The best Elden Ring DLC tip I have: Sekiro's greatest lesson helped me get through Shadow of the Erdtree, and it'll help you, too

 Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree spike shield.
Credit: Bandai Namco

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Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree
Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree

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FromSoftware's new Elden Ring DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree, is brutally difficult — not surprising from a studio known for the arduous nature of its games, right? Well, the expansion is incredibly challenging even by "Soulsborne" standards, to the point where many players have been caught completely off-guard by how hard it is. Even its first miniboss is giving the Tarnished a hard time, and in the wake of the DLC's launch, it's been met with "Mixed" reviews as many players bemoan its punishing damage balancing and its hyper-aggressive bosses.

I do feel that the former could use some adjustments, but after playing through the entirety of the DLC last week for my review, I'm confident in saying that its bosses aren't at all unfair or impossible to fight effectively without Spirit Ashes or cheesy strategies — and the key to success against them is actually a lesson I first learned from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, FromSoftware's first Game of the Year-winning ARPG.

That lesson is "hesitation is defeat," which Sekiro players will remember as the line the game's final boss, Isshin, says every time he juliennes you with his katana. It's basically a cool way of saying "you need to be aggressive and stop playing passively," and Sekiro sears that lesson into your brain over the course of your playthrough with its narrow windows for offense and its posture mechanic that forces you to constantly attack and deflect a boss until you break their stance and land the killing blow.

Elden Ring
Elden Ring

Elden Ring may not have Sekiro's posture system or its deflects, but the fundamental principle of "hesitation is defeat" absolutely applies in Shadow of the Erdtree. In Dark Souls and much of Elden Ring's base game, you could get away with playing the spacing game and rolling or running away from attacks, then going in and landing a few hits of your own before the boss began its next combo. In the Elden Ring DLC, though, this won't work, as its bosses won't give you time to get closer to them and go on offense before launching a new move.

To effectively deal damage, you instead need to roll through attacks and towards the boss, which allows you to follow up with some moves of your own right away. I instantly started getting far farther in each fight than I did before once I adopted this mindset, and it's the approach that helped me get through the entirety of the DLC (including the insanely tough final boss, which I'll have a guide up for shortly).

If you're struggling to get past bosses in Shadow of the Erdtree, do your best to dodge towards them, stay in their face, and be aggressive. Provided you stay calm, roll at the right times (watch out for tricky delayed attacks), and don't hesitate, you'll start making big progress. I promise.

The Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is finally here, and it makes one of the best Xbox games and best PC games of all time even better. It's out now on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and Windows PC for $39.99.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree | $34.89 at CDKeys (Xbox)

Shadow of the Erdtree is Elden Ring at its most refined, with the base game's overly formulaic elements cut away and some of FromSoftware's best boss fights. The result is a 40-hour-long masterpiece of a DLC that's an absolute must-play for any Soulsborne fan.

Also see: Shadow of the Erdtree (PC, $37.09) | Deluxe Edition (PC, $90.89)

Collector's Edition: Bandai Namco Store (€249.99)View Deal