Elden Ring was one of the biggest and most influential games of 2022, and it’s still topping Steam’s concurrent player charts. It’s a sweeping, dark, brutally-tough open-world RPG that presents a fleshed-out and engrossing world teeming with deadly monsters. Defeating a tough boss in Elden Ring makes you feel like a champion – that is, until you get crushed by the next big monster.
Believe it or not, despite the game’s enormous world and countless bosses, there are plenty of questlines and NPCs that From Software needed to cut from the game to ship on time. Massive swaths of the game that were planned to ship with the base release were cut for time, including some major demigod characters. For instance, Miquella, who players hear plenty about but barely see in person, might have played a more prominent role in an earlier build of the game.
From Software recently announced that the high-selling Elden Ring will finally receive DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree, at some point in the (presumably) near future. There’s no release date yet for the Elden Ring DLC, but the name alone is enough to get fans’ imaginations whirling. So, what can the war-weary Tarnished of the Lands Between expect to see in the expansion?
The key art that From Software shared from the new expansion shows a fair-haired, feminine figure atop the recognizable Elden Ring mount Torrent. This character wasn’t explicitly named in the announcement, but fans are pretty sure they know who this is. Given the character’s golden hair, youthful appearance, and placement on Torrent, this is probably Miquella, brother of Malenia and one of the eight demigods of the Lands Between.
For those who didn’t quite catch the lore while playing through Elden Ring, Miquella is a major character in the world’s background. He was the only demigod who tried to choose peace over war during the Shattering, the apocalyptic events that left the Lands Between so stagnant and broken. He created the Haligtree as a place of respite for all cursed and broken people to call home.
Naturally, this didn’t pan out well for him. He was cursed to be forever young, making him the most physically frail of all the demigods. As such, he relied on his sister to defend him. You might remember her. She’s only the toughest boss in the game. As Malenia notes (repeatedly) during her fight, she’s the Blade of Miquella. She fights in her brother’s stead.
In the base game, you never really see Miquella in person. You can directly interact with every other demigod, though. Most players encounter Godrick first, the weakest of the Shardbearers and the first major obstacle standing before most Tarnished. Then they meet Rennala, head of the Raya Lucarian Academy, and her daughter, Ranni, in the nearby Three Sisters region.
Radahn, son of Rennala and brother of Ranni, patrols the Wailing Dunes in Caelid and provides one of the toughest mid-game challenges for the Tarnished. His other sibling, Rykard, still lives (kind of) deep below the Volcano Manor. Aside from Ranni’s family, there are also the children of Marika: Morgott is encountered twice, first in Stormveil Castle and then again in Leyndell. His brother, Mohg, is a devilishly tough boss you can optionally face toward the endgame in Moghwyn Palace. Another of Marika’s children, Godwyn, is technically dead in spirit, but his divine body continues to grow in a horrible perversion of life.
Finally, players face off against both Radagon at the very end of the game. A late-game twist reveals that Marika and Radagon are actually the same people, through some divine transmutation. And yet, throughout their wandering, the Tarnished never directly encounters the beloved, eternally-youthful Miquella.
That’s not to say players don’t get close to the Eternal One, though. Mohg, the Lord of Blood, had designs to become Miquella’s consort and use his status as an Empyrean to give his new empire legitimacy. The Tarnished thankfully puts an end to this chilling plan and finds Miquella partially encased in a cocoon in the Moghwyn Palace.
Players learn that Miquella created the Haligtree to allow himself to grow to adulthood to try to cure his sister of her Scarlet Rot affliction. The Rot that seeps into Melania’s very soul makes her a dangerous, if unreliable, deity. Miquella tried to help Melania combat the spread of the disease by creating prosthetics of unalloyed gold but wished to find a permanent cure through ascension to true godhood.
Mohg stole Miquella’s cocoon from the Haligtree and stashed it in his bedchamber in his palace. When players finally beat him, they find a single, frail harm hanging from the cracked chrysalis. This is as close as players get to ever encountering the legendary demigod, who is said to magically earn the affection of anyone who sees him.
The name of the expansion also hints that it could take place after the main game’s events, not concurrently with them. The key art shows the Erdtree burned and twisted, likely after the player character sets it on fire during their final approach to the throne of Elden Lord. Players also learn that the Erdtree isn’t actually the original Great Tree of the Lands Between. Instead, it’s a parasite that superseded an older entity called the Crucible.
It’s possible that this “shadow” referred to in the DLC’s title is the Crucible. As such, the expansion could shed more light on the ancient past of the Lands Between. Some fans have even speculated that the DLC’s events could take place long before the Erdtree even arrived and that the “burned” looking tree in the key art could just be the Crucible. However, this would make the timing a bit awkward, as Miquella probably wasn’t born until after the Erdtree and the Golden Order had come to dominate the region.
Yet still, others have contended that this expansion could involve time travel. The player character might use magic to transport themselves back in time to witness the Crucible during the height of its power. They could even receive aid from Miquella to complete this quest. Perhaps the Tarnished is looking for a Crucible seed to plant in the ashes of the Erdtree to help usher in a new age for the Lands Between?
Some Elden Ring fans have proposed another interesting theory regarding the Empyrean deity Miquella. He’s said to be sleeping in his cocoon, which means he’s inhabiting a dream world. This could be why his corporeal body never responds to Mohg. Like Ranni, his spirit is likely far from the physical world. This connection to sleep and dreams deepens the link between Miquella and a background character called St. Trina.
St. Trina is referenced in some items and item descriptions, and bears a resemblance to Miquella. Some entries describe St. Trina as beautiful and androgynous, much like the eternally youthful and gorgeous Miquella. Others note that St. Trina knew secrets that would cause others to love them instinctively. That sounds a lot like a particular golden-haired demigod…
The connection between the two figures is made even more apparent by the placement of the rare St. Trina’s Lilly items. Following the path laid out by the coveted items, interestingly enough, will lead the player directly to the Haligtree and a fateful showdown with Malenia. As such, some players speculate that Miquella might be behind the Tarnished’s entire quest from start to finish. Notably, if one goes for a completionist run of the game, they will slay every demigod except Ranni, Rennala, and Miquella. After all, one of his godly abilities is causing people to love him unconditionally.
Beyond all of this storyline-adjacent content, players are excited about the prospect of simply getting their hands on new Elden Ring content. Many have expressed a desire to see more Legacy Dungeons, the linear dungeons that provide players with a straightforward, clear-cut challenge. Others have noted that they’d like more details regarding Godwyn the Golden, the deity whose death sparked the Shattering.
Of course, another high-requested new feature in the DLC is the prospect of new armor and weapons. Elden Ring is renowned among players for its stunning armor and weapon designs, leading to some fans comparing their builds and arguing over who has the best “Elden Bling.” More options for armor, even if only cosmetic, would undoubtedly be welcome among the community.
Finally, many players would welcome the addition of a few new enemy types. The base game has a huge assortment of enemies that range from swarming skeletons to towering fire giants. However, that doesn’t mean players don’t want to mix it up with new monsters! Some enemy types that were prevalent in past games, like demons and ghosts, don’t appear in Elden Ring. Maybe Shadow of the Erdtree would be the perfect place for From Software to change that!