Forested ruins in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Image via FromSoftware

How Big Is the Realm of Shadow in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree?

The Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is here, but how big is it? Does it have enough content to make it worth your while?

One of the most important considerations when buying any video game is the amount of value you get for every dollar spent. Elden Ring is easily worth its asking price, with more than 100 hours of face-melting encounters and beautiful vistas to explore. Now, Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is here, and is it big enough — does it offer enough — to justify jumping back in?

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How Big is Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree?

Hidetaka Miyazaki, the director of Elden Ring and de facto creator of the Souls-like genre, said in an interview after the first Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree trailer went live that the DLC would be about the size of Limgrave from the base game. Miyazaki also said a first playthrough of Elden Ring would take about 30 hours and has a history of trolling the community in hilariously cruel ways, so we all took the Limgrave comment with a grain of salt.

The environs around the Shadow Keep in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Now the DLC is here, and I’ve seen every region of the map, visited every pit, dungeon, and forgotten keep I could find, and I can say unequivocally that Shadow of the Erdtree is much bigger than Limgrave.

It’s a bit hard to tell if you only compare the two world maps (as they’re separate play spaces entirely), but if I were to estimate a size comparison, I’d say the Realm of Shadow is about four or more Limgraves. Put another way, it’s about the size of Limgrave, the Weeping Peninsula, Caelid, Liurnia, and a bit of Altus and Leyndell.

Now, if you look at the map, it wouldn’t seem to be that big. However, Miyazaki and FromSoftware leveraged a level design philosophy that’s made Soulsborne games famous: an increased dedication to verticality. There was plenty of that on display in the base game, but in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, you can’t walk a few hundred feet without seeing some massive cliff or sheer edge leading down into an abyss.

What’s amazing to me, despite 11 years of playing FromSoftware games religiously, is how if it looks like you can go someplace, you can, in fact, go there. That mountain over there with the cool-looking design on the map? There’s probably something crazy there. The distant forest or the tangled creepers at the bottom of the world? Yep, you can get there, too. And like the base game of Elden Ring, you can expect there to almost always be some sort of reward, secret, or mystery waiting in every corner of the world.

The environment of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Shadow of the Erdtee Map Hides Many Things

Looking at the map of Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is, therefore, somewhat misleading. What looks like a simple square of land could turn into an entire cave system that reaches hundreds of feet below the ground. A seemingly impassable cliffside or waterway might have some hidden way to pass through it if only you take the time to search.

Better still, both the smaller dungeons and the main story Legacy Dungeons take this increased interest in verticality to heart. If you remember playing Elden Ring the first time and wondering when the world would end, that’s what the Legacy Dungeons felt like. Hell, that’s what some catacombs and other smaller side areas felt like.

All of this is compounded by a lack of an underground map in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree. There are 6 map fragments in the DLC, but none of them catalog what are, in fact, some expansive underground complexes that easily dwarf Mohgwyn Palace or rival Siofra River for scale. There aren’t as many of them, of course, but the ones that are here tend to rely on you always going down. And down. And down and down. Unless you’re going up and up and up.

Not every area is as densely populated as the main story locations, and even some of those can be a bit sparse in their inhabitants, but FromSoftware makes a point to turn even these “quieter” areas into something special. Whether that’s changing up traversal in unique ways or putting some powerful story moment in a hidden area that really makes you feel something.

I could go on and on about all the things you can discover in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, but short of being too vague, I think it best you see it for yourself. It’s much bigger than I expected it would be, and it will be at least a week before the community plumbs all its secrets.

For more Elden Ring coverage, especially for the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, check out our Elden Ring guides hub, including our guide on how to enter the Realm of Shadow.

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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.