A blue, pog-faced worm in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Image via FromSoftware

Where is the Point of No Return in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

Like most large RPG games, there is a point of no return in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.

Another Souls game and RPG classic is the point of no return. Before you reach that part of the game, you can do as many quests and activities in whichever order you like. After the point of no return, some or all uncompleted optional content gets locked. You’ll find a hard limit like that in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree as well. But where is it?

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The Point of No Return in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

Messmer the Impaler in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny (Not actually a point of no return)

Note: While I will be discussing mega endgame spoilers in this article, I will refrain from using specific location names for the first week or so of Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree being live. The article will be updated with actual names later.

Unlike the base game of Elden Ring, there’s no boss or uncontrollable cutscene separating the DLC content from its final dungeon. Instead, you’ll come across a black, bent tree that’s sealing an ancient fortress in shadow. Destroying the tree using the flames of Messmer the Impaler undoes the shadowy binding on the final Legacy Dungeon.

That said, once you do destroy the tree, a cutscene automatically plays and teleports you to said final dungeon, a la the Faram Azula transition in base Elden Ring. Once you finish the point-of-no-return cutscene in Shadow of the Erdtree, you’ll be in the endgame and won’t be able to fast-travel out of the place until you beat the encounter just before the DLC’s final boss.

You can technically leave via the previously sealed front door, but going back in returns the fast travel lock. Moreover, making the transition past the point of no return (burning the sealing tree) automatically progresses all NPC quests, failing any otherwise incomplete quest steps. I can say that if you’re in the market for a specific NPC’s armor set, like Needle Knight Leda’s gear, you don’t need to worry. However, most specific quest-related items you haven’t yet unlocked will be impossible to acquire.

There is the odd occurrence where NPCs who have either died or been removed from the game still have quest steps present in the world. In my first playthrough for our Elden Ring review, I thought both Sir Ansbach and Needle Knight Leda were dead, their quests over by default. However, I found a summon and invasion symbol that would have otherwise appeared midway through their questlines, and defeating either allowed me to get a second set of their armor and weapon.

Not Everything is Set in Stone

A Glintstone Sorcerer in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree
Screenshot by GameSkinny

I should also mention that there is a sizeable chunk of side content in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree that’s completely unaffected by the point of no return. That includes an entire region of the world, several tough bosses, and no small amount of weapons, armor, spells, and other collectibles. The only content — story or otherwise — that gets the full lockout treatment is with the group of NPCs there to serve Miquella.

As such, if you found a particularly nasty superboss or weren’t able to fully unlock every corner of the map before beating the final story boss of the DLC, don’t fret. There’s no second point of no return that resets DLC progress beyond starting a New Game Plus cycle the standard way: beating the final boss of the base Elden Ring experience and choosing to go to NG+ or higher at the Table of Lost Graces.

I don’t think you should endeavor to solve every single mystery before taking on the last fight in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree, either. Leaving some secrets unexplored will give you more reason to play through again or at least spend more time in the Realm of Shadow before returning to the Lands Between. I can say that, after almost three full playthroughs as of this writing, I’m still finding new things, still have plenty of places I have no idea how to get to, and have seen other reviewer phantoms with gear I couldn’t tell you how to find if you held a gun to my head.

Try Out New Builds

The last reason to keep side content available is to do those extra playthroughs and try out new builds. If you were a melee character to start, try casting, or vice versa. I didn’t change up too much, going from dual straight swords to dual spears with Incantation backup, and let me tell you, it was a very different game.

Lastly, once you know where the point of no return is, you can plan your playthroughs around it. If you want to focus on specific quests early to ensure they get done, you can do so. Alternately, you could speedrun to the point of no return, but I don’t actually recommend that, as many of the main story NPC quests are gated by specific narrative moments (beating Messmer, for instance), so blitzing your way to the endgame misses out on many of those moments.

How you deal with the point of no return in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is ultimately up to you, which is the beauty of a game like this one. Play it how you want, the speed and narrative pace you choose.

For more on Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree and the game in general, check out 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.