15 Hidden Details in the Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Trailer
12 mins read

15 Hidden Details in the Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree Trailer


The long wait is finally over. We now have our first look at the upcoming DLC for Elden Ring, Shadow of the Erdtree, and it’s looking absolutely massive. The three-minute long trailer is packed with terrifying bosses, dazzling magic, and a whole lot that needs unpacking. So let’s jump right into it.

The Mystery of Miquella

The biggest mystery posed by Elden Ring’s main campaign was what happened to Miquella, the twin brother of Malenia and a demigod cursed to be a child for eternity. In the main game, Miquella was found in Mohg’s palace, slumbering in a cocoon that was meant to turn him into an adult. During Mohg’s boss fight it’s implied that Miquella is dead, however, cut lore dialogue reveals that Miquella is just still asleep. Along with the first Shadow of the Erdtree keyart showing Miquella on a spirit steed, it appears the stage is set to uncover the mystery behind this lost family member.

The trailer begins with an image of Miquella’s cocoon, still placed on the altar of Mohg’s palace. The corpse-like arm of Miquella is stretched out of the cocoon seemingly showing that Miquella still hasn’t been revived from his slumber.

How to Access the DLC

In past FromSoftware games, the DLC is usually accessed directly in the game’s world, whether by touching a painting or discovering a secret cave. For example, in Bloodborne you have to touch a monster’s skull, which is very cool. Miquella’s cocoon feels like a very likely entry way into the DLC, and sure enough, director Hidetaka Miyazaki confirmed this to be the case in our new interview with him.

A voice at the end of the trailer also asks you to “touch the withered arm and travel to the realm of shadow.” The lore indicates that Miquella’s soul may be in the Land of Dreams, so traveling into his mind may be the gateway to this “realm of shadow”. It all seems the perfect set up to access the new DLC areas.

What’s Wrong With the Erdtree?

The Erdtree is Elden Ring’s most striking landmark, a giant golden tree towering over the Lands Between. The Erdtree represents the blessing of the Elden Ring and its glow symbolizes the Golden Order established by Queen Marika. Depending on which ending of the main campaign players pursue, the Erdtree can look very different, as it represents the current state of the Lands Between and its ruler.

But there is another great tree in Elden Ring (technically several, but we’re not going to get lost in the roots on that). The other great tree, one closely associated with Miquella, is the Haligtree far in the north of The Lands Between, where Malenia resides. We have a suspicion that the tree in the trailer could well be the Haligtree. The Erdtree is based in Leyndell, but that city is not visible in this shot, and the twisted Y-shape of the tree more closely resembles the Haligtree, which Miquella tried to grow as a sanctuary away from the Golden Order and the Erdtree. This could explain the DLC’s name ‘Shadow of the Erdtree’, perhaps a reference to Miquella’s attempts and failure to grow a tree separate from the Erdtree.

Whatever the true nature of this tree, it unfortunately appears dead and leaking a golden fluid. It also looks similar to the rotted trees in the Deeproot Depths. It’s unclear why the tree is in this state, but we expect the story of Shadow of the Erdtree to reveal just why it looks so unhealthy, and the major impact of its status.

If Not Now, Maybe When?

While the Land of Dreams has been referenced in Elden Ring, it might not be an alternate dimension at all, but rather the Lands Between’s past. FromSoftware often utilizes time travel in its DLC, sending players back in time in the case of Dark Souls’ Artorias of the Abyss, as well as the nightmare version of the past in The Old Hunters from Bloodborne. FromSoftware also threw players into the future in Dark Souls 3’s The Ringed City. If this tendency is true for Elden Ring as well – if The Shadow of the Erdtree is set in the past – it could explain some additional details that appear later on in the trailer…

New (Armored) Faces

The trailer features a quick cut to what we presume are some new characters, and more importantly some new armor players can potentially find in the DLC. The first is a knight armor vaguely reminiscent of the Carian Knight set, with a cape and some kind of sharp crescent accent on top of the helmet. The next character is also in armor, wearing some kind of Roman Legion-like set with a face-like helmet sporting a plume on top. Incidentally, many of the armor sets in Elden Ring that feature a plumed helmet motif belong to enemies who serve a particular demigod, like the Gelmir Knight Set belonging to soldiers who serve Ryckard, and the Godrick Knight Set. Could this armor belong to adherents of the mysterious demigod who appears later in the trailer? The final two characters are another knight bent over a clay pot and a mysterious masked figure lying in a dark, purple flower field.

A Young Rennala?

One of the factions in Elden Ring is the Carian Royal Family, led by Queen Rennala, and their magical Academy of Raya Lucaria. This new character, seated on a throne in an empty hall, certainly bears similarities to Rennala — from their pale face to that extravagant outfit. But if our theory that Shadow of the Erdtree is set in the past proves correct, then this figure could even be a young Rennala herself.

Portrait Perfect

Elden Ring is ultimately a story about a feud between members of a noble family. Given that nobles love portraits of themselves, players can find paintings of these siblings all across Elden Ring, especially in Volcano Manor where paintings of Rykard and Radahn can be found.

We can add another portrait to the mix, this time of an old man seated with his hands on his lap and accompanied by a mysterious, cloaked woman. Given that portraits in Elden Ring are reserved for noble or other prominent characters, we can assume they are key figures in the Lands Between.

Not-Crumbling Farum Azula

If the DLC is set before the events of the main game, this would mean that several of the crumbling structures players encounter in the present day timeline of Elden Ring could be assumed to be in better condition in the past. Is this imposing fortress what Farum Azula looks like before it crumbles? There are similar architectural elements, such as the its heavy blockwork punctuated by archways, as well as a vortex above pulling chunks of the castle upwards, which we know is where Farum Azula ultimately ends up.

New Giant Boss

A second fire giant boss? That’s the only explanation after seeing this latest titan appear in the Shadow of the Erdtree trailer. Players are already familiar with fighting the Fire Giant, a hulking, massive boss capable of wielding fire. Now it appears we’ll have to face some kind of living furnace, which Miyazaki told us is a “terrible” weapon of war filled with burning corpses. I hope it doesn’t throw any of them at us.

I Hate That Thing

I don’t know what it is, and I don’t particularly want to find out, but it looks like there will be a brain-sucking enemy in the new Shadow of the Erdtree DLC. It’s an enemy type that follows a rich history of awful creatures like the Mind-Flayer in Demon’s Souls and Brainsucker in Bloodborne.

This Person Seems Important

If there’s a main character in the Shadow of the Erdtree trailer it’s this mysterious long-limbed demigod who Miyazaki confirmed will be called “Messmer”. The crimson red hair is a dead giveaway that this character is likely a child of Radagon, but it’s a mystery as to whether he’s related to Melania and Miquella through Queen Marika, or Radahn, Rykard, and Ranni through Queen Rennala. While his ‘M’ name makes it seem like he could be a child of Marika, this character’s snake motif makes me believe he’s likely related to Rykard, or perhaps even a younger version of the Lord of Blasphemy himself before he fed himself to the great serpent. Remember, having multiple names in Elden Ring is not such an uncommon thing, particularly for the demigods and nobles.

Miyazaki tells IGN that “he’s a key figure in the DLC and he again has this important element of shadow to him, which is a key theme throughout the DLC as well.” The key art features Messmer on a throne similar to the ones demigods sit on at the base of the Erdtree. Miyazaki says this is to show that “Messmer stands on equal footing to these other demigods and children of Marika who sat around in these thrones and held the rooms of the Erdtree.”

Whatever his lineage, he appears to be asking his “Mother” why they would bestow lordship to “one who is so bereft of life.” Messmer is likely taunting the player who, in several endings to the main campaign, is able to usurp the royal throne in Elden Ring and become Elden Lord.

Details in the Montage

Partway through the trailer we’re teased with a variety of new weapons and potential gameplay enhancements, including something that looks like martial arts or some kind of pugilist skill set? There are also large bombs we can throw, as well as a huge repeater crossbow that looks pretty handy if we can get our hands on it.

There is also a montage of terrifying-looking new enemies, some of whom appear to be area bosses we can encounter in the wild. The swordswoman in the field could be another Gaol inhabitant, and there are shots of intimidating boar riders, a scary hippo, and a huge skeleton horseman.

The Golden Order

Towards the end of the trailer we see a corpse pull a sword or some kind of fragment out through their skull. Fascinatingly, this character’s bones protrude outward, reminiscent of the central section of the Elden Ring rune, the symbol of Queen Marika’s Golden Order.

A New Crucible Spell?

While fighting Messmer, the player character is shown to grow wings and launch a spear of light. This appears to be the Aspect of the Crucible Wings spell that the enemy Crucible Knights can perform, suggesting that it may finally be something players can cast in the DLC.

Miquella Shows Himself

The final shot is surely Miquella himself considering the character’s association with gold hair and pale skin. Whatever it is they’re doing, the tree – whether than be the Haligtree, the Erdtree, or some other great tree, seems to be in much better shape than it was at the beginning of the trailer when it was looking quite rotted and sick. Is Miquella perhaps responsible for its restoration? We’ll find out when Shadow of the Erdtree releases on June 21st.

Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s Senior Features Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.





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