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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree trailer analysed

After what has seemed like forever since its initial announcement a year ago, on Wednesday we finally got a full trailer for Elden Ring DLC Shadow of the Erdtree.

Eurogamer spoke to creator Hidetaka Miyazaki to gain some more details: it’s FromSoftware’s biggest DLC to date, is based on previous workings from George R. R. Martin, and has a developed world design that blurs the line between field areas and dungeons.

But is there more we can garner from the trailer itself? Let’s go into detail.


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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Official Gameplay Reveal TrailerWatch on YouTube

It’s Miquella’s world

As suspected from the DLC’s concept art and now confirmed in the trailer, Shadow of the Erdtree will follow the story of Miquella. Who’s Miquella? He’s the twin brother of Malenia, the boss we all love to hate.

The twins are the demigod offspring of Queen Marika and Radagon, though both were cursed from birth. While Malenia is afflicted with Scarlet Rot, Miquella is doomed to be eternally young. He devised Unalloyed Gold, which some suspect is a new form of magic seen in-game as the Unalloyed Gold Needle that allows players to ward curses from the gods.

Miquella used the Haligtree in an attempt to grow older, lying in a cocoon and binding himself to the tree by watering it with his blood. Yet his cocoon was stolen by the depraved Mohg Lord of Blood who wished to become a god himself and commune with Miquella in his dreams.

Which brings us to the opening of the trailer, in which we clearly see Miquella’s cocoon in Mohg’s palace, a decaying arm hanging limply from an opening.

Limp grotesque arm hangs from a strange cocoon on an altar in Shadow of the Erdtree trailer
Image credit: FromSoftware

Miyazaki confirmed to Eurogamer that Shadow of the Erdtree will take place in a brand new map, while in the trailer itself a voice states “touch the withered arm and travel to the realm of shadow”. It seems fair, then, that we’ll access this new realm directly from Miquella’s arm – something confirmed by Miyazaki to IGN. In that same interview, Miyazaki added players will be following in Miquella’s footsteps through the Land of Shadow. In a further interview with Famitsu, Miyazaki said the DLC is not set in the distant past or future, but the same timeline as the base game. As Miquella is sleeping, is this a world of dreams?

Right at the end of the trailer we likely see him in action too as he raises his hand towards…the Haligtree?

Golden haired glowing figure seen from behind raising a hand
Image credit: FromSoftware

For more on Miquella specifically, check out the below video from Eurogamer’s Zoe Delahunty-Light.

Elden Ring Lore: Miquella Explained

Elden Ring Lore: Miquella Explained

What’s with the tree?

Trees are important in Elden Ring, not least of all the central Erdtree that dominates the horizon from almost any angle of The Lands Between. But it seems the tree in this trailer isn’t that same Erdtree – it’s a different shape and bleeds a sort of golden corruption. What’s more, Miyazaki told Famitsu the DLC’s title refers directly to this specific tree, known as the “shadow tree”, confirming this landscape is not The Lands Between.

Perhaps, then, this is the Haligtree – that twisting late-game Legacy Dungeon where players fight Malenia. Miquella is closely linked to the Haligtree, so its presence in the DLC would make thematic sense. Could that golden corruption spilling from the branches be Unalloyed Gold?

Elden Ring player character rides torrent through field of ghostly gravestones with giant tree weeping yellow in the background
Image credit: FromSoftware

The man in red

Much of the trailer is dominated by this guy: masked, cloaked in red, and wreathed in snakes. Plus he takes centre stage in the key artwork. But who is he?

Miyazaki confirmed to IGN this character is Messmer, a key figure in Shadow of the Erdtree who’s related to the theme of shadow that runs throughout the DLC. Messmer sits upon a throne taken from the boss room where players fight Morgott (Mohg’s brother), which symbolises Messmer’s equal footing to the other demigods and children of Queen Marika.

Miquella cloaked in red rises on a candelit altar in Shadow of the Erdtree

Distant shot of player holding shield and Messmer leaping in air with flaming weapon

Image credit: FromSoftware

This would further suggest Messmer is a child of Marika and Radagon – especially as Martin loves the trick of using names with the same letter. Plus there’s the flowing red hair. Yet the snake imagery also brings to mind Rykard, Lord of Blasphemy who fused his body to the God-Devouring Serpent.

Miyazaki told IGN as we play the DLC, “you will learn a little about why he wasn’t featured in the legends of the Erdtree”. At the very least, it looks like we’ll be battling against him – perhaps even at the climax?

Frightening bosses

Though he didn’t want to give away too many details, Miyazaki confirmed to Eurogamer Shadow of the Erdtree will include over 10 new boss fights. The trailer gave us a glimpse at a few, though it’s not clear which of these will be field bosses and which punctuate dungeons.

Firstly there’s this fire giant with a burning cage. What’s that, yet another fire giant? Yes, though Miyazaki told IGN this one is a “terrible weapon” used in a war that occurred in the Land of Shadow and the kindling in the flame is actually the remains of bodies put there to burn. Lovely.

Towering flaming giant with cage-like body on fire against dark sky
Image credit: FromSoftware

Then there’s this horned beast with human feet and long, greasy hair. It lunges through the air at the player, blows smoke like a dragon, and seemingly summons lightning. If you’re expecting high difficulty – and you should be – I think this is where we’ll find it.

Close up of Shadow of the Erdtree boss: a horned beast with long hair
Image credit: FromSoftware

This skeletal guy on a horse looks like fun; this terrifying hippo thing with glowing spikes less so.

Skeleton riding a white horse on a purple lake

Hippo-like creature with horns and huge jaws emerging from water

Image credit: FromSoftware

There’s also the boar-back knight that seems like a possible continuation of the knight boss series found in the field.

Knight with purple lightning sword rears up on giant armoured boar
Image credit: FromSoftware

I’m not even sure if this sword-wielding enemy is a boss, but it gave me Sekiro vibes so I’m sharing it here anyway. Another potential non-boss is the giant red roaring bear that’s actually emerging from a human body.

Player in samurai-esque armour battles female in red with two katanas in wide field of blue plants
Image credit: FromSoftware

Lastly there’s this slithering fella who’s probably not a boss but is disgusting all the same.

Long necked slithering creature bites the head off the player character
Image credit: FromSoftware

Mysterious characters

The trailer includes a plethora of new characters, though it’s very unclear who any of them actually are. Some theories suspect they could be younger versions of characters we already know, but as Miyazaki confirmed the DLC doesn’t take place in the past or future. Then again, this is a dream world after all.

Who are these three for instance? A grandly helmeted, almost Roman-esque knight with a mighty sword; another knight crouching over a jar; and a masked figure seemingly sleeping, but likely not. Moreover, can we wear their armour?

Knight in long cloak and centurion-esque helmet with great sword against a red sky

Bulky armoured knight kneeling by a jar

Strange masked figure lying on the ground amid purple water and white flowers

Image credit: FromSoftware

Beyond Messmer, this person seems particularly important sat regally on a throne in a candlelit church-like room littered with perhaps broken pews. The head of a new religious order? Though there are similarities with Caria Manor and Raya Lucaria too, perhaps why some believe this is Queen Rennala.

Grand looking figure with huge collar and headdress sits atop a throne in moonlight
Image credit: FromSoftware

There’s also this painting. Now, portraits in Elden Ring are reserved only for royalty and are seen particularly in Volcano Manor. Here we have an old gentleman in a cloak and a woman with a hood holding her belly, presumably pregnant. Are these the parents of someone important?

Old portrait painting featuring seated old cloaked man and woman with head scarf holding her belly
Image credit: FromSoftware

And what’s more, is the old gentleman also seen later pulling a tree branch out of his face? The clasp is certainly the same.

A zombified figure in spotlight pulls a sword from its head in Shadow of the Erdtree
Image credit: FromSoftware

New weapons types and abilities

Miyazaki also confirmed to Eurogamer Shadow of the Erdtree will include not just new weapons, equipment and skills, but eight new weapon categories.

It seems a couple of these may be shown off in the trailer. There’s a montage of combat part way through that features throwing knives, twin katanas, and some awesome looking magic. But there are three weapons that particularly caught my eye.

Firstly, this elaborate crossbow that fires flaming bolts – perhaps the closest we’ll get to a machine gun in Elden Ring.

Player in dark armour holds aloft an elaborate crossbow in a forest
Image credit: FromSoftware

Then there’s this huge shield the character wields in the battle against Messmer, suggesting they’re not just for defence. The character also sprouts golden wings in a magic spell seemingly taken from Crucible Knights.

Player character holds aloft a large spiked shield

Player character hovers in the air sprouting golden wings

Image credit: FromSoftware

My favourite bit, though, is this pugilist moment as the character wails on this soldier with flying punches and kicks. What next, the Tarnished in Tekken?

Player character in hat and cloak kicks a soldier in mid-air with spray spurting
Image credit: FromSoftware

The poisoned swamp

One last thing: Shadow of the Erdtree will include a poisoned swamp. Miyazaki confirmed as much, adding its creation was “a point of introspection for me…I realised I really like to create poisoned swamps”.

Well, I think we’ve seen it.

Player rides mount through a dismal swamp area with odd building in the distant in the trees
Image credit: FromSoftware

Shadow of the Erdtree is out on 21st June across all platforms. For more, check out Eurogamer’s interview with Miyazaki on originating the Soulslike genre.


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