What Shadow of the Erdtree (Probably) Means to Me

Elden Ring is a game with a resonant effect. As soul-crushingly hard as some of the enemies are, there’s something incredibly enriching about the experience, fulfilling, even revealing. All Souls games are meticulously crafted. Many dupes are meaninglessly hard but From Software games are full of meaning. When people simply refer to the difficulty, I think they miss the greater point of the game. The difficulty is simply a necessary component of the overall narrative. It’s merely a narrative device (albeit a very important one).

As clever as they (Miyazaki and co) are at presenting their art, they are even more adept at misdirection. While the games are punishing, they are supposed to push you to being clever. Every game begs to be broken. 

This world is unfair, unforgiving, and often untruthful. As such, you must react in kind. After years of playing Elden Ring, I’ve finally found how to effectively break the game. A certain legendary weapon paired with strategic leveling and bonuses. With that, enemies are putty. Let me be clear, there is no wrong way to play. But to play “honestly” in the Soulsborne universe is foolish, to say the least, if not a death sentence. Everyone finds a different path up the mountain (and for many that means quietly rage quitting halfway through and coming back months later).

Just as in life, we’re given precious few details, presented with diametrically opposed perspectives, and a gauntlet of unending trials that we must enlist the help of others in order to conquer. Without study or practice, we’re likely to get a “bad ending” and it’s easy to miss the main thread of the story in the heat of action. You can choose to grieve over every failure or laugh at the absurdity of being thrown out of the level. You can go after every shining drop or avoid the honey traps altogether. There’s an infinite number of ways to experience the game, not one of them more valid than the other. With a game this hard, whatever works, works. (Even though you might need therapy after some of the more infuriating levels. If you didn’t go temporarily insane after the fire troll fight, more power to you.)

The Land of Shadow. A place obscured by the Erdtree
Where the goddess Marika first set foot.

A land purged in an unsung battle. 
Set ablaze by Messmer’s flame.

It was to this land that Miquella departed. 
Divesting himself of his flesh, his strength, his lineage. 
Of all things Golden.

And now Miquella awaits the return of his promised Lord. 

Guided by Empyrean Miquella, players are beckoned to the Land of Shadow, a place obscured by the Erdtree where the goddess Marika first set foot.

In these strange new lands, players discover the dark secrets of the world as they meet others who follow in Miquella’s footsteps with ulterior motives.

I’ve been brushing up on Elden Ring ahead of the release of Shadow of the Erdtree. While I try to freshen up my skills and refresh on the rich story, I can’t help but think no matter what the game will throw me for a loop (and cause me to throw my controller at some point), no matter how much I prepare. I have my formula. Try, fail, read (guides and tips), repeat. Victory is waiting behind some piece of knowledge. I just have to unearth it. Discovering it through experience or through the Elden Ring Wiki. Either way, we all find a way to summon the strength to defeat that unbeatable boss. 

I can’t quite say what my expectations are for the game, but I know it will be a memorable one (and one I will need a lot of support, both offline and online) in order to complete.


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