As Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree continues to pound players into the dirt, Bandai Namco calls them out in the most devastatingly polite way possible

"This is a suggestion to level up your Scadutree Blessing."

"This is a suggestion to level up your Scadutree Blessing."

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree is hard—real hard, in fact. Having just wrapped up my ashes-free playthrough myself, I definitely feel like everything in it is a major step up when compared to the base game. Nothing insurmountable, but the exact opposite of a cakewalk, as FromSoftware DLCs tend to be.

This controversial difficulty spike—in a genre known for being a series of controversial difficulty spikes—has led to “Mixed” reviews on Steam for the time being.

Complaints are the usual suspects: bosses attack too fast, they deal with too much damage, the camera is bad, the Black Gaol Knight beat me up and stole my lunch money, I don’t want to have to hunt down Scadutree fragments, and so on. As someone who is fresh off the back of having beaten the expansion without using ashes, I think a lot of these woes will fade with time—some of them are fair enough, though. Performance hasn’t been great, and I have mixed feelings about the Scadutree Fragment scaling—the DLC-specific power system that increases your outgoing damage and reduces incoming pain by a considerable margin.

Bandai Namco, seemingly in response, has tweeted a devastatingly polite reminder to the player base among the melee: “This is a suggestion to level up your Scadutree Blessing”. Simple, efficient, ruinous.

(Image credit: @BandaiNamcoUS on Twitter/X.)

It’s the most civilised way of saying “git gud” imaginable, though it’s not without merit. I keep seeing videos of players raging at the Blackgaol Knight two-shotting them, and thanking the tree above that I decided to come back with a few more blessings under my belt. Like Margit in the base game, I feel the Blackgaol Knight (and to an extent, Rennala) are there to teach you to go explore first.

Still, the DLC’s difficulty is absolutely a step up. You can dodge most bosses’ strings (save for the final one) pretty reliably when you get a handle on their patterns, but that doesn’t change the fact that they all still require rote memorisation on par with Malenia. They’re fast, incredibly aggressive, and the ages-long combos have been turned up to 11.

The difficulty woes have even led to some prominent personalities either tapping out or altering their previously-glowing reviews. Iron Pineapple, a prominent Souls tuber, gave the expansion all-timer praise, before developing a more nuanced opinion over time—as seen in the comments section of his review video: “the honeymoon phase is a real thing.” Though he still maintains that people are “ignoring the Scadutree blessings too much.”

Personally, I think we’re going to see people softening on Shadow of the Erdtree over time, especially as FromSoftware’s typical patch adjustments kick in and people, well, get good—I remember the discussions about Margit’s long, fake-out filled attack chains, and how they were a step up from the studio’s usual pedigree. Now there are absolutely absurd level one playthroughs on the game’s highest New Game+ scaling. Knowledge is power.

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