Invalid characterset or character set not supported Back to the Erdtree

Back to the Erdtree
June 27, 2024

So, even though I'm playing a few other games and even really enjoying at least one of them, I kind of figured that it wouldn't take long for me to snap up and start Shadow of the Erdtree when it came out, considering how Elden Ring was the sort of experience I've always dreamed about experiencing in gaming.

And so, it began yesterday and today was the day where I just sort of ignored those other games I'm playing -- even Assassin's Creed IV, which I love and am in like the 11th of 13 or so chapters -- and devoted 5-6 hours to Shadows.

I'll work to avoid major spoilers, assuming I've actually gotten far enough to discover any. Which I doubt I have, since I've gotten into the first big (legacy?) dungeon after exploring the first land and doing a few smaller places. But here are the early observations.

1. I started out a bit rusty. I worked a bit to refresh my skills in the mid-game "just outside Leyndall" area, where I could fight a lot of soldiers. This turned out kind of intense, especially when I realized there was a Deathbird in the north part of that area which I hadn't fought yet. That thing gave me way more of a fight than it should have considering it's a mid-game field boss and I'm way powerful for that sort of thing.

2. Said rustiness then got me the instant I entered the Land of Shadow. Saw the marker for the map piece for the first land and started hiking. About halfway there, a guy called a Curseblade jumped off some ruins and we had a really competitive battle that ended in his favor when I was one hit away from killing him. I mean, just like Hulk Hogan, I made sure I got my win back, but that wasn't the best way to start an adventure!

3. I gather this world has about as many lands to visit as the main game -- they're just smaller here. Like, the graveyard whatever place that opens the adventure is a decent size, but probably more comparable to one of the three sections of Limgrave than Limgrave itself.

4. It does give a bit of a Limgrave vibe, though. Not graphically, but in spirit. There's a big castle-like place that's the legacy dungeon, there's a big bridge where you have to apparently use your horse to jet across because a big-ass weapon is firing big-ass spears at you, there's even a dragon in a shallow lake. At least I think it is. It looks more like one of those than anything else and the online messages say it's a horse-back fight.

5. I dig the way you power up in this expansion. Because you'll likely be at a point where gaining levels takes forever AND your key stats are at a point where putting levels into them won't give you much in return, FROM put items in the game to fill that role. One sort improves spirit ashes, the other improves your attack and defense. The more you explore and try to do everything, the stronger you'll be.

6. Of the smaller locations, many of them weren't all that impressive. A church or two with an enemy or few around them; a small ruins area and a ruined village that's a bit bigger and a mausoleum that's a one-room boss fight against one tough S.O.B. However, near dragon lake, there's a fairly robust dungeon that was a good bit of fun. And the big castle area opens up pretty quickly and, at least now, doesn't seem linear at all.

7. I've played FROM's stuff enough to really appreciate their bizarre sense of humor. Two things have cracked me up. Well, three, if you include how a human foe seems to be Dollar General Wolverine. First, this place is loaded with shining skulls that, when broken, give you broken runes worth 500 souls. At a time where it takes me well over 200K to get a level. And I still compulsively break every damn one... Second, this place has a take on the lightning part of Altus Plateau that includes those electrified goats that can roll into you. With a couple of those goats being giant sized for some reason.

8. As far as the difficulty, since that's been getting bitched about online a fair amount. So far, I've only died a handful of times. Most of the regular enemies can cause damage quickly, but also go down really easily to my power. Which is admittedly a lot due to me being a pure melee power guy who found that strategy to be really painful late in the main game due to Maliketh (too damn quick), Hoarah Loux, WARRIOR!! (brutally powerful melee power guy) and the final boss (first form: brutally powerful melee power guy; second form: kind of luck-based for melee power due to how it can jet far away and just blast you with magic while your stubby little legs try to get you back to it).

I did get killed by that Curseblade at the beginning, but after one power-up of my attack/defense and getting back into the game's vibe, I killed it pretty easily the second time around. The Mausoleum boss is 3-0 against me due to the combination of being a really tough fight and I can't use spirit ashes to tag team it or get much of a break to heal.


Or for the short form, I'm addicted again.

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