It seems like an eternity has passed since FromSoftware officially unveiled Shadow of the Erdtree, the initial part of DLC on the way to Elden Ring. Surprisingly, it’s been less than a year. However, when that single image was hinted at on social media – on February 28, 2023, less than a year after the base game arrived in March, 2022 – it sent the esteemed action-RPG’s fervent fan base into a frenzy, with internet commentators across the board dissecting, twisting and turning the 16:9 still in innumerable ways in their attempt to make sense of it.
I was one of those individuals, pondering in the immediate aftermath of the DLC’s revelation: Is Shadow of the Erdtree the Elden Ring Miquella DLC we’ve desired all along? A full 327 days later and I’m no closer to answering that, which for me, marks both a blessing and a potential curse for Elden Ring’s next long-awaited and highly-anticipated steps – be that in the Lands Between or wherever else its sword may fall.
Time, the great teaser
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I’ve mentioned this countless times before, but I’m a strong believer in developers taking their time behind the scenes. I’d much rather wait longer for something than pay for something that’s been rushed, and therefore will never criticize the decision to delay or hold off on games until they’re absolutely ready. That said, this stance never makes the wait itself any easier, especially when it applies to something like Elden Ring’s first official slice of added content. I, like any Elden Ring fan out there, cannot wait to immerse myself in whatever’s next, and the fact that we still don’t know, well, anything about Shadow of the Erdtree is equally wonderful and mind-bending.
Reviewing FromSoftware’s past works, there were six months between Dark Souls 3’s worldwide release and its first expansion, Ashes of Ariandel. Dark Souls 2 rolled out Crown of the Sunken King just three months after its base game’s launch; while Bloodborne’s The Old Hunters arrived eight months after its source. The first Dark Souls, released in October 2011 on PS3 and Xbox 360 (September in Japan), waited 10 months for its Artorias of the Abyss DLC, which was included in the game’s Prepare To Die Edition PC port in August the following year. The Activision-published Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the only FromSoftware game since Dark Souls not to receive any added content beyond official updates, making the Sengoku-period action RPG the outlier among an otherwise busy bunch.
Approaching the two-year mark without a hint of official communication beyond a single image is unprecedented against FromSoftware’s previous base game-to-DLC timelines, but Elden Ring itself is likewise unprecedented in terms of its stature and scale. It’s a huge game, with scores of characters, locations, baddies and bosses, so it makes sense that its first expansion matches that ambition and execution. The thing is: that’s a bit of a double-edged Greatsword. Yes, it’s good that FromSoftware is taking its time to get Shadow of the Erdtree just right, but the wait has also generated more hype than I’ve ever seen among the Soulsborne community – even more so than before the arrival of Elden Ring itself.