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Robin Bea

‘Elden Ring’ DLC Drops Tantalizing New Details Only Lore Weirdos Will Understand

— From Software

There’s no DLC as exciting as From Software DLC. The Dark Souls developer already has an outstanding track record of releasing some of the most beloved games of the past few decades, but just as impressive is its ability to improve on what seemed like perfection with its expansions. We won’t know if Shadow of the Erdtree, the upcoming Elden Ring DLC, holds up against the likes of Bloodborne’s acclaimed The Old Hunters, but based on its latest trailer, we know it’s gonna be brutal and it’s gonna be weird.

So far, we’ve seen quite a bit of the lore of Shadow of the Erdtree, but little gameplay. The latest trailer continues that trend, focusing entirely on story told through pre-rendered cutscenes. This being a From Software game, the trailer doesn’t come right out and say too much, instead hiding its meaning in oblique references, but for players who are already well-versed in the history of Elden Ring’s world, there’s a lot to chew on.

The opening trailer speaks of “a seduction and a betrayal” over a — let’s say suggestive shot of a hand reaching into a mass of flesh. Following the reveal on social media of a creature from the DLC that’s just clearly meant to look like a uterus, it seems like Shadow of the Erdtree is returning to Bloodborne’s theme of childbirth. If you’re still hanging onto hope for Bloodborne 2, at least you have that.

The hand is shown to belong to Marika, a goddess who rules over the Lands Between and created the Golden Order. The trailer implies that the creation of the Golden Order also led to the creation of Shadow, but what that means exactly is a bit more iffy. More clear is that it started a battle that we’re likely to be seeing firsthand soon.

Messmer, a new character added for the DLC, evidently began an uprising which seems to involve burning pretty much the whole world to the ground. Notably, he seems to be using the god-slaying black flames that are also an important part of Elden Ring’s history, and seeking protection from them is one of Marika’s main motivations for creating the Golden Order in the first place. The giant lion-headed creatures and walking pyres that have popped up in previous Shadow of the Erdtree previews also make appearances as particularly frightening weapons in Messmer’s arsenal.

From there, we move to a more recognizable version of The Lands Between, the original game’s setting, for what seems like a more direct setup for the DLC’s story. We already knew that Malenia’s brother Miquella would play some part in the expansion, since his cocoon is the key to reaching the Land of Shadow. But here we’re told that Miquella has abandoned “his golden flesh, his blinding strength, even his fate” to travel to the Land of Shadow. A person seen wrapped in purple robes during this narration is almost certainly St. Trina, a character only mentioned in Elden Ring, whose name is slapped on a sword that puts enemies to sleep. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki has already said that St. Trina will play a part in the DLC, and this seems to suggest that they and Miquella are one and the same. From Software’s poison swamps were bad enough — I’m afraid to see what happens if they really lean into the sleep angle for this expansion.

Also throughout the Lands Between are new markers that may be replacing sites of grace, showing a half-moon and cross symbol. These could also be related to the previously revealed new progression system, which borrows a mechanic from Sekiro that lets players increase their attack power by finding rare items mostly held by bosses.

Perhaps most exciting of all, the trailer ends with a host of warriors pledging to follow Miquella into the Land of Shadow. Garbed in different sets of armor that are certain to get them murdered by players envious of their fashion sense, they range from priestly types in cloth robes to one particularly massive fighter in a suit of armor that reminds me of Dark Soulsstone guardians more than anything. One strange quirk of From Software cinematics is that they usually show characters in isolation. While they’re not interacting, this group of warriors united in common purpose is something you don’t come across in From Software games, where everyone seems to be chasing their own personal goals. It’s likely that these will become NPCs in the DLC, which is probably terrible for them, given how often the series’ NPC storylines end in tragedy.

The new Shadow of the Erdtree trailer is mostly of interest to the deep lore weirdos, but there are a few hints of how it could shake up Elden Ring, from its sleepy characters to a possible new band of NPC companions you’ll get to watch meet horrible fates. With the DLC dropping exactly one month after the trailer, there’s plenty of time to pore over every frame for more context, or just accept that you’ll never really get it and give in to the spectacle.

Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree DLC will be released on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC on July 21.

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