Shadow of the Erdtree has some recycled bosses, but I'm not worried: the 10+ major bosses are unique, and "there are definitely greater challenges awaiting"

 Elden Ring DLC Shadow of the Erdtree.
Elden Ring DLC Shadow of the Erdtree.

The Elden Ring DLC has unsurprisingly ended up being a lot bigger than it seemed, with over 10 bosses and "around 100" new weapons coming in Shadow of the Erdtree. Recent impressions of the DLC – you can read our Shadow of the Erdtree hands-on preview here – noted that there are some familiar bosses in the new area, the Land of Shadow. I remember repeat bosses being one of the few minor negatives circulating among discussion after Elden Ring first launched, especially with regards to catacombs, so I wanted to drill down into some of the specifics for the DLC.

For my part, I found and defeated a familiar dragon boss out in the open fields of the Land of Shadow. It had a fancy new title, the Ghostflame Dragon, and dark fire to match, but it felt exactly like all the other dragons I've fought in Elden Ring, excluding the big ones like Placidusax. Elsewhere, reputable Souls YouTuber Iron Pineapple happened upon a Magma Wyrm just like the ones in the base game. He also mentions an Ulcerated Tree Spirit in his impressions video.

On some level, I can understand being disappointed with repeat bosses, especially in a bespoke $40 expansion. You're buying new content, so you don't really want to see the old content again. Exploring and finding new things is a key part of Elden Ring, and I know I won't be thrilled to fight yet another Magma Wyrm in the Land of Shadow. I won't be mad, either, just profoundly unexcited.

Elden Ring
Elden Ring

At the same time, I think the worldbuilding value of these bosses is often overlooked. For these specific dragons and wyrms, the fact that the same ones are found in multiple places conveys that this is a believable species of creatures native to multiple regions of this realm, which I actually think is pretty cool. The same can be said for reused architecture, which communicates that this is how the people of this world constructed things. The good news is, wherever you fall on this topic, Shadow of the Erdtree is not lacking in big, new bosses, so I'm starting to see the repeats as more of a complimentary appetizer.

As soon as publisher Bandai Namco confirmed that the DLC has "more than 10 bosses," I began to wonder if we're talking about anything with a health bar at the bottom of the screen. After beating two of the DLC's Remembrance bosses (and utterly falling in love with one of them), I assumed not – on the grounds that the final enemies for areas like dungeons, Evergaols, and other comparable side challenges would very quickly dilute a pool of 10-or-so bosses. That's exactly the case: bosses like that familiar dragon aren't even in the same class.

"The dragon would not be counted among those bosses," a Bandai Namco representative explained. "It’s just a unique field enemy."

I was also curious how those Remembrance bosses, which are positioned as the first major hurdles you'll encounter in the Land of Shadow, compare to the rest of the DLC roster. They were no pushovers, and would easily rank in the upper half or even upper third of the most difficult bosses in Elden Ring. It's a bit of an obvious question because clearly the opening bosses aren't going to be the most difficult ones in the whole DLC, but there's also the precedent set by Margit, the de facto 'first boss' of Elden Ring who is still noticeably tougher than a lot of later bosses.

"There are definitely greater challenges awaiting those brave Tarnished who venture further into the Shadow of the Erdtree content," was all Bandai would say, which still speaks to the difficulty curve that lies ahead. I was using a level 150 premade character with a decent melee build during the review, and most everything in the DLC still felt plenty threatening. I'll be going into the Land of Shadow on NG+ to start, so I'm fully prepared to get my butt cheeks chopped off and handed to me "more than 10" times.

For sheer install size, Shadow of the Erdtree is rumored to be bigger than all of Sekiro and almost a third of Elden Ring itself.