10 Things the Elden Ring DLC Needs to be Truly Golden

What lessons can Elden Ring's DLC learn from the base game?

by Marc Magrini
Image: FromSoftware

It’s hard to argue against Elden Ring being an incredible game. The sheer size of the Lands Between is joined by in-depth care and thoughtful design given to many characters and locations. Following the announcement of a new DLC expansion, Shadow of the Erdtree, the game promises to be bigger and better than ever. But there are a few things this Elden Ring DLC needs to live up to — or even surpass — the standards of the base game.

Things the Elden Ring DLC Needs to Build Upon

There’s a lot offered by Elden Ring’s base game that could be so much better if there was simply more of it to enjoy. Shadow of the Erdtree should try to follow this trend through its additions instead of changing formulas that were already established to work well.

Spell Variety

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Elden Ring has a fantastic pool of magic spells to choose from. All the DLC really needs to do is add more spells into that pool. There are existing templates for more interesting damage-type combinations that already make for great magic attacks, including the Frozen Lightning Spear and even skills like Ghostflame Ignition. If this is paired with an increase in spell slots through additional Memory Stones, there might truly be no limit to how creative some builds can get.

Weapon Variety

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There are hundreds of different weapons already in Elden Ring. Sadly, many weapon types end up underutilized or overspecialized, with numerous katana weapons becoming infamous due to their staggering strength and potential. Meanwhile, weapons like scythes barely get more than a few variations, forcing players to abandon those options if they don’t fit their playstyle. There’s no question that the DLC will add more, but it should give some love to the types that were left behind in the sea of swords and colossal weapons.

Ashes of War

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Similarly to weapons, many Ashes of War go unused by most players due to their lack of flexibility. Only some weapons can equip the ones you find out in the wild while others come equipped with skills that can’t be changed at all. These fixed skills range from useless to utterly broken, making it difficult to use anything other than the best. Shadow of the Erdtree doesn’t need to rebalance the whole system, but it should add a wider variety of Ashes of War along with more reasons to use them in the first place.

Multiplayer Functionality

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Though Elden Ring has some great online options already, they could be made even better. Lack of Torrent, 4-player limits outside of arenas, and constantly being kicked out after beating bosses are just a few restrictions this game really didn’t need. Depending on who you ask, the lack of invasions outside of co-op is also a pretty big bummer. Elden Ring’s multiplayer has the potential to be heart-pounding, chaotic, and simply much easier to enjoy. The game’s DLC might be its chance to realize that potential.

What the Elden Ring DLC Needs to Build Upon Most: Legacy Dungeons

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There aren’t many large-scale dungeons in Elden Ring, but the locations that provide a classic Souls-esque experience are truly incredible. From Stormveil Castle to Miquella’s Haligtree, the Legacy Dungeons rewarded players for exploration and occasional puzzle-solving in ways that many games only wish they could match. One Legacy Dungeon is to be expected in Shadow of the Erdtree, but two or even three would be more than welcome, especially if they’re designed at least half as well as what’s already there.

Related: Elden Ring – 10 Things You Need to Know Before Playing

Things the Elden Ring DLC Needs to Avoid

Even a beloved title like Elden Ring isn’t completely perfect. There are some notable issues the base game suffers from that the DLC should try to avoid at any cost. After all, many of Elden Ring’s issues can be overlooked due to the sheer size of the game itself. Like The Old Hunters, Ashes of Ariandel, and The Ringed City, Shadow of the Erdtree will mostly be judged on what it provides on its own, meaning every part of it will need to stand up to scrutiny.

Easily Missable Questlines and Items

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Trying to keep track of Elden Ring’s many NPCs — and points where you fail their quest — is practically impossible without a guide. If you reach a certain part of the game, you even lose access to an entire Legacy Dungeon, including the rare items and powerful weapons within. These points where you’re locked out of obtaining items or other special rewards only discourage exploration in the long run. Shadow of the Erdtree should try to avoid any instance of this, or at least make it easier to track NPC questlines with such notable rewards.

Repetitive Areas

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Elden Ring’s catacombs and caves are fine when filling out space, but only a small percentage of them actually offer unique challenges, items, or bosses. Finding one on your journey to the story’s end isn’t too bad, but you’ll quickly get sick of them if you try to clear every area in the Lands Between. Depending on how big Shadow of the Erdtree is, it might still need these smaller areas to fill up otherwise empty fields. But it should try to make each location as unique as possible, especially when it comes to what you find within.

Nonsensical Item Locations

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Honestly, there’s no reason why the ever-popular Bloodhound’s Step Ash of War should be dropped by a Night’s Cavalry rather than an actual Bloodhound Knight. Elden Ring is filled with these strange and often confusing item placements, to the point where Radagon’s Soreseal and Marika’s Soreseal are found at completely opposite points of gameplay. The DLC should at least try to put a bit more meaning into these placements, allowing for some more consistency between smaller foes and Remembrance bosses.

Useless Damage Types and Weapons

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Elemental resistances and massive foes make sense in an RPG, but they end up making a lot of weapons pretty useless in the Lands Between. Using a weapon like the Coded Sword outside of PVP will feel like you’re just slapping foes with a wet noodle, and using it to fight larger foes will practically turn your camera into a wet noodle as well. There are still ways to make even bad weapons effective, but Elden Ring’s DLC should try to avoid negating entire damage types…even if it makes sense in lore.

What the Elden Ring DLC Needs to Avoid Most: Gimmicky Bosses

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Of all the things the Elden Ring DLC needs most, it’s to refine how the game designs its bosses. Mohg and Malenia are extremely powerful foes on their own. Still, the game takes it a step further by giving them extremely deadly attacks that need to be carefully anticipated or countered through items. Astel and the Elden Beast make for marvelous spectacles, but their large size and constant running make them an absolute slog to battle. And, of course, the Godskin Duo…exists.

The Elden Ring DLC needs to avoid making bosses overly strong or unbearably tedious simply for the sake of being hard. Challenge and difficulty go hand in hand, but the latter outweighs the former quite a lot in the base game. Shadow of the Erdtree has a lot to learn not just from Elden Ring itself, but also from older titles like Dark Souls III and Sekiro. Hopefully it will put those lessons to use instead of forcing players into something like a Godskin Trio fight.

Related: Is Elden Ring Related to Dark Souls? Characters and Lore Similarities Explained

Regardless of everything else, the upcoming Elden Ring DLC simply needs to be fun. Between its charming characters, tight gameplay, and expansive world, the base game has already put in plenty of effort in that department. There are plenty of things the DLC will need to do to truly be great, but it won’t need to do them all to still be fun.

- This article was updated on March 2nd, 2023