In case you forgot Elden Ring's esoteric story, FromSoftware has a pre-DLC recap trailer to catch you up on the gist

Elden Ring
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

What you need to know

  • Elden Ring, FromSoftware's 2022 Game of the Year-winning fantasy RPG, is getting a new DLC called Shadow of the Erdtree on June 21, 2024.
  • Ahead of the DLC's launch, FromSoftware and publisher Bandai Namco have released a new "The Journey So Far" trailer that briefly recaps what happens before and during the base game.
  • FromSoftware's games are well-known for their purposefully cryptic storytelling approach, with few cutscenes, lots of subtle environmental storytelling, short-but-revealing NPC conversations, and nuggets of lore tucked away in item descriptions.
  • As a result, some players struggle to actually piece together what's happening in games like Dark Souls or Elden Ring. This video, though, is a useful — albeit very basic — refresher for the latter.

Along with the studio's punishing, yet satisfying "tough-but-fair" ARPG gameplay design, one thing players tend to either love or hate about FromSoftware's games is their storytelling direction. Where other titles might largely develop their narratives through cinematics and lengthy dialogue scripts, FromSoftware opts for a subtler, often cryptic approach for games like Dark Souls and the developer's latest fantasy epic, Elden Ring. Visual environmental storytelling does much of the heavy lifting, with many major narrative beats and clarifying lore details often heard during short NPC conversations or found tucked in item descriptions.

I've always found it to be an enjoyably interactive way to unravel a story, but it's purposefully obtuse — and for some, it's difficult to follow the threads the games reveal to you as you play. Though many players have progressed through Elden Ring's vast open world and vanquished its many enemies and bosses, some don't really understand what's actually going on or how everything in the Lands Between fits together.

Luckily, with a little over one week to go until the long-awaited Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC is in our hands, FromSoftware and Bandai Namco have released a new "The Journey So Far" trailer that does a good job of recapping the gist of the events that occur both before and during the base game. You can watch it via the embed below:

ELDEN RING – The Journey So Far - YouTube ELDEN RING – The Journey So Far - YouTube
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Essentially, the TL;DR of Elden Ring is that a construct of the same name once maintained prosperity in the Lands Between, the game's setting, and was overseen by a goddess named Queen Marika. However, Queen Marika eventually shattered the Elden Ring into multiple Great Runes, disrupting the natural state of the world and drawing various demigods into wars over these powerful fragments. These conflicts are collectively referred to as The Shattering, and the ultimate stalemate they ended in brought about a dark age for the Lands Between.

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It's here that the events of the game itself begin, as you're tasked with defeating the demigods in control of the Elden Ring's shards, reuniting them within the Erdtree, and becoming Elden Lord. What you actually do with the Elden Ring's power is something you determine through choices made during your playthrough, and directly affects the ending you get.

Of course, this is just a very simple overview of the game's core plot, but it at least gives you a basic idea of what happens. If you want a far, far more comprehensive overview of Elden Ring's incredibly rich story and lore, VaatiVidya's Elden Ring Lore playlist on YouTube is a must-watch. The quality of the editing in his videos is amazing, as are his narration and storytelling skills.

Messmer the Impaler, who appears to be the main antagonist of Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree. (Image credit: Bandai Namco)

As for Shadow of the Erdtree itself, there aren't many specific details we know going into the expansion next week, though the story will definitely be centered around Miquella — a son of Queen Marika's who plans to divest himself "of all things Golden" — and Messmer the Impaler, who apparently used flame magic to raze the DLC's setting in a past war. I've summarized everything there is to know about both of them in this article, so give it a read if you're curious.

The Land of Shadow is said to be "obscured by the Erdtree," and is where Queen Marika "first set foot," implying that she may have visited it before taking up her mantle as the Elden Ring's protector (and eventually, its destroyer). For now, that's all we know.

Elden Ring is one of the best Xbox games and best PC games of all time, and I strongly recommend picking it up and beginning a playthrough now if you haven't done one already. That way, you'll have some time to experience what 2022's Game of the Year has to offer before the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC launches on June 21. Notably, the expansion is available to preorder on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and Windows PC now, and there's even a Collector's Edition with several awesome collectibles included.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree | $37.09 at CDKeys (Steam)

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree | $37.09 at CDKeys (Steam)

Elden Ring's upcoming Shadow of the Erdtree DLC will take players to the dark and mysterious realm of the Land of Shadow, tasking them to follow in Miquella's footsteps and discover what he's doing there. Get ready for a new map, new bosses, new dungeons, and more.

Also at: Steam ($39.99, PC, Digital) | Xbox ($39.99, Digital)

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.