Malenia was only the beginning: Shadow of the Erdtree will have optional bosses 'tuned in a similar way' to Elden Ring's toughest foe

Elden Ring Malenia
(Image credit: Tyler C. / FromSoftware)

Malenia is responsible for claiming countless lives in Elden Ring, largely because of her rapid attacks and regenerating health. She's so difficult that one highly-skilled player rose to hero status by defeating her for others countless times.

In the upcoming Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, we're probably going to need Let Me Solo Her once again. Speaking to IGN, director Hidetaka Miyazaki said players will "find optional bosses who have been tuned in a similar way to the likes of Malenia."

Battle-hardened FromSoftware fans won't even blink at the news though. The Dark Souls series has always slipped its hardest boss fights into the DLC. Dark Souls 1 has Artorias and Manus, Dark Souls 2 has Fume Knight, and Dark Souls 3 has Sister Friede. Because many of the DLCs take place near the end of the games, the fights are designed to challenge high-level characters. We don't know exactly when you can access Shadow of the Erdtree in a typical Elden Ring playthrough, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's meant to be played in the second half.

Notably, Miyazaki says "optional bosses," plural. Are the memes of a Godskin duo duo based on one of the most annoying fights in Elden Ring going to end up being real? Only this poison-swamp-loving man knows.

"We want to create a challenging experience that tests the players and that gives them a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment when they get through these struggles," Miyazaki says of Shadow of the Erdtree's difficulty. "However, we do want to stress that there's still a freedom of approach and a breadth of strategy to these encounters. And that means both how you approach them if you want to face these challenges or come back to them later and circumvent them and find another way around and come back when you're ready."

Much like everyone's experience getting pulverized by the patrolling knight at the start of the game, you may run into one of these optional fights early on, and it may look doable. But take it from a Souls veteran like me: Don't be fooled by a boss with a flimsy little health bar. They will get back up and start phase 2 with 10 new ways to kill you because FromSoft loves having the last laugh.

The threat–or challenge, depending on who you are—has officially been made. Bring a shield and as many healing flasks as you can on June 21 when Shadow of the Erdtree is set to release.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.