Shadow of the Erdtree review roundup: 'Recaptures all of the magic of playing Elden Ring for the first time'

 Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree preview.
Credit: FromSoftware, Bandai Namco

While we're still two days out from Shadow of the Erdtree and a mass of eager Tarnished being unleashed to chase Miquella beyond the Lands Between, we've got advanced reports from critics who've gone in ahead to survey the scene. Erdtree reviews started hitting this morning, and you're never going to believe this: People are pretty into Elden Ring.

There are a lot of perfect and near-perfect scores in the mix, and we've added our own mark to the tally. PC Gamer's Shadow of the Erdtree review is already up, and our Tyler Colp had plenty of praise to share for Elden Ring's last hurrah, ensuring its place as "one of the most creative and satisfying action RPGs ever made." Here's a roundup of reviews from critics elsewhere.

"Variety is the spice of life, and Erdtree is one hot dish."

IGN: 10/10

For Mitchell Saltzman at IGN, Shadow of the Erdtree basically manages to deliver all the hard-won satisfaction of an entire Elden Ring playthrough in a convenient, fun-sized DLC form factor—if a few dozen hours can qualify as fun-sized. "Shadow of the Erdtree may not do anything radically different from the base game," Saltzman writes, but its array of new bosses, new equipment, and new areas to explore "somehow feels like a scaled-down version of that same experience that recaptures all of the magic of playing Elden Ring for the first time."

"Shadow of the Erdtree has stuck the landing."

GamesRadar+: 5/5

Over at our sister site GamesRadar+, Joel Franey found a lot to love in Shadow of the Erdtree, which shares the base game's ability to deliver beautiful landscapes, stunning bosses and encounters, and interesting gear to work into your builds. "At this point," Franey writes, "it's almost getting boring praising FromSoftware every time."

"A point at which this becomes one-dimensional."

Eurogamer: 3/5

Amidst the sea of unhesitating praise for Erdtree, it's encouraging to see a critic voice their criticisms about the current object of industry-wide hype. Alexis Ong at Eurogamer still has plenty of good to say about the DLC, particularly in an excellent art history-informed survey of the expansion's visuals. "Everything is still exquisitely beautiful," Ong writes, later saying that "Shadow still has its share of Elden Ring's brilliance—weird little dudes and obscure secrets and goofy cheesing and all."

Where Shadow of the Erdtree stumbles for Ong is its departure from the base game's mostly-implied storytelling and instruction. To Ong, Elden Ring was "a living text to be read and learned, and ambiently, lovingly communicated," while the DLC "undermines the hallmarks of its own genre through unnecessary signposting."

"Shadow of the Erdtree doesn't outclass the primary campaign but expands it."

Game Informer: 9.75/10

Game Informer's Marcus Stewart declares Shadow of the Erdtree the best thing it can possibly be: more Elden Ring. It's difficult, of course, often painfully so, but Stewart writes that while some new bosses "may rival Malenia in difficulty," any post-death woes "can often be remedied by simply moving on to someplace else." The DLC, Stewart says, "maintains a sky-high status quo" as a fitting punctuation for the era of Elden Ring.

"A staggering achievement."

GameSpot: 10/10

Tamoor Hussain at GameSpot sees Shadow of the Erdtree as a final, crowning piece to FromSoft's dark fantasy: a summative final chapter that puts Elden Ring in a league with Kentaro Miura's Berserk. With Shadow of the Erdtree, Hussain says FromSoft again proves its "peerless" reputation for "creating worlds that feel as dangerous and unnerving to be in as they are satisfying to conquer."

"Some of the most rewarding game content in all of Elden Ring."

Polygon: Unscored

At Polygon, Michael McWhertor finds Shadow of the Erdtree a celebration of player perseverance. If your main draw for Souls games is challenge, it sounds like you'll find plenty: "Everything in the expansion," McWhertor writes, "is stronger and more deadly than anything you've met in Elden Ring." But thanks to a healthy supply of new tools, weapons, and fighting styles, McWhertor says it's rewarding enough that he's "looking forward to going back and starting it all over at some point."

"Though my expectations were high, Shadow of the Erdtree still managed to exceed them."

Destructoid: 9.5/10

While Destructoid's summary for its Shadow of the Erdtree review says "there may be flaws" responsible for its not-quite-perfect score, those flaws aren't presented for us to see. Chris Carter and Steven Mills deliver a duo review for Shadow of the Erdtree, and they offer their enthusiasm without restraint. Calling Erdtree "a gigantic single sandbox to play around in," Carter says it's one of his "single favorite areas in From Software history." It's a sentiment Mills shares, saying that FromSoft is once again "exceeding my expectations in pretty much every way imaginable."