Elden Ring Detectives Have Some Wild Theories About the DLC — Here Are the Best Ones

Miquella riding Torrent from the Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree announcement image.
FromSoftware Inc.

The first “Elden Ring” DLC was finally announced overnight, sending fans feral in a desperate quest to analyse the announcement image for everything it’s worth. Titled “Shadow of the Erdtree”, the DLC still has no release date or synopsis, but that hasn’t stopped the Elden Ring subreddit from exploding with questions and theories.

See, the DLC was announced with a single image that shows a figure with flowing blonde braids riding Torrent, your trusty steed from the game. Torrent and his rider are in a field of wheat, with spectral gravestones scattered around them, and a massive, twisted tree looms in the distance. Unlike the Erdtree, this one mostly looks like a normal tree — besides the golden sap that’s dripping from the trunk.

“Elden Ring” is a confounding game that hides its lore in item descriptions, throwaway dialogue, and environmental storytelling at the best of times. The image looks simple, but fans know there are clues for the DLC’s story hidden throughout. This super high-res version of the image is great for zooming in on the little details and has definitely enabled some of the theorising. Without further ado, here are the best “Shadow of the Erdtree” theories the Elden Ring community has come up with so far.

The Figure In the Image Is Miquella

Despite never appearing in the game, Miquella is one of the most important characters in “Elden Ring”. The son of Queen Marika and Radagon, and the twin brother of Malenia, the game’s toughest boss, Miquella is a demigod who’s cursed to eternal childhood. Maleina is likewise cursed, although Miquella has promised to lift her curse, a feat he has yet to achieve. He’s known for his long, blonde hair and intricate braids — which almost perfectly match the hair of the figure riding Torrent.

This is Miquella in the image 100% . All the braids align
by u/shonsei in Eldenring

During the events of the game, Miquella is sealed inside a cocoon deep underground in Mohgwyn Palace. In an attempt to break his own curse, Miquella grew a new Erdtree and placed himself inside, but is cut from the trunk before the process can be completed. Players who defeat Mohg, Lord of Blood will find Miquella’s cocoon placed on an altar in the palace, and one wizened arm breaking through the shell.

Fans believe that if it is Miquella in the image, Shadow of the Erdtree may be a prequel or set in a dream realm. Perhaps we’ll be playing as Miquella trying to return to the Lands Between and break his curse. Or, given “Elden Ring”s fondness for moral ambiguity, we might be trying to stop Miquella from returning.

It’s Not the Erdtree — It’s the Haligree

Despite being named in the DLC, it sure doesn’t look like the Erdtree in the announcement image. The Erdtree is a giant, golden tree with a ramrod straight trunk. Even if you *spoiler alert* set fire to it, the Erdtree is spectral and transparent, almost like it’s a reflection or projection. The Haligree, on the other hand, is very real, and fits in nicely with the Miquella theory because Miquella is the one who grew the Haligree.

Growing disillusioned with the Golden Order and the Erdtree, the symbol of the Order’s power, Miquella began watering a sapling with his own blood in the hopes that it would grow into a new Erdtree. This is the tree he sealed himself inside, but when Mohg cut him from the wood the tree began to wither and rot. The tree in the image looks a lot like the Haligree — perhaps smaller, which would fit with the prequel theory — and that might explain the golden sap that’s dripping from the branches. Perhaps that’s where Mohg cut Miquella from?

Am I wrong if I think that DLC’s tree looks more like Miquella sacred tree than the Erdtree itself ?
by u/5tory_0f_5hep in Eldenring

The Haligree Is the Shadow of the Erdtree

In “Elden Ring”, shadows are powerful beasts sworn to protect those who would become gods. Blaidd is Ranni’s shadow, as Maliketh is Queen Marika’s. The game also uses shadows to represent the other half of important people, places, or things. Perhaps the tree in the image is literally the shadow beast of the Erdtree, and the DLC will involve dismantling the Golden Order once and for all. Or maybe it’s more in line with a quest to restore balance and free will to the Lands Between by putting the Erdtree’s shadow in a position of power.

It’s Actually Two Trees Twisted Around Each Other

One more theory about the “Shadow of the Erdtree” image is that it’s not just one tree but two joined together. Some are wondering if it’s the Erdtree and Haligtree combined, although surely that could only happen in a dream realm because the two are actually far apart.

As Redditor LinAndAViolin said, “If you look at Morgott’s throne room, you can see two types of leaves so I’ve been speculating a lot with people about that one — whether a tree that isn’t the Erdtree is corrupting or was being corrupted by the Erdtree.”

The Erdtree Is Infected With Death Blight

If you zoom in on the tree, you can see black particles floating around it. This might be ash, or it might be Death Blight, which suggests that the Erdtree is infected. In the game, Death Blight is a status effect that kills you instantly if it builds too high. The same might be about to happen to the Erdtree.

This theory is getting more towards the unlikely end of the spectrum, but it’s worth noticing that the O in “Shadow” resembles the Cursemark of Death and the Mending Rune of the Death-Prince, two items related to the death of a demigod.

Can’t wait for death blight swamp
by u/Rotten_Blade in Eldenring

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