks that have returned in a big way. Keep an eye out for weird-looking walls.


Read the item descriptions for story

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This is obvious advice for any Souls games veterans, but the story of the game is revealed through reading descriptions of items you pick up, from crafting trinkets to gestures to the souls of demigods.


It’s more important here, as there are several quests in “Shadow of the Erdtree” involving many characters with interweaving, intricate stories. Reading these descriptions and knowing what to do with certain key items here will help you find the most secret and story-important areas of this world. The more you read and remember, the more likely you’ll find these places. It might not be a bad idea to write notes to yourself like a classic pen-and-paper adventure.


Watch these YouTube prep videos

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Beyond leveling up, “Shadow of the Erdtree” has some hardline requirements for access, namely beating the characters Mohg and Radahn. Both are optional fights and are hard to find, so don’t be afraid to look up how to find them if you don’t know yet.

And if that’s done, watch these preparation videos from YouTube creators VaatiVidya (“How to fully prepare for Elden Ring’s DLC”) and FightinCowboy (“How to prepare for Shadow of the Erdtree”). The former is most famous for his story analysis and breakdowns, while the latter is famous for complete walk-throughs of massive role-playing games. Both offer the right information to make sure you have the right weapons, abilities and statistics.

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5 things to know before playing ‘Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree’ (2024)
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