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Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree review-bombed over high difficulty

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is facing a wave of criticism for being too hard and unfair.
elden ring shadow of the erdtree

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree debuted to rave critic reviews on launch, swiftly becoming the highest-rated DLC ever on Metacritic. But it appears casual players of the DLC aren’t as enthusiastic about FromSoftware’s latest masterpiece, with countless Steam players review-bombing this chapter for its high level of difficulty.

Despite being a Metacritic “must-play”, Shadow of the Erdtree is currently rated “Mixed” on Steam, based on the average of recent reviews. While many players have cited poor performance as their reason for disliking the DLC, many more have claimed it’s unfair for players, and its combat isn’t well balanced.

The prevailing criticism is that enemies are immediately tough when you enter the Shadow of the Erdtree chapter, and players are regularly killed by roaming mobs of enemies who leave no room for a counter-attack.

“For a base game experience that feels balanced and fair, this DLC doesn’t feel the same way,” player Ast7ral said on Steam. “Regular mobs one-shotting me? That seems fun. On top of that, more than half of the enemies I’ve seen are just a base game mob but with more health and deals more damage.”

Read: Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC – Review Roundup

“Overall, in this expansion, FromSoft doubled down on some of their worst ideas from the base game and also chose to introduce new problems that exacerbate the negative impact of those ideas,” player !Mega claimed.

In more succinct fashion, player samuel alleged, “This DLC is for masochistic weirdos.”

Overall, the sentiment appears very negative, with many players lamenting how difficult it is to get ahead. Some are enjoying the game for the same reason, but it does appear skill barriers are prevented a significant sect of players from advancing. To that end, FromSoftware has actually issued a guide to help players “improve their skill” and continue their adventures through the Shadowlands.

This guide includes tips like:

  • Using the protection of the Scadutree to improve attack power.
  • Gaining the protection of Spirit Ashes to improve attack power and summon abilities.

At this stage, it doesn’t appear there are any plans to tweak the game’s enemies and reduce the DLC’s difficulty, as franchise creator Hidetaka Miyazaki recently explained that making Elden Ring easier would “break the game” due to the complexity of its design, and the intentions of FromSoftware.

“The sense of achievement that players gain from overcoming these hurdles is such a fundamental part of the experience,” Miyazaki told The Guardian. “Turning down difficulty would strip the game of that joy.”

Given these comments, it appears those having trouble overcoming the hurdles of Shadow of the Erdtree will be in for a long journey ahead.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.