There is an early power up in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree that basically turns the game into Sekiro, but the description is so vague I didn't realize how good it was until 40 hours later

 Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree gameplay showing off the stats and location of Rakshasa's Great Katana, the best Great Katana in the DLC.
Credit: FromSoftware

Shadow of the Erdtree guides

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree trailer screencap of a red haired character holding fire in their hand
Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree trailer screencap of a red haired character holding fire in their hand

Erdtree map fragments: Uncover the Land of Shadow
Scadutree fragments: How to level up in Erdtree
Erdtree bosses: A full hit list for the DLC
Leda quest: Track the Erdtree main quest
Ansbach quest: Help the former servant of Mohg
Hornsent quest: Complete the quest for vengeance

I found the Deflecting Hard Tear super early in my Shadow of the Erdtree playthrough, went "well, that's neat," and promptly forgot about it for a good 40 hours or so. It turns out, though, that this confusingly-described Physick mix-in is an utter game-changer worth basing an entire build around. "Enhances spontaneous guard" basically means "Turn Elden Ring into Sekiro."

I've never been able to nail the Souls series' picosecond-long, intensely unforgiving parry windows, but like many people I fell in love with the perfect guard system in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Time your block to just when an enemy hits, and you'll avoid all the damage, filling up your enemy's stagger bar instead. The timing's pretty generous, and if you don't get it exactly right, you'll still block the enemy attack at the cost of filling up your own stagger bar. It's a system I was always hoping FromSoft would bring back, and I was delighted to see Capcom crib off From's notes in the Resident Evil 4 Remake of all things.

And that Sekiro-style guard system is exactly what you get with the Deflecting Hard Tear, which can be acquired from the first furnace golem you encounter on the Gravesite Plain as outlined in our guide to the best early items in Shadow of the Erdtree. Time a block perfectly, and you'll take no damage.

The kicker, for me, is that it works even if you don't have a shield: nailing a perfect block with a two-handed or paired weapon (like the reverse-grip swords) is just as effective, while a mistimed block with those weapons will still mitigate the attack somewhat. I haven't been a shield guy in Souls games for over ten years (just don't like 'em), so this felt like a special birthday gift to me.

The Deflecting Hard Tear also lends itself to using Elden Ring's guard counters, empowered R2 attacks made just after blocking an enemy attack. I loaded the Deflecting Hard Tear and Curved Sword Talisman onto my second character (the Great Katana build in our best Shadow of the Erdtree builds list) and found I was absolutely bullying Malenia in her first phase⁠—don't ask me about the second, we're still having some trouble there.

Deflecting Hard Tear, I owe you an apology, I wasn't really familiar with your game. I don't know if I would have realized what kind of gas we're cooking with here if it weren't for the Shadow of the Erdtree early game videos from Iron Pineapple and VaatiVidya, so I remain, as ever, obliged to our yeoman Souls YouTubers. The Deflecting Hard Tear definitely feels like the sort of thing that could help out all those people leaving negative reviews for Shadow of the Erdtree being too hard.