When Elden Ring officially unveiled its long-awaited expansion earlier this year, we asked: Is Shadow of the Erdtree the Elden Ring Miquella DLC we've wanted all along? From the very little we had to go on at that point, the assertion seemed fair. With their long, blonde and braided hair, the lone figure featured in that single image does look like Miquella – and the fact that intrepid dataminers uncovered unused Miquella dialogue shortly after Elden Ring's launch in February 2022 underlines this theory's potential.
We've had next to nothing from FromSoftware in the interim, with Elden Ring skipping every single live showcase since – from PlayStation to Xbox and Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest in June – and so, really, we've no more sense of what it entails now than we did a few months ago. Like everyone else, there are loads of things I'd love to see from the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdree DLC. We even wrote an Elden Ring DLC wishlist around this time last year. But while the much-anticipated expansion remains an enigma, I've realized there is one thing I'd love to see return: offensively long boss runs.
Git well soon
At preview stage in late 2021, GamesRadar+'s Austin Wood said Elden Ring is already the most approachable game FromSoftware has ever made. Whether you subscribe to that idea or not, Elden Ring is definitely the most sensible the developer has created – in that the entire world map is explorable from the outset as a means of encouraging curiosity in exploration, and the fact that Site of Grace checkpoints are littered around the deadliest keeps and strongholds far more liberally than previous FromSoft games.
During my first few death-heavy hours fumbling around in the Lands Between, I thought the latter was great. That short stroll from the Castelward Tunnel to the Margit, The Fell Omen boss fight was a godsend – as was rounding the corner from the Secluded Cell to take on Godrick the Grafted; or sauntering down a small set of stairs to battle Malenia again and again (and again, and again). Simply put: being able to run boss battle attempts back-to-back made failure feel fleeting, and bypassed the same fatigue and frustration I'd become accustomed to in previous FromSoftware games.
Fast forward a year-and-a-half in reality, and a few hundred hours in-game, and I find myself pining for something I never thought possible. I'm not suggesting every checkpoint-to-battle boss run should be a Demon's Souls-esque gauntlet, but I definitely took for granted how good a feeling successfully navigating these deadly gamuts – and then overcoming a bastard hard boss battle at the end – really was. Sure, Elden Ring's open-world design changes the context and logistics of lengthy boss runs (not to mention the inclusion of Torrent), but the journey from the Crumbling Farum Azula Site of Grace to the Godskin Duo fight; or the jaunt to Maliketh in the same location felt akin to the likes of Dark Souls and Demon's Souls' brutal boss runs.
To the latter end, Demon's Souls has no mid-level checkpoints whatsoever, and while shortcuts can be unlocked in most areas, the path back to any given boss arena after biting the dust is always arduous. In the Tower of Latria, for example, you can take two paths to the first stage's end-of-level Fool's Idol battle: one of which is packed with Mind Flayers and Black Phantoms; the other filled with fewer generic enemies, but involves dodging a volley of deadly arrows from a humongous catapult. Whichever route you choose, an invisible archer awaits your arrival on the stairs leading to the boss arena because, well, just because.
Maybe we don't go back to that degree of difficulty in Elden Ring's Shadow of the Erdtree, but I'd love to see a sprinkling of more grueling boss runs than what already appears in the base game. Just typing those words out makes me feel like a sicko, but after spending well over 300 hours in the Lands Between, this is where I'm at. Perhaps I'm just getting restless as we wait day-by-day for the DLC – but if the rumors of up to 30 new bosses turn out to be true, I might just get my wish. For better or, most likely, for worse.
While we wait it out for the DLC, you can check out our pick of games like Elden Ring.