I used Elon Musk's infamous Elden Ring build in the DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree — here's what happened

Elden Ring
Behold: the one and only Elon Musk Elden Ring build, in all of its dripless glory. (Image credit: Windows Central)

These days, Tesla and SpaceX CEO and X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk typically makes headlines because of political statements or the billionaire's moves in tech. About two years ago, though, his Elden Ring build is what had everyone talking — and it's not because it was good. In fact, it was widely ragged on for being anything but, with many fans of FromSoftware's award-winning 2022 ARPG pointing out numerous problems with the way he'd built his character.

I'll give an overview of the setup below, but more to the point: I was bored this past Sunday afternoon, and thought it might be fun to take the infamous build into the new Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC to see how it performs in what is undoubtedly one of the toughest pieces of content ever released by FromSoftware. So, after a quick respec for one of my characters, I entered the Land of Shadow with Elon Musk's Elden Ring stats and equipment of choice. Here's how that went!

The Elon Musk Elden Ring build

Musk initially described his Elden Ring build as a "power mage, but decent with a sword/katana," and at first, that didn't sound bad at all, especially since both sorceries and the Intelligence-scaling Moonveil katana are incredibly powerful. When he shared screenshots of his stats and gear a day later, though, it quickly became clear just how poorly thought out his setup was.

At Level 111, he had 31 for his HP stat, Vigor, even though 40 is the typical standard for builds around Level 100 and he's using the Twinsage Glintstone Crown that reduces HP (and stamina) by 9% in exchange for an Intelligence buff. Inexplicably, he also had two shields equipped at the same time — both with minor stat differences and without Ash of War skills — and his casting staff as well as two weapons in a single hand. This is simply unnecessary and prevents you from holding your staff in one hand and a weapon in the other, which is a tactic you should always at least have the option to do as a mage in a Soulsborne game. Worse, all that equipped gear together with the heavy armor Musk was wearing gave him a Heavy Load, causing terrible "fat roll" dodges (in fairness, he did say "equipped load will be lower if fast roll is needed").

Aside from the Heavy Load, though, the worst part of the build by far is its talismans. The use of the sorcery-buffing Graven-School Talisman makes sense and the stamina regen-boosting Green Turtle Talisman is okay, but Radagon's Soreseal — a talisman that raises Vigor, Endurance, Strength, and Dexterity by 5 but makes you take 15% additional damage — has no place in a late-game build that's already hurting for HP. Musk's final talisman is the Crimson Amber Medallion +1, which does boost health, but its use here is just trying to solve a problem he wouldn't have if he had a better stat spread and wasn't using the Twinsage Glintstone Crown. At Level 111, 68 Intelligence is overkill.

With all that said, both the Moonveil and Rogier's Rapier with a Magic infusion are great picks for Intelligence/Dexterity setups, with the former even capable of inflicting Bleed and staggering enemies with its Transient Moonlight skill. The sky-high Intelligence also means these weapons hit like a truck, as do spells — especially with Lusat's Glintstone Staff enhancing the power of every sorcery used (albeit incurring a 50% FP cost increase for each spell cast in the process). Musk also made a great Spirit Ashes choice in the tanky and aggressive Banished Knight Engvall (the other Skeletal Militiamen Ashes and Marionette Soldier Ashes he has on his hotbar aren't worth summoning).

Using Elon Musk's Elden Ring build in the DLC

The Blackgaol Knight was entirely capable of one-shotting me, but his attack chains were slow enough that Heavy Load dodges usable. (Image credit: Windows Central)

For this little adventure, I decided to use Musk's build to beat every boss in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree's first region, the Gravesite Plain. That means both the Divine Beast Dancing Lion and Rellana, Twin Moon Knight, along with various other minibosses like the Blackgaol Knight, the Ghostflame Dragon, and the wandering Furnace Golem. I used his exact stats and equipment, though I did fully upgrade the build's weapons and shields; I also limited myself to his five spell slots, using Rennala's Full Moon/Ranni's Dark Moon and Comet — spells he said he uses — along with a few others. In case you're wondering, I did get Scadutree Fragments and Revered Spirit Ashes, too, though I only collected the ones within Gravesite Plain itself.

The main problem with this build is its Heavy Load, which immediately became apparent when the Curseblade enemy that attacks you near the start of the DLC cut me to ribbons faster than I could dodge his rapid slashing combos. Basic foes with slower and simpler attack patterns could still be defeated easily, but more difficult ones like Horned Warriors were far harder to take out. Fighting on Torrent is one way to circumvent this problem in the open world, which is how I beat the Furnace Golem and the Ghostflame Dragon, but that's not an option in interior spaces or large dungeons like Belurat, Tower Settlement and Castle Ensis. In those, I had to come up with other solutions.

The block counter tactic was incredibly useful against enemies like Black Knights. (Image credit: Windows Central)

The first and primary tactic I found success with was taking advantage of the Brass Shield — one of the best Elden Ring shields for blocking due to its high guard boost — by buffing its guard with the Scholar's Shield sorcery and using it to perform block counter attacks with Rogier's Rapier. With this strategy, I could largely avoid having to dodge at all while fighting mobs, especially by backpedaling and lowering my guard between enemy combos to regenerate stamina.

Unfortunately, some hyper-aggressive enemies like the aforementioned Curseblades hit so quickly that even my magic-coated Brass Shield couldn't withstand their attacks, which drove me to lean into offensive spells from long range. Even in the Land of Shadow, few things can survive being nuked with a surprise Ranni's Dark Moon from a mile away that's followed up by several Comet missiles. Fewer still can live long enough to close the distance on me after that, especially when I make use of Elden Ring's jump button to get onto pieces of high ground they struggle to reach.

The Divine Beast Dancing Lion was one of the two major fights in the Gravesite Plain I had a hard time beating with this build. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Overall, I wouldn't exactly call playing through the DLC's levels a smooth experience — even with these tactics, I could die to basic mobs in just a few hits due to the build's low effective HP — but I was able to get through most areas without too much trouble. The minor boss fights weren't too bad, either, especially since several of them either attacked slow enough that Heavy Load rolls could be used fairly reliably, could be blocked effectively, or were in an arena I was able to summon Banished Knight Engvall in so that he could take aggro and give me space to cast magic. Predictably, however, there were two fights I struggled with: the Divine Beast Dancing Lion and Rellana.

I was able to get through the Dancing Lion's first phase pretty easily, as its combos are fully dodgeable with Heavy Load and it's weak to the Bleed status effect Moonveil can build up. In Phase 2, though, it imbues itself and its attacks with the power of the elements, and while I could handle jumping over ice crystals and rolling through wind gusts, I wasn't able to safely get away from the delayed lightning strikes that followed each of the boss' moves. I died quite a few times to them because of this, but eventually beat the Dancing Lion by playing farther away and letting Engvall take aggro so I could use my heavy-hitter spells, only bothering with melee when it wasn't in Lightning form.

Rellana was an even bigger wall for me, owing to the fact she's very aggressive, uses combos Heavy Load rolls can't fully avoid, and is resistant to Magic damage. She also hits much faster than the Dancing Lion, and could kill Engvall fairly quickly if I let him hold her attention for long. My only real advantage was that if I could find the space to actually get it off somewhat frequently, she could be stance broken effectively with Moonveil's Ash of War. The build also has the Carian Knight's Shield, which has a higher Magic damage resistance than the Brass Shield and can be used to survive Rellana's five-hit magic projectile attack that I'd have died to otherwise.

For Phase 1, I went back to the Scholar's Shield guard counter playstyle, using a Ranni's Dark Moon at the start to lower her Magic damage negation a bit and Moonveil to get hits in whenever possible while timing blocks carefully to manage my stamina. Whenever Rellana would stagger, I then swapped to Rogier's Rapier to take advantage of its higher crit damage multiplier when riposting her. Though I still took a few hits since some of her attacks can hook around shields, I could get through this part of the fight pretty consistently.

Phase 2, though, is where things got rough. Since Rellana buffs her swords with Magic and Fire damage at the start of it, I could no longer block her basic combos without taking chip damage, and I died a rather frustrating number of times as a consequence. It was here that Engvall came into play, as I was able to use my health as a resource to summon him before running away to heal while he distracted the boss. I then cast another moon to lower her Magic defenses again before spamming Night Comet and Moonveil's Transient Moonlight skill, dodging and blocking whatever I could whenever she focused on me instead of my Spirit Ashes.

Though Engvall eventually fell to Rellana's special moon attack, I'd done enough damage to her HP and poise by then that I was able to get a critical stance break with Moonveil, following up with a Rogier's Rapier riposte and a few more Transient Moonlights to finally finish her off.

This was actually pretty fun, believe it or not

I was worried I'd just get annoyed and frustrated trying to play through the first few hours of Shadow of the Erdtree with Elon Musk's Elden Ring build, but I actually ended up having quite a bit of fun. You'll never catch me saying it's good here are some DLC builds that are, if you're interested — but playing to its strengths while doing what I could to mitigate its sizable shortcomings was an enjoyable challenge. Maybe I'll even try to beat the rest of the DLC with it; I think I could definitely take down Messmer the Impaler, but that final boss fight? I'm not so sure.

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)

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)

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.