Shadow Of The Erdtree’s Hands-On Approach To The Story Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

For the first time in a Souls game, I actually know what's going on.

Story Highlights

  • Shadow of the Erdtree, Elden Ring’s first DLC offers a different approach to the story.
  • It’s a lot more understandable as it’s being told directly to you, instead of through vague remarks.
  • This has made the experience a lot more interesting because players can keep up with what’s going on.

As great as Souls games are, one thing I’ve always found the genre struggles with is its storytelling. There’s no denying that FromSoftware’s environmental storytelling has its place. But for a game like Elden Ring, with its vast open spaces, I think a more structured approach could’ve been better. And I’m glad to see that FromSoftware agreed.

The Shadow of the Erdtree DLC offers one of the more structured storytelling arcs that we’ve seen from FromSoftware. From the very beginning, you’re told exactly what your goal is, and continue to be fed information on how and why you’re going to achieve it. It’s not like the original game where you’re told to become Elden Lord. But it gets even better. Here’s why.

  • About the Author: Danish Bukhari is a long-time fan of the Soulslike genre. He specifically loves Elden Ring, having invested over 150 hours in the title. 

A Recognizable Goal

In the base game, when you set out on your journey, you don’t exactly know what it even means to become an Elden Lord. Or if that’s something you’d even like to do. Then, over the course of your journey, you run into countless characters, many of whom are out doing their own thing. And in the middle of all that, your main motivation can get a bit muddied up.

YouTube video

This isn’t the case with how Shadow of the Erdtree is tackling its approach to the story. From the get-go, you’re told that you’re supposed to find Miquella, because, like many other kindred spirits, he’s calling you into a place called the Shadow Realm. You then continue to find other comrades who join you on this journey, some of whom are native to this shadowy place.

It’s clear this location has its own history, and you continue to chip away at just what happened here, in classic FromSoftware style. However, because the base premise has been well-established, finding unique bits of lore about the Land of Shadow only helps to provide further knowledge and understanding. Instead of being the main thing you have to go off of.

A Clear Path

Stepping out of Limgrave, you’d be hard-pressed to know just where you’re supposed to go. While the guidance of the Grace can help a bit, it’s still a tad confusing to know exactly where the game wants you to go, especially from a narrative point of view. This isn’t the case in the DLC. Players are given a proper progression path which serves to relay the narrative too.

Miquella's Crosses In Elden Ring (via FromSoftware).
Miquella’s Crosses In Elden Ring (via FromSoftware).

This is through Miquella’s crosses, which are placed at different points on the map. These crosses tell us the path Miquella took. And players can follow along on them to essentially learn more about why he’s here. These also help us retread Miquella’s path and hopefully find him by the end. It’s an interesting narrative device and gives a common goal to all of the kindred spirits you find.

It’s also great to see everyone’s on the same page. Instead of having an ensemble of characters, all of whom are off doing their own thing, NPCs in Shadow of the Erdtree, all stand under a single banner. This is because they’re part of a group set on finding Miquella and learning more about the Shadow Realm. It’s a unique way to play a Souls game, and I’m all for it.

Gameplay Enhancement

It’s certainly a fun experience to play through Elden Ring, knowing not just what I’m doing, but why I’m doing it. Perhaps the biggest achievement is that my knowledge of this realm was provided to me not through the wiki or detailed YouTube essays, but through the game itself. This is even more impressive because the details were relayed simply through dialogue and the environment.

The Land Of Shadow is literally that.
byu/MindOfTheSwarm inEldenRingLoreTalk

While you can certainly learn a lot more, if you dive into item descriptions or consult lore experts, for the average player, knowing the basics of what you’re doing in the Shadow Realm is more than enough to serve as a fun backdrop. Now, it’s up to the game to take things from there and continue to make things exciting, which Shadow of the Erdtree certainly has done.

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Danish is an opinion piece writer at eXputer who loves sharing his takes on the industry. He is a long-time PC gamer with a passion for delving into the discussion and discourse surrounding the titles that he plays. Often eager to jump right into the fold and formulate his take on the latest topics, his noteworthy presence on gaming forums, and keen insight help him understand the gaming community in a thorough manner. This helps him provide a more nuanced look into any topic or discussion.

Writes Opinion Pieces at eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Mass Communication.

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