Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree currently has a 'Mixed' status on Steam, with many of the negative reviews complaining that the bosses are too hard

Elden Ring character in Drake Knight armor gesturing in front of Gravesite Plain in Shadow of the Erdtree
(Image credit: FromSoftware)

Everyone is loving Shadow of the Erdtree: We gave it a 95% in our review (higher even than the base game two years ago) and Erdtree has even surpassed The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine as the best-reviewed RPG expansion on Metacritic. Despite all that buzz, it's currently taking a beating in one major metric: Steam reviews.

Shadow of the Erdtree is sitting at a "Mixed" status, with 61% of its over 14,000 user reviews being positive. There is one recurring criticism that makes a lot of sense: PC performance. Back at Elden Ring's launch, PC Gamer editor-in-chief Evan Lahti mused about how Elden Ring was the rare game that's so good, people gave it a pass for stuttering, a 60fps cap, and no ultrawide support. 

Two years later, that's still the case for good and bad: Shadow of the Erdtree was so good, I didn't mind its performance issues, but as PCG hardware writer Nick Evanson laid out in his tech overview of Shadow of the Erdtree, these are many of the same problems we've been having for the past two years.

But performance critiques are a distinct minority in these Steam reviews. The main source of rage? The bosses are too hard. "The Bosses in the DLC are unbearably pathetic," reads one. "I miss the time when the soulsborne games where [sic] about understanding the bosses, using their weakness against them and overcoming them by skill and knowledge.

"Now its [sic] just 10 hit combos where every attack also does a second aoe attack that makes it completly [sic] confusing when to dodge"

Shadow of the Erdtree guides

Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree trailer screencap of a red haired character holding fire in their hand

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

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
Ansbach quest: Help the former servant of Mohg
Hornsent quest: Complete the quest for vengeance

Another reads: "Used to be: don't get greedy; now: boss chaining one combo into another like it's R1 attacks while also moving like a ping-pong ball." I have seen reviews that complain the new weapons and ashes of war either aren't powerful enough to meet these challenges, or that they're so overpowered they are a requirement⁠ to beat the DLC—perhaps an indirect endorsement of the breadth of new tools available in the expansion, that players can have such varied experiences of them.

Many of the negative reviews seem to betray a lack of engagement with or understanding of the new Scadutree Fragment feature, Erdtree's supplemental leveling system to encourage exploration and provide another form of progression. Multiple reviews note being killed in one or two hits by early bosses despite having high health and resistances, a complaint that rhymes with players equipping the damage vulnerability-inducing "Soreseal" items from the base game and struggling against later bosses⁠. Finding Scadutree Fragments by thoroughly exploring the world and going to optional areas is a real necessity in Shadow of the Erdtree, with the fragments you collect raising both your damage to and resistances against these new enemies when you spend them to level up at sites of grace. 

Here's Souls YouTuber VaatiVidya demonstrating how transformative Scadutree Fragments can be by taking on an early DLC boss with a level one character⁠—FromSoftware recommends being at least level 120 for the expansion⁠—who had collected a number of fragments. VaatiVidya's no pushover by any means, but also not a dedicated challenge or speedrunner, which goes to show what Scadutree Fragments can do for you.

The reviews complaining about difficulty often have the character of having been quickly written after a frustrating boss experience, so hopefully cooler heads will prevail as these players get acclimated to Shadow of the Erdtree's new systems and challenging encounters⁠—luckily we've got a host of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree guides to help them on the way. 

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.