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Using Leda's Sword in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

5 Ways to Make Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Easier (Without Mods)

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is incredibly difficult if you approach it the wrong way, but these five tips will make the experience much easier and more fun.

Sure, there are plenty of mods on PC that can make Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree easier, whether through an actual easy mode “update” or via a mod that gives you 99 of every item or any number of other methods. What if I told you there are tons of ways to make the DLC easier that the game gives you for free — no mods, no outside help or cooperators, just everything you can do on your own?

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How to Make Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree Gameplay Easier

Whenever a new DLC comes out for a FromSoftware game, the arguments about it being “overtuned,” “unfair,” and a dozen other descriptors start again. I’m firmly in the camp that while parts of Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree are definitely harder than the hardest content in the base game (I fought Malenia to check), you also have even more tools at your disposal to make it easier than the base game ever was. Let’s go over them.

Scadutree Fragment Blessing Upgrades

Getting a Scadutree Fragment in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

There’s been as much discussion about the Scadutree Fragment difficulty scalar items as there’s been about the HP and damage of the bosses in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree. But lay your anger to rest. I can guarantee you, completely and absolutely, that if you get enough Scadutree Fragments to upgrade your Scadutree Blessing, the DLC becomes markedly easier.

Here’s an example based on my first playthrough and using a boss everyone cites as an issue: the Divine Dancing Lion. The Lion was the first boss I faced, as it’s likely to be for most players. I had maybe Scadutree Blessing level 3, and even with 60 Vigor and Morgott’s Rune active, the boss was taking me down in two or three hits without much trouble.

However, I’ve done three additional, mostly full playthroughs since my Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree review and have fought the Lion at Scadutree Blessing 10+ each time. The same attacks that once put me on death’s door were now doing half of that damage or less. Moreover, my hits did quite a bit more damage per hit, so much so that the fight took me two or three tries, and I beat in less than five minutes. Compare that to a fifteen-minute bout the first time through.

In short, by exploring more of the Realm of Shadow, collecting more Scadutree Fragments, and coming back with higher attack power and damage negation, I could not only deal much more damage, but I took much less. I was free to make more mistakes and be more aggressive and careless simply because I engaged the DLC’s content and didn’t hit my head against something or try to rush to something too fast.

Skip Bosses You Don’t Want to Fight

Entering the Scadu Altus by shortcut in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree has more optional fights than the base game, percentage-wise. You don’t even need to fight any but 3 to technically “complete” the DLC. In other words, if you don’t like fighting the Divine Lion, Rellana, Twin Moon Knight, and the many other hidden and optional fights, you don’t have to. Hell, you can even skip the Golden Hippopotamus fight, too. The only boss fights you must win in Shadow of the Erdtree are:

Rellana, the Divine Lion, Metyr, Mother of Fingers, Gaius, and many others are entirely optional. Many of the dungeons and locations are as well. Belurat, Tower Settlement, all of the catacombs and ruined forges, Castle Ensis — you can choose to skip all of them. So long as you know about the shortcut to Scadu Altus, you have free reign of the entire Realm of Shadow without setting foot in a boss arena.

You will, of course, miss out on a lot of amazing fights and rewards if you don’t fight all of the bosses in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, but if exploration and finding Scadutree Fragments is your goal, you can do that instead.

Use a Shield

Using the Fingerprint Shield for easy mode in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Elden Ring is like every Souls game FromSoftware has ever made. Using a shield makes the game orders of magnitude easier. No, it won’t immediately win you every fight — and especially not the final boss — but having the option to block an attack that’s giving you trouble or even parry it opens up so many different avenues for taking on the challenges in Shadow of the Erdtree.

What kind of shield you use matters, though. If you want to be the ultimate wall, a fully upgraded Fingerprint Shield and any spear make trivial work of most of the content in the DLC. No, it’s neither fast nor efficient, but it is remarkably safe. Couple Fingerprint with a full suite of defensive Talismans and the Opaline Hardtear in your Wondrous Physic, and even the final boss will have trouble damaging you.

Another benefit of shields is watching enemy attacks happen in a relatively safer environment. With the right shield equipped, and especially with Carian Retaliation, you can learn what attacks you can parry, with partial parries still dealing a large fraction of the damage you’d take otherwise. You’d be surprised how many bosses in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree can be parried, so go try it.

Use Upgraded Spirit Ashes

One thing I don’t recommend, especially for a first playthrough of Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, is summoning other players to help you. Adding cooperators doubles or triples boss health, and if one of your friends dies, the fight doesn’t rescale, making everything harder for everyone.

Instead, use an upgraded Spirit Ash like Mimic Tear, Jolan, and Anna, or whichever your favorite might be. Spirit Ashes act like NPC cooperators with specific builds (or yours in the case of Mimic Tear) but do nothing to the difficulty scaling of the boss fight. Using them can buy you time to heal, deal twice the amount of damage you can put out alone, and help you learn boss attacks by watching them from a distance.

Spirit Ashes, like shields, won’t win you fights, necessarily, but they can make them much, much easier, and easier fights make for a more enjoyable experience.

Take a Break

Messmer the Impaler close-up in Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

If there’s anything I’ve learned over eleven years playing the Souls series and Elden Ring, it’s that if you’re struggling with something for hours at a time, the best thing you can do is take a break, and especially to go to sleep. Let your brain wire all the dodge and parry timings into your muscles, and when you come back tomorrow, the fight will likely be easier from the outset. Stepping away can be hard. Believe me, my sleep schedule can attest. But I also know that sometimes it’s the only way to get things done. Ask the final boss.

Those are my best tips for making Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree easier without using mods or other outside means. The game gives you everything you need, should you seek it out. Using one of the best builds for the DLC is a great choice as well. For more Elden Ring content, check out our Elden Ring guides hub.

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John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.