Hidetaka Miyazaki says Shadow of the Erdtree had to be big, because he wanted Elden Ring players 'to experience that sense of discovery and that sense of wonder' all over again

Shadow of the Erdtree
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: FromSoftware has been playing coy about the size of Shadow of the Erdtree, the Elden Ring expansion now more than two years in the making. In past interviews the developer has suggested it's roughly the size of Limgrave, the starting area in the base game. Maybe even a little bigger. But I spent a full day playing Shadow of the Erdtree at FromSoftware's offices in Tokyo last month, and I can assure you that estimate is sneakily setting the studio up to underpromise and overdeliver.

Not only is the landmass likely bigger than you're expecting, it's more intricate than any existing part of Elden Ring's map, with cliffs and canyons that require puzzling out how you can reach one point for another. Anyone who tries to make a beeline for each map fragment is going to run into more than a few surprises.

"At the very outset there were a lot of possibilities, but one of the things that was determined very early on was that size," said FromSoftware president Hidetaka Miyazaki. "We wanted that sense of scale for this map, because we wanted an experience for the player that was going to match that of the base game. We wanted them to experience that sense of discovery, and that sense of wonder and exploration again. We needed a map that was going to uphold that and bolster that."

I had a chance to venture further into Shadow of the Erdtree than anyone else for the cover feature of the next issue of PC Gamer, on sale later this month. I also got to ask Miyazaki for insight into the design of the Land of Shadow, and how it compares to the original map.

"Obviously it being exactly the same, but smaller, wouldn't quite cut it, so we wanted to approach from a sense of granularity, is the word we're using," he said. "How dense this map is, and the ratio of legacy dungeon to open field areas, and how they intertwine. This is something we wanted to explore anew in the DLC: In terms of recapturing that sense of scale but in a slightly different way with a slightly different granularity."

For more on what you'll find in the first (but definitely not only) open field area in Shadow of the Erdtree, check out editor Shaun Prescott's exploration-focused preview. Then head over to associate editor Tyler Colp's exploration of one of Shadow of the Erdtree's exciting new weapon types, which demonstrates just how far FromSoftware's action chops have come since the days of Demon's Souls. 

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).