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Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree trailer deep-dive

We're going to be trying to figure out everything we can ahead of the expansion's launch.

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FromSoftware games are beloved for a lot of reasons. Their difficulty pleases our inner sadist, letting us bash our heads against a wall over and over until we finally come out on top. A lot of people - even some who choose not to play the games - also love to get lost in the lore of FromSoftware's worlds. Their narratives aren't always straightforward, but their worlds are consistently immersive and draw in fans of darker, bleaker fantasy.

With the new trailer for the Elden Ring expansion Shadow of the Erdtree, there's plenty to analyse. Already, we've gone over the gameplay features you'll be getting, but of course, there was also a lot of plot and lore dropped on us during those three short minutes. Without further ado, let's see what we can figure out about Shadow of the Erdtree from the trailer.

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We open looking at Miquella's hand in Mohgwyn Palace. After defeating Mohg in the base game, you could interact with that bloody, withered hand sticking out of a cocoon, but you couldn't do much else. Once it flopped to the ground, that was it. However, it seems from a line towards the end of the trailer that we'll need to touch the hand in order to enter the Land of Shadow, the new area in Shadow of the Erdtree.

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Already, we know two things from this. One, it's possible that this area will have its own map, rather than existing within the larger map of Elden Ring. Secondly, it looks like you'll have to beat Mohg in order to even get to the DLC. He is one of the most difficult bosses in the game, and so you'll need to be quite high level in order to beat him. Don't go expecting to just jump into the Land of Shadow right out of Limgrave, basically. Although, saying that, I can already picture the speedrunners who are going to do exactly that.

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What is the Land of Shadow? Well, from the look of the trailer and the video description, it's an area "obscured by the Erdtree." All things Golden are said to be unable to touch this place, meaning that unlike in the main game, where the light of the Erdtree can bring pretty much anyone back to life through its roots, it seems we'll be stripped of that golden light here. From the images shared so far, it certainly appears like the Land of Shadow is some sort of limbo or even hellish space in the lore of Elden Ring. There's a lot of satanic imagery around Messmer the Impaler, who we'll get to in a bit, but this certainly feels like a darker space than even some of the nastier areas in Elden Ring. Also there's a poison swamp, so we're definitely going to be suffering.

This land is also where it is said that Marika first set foot. Marika being the mother of the game's demigods, it makes sense that she who essentially removed death from the world would have started her journey in a place devoid of the Erdtree's light. It's highly likely we'll learn more about her origins in this expansion, as well as perhaps solving some of the mysteries about her that have lingered even after we defeat her/Radagon in the final battle. It's also likely we get some more information about her war with the giants, as there's a line in the trailer mentioning how a certain people were not saints, and that they just were on the losing side of a war, followed by a massive enemy stomping fire into the ground. Perhaps we're reading too much into that, though.

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Throughout the trailer, we are told of Kind Miquella. The twin brother of Malenia, in the original game, Miquella was a victim. Cursed with eternal youth, he was preyed upon by Mohg and taken to Mohgwyn Palace. In the base game, it seems Miquella withered to nothingness, but now in this expansion we know he actually rid himself of his earthly tethers and headed to the Land of Shadow. FromSoftware are keeping the reasoning behind that a mystery, but I think we can take a crack at it.

A popular theory right now points to Messmer the Impaler being Miquella. A few people are discounting that theory because of the differing names, and the fact that Kind Miquella is unlikely to be so edgy, considering his past depictions in the lore. However, if we know anything about FromSoftware's storytelling, it's that they love to hide characters with pseudonyms, and they love tragedy.

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Hoarah Loux being Godfrey the first Elden Lord, Marika being Radagon and vice versa, Renna being Ranni the Witch. There are plenty of examples of characters hiding their true personas, and it would be simple for Miquella to do the same. After being kidnapped and likely tortured by Mohg, Miquella has next to no chance of being his former, kindly self, and even if he escaped to the Land of Shadow, he could very easily have a darker, more twisted version of his demigod self. The similarities he shares physically with Miquella can't be discounted, either. The red hair spilling out of his helmet, the long, thin arms resembling the withered limb we touch in Mohgwyn Palace. It might seem like the most obvious solution, but that's because it makes the most narrative sense. Also it lets us tackle one of the few demigods we don't get to fight in the base game.

The fall of Kind Miquella would be a great narrative hook for Shadow of the Erdtree, and it seems that Messmer is a really messed up dude by his appearance. The snake following him as he enters the trailer gives him more satanic symbolism, and it even suggests he's also pitting himself against the gods just as Rykard did by fusing himself with that massive serpent.

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That's about all we can gather from the trailer so far. Do you have any burning theories to get off your chest. Do you have anything that you think we missed? Make sure to let us know down below!

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