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Where to go first in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree

If you're feeling overwhelmed, here's where to make a start with the new Shadow of the Erdtree DLC!

A mounted knight on horseback riding through the Gravesite Plain in Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree.
Image credit: FromSoftware/VG247

Shadow of the Erdtree isn’t like normal DLC, it’s not even really like the rest of Elden Ring.

Shadow of the Erdtree is a concentrated run-through of almost everything From Software has in its locker, dialling up the trickery and trial-and-error dungeon design, doubling down on poison swamps and oppressive environments, but also delivering on just about every loose lore thread you could feasibly pick out, with epic bosses and an unmatched sense of exploration and discovery in the face of adversity.

More so than even the base game of Elden Ring, this Shadow of the Erdtree DLC can be overwhelming, not just because of its size, but because of its density as well.

As soon as you travel from the Lands Between to the Land of Shadow, you’re confronted with both wide-open space and brick-wall bosses in almost every direction. While there’s technically no “wrong” way to go in Shadow of the Erdtree, there’s definitely a flow of progression that’s much smoother than it could otherwise be.

So, to save your frayed nerves, hypertension and quick temper, here’s where to go first in Shadow of the Erdtree to get the best experience.

Where to go first in Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree DLC

Here’s a brief list of what order to tackle the DLC, and I’ll go into more detail on how to get to each place below:

  1. Grab the Scadutree Fragments at the Church of Consolidation down the road to the east of your first Site of Grace
  2. Collect the map fragment to the north of the Scorched Ruins
  3. Ride past the Furnace Golem to the first Cross of Miquella, Three-Paths Cross
  4. Turn left from the Cross into the first dungeon, Belurat, Tower Settlement
  5. Complete the main boss of Belurat, Tower Settlement and use the storeroom key to meet the Hornsent Grandam
  6. Explore the poison swamp through Belurat’s sewer, defeat the Fire Knight Queelign invasion, then explore Belurat Gaol
  7. Ride east over the great bridge towards Castle Ensis, grabbing the magic-resist Talisman from the secret room underneath the castle
  8. Fight your way through Castle Ensis until the Site of Grace next to the boss room
  9. If the Castle Ensis boss is too hard, leave and explore the Ellac river bed, Jagged Peak, and Cerulean Coast to collect more items and Fragments
  10. After you’ve defeated the Castle Ensis boss, you’re free to explore the area behind them and have completed the early-game of Shadow of the Erdtree! Either explore the Shadow Keep to the north or meet Dryleaf Dane to the east

Immediately as you enter the Lands of Shadow, you find the Gravesite Plain Site of Grace. Rest here, you’ve earned it walking those 90 seconds through a deserted tunnel, but then ignore the scary sights to the north.

Instead, head east on the road to your right, following it down the hill until you reach the Church of Consolidation. There are a few easier enemies wandering around out here, if you can ever call the dogs in Elden Ring easy, but inside the church you face your first real test, a tough Black Knight with a big hammer and powerful moveset.

Call in your best summon for a helping hand and reacquaint yourself with the combat against this difficult but not insurmountable enemy. Behind him though, you find two Scadutree Fragments. These items act as power boosts within the Shadow Lands, granting your character extra damage and damage resistance within the Shadow of the Erdtree DLC area. You can trade them in at any Site of Grace, which you should do immediately by riding back up to the Gravesite Plain. However, on the way, on the cliff overlooking the Church there’s a small altar with another upgrade item, Revered Spirit Ash, which upgrades your summons, to collect as well.

Trade them in at the Gravesite Plain Site of Grace, then ride north to the Scorched Ruins, where you find another Site of Grace. You can take a detour here for a talisman at the top of the Ruins, but your destination is the glowing Cross of Miquella on the other side of the wandering Furnace Golem. Rest at the Site of Grace to de-aggro the golem, then speak to the assembled NPCs to kick off the story of Shadow of the Erdtree proper. Next, take a left into Belurat, Tower Settlement, meeting some more NPCs at the next Site of Grace, before tackling the legacy dungeon head on.

During this dungeon you have the chance to meet the Hornsent Grandam and Fire Knight Queelign, as well as take on the first major boss of the DLC. But once that’s done, you can explore some of the optional areas in Belurat too, such as the poison swamp accessed through the well and the Belurat Gaol which you enter via the outside of the tower by riding north from the Three-paths Cross then going west once you reach the shallow lake. After that, your destination is Castle Ensis on the eastern side of the plain. Cross the great bridge to reach it on the other side of the war camp.

Make sure you take the hidden path underneath the bridge with the carian giant guarding it just before you enter the castle - this is where you find a really useful magic-resistant talisman. You can then fight, or bravely sprint and sneak your way through Castle Ensis, eventually reaching the boss room.

This boss is much, much more difficult than the first, and may require some more exploration to gather further Scadutree Fragments and items like the twin-headed turtle talisman. You can reach areas like the Jagged Peak, Cerulean Coast, and Ellac River Bed all by riding east from the Castle Front Site of Grace and taking different paths. All of these areas have much more manageable bosses and goodies to collect. But once you do manage to make through the entirety of Castle Ensis, the (shadow) world is your oyster! Many more areas will now be accessible to you, each more horrendously difficult than the last… Oh no.

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