Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree's latest patch buffs your power in its earlier hours, with 'other balance adjustments' to come—also, you may need to turn ray tracing off again

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree preview
(Image credit: FromSoftware, Bandai Namco)

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree, despite being critically lauded (fellow PC Gamer writer Tyler Colp gave it a 95 in his Shadow of the Erdtree review, himself) has somehow reignited the age-old Elden Ring difficulty discourse—although more people are on the side of toning things down than they were in 2022, as Steam reviews dropped to "Mixed" last week.

The review score is still "Mixed" at the time of writing, though just barely, with 69% of reviews being positive. One root cause of this Erdtree agony is a mixture of misunderstandings and fair criticisms over the Scadutree Fragments system—a DLC-specific source of power scaling that increases your overall defence and offence after finding specific macguffins, akin to the Sacred Tears and Golden Seeds from the first game.

In short, no matter what your build's like, Erdtree's damage is seriously punishing in its first few hours—and if you're the kind of stubborn soulslike player to keep running to a boss like you're trying to bargain with Dormammu instead of exploring, you're going to be having a bad time. 'Go get Scadutree Fragments' is the new 'level your vigor'.

Well, it looks like FromSoftware's pumping the brakes a little bit. As announced in the DLC's first balance patch, the "attack and damage negation curve scaling of the Shadow Realm Blessings have been revised."

Your Scadutree Fragments will give you a bigger boost for the first 10 levels, while the buffs you get afterwards will be more gradual. However, "the attack and damage negation granted by the final level of Blessing enhancements has been slightly increased."

Essentially, this means that players will be rewarded for exploring a moderate amount—however, it'll be less mandatory (though still advised) to push your Shadow Blessing level beyond that. If you do go on a scavenger hunt, though, you'll be handsomely rewarded for getting everything as a capstone.

This seems like a fair compromise, to me. I've got mixed feelings about the system myself (as well as the balance of the DLC's bosses)—though for the record, I did every fog-gate boss without using ashes or summons, and only had to significantly change up my build for the final sod as they gave me no end of trouble.

I also had to go on a hunt for Scadutree Fragments for said final boss, which was a nice break from the brick wall I was bloodying my skull against, but also felt like it broke the flow of my experience—so I'm glad that the system's being revised. Reward exploration, sure, but don't make completionism mandatory. This should help improve the replayability of the thing, too.

FromSoftware also revealed that some of those graphics woes were, in part, due to "a bug where the ray tracing settings are automatically enabled if you have previously loaded saved data from previous game versions." I just checked my game, and my ray tracing wasn't on, but as always with bugs like these your mileage may vary—still, I know my colleague's far more powerful machines have been experiencing stutters, so that's definitely not the full problem.

The developer also promised that "other balance adjustments as well as bug fixes are also planned for a future patch," so until that happens you'll have to, as recently-victorious marathon streamer Kai Cenat put it, "go out there, and go fight".


Erdtree map fragments: Uncover the Land of Shadow
Scadutree fragments: How to level up in Erdtree
Erdtree bosses: A full hit list for the DLC
Leda quest: Track the Erdtree main quest
Sir Ansbach quest: Help the former servant of Mohg
Hornsent quest: Complete the quest for vengeance

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.