Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree makes one change to weapon upgrading that's so good I want FromSoftware to patch it into the base game immediately

Elden Ring smith
(Image credit: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco)

Making a new character right before the release of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree and then immediately beating the DLC in New Game+ and now New Game++ with my main, level 250 character made me feel like a peasant promoted to king. The reason couldn't be simpler: my main has all the smithing stone bell bearings unlocked, meaning I can snap my fingers and acquire mountains of upgrade materials for any weapon, normal or unique. This made it easy to test out dozens of weapons in the DLC, to the point that I started rotating between multiple spears, katanas, and swords just for fun. Now this is living. 

Usually, every time I start a run in Elden Ring I struggle to upgrade even one weapon, and it always ends up being a unique one that uses somber stones since regular smithing stones have a worse economy than the 1930s. You only need 10 somber stones to max a unique weapon, but for standard weapons you need an eye-watering 97 smithing stones total – 12 each for all eight tiers, and then one dragonstone to cap it off. I repeat: 97! Nine seven! What the hell, FromSoftware? Most of the loot in Elden Ring can barely manage to cough up one, maybe two smithing stones at a time. There ya go, kid, buy yourself something nice, says director Hidetaka Miyazaki, flicking a lone pebble my way as I stare down the mortgage-sized stone debt of my new giant sword. What am I gonna do with one stone, Miyazaki? See how many times I can skip it across the surface of the Lake of Rot? 

New stone baron in town

Elden Ring combat

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

This always felt like an unfitting holdover from the Dark Souls days where you'd pretty much find one good sword and commit to it for the whole game, putting a ring on it in the form of a rare ember and a specific flavor of titanite. Elden Ring is a massive game built for non-linear progression and filled with hundreds of cool weapons and Ashes of War, yet upgrade materials are so prohibitively rare that you can't experiment very much until you've basically beaten the game and unlocked an unlimited supply of stones. There's a reason most people use somber-type weapons until much later, if they ever switch back at all. I exclusively use somber weapons on new characters for this exact reason. 

In contrast, playing Shadow of the Erdtree with so many different weapons that it practically felt like baby's first randomizer mod has been absolutely amazing. This is especially true of the throwable Smithscript weapons, which all use smithing stones. The freedom of experimentation is a breath of fresh air, and more importantly, it better leverages Elden Ring's more freeform open-world design. When I find a new Ash of War, I can actually slap it on a fitting, leveled weapon and take it for a spin. This is how it should be, and while this was previously only possible with late game bell bearings, Shadow of the Erdtree has a better solution: just jack up the quantity of smithing stones.

Remember how you need 12 stones per tier to upgrade a normal weapon? It seems kind of stupid to get one or two at a time then, doesn't it? A bit miserly, a bit stingy, a bit what the hell were you thinking, FromSoftware? Which is presumably why Shadow of the Erdtree gives you four, six, and even eight smithing stones in lump sums. Eight stones! I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. The Lands Between hands these out like ladles of watery gruel in a famine, but the Realm of Shadow is absolutely rolling in them. This is like when I import records from Japan and my eyes pop out when I see how weak the Yen is and how far a dollar goes. Can I just live here, please? Everything is so cheap. 

Bury me with my stones 

Elden Ring DLC spear throw

(Image credit: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco)

Finally, Elden Ring has a resource economy that can actually keep up with the curve of weapon enhancement. I didn't even need to buy stones most of the time in Shadow of the Erdtree. From plentiful enemy drops – almost always two at a time, and often three or four – to frequent chests and corpses with piles of the things, FromSoftware is practically spoon-feeding you smithing stones like a bowl of the world's crunchiest oatmeal. It's amazing. Don't stop, FromSoftware, and while you're at it, crank up all the smithing stone drops in the base game, too. Every last one, including the freebie on the anvil at the first church. That should be two free stones for a starter upgrade and I won't hear any argument. 

I realize there are some difficulty concerns with weapon progression, and Shadow of the Erdtree is end game content that is balanced as such. FromSoftware doesn't want players to instantly take a sword to +20 and bulldoze through the early and mid game. But frankly that argument doesn't hold water when you can get something like a +6 Bloodhound's Fang in 30 minutes without fighting a single key boss and still bulldoze away. Ask me how I know. Somber stones are just that much more available, and they've had it too good for too long. Some duplicate smithing stones aren't going to hurt game balance in the slightest. 

I'm not asking for a power boost here, and I certainly don't want somber weapons nerfed. I don't want to get stronger smithing stones earlier, I just want more of them so that trying out multiple weapons isn't such a tedious, off-putting grind – enough to match the absurd 97 quota. If you're gonna shower me with cool swords, at least provide me with the stones to upgrade three or four of them. Injecting more smithing stones into the Lands Between would better reward exploration, encourage build and Ash of War variety, and equalize the skewed benefits that somber weapons have enjoyed for years. Shadow of the Erdtree has proven that, and I don't want to go back to piecemeal smithing stones. 

Here are some handy Elden Ring smithing stone locations to help you on your way. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.