Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree's story trailer has fans thinking we just saw the bloody birth of a god

A still from the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree story trailer depicting two stacks of bodies with a feminine figure standing in between basked in light
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

A now-deleted post on the Elden Ring subreddit states it plainly: "MARIKA MADE THE ERDTREE FROM A MOUNTAIN OF CORPSES …" The other half of the title is a Berserk spoiler and the reason the thread was taken down, but Reddit user ILBOI_X isn't alone in this theory. Everyone is pointing at the pillars of bodies in the new Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree story trailer and calling it a tree.

Of course there is lore to support this. Elden Ring fans always keep item descriptions in their back pocket when something new needs to be dissected.

Reddit user Probablychris believes the stack of bodies "will be at the center of theorycrafting for the next few years" and made a post asking for people's thoughts. Several Elden Ring fans are pretty sure they're the Erdtree before it was the Erdtree. Item descriptions in the game already reveal that something existed before it that was called "the Crucible", and it was "where all life was once blended together."

"I've seen some people speculate that this is the Crucible, which could definitely fit," Reddit user Skeletickles wrote. "It is, after all, the place where all life [was] once blended together, and those bodies sure do look blended together."

The implication is that the trailer depicts the birth of the Erdtree as we know it in the game, towering above the Lands Between as a golden object of faith. The character standing in the center of the bodies is Marika, confirmed by the bangles they're wearing in the close-up shot. Marika, if you haven't thought about Elden Ring lore in the last three years, is the crucified woman in the intro cutscene that started this mess. It's clear now that the "history of the Land of Shadow" in the trailer's description is also the history of Marika.

If you're still unsure, Reddit user Western-Apple1610 popped open MS Paint to make it extra clear—no lore required. 

The Berserk comparisons are out there too. I haven't read far enough in Kentaro Miura's legendary dark fantasy manga series to understand them—which I think makes me a lesser FromSoft fan—but I can see what people are getting at. Dark Souls is stuffed with blatant references to Miura's work, so it's probably not a coincidence that Berserk also has scenes with piles of bodies. The other half of ILBOI_X's original post title compared the body-tree to Berserk's World Tree, which similarly has two trunks.

As far as Elden Ring fan theories go, a fleshy origin for the Erdtree isn't much of a stretch. It already has roots made of corpses and has the power to resurrect gods. That it all started as a betrayal by the hands of Marika lines up with the few hints we already have about her life before coming to the Lands Between. Shadow of the Erdtree, it turns out, will be a prequel of sorts.

The trailer has plenty more to talk about, like those soldiers with the helmets that mirror the design on the Erdtree's door. All of it has something to do with that big evil tree, and on June 21, when Shadow of the Erdtree launches, we'll hopefully get some answers about where it came from.

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.