Why I skipped Radahn for New Game Plus in Elden Ring

I was warned that Shadows of the Aardtree's final boss was challenging, but I didn't expect the fight to make beating Melania look like a relaxing walk in the park. The promised companion Radahn doesn't give you a chance to prepare, as soon as you enter his arena, he rushes in with attacks that can kill you in seconds. Trying to summon a spirit? Good luck. Want to put some grease on your weapon? Very unlikely. Summoning a friend? Awesome, he now has double his health.

The fact that thousands of people are struggling to defeat Radahn is no surprise, since defeating him requires mastering everything in Elden Ring, and I'm just not that good yet. After spending dozens of hours in the expansion, I'm pretty sure I'm done with it.

Eventually I caught up to Radahan and banged my head against him for hours, hoping that learning his moves and slowly adjusting my strategy would eventually result in victory. But no matter what I did, it was impossible, and I reached my end shortly after discovering his second stage. It was frustrating, but I knew from friends and colleagues that it could be done.

I was able to beat the promised partner Radahan, so I decided to start again

Yet I wanted to continue playing Elden Ring, experimenting with new builds and trying to enhance my character in ways that went beyond increasing my base stats. So I ultimately decided to beat the base game and hit the credits, knowing that New Game Plus was waiting for me. This is something I've explored before in Dark Souls and Bloodborne, but never before with Elden Ring, and after playing it, I'm already encountering a number of wonderful surprises.

Having to resort to New Game Plus because I couldn't beat Radahn might seem like a huge setback, but to be honest, I've been thinking about it ever since I started Shadows of the Aardtree. I spent the week before its release slowly playing an old save file and catching up on parts of the base game I'd missed in the previous game.

The Elden Ring image shows Radahan using gravity magic.

The journey was exciting, but at the same time I knew I had to put the brakes on before I reached the end. At a certain point, I set Aardtree on fire and headed back to the expansion, meaning every time I came back to The Lands Between it was in a cataclysmic limbo where only I could move forward. But I couldn't, and secretly it drove me crazy. I wanted to try out new weapons, upgrade existing weapons, and do this for an entire game where I wasn't just hitting the same wall over and over again.

So I gave up, and now I'm happily playing until the wee hours of the morning with a character who is definitely overpowered, though I know that feeling won't last long. But I'm also doing it in ways I overlooked before. I'm pretty simple, and went through Elden Ring with a trusty set of heavy gear and a curved greatsword that I knew did incredible damage, so I never tried using anything else. That all changed with New Game Plus, as I've currently ditched the usual combos for a thin garb and melee combat that has me punching, kicking, and diving into each combat area like a UFC fighter.

New Game Plus changes everything about Elden Ring

New Game Plus has dramatically changed the dynamic of Elden Ring, and has shown me just how much variety and possibility the game has when I don't stubbornly stick to old habits. I now want to try using new perfume bottles, or even upgrade Intelligence and Faith so I can finally use new weapons that were completely off-limits before.

Having Smithing Stones and other upgrade materials restocked is an added boon, so I can apply different upgrades this time around. Elden Ring doesn't want you to upgrade every piece of gear you have at once, it wants you to experiment and pick your battles. So I used this as a means of wiping the slate clean while keeping my existing arsenal intact.

One thing I didn't expect from New Game Plus is that the entire map is already revealed when you start with the locations of major landmarks. You'll still need to visit existing Sites of Grace to fast travel, but it makes a huge difference.

Shadows of the Aardtree will certainly be more challenging on this second go, but I'll also be more prepared, coming in at a higher level with more tools and strategies that I can use to my advantage. I won't have the pressure of the base game holding me down like I'm missing out on something incredible or that I haven't spread my mechanical wings enough. I didn't want to miss out on the honeymoon period of the expansion, but now that I've reached Radahn and failed to beat him, hitting the reset button almost feels calming.

Elden Ring Shadows of the Erdtree Tag Page Cover Art

Elden Ring: Shadows of Erdtree

Shadows of the Aardtree is the first and only DLC expansion for FromSoftware's groundbreaking Elden Ring. It takes players to an all-new realm, the Land of Shadows, where a new story awaits the Tarnished.

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