Elden Ring DLC Progression Path: How to Follow The Main Story and Beat Shadow of the Erdtree

It turns out that following Shadow of the Erdtree's progression path and seeing the main story is as difficult as everything else in Elden Ring.

Shadow of the Erdtree Progression Path
Photo: Bandai Namco

It’s not easy to progress through the main story in Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree. That’s partially because the game is quite difficult, but it’s also because the DLC’s labyrinthian layout makes it incredibly confusing to figure out where to go next.

It turns out that the seemingly simple question “Where do I go next in Shadow of the Erdtree?” is anything but simple. However, to make things as simple as possible, here’s the shortest path I’ve found through the DLC’s main story.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree – Scadutree Fragments Explained

Before we go any further, you should know how Scadutree Fragments work in Shadow of the Erdtree and why they are important to beating the game.

Shadow of the Erdtree‘s new leveling system is based around collecting Scadutree Fragments. Scadutree Fragments can be turned in at Sites of Grace to increase your Scadutree Blessing Level. The max Scadutree Blessing Level is 20. The first Scadutree Level increase will cost you one Scadutree Fragment. Levels 2-9 will cost you two Scadutree Fragments each. Levels 10-20 will cost you three Scadutree Fragments each.

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Simply put, each Scadutree Blessing Level increases the damage you deal and decreases the damage you receive. Do you know how enemies in Shadow of the Erdtree are constantly one-shotting you while you seem to deal very little damage? The only way to stop that from happening is to raise your Scadutree Blessing Level. You can continue to turn in Runes to level up as you did in the base game, but those upgrades won’t be nearly as powerful as the ones you get by turning in Fragments (especially if you were near the soft level caps going into the DLC).

It is technically possible to beat Shadow of the Erdtree without collecting Scadutree Fragments. However, as many players quickly discovered, that is a unique challenge that will not appeal or apply to the majority of players. For many, beating the game means collecting Scadutree Fragments.

That also makes outlining a clear progression path surprisingly difficult. I’ll dive into this more as I begin outlining that path, but please note that you will likely need to collect Scadutree Fragments to beat Shadow of the Erdtree‘s required bosses. As such, I highly recommend this map from Rock, Paper, Shotgun that outlines where to find every Scadutree Fragment in Shadow of the Erdtree.

How many Scadutree Blessing Levels do you need to beat Shadow of the Erdtree? That is based entirely on your comfort level. If you find you’ve hit a wall that seems impossible to progress through, then you likely need to raise your Scadutree Blessing Level. Most players say they did not feel like they were really doing anything in the DLC until they reached Scadutree Level 5, which was my experience as well.

There are also Revered Spirit Ashes in Shadow of the Erdtree which function similarly to Scadutree Fragments except that they increase the power of your Spirit Ash summons. They’re incredibly valuable though not as “necessary” as the Scadutree Fragments. If you’re curious about where to find those, though, this guide will help.

Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree – What Is A Progression Path?

For the purposes of this article, the progression path (or “main story” path) through Shadow of the Erdtree is the path that will lead you through the game’s required bosses so that you can eventually reach the DLC’s ending (and subsequent New Game+ runs). While progressing through Shadow of the Erdtree comes with complications that I’ll address through this guide, this is ideally the shortest route through the DLC.

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That also means that this route does not include every boss, every area, every sidequest, or every item you can possibly find. Shadow of the Erdtree is a deep game and seeing every bit of it can easily take you around 100 hours. This path will probably take you closer to 35-40 hours (or shorter depending on your ability to defeat the required bosses as soon as possible).

Ready? Let’s get started:

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Gravesite Plain

There is nothing you technically need to do in this opening area to beat Shadow of the Erdtree. That is to say that you could theoretically proceed to the next area if you’re just focused on making progress. However, most players will want to do most of these things before leaving this area.

  • Pick up the Gravesite Plain map. Its location is indicated by the same marker on your starting map that was used to identify map locations in Elden Ring.
  • Go to the Three-Path Cross Site of Grace in this area as soon as possible. There, you will receive your first Scardutree Fragment. Before you leave, be sure to talk to the nearby NPCs until they give you the Cross Map. This will give you the locations of “Miquella’s Cross” areas throughout the world, each of which contains a Scardutree fragment as well as important lore information.
  • You have the option of picking up some of the better weapons in this starting area if you feel like you could use an upgrade (or just want to try out some new stuff). Of particular interest are the Beast Claws, Great Katana, and Backhand Blade. For more on those items, consult this guide.
  • You should be able to reach Scadutree Blessing Level 4 before you leave this area. It’s recommended that you reach that Blessing Level before proceeding forward (but hey, you do you).

When you’re ready, here’s where to go next.

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Belurat Tower Settlement

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Belurat Tower Settlement

Once you’ve done what you need to in the Gravesite Plain area, you have two options on how to proceed. You can either go to Castle Ensis or Belurat Tower.

Technically, Castle Ensis is the way forward. Some have said that you can skip Belurat Tower and still beat the game. However, I haven’t seen someone beat the game in that way yet, so I’m hesitant to recommend trying that. In any case, the Belurat area is filled with valuable items that will help you survive everything that comes next. You can find the Belurat Tower entrance in the image above.

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Belurat Tower is a pretty straightfoward area by Legacy Dungeon standards. Just follow the Site of Grace arrows, and you’ll be fine. Just be sure to venture off the beaten path to collect all of the available loot and definitely make sure that you collect every Scadutree Fragment in the area. You can reach Blessing Level 5 or 6 before you’re done here (if you collected the previous Fragments), and you’ll probably want to be around that point before you move forward.

At the end of the area is the Divine Beast Dancing Lion boss. To put it mildly, this will not be an easy fight. This massive creature fills the arena with lighting-based attacks and moves in ways that can be tough to memorize until you’ve tried and failed to beat him a dozen times or so. It’s highly recommended that you utilize the nearby NPC summon as well as a Mimic Tear (or your best available Spirit Ash).

After defeating the Divine Beast Dancing Lion, you’ll receive his Remembrance and additional rewards. Proceed through the area that became unlocked once you’ve beaten him and grab the Tower of Shadow Message at the top of the stairs. For now, you’ll need to ignore the mysterious locked door in that area.

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Castle Ensis

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Castle Ensis

Instead, you’ll want to exit the area by traveling to a Site of Grace either near the entrance of the Settlement or, ideally, in the Gravesite Plain area. You’re ultimately trying to get to Castle Ensis, which you can see in the image above. 

This is another Legacy Dungeon area, though it’s much smaller and more linear than Belurat Tower. That said, it’s filled with tiny side paths that often contain valuable gear and items. Of particular note in this area are Milady, the Glintblade Trio spell, and Moonrithyll’s Knight Sword.

Ultimately, you’re trying to progress through the castle until you reach the boss of this area, Rellana, Twin Moon Knight. Prepare to hate life for a while at this point. You’re going to want to acquire every Scardutree Fragment upgrade you can possibly find before you fight this boss. She is basically a magically-infused Malenia. She’s fast, she unleashes powerful magical attacks that fill the area, and you will not be able to survive many of her hits. At one point, she even depletes about 95% of your health bar for the fun of it. Summons are highly recommended. 

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Once you’ve defeated her, you’ll unlock a Site of Grace in her boss arena. Use it, and then proceed through the path that just opened behind that Site of Grace. This will take you to the next required area.

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Scadu Altus

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Scadu Altus

Much like the Gravesite Plain area, Scadu Altus is a massive environment filled with discoveries, NPC, minor locations, and quite a few items of note. You’ll definitely want to spend some time in this region before you proceed forward if only to collect Scadutree Fragments.

Ultimately, though, you’re trying to reach Shadow Keep in the northern area of the map. You’ll find it marked on the map above. This is your next major Legacy Dungeon, and it’s recommended that you be between Scadutree Blessing Levels 6-8 before you enter it.

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Shadow Keep

Proceed through the main entrance of Shadow Keep until you reach the Golden Hippopotamus boss. It’s near the entrance of the castle and is one of Shadow of the Erdtree’s required bosses. It’s another tough fight, but you should be more than ready for it if you beat the previous bosses.

After that, things get tricky. In fact, this is where we have to split this guide into two parts. 

Technically, you can reach the end of the game simply by proceeding through Shadow Keep. However, doing so means you will miss quite a few areas and bosses that are only technically optional.

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More importantly, most players will simply not be prepared to take on the game’s final bosses at this point. You will likely need more upgrades and better gear to make it any further. 

To try to make some sense of this, I’m going to split the rest of this article into two parts. The parts of this article marked “Scadutree” will take you to technically optional areas where you will find more Scadutree Fragments and upgrade your Scadutree Blessing Level. It’s highly recommended that you do not proceed to the end of the game before you reach Scadutree Blessing Level 10 (or, ideally, higher).

If you’d like to try to skip the Scadutree sections and proceed forward, though, you should technically be able to do so. Much like beating Ganon as soon as you start Breath of the Wild, though, it’s only a technical possibility that many players will likely not be able to take advantage of. 

For everyone else, here’s where to go next.

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Cerulean Coast (Scadutree)

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Cerulean Coast (Scadutree)

There is a quest in Shadow Keep involving Redmane Freyja that you can complete after you defeat the Golden Hippopotamus. However, it’s ultimately optional. Everyone on the Scadutree hunt will want to head to Cerulean Coast. 

To reach that part of the map, go to the Castle Front Site of Grace outside of Castle Ensis. Head South and East down the lower path (not the one that leads up along the cliffside). You’ll eventually be able to hang a left along a smaller path that leads to a ravine. From here, you need to follow a narrow path full of jumps and ledges. It’s incredibly difficult to navigate this area, so I highly recommend checking out this video if you need help. 

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Eventually, you will reach Cerulean Coast and will be able to access the Scadutree fragments in this region. There are quite a few interesting things to find in this area in general if you’d like to explore a bit, but if you’re just focusing on Scadutree Fragments, you’ll want to collect them and head to the next area.

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Stone Coffin Fissure (Scadutree)

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Stone Coffin Fissure (Scadutree)

There is a Scardutree Fragment in the Stone Coffin Fissure dungeon found in the Cerulean Coast Region. To get there, head South in Cerulean Coast until you reach the Fissure Site of Grace. Near that Site of Grace is what appears to be a bottomless pit. It’s not bottomless, but you will need to land on a series of small ledges to safely work your way to the bottom. 

Once you reach the bottom of that area, you’ll find the Stone Coffin Fissure Site of Grace. There’s also a Remembrance boss in that dungeon if you’re interested in diving deep enough. It’s up to you.

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Jagged Peak (Scadutree)

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Jagged Peak (Scadutree)

To get to the Jagged Peak area, head back to the Castle Front Site of Grace. Head South as you did before, but this time, take the high road that you previously avoided. This will eventually lead you to the Dragon’s Pit dungeon Site of Grace. If you already found that Site of Gace, you can travel straight to it. 

Make your way through the dungeon (not an easy task), and you’ll eventually face the Ancient Dragon-Man. Defeat him, and open the door that appears in the boss area. This will lead you to the Dragon’s Pit Terminus Site of Grace, which will lead straight into the Foot of the Jagged Peak area. This dragon-filled area also has a Scadutree Fragment in it. 

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Charo's Hidden Grave (Scadutree)

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Charo’s Hidden Grave (Scadutree)

While you’re in Jagged Peak, you’ll want to reach a (somewhat) hidden area called Charo’s Hidden Grave. 

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To get there, head past the three sleeping dragons you first encounter and ride South along the nearby path. You don’t have to fight the dragons, but you will need to move quickly to get past them. 

Keep riding and you’ll come across a dead dragon. There’s a Site of Grace nearby (the “Grand Altar of Dragon Communion”) as well as an area where you can turn your Dragon Hearts in for rewards. To progress, though, you’ll want to ride towards the dead dragon’s feet, which should reveal a path forward.

This path will lead to a ledge where you should see a field of red flowers. Head towards that field of red flowers, and you’ll be in Charo’s Hidden Grave. There’s a Scardutree Fragment in this area you’ll get from killing the hippo enemy in the lake. 

Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Ancient Ruins of Rauh (Scadutree)

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Ancient Ruins of Rauh (Scadutree)

To reach the Ancient Ruins of Rauh area, you’ll want to head back to Shadow Keep (specifically, the Main Gate Plaza Site of Grace). While that means you can reach this area before this point in the guide, I recommend putting it off due to the difficulty of some of the challenges you’ll face here as well as the time you can spend exploring it. 

In any case, proceed through Shadow Keep from the Main Gate Plaza. You’ll eventually reach the Specimen Storehouse Site of Grace. From there, head left, ride up the elevator, and go forward until you can cross the bridge filled with enemies. Slowly work your way across the bridge until you get to another lift. Ride that lift up, head forward, and you’ll be in Ancient Ruins of Rauh. There are five Scadutree Fragments in this area, so it’s quite the haul at this point in the game.

There is also a “yellow mist” boss fight in this area that I’ll discuss later. You can technically take this boss on right now if you’d like, but it’s not recommended you do so at this time.

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Elden Ring - Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Abyssal Woods (Scadutree)

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Abyssal Woods (Scadutree)

Getting to Abyssal Woods is pretty tricky, but there are three valuable Scardutree Fragments located there. If you need the extra boost, it’s certainly worth exploring.

To get there, go to the Main Gate Plaza Site of Grace in Shadow Keep. Head left through the same area you proceeded through to reach the Ancient Ruins. Eventually, you’ll reach a bridge filled with boats on fire and little Imp enemies. At the very end of that bridge, look for a small ladder to your left. Slide down it. 

Go behind the waterfall you see on your left and take the ladder down. Take a right and proceed forward until you reach the next room. The wall on the right of this room is an illusionary wall. It may also be marked by player messages if you’re playing online. In any case, strike it and move forward. 

Follow the path forward until you reach a coffin. Enter the coffin and watch the small scene that follows. When you exit, ride down the river path ahead of you making sure to activate the Sites of Grace you find along the way. Eventually, you’ll reach Recluses’ River Upstream Site of Grace near a waterfall. 

Here’s where things get tricky. There’s a path along the cliff you can follow, and you’ll want to be mounted when you follow it to easily jump the many gaps you’ll encounter. You’ll soon be able to hop to the other side of the cliff. Once you’ve done that, continue following the path straight ahead until you reach the Recluses’ River Downstream Site of Grace. 

After that, you’ll want to carefully work your way down to the river by dropping onto a series of ledges. Always aim for the ledge that is closest to you. You won’t need to make any leaps of faith or major jumps here. Again, it’s easiest to do this while you are mounted. 

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Head to the next waterfall, and you’ll spot another series of ledges that lead down. You’ll need to slowly work your way down these ledges again until you reach solid ground. When you do, take a left (East, if you’re turned around) and look for a dungeon entrance along the nearby wall. Enter that dungeon (Darklight Catacombs), proceed through it, kill the boss found after you exit, and you’ll be in the Abyssal Woods. 

Again, this area can be a nightmare to find, so here’s a helpful video walkthrough that will help you reach it if you get lost along the way.

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Return to Shadow Keep

Whenever you feel that you’ve collected enough Scadutree Fragments, go back to Shadow Keep to the Main Gate Plaza Site of Grace. You may also be able to skip ahead a bit if you’ve discovered subsequent Sites of Grace. 

If not, take a left from that Site of Grace and proceed forward until you reach the bridge with burning boats on it. Take a left up the stairs halfway through the bridge and proceed up the nearby elevator until you get to the Specimen Storehouse. Take a left and an immediate right until you find yourself on the small path through the books that leads to a series of stairs,

Head up those stairs and proceed through the maze-like stacks being sure to head up every set of stairs that you find. You’ll eventually reach an area where you’ll be able to cross a giant statue that is suspended in the air and essentially functions as a bridge. Cross that bridge, and activate the Site of Grace on the other end (the Storehouse, Fourth Floor). 

From here, it’s a relatively simple matter of following the giant looping path ahead of you that is filled with incredibly difficult enemies. You’ll soon reach a tricky section that requires you to pull a lever and navigate the makeshift bridge that you create. I highly recommend checking out this video to figure this part out (and to help you navigate the rest of the area if you got lost along the way).

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Eventually, you’ll reach the Dark Chamber Entrance Site of Grace. Behind that Site of Grace is Messmer the Impaler. Defeat him if you can and acquire the Messmer’s Kindling item (along with his other rewards). 

It’s also worth noting that there are Scadutree Fragments scattered throughout Shadow Keep including 5(!) that you can get from defeating an optional boss and accessing a secret area. I highly recommend checking out this guide on how to do that, as you’ll likely need every bit of help you can get to beat what comes next. For that matter, you can reach those Fragments before challenging Messmer if you feel like you need them.

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Ancient Ruins of Rauh 

There is a boss in this area (Romina, Saint of the Bud) that you’ll need to defeat to access the final area of the game. Technically, you’ll need to beat Messmer and Romina to access the final area of the game, and you can beat them in any order. I just recommend putting off the Romina fight until afterward as beating Messmer then Romina will lead you directly to the final Legacy Dungeon whereas the other way around requires some backtracking.  

In any case, you can reach the Ancient Ruins of Rauh by following the instructions I outlined for that area in the section above (if you haven’t already discovered it). Once you’re there (again, assuming you haven’t already been exploring) reaching Romina is a pretty simple matter of navigating the area while heading towards the fortress structure in the distance. If you need help, this video will show you exactly how to get there in just a few minutes. Otherwise, the Sites of Grace arrows will lead the way. 

You’ll find Romina’s boss area just beyond the Church of the Bud Main Entrance that I’ve included an image of above. Just know that Romina is a ridiculously tough boss fight. However, you should be used to that by this point, and you may even have most of the Scadutree Fragments in the game at this point if you’ve been hunting them down. 

After you defeat her, you will be prompted to interact with a nearby tree by using Messmer’s Kindling. Before you do that, though, please note that this is Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree’s point of no return. If there is anything else you want to explore or do in the game before you reach the final area, be sure to do that before you choose to burn the Sealing Tree. 

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Once you’re ready, though, Burn the Sealing Tree and head into Enir llim. 

Elden Ring – Shadow of the Erdtree Main Story Path: Enir llim

After burning the Sealing Tree, you will be transported to Enir llim. This is a largely linear Legacy Dungeon area that contains some Scadutree Fragments but is otherwise incredibly easy to navigate simply by staying on the path and triggering the Sites of Grace along the way. Eventually, you will reach the Divine Gate Front Staircase in front of a yellow mist wall. Behind that wall are the final fights in the game.

After you beat the final boss, your journey is over. Oh, there are always more things to collect and New Game+ runs to enjoy, but that is the main story progression path through Shadow of the Erdtree.