The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dragonborn
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Reviewed)
Release Dates: December 4, 2012 (360), Early 2013 (PC & PS3)
Price: 1600 MSP ($20) – Available Here
Many gamers have sunk hundreds of hours in the world of Skyrim and a few may even have seen everything they thought that there was to see in the game, however Bethesda has kept a decent flow of DLC for the game since its release last year. Now that players have seen the expanded side of vampires in Dawnguard, built houses and created families with Hearthfire, what about the chances of another Dragonborn roaming the land? Skyrim’s latest piece of DLC, Dragonborn, promises to take players to a new but familiar land and a new threat to the world that must be stopped, but is this DLC worth your time and money? Let’s find out.
As the player enters any of the major cities of Skyrim, a strange group of cultists appears and tries to take your life in the name of Miraak. As you leave their bodies behind to cool in the crisp air, the player’s adventure begins as they head to the island of Solstheim to find out why these cultists wanted your head.
When players arrive in Solstheim they find a number of strange and unexplained occurrences happening in the land and all of it seems to be tied to someone who was meant to have died a long time ago, someone who was the original Dragonborn, Miraak. With Miraak and his fanatical followers out for blood and growing in power by the day, the player must set out to put a stop to this evil creature’s plans and save not only the island of Solstheim but perhaps all of Tamriel.
Now while Dragonborn’s DLC does offer a relatively intriguing main storyline with the involvement of Miraak, the writing quickly begins to fall apart as the player progresses through the main storyline. This is thanks mostly to the fact that while Miraak may seem imposing at first, he is not only underutilized but he is also very ineffective at being a serious villain that the player should even be concerned with. This means that while the story may seem interesting to start with, by the time Dragonborn’s main story is over you will have spent more of your time focusing on side-quests.
For good reason too, because there are a number of intriguing side-storylines introduced with Dragonborn and one of them happens to feature a certain Daedric Prince which shall go nameless to keep things a surprise. Now these side-stories are of course just that, side-stories, and are usually brief but they help make up for the relatively weak main questline.
Visuals & Audio:
Thanks to the fact that Solstheim is an island of Morrwind, players who have played that title should instantly be able to recognize some of the designs that the houses of Solstheim feature and the armor that it’s residents wear. It is also worth noting that there are classic mushroom style houses which Morrowind players are familiar with, but there are plenty of shades of Skyrim scattered through this DLC still, but the developers have found a nice balance between the old and new content with their Dragonborn offering.
As far as the voice work and background noise go, Dragonborn provides an experience similar to what was found in the standard Skyrim experience and the newly added main characters in this DLC are voiced well-enough, but do little to actually be memorable in any way.
Now the land of Solstheim may sound very familiar to gamers who have played Morrowind in the past and the reason for that is because Solstheim was actually the island that Morrowind’s Bloodmoon DLC took place on. This means that there are a number of different locations that will be familiar to players who played the previous title and it is a great way to show how much time has passed and how much the island has changed over the course of time between Morrowind and Skyrim.
As one would expect, visiting the island of Solstheim not only means that there are new locations to be seen, but also a lot of new equipment and weapons to use. There are two sets of armor which may be familiar to players who have played Morrowind before and a number of new pieces as well, including of armor and weaponry which can best be described as enchanted ice, the whole set of which is quite “cool” when used together. It is worth noting though that the newer armor in the game seems to heavily favor those who prefer using heavy armor which is unfortunate for light armor wearers.
Outside of the main quest-line, as mentioned earlier, there are a number of side-quests to be finished, tons of areas to explore, new and interesting shouts that can be learned and players can even learn to tame dragons. Yes, dragons can now be tamed and perhaps one of the most requested features in Skyrim has been added in with Dragonborn… the ability to fly ontop of a dragon. Now it is worth noting that dragon riding is not fully controllable which is very unfortunate. Instead you will be able to attack with your dragon’s breath weapons while flying in the sky to a set location, as the dragon riding is set to only on-rail journeys.
It is worth noting that there are also quite a few new enemies to encounter on Solstheim and some of them can be nightmarish in their design. That also means that there are some very tight combat sequences where players may struggle against these new hard hitting enemies. Rather than frustrating, this serves as a nice challenge to players who are likely able to power-through nearly every enemy in the game now and these fights add some challenge to the new area.
Unfortunately, bugs do rear their ugly head once again, which is becoming an unfortunate trademark for Bethesda’s Skyrim and Dragonborn is no exception. Throughout my twenty hours of playing through the game the title chose to freeze three times, my character fell through the floor twice and could only be saved by loading an older save and a number of other smaller, less game ending bugs that pestered me throughout the experience.
Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC takes players back to an area which will serve as a great reminder for what may be one of their favorite past games. Now while the DLC may offer a lackluster main quest-line there is so much side-content to be lost in that players can happily forget the main story in the pursuit of side-quests, new item gathering and more. Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC may not offer everything a fan would want, but with upwards of twenty hours worth of content, a new(ish) land to explore and some new lore and backstory to discover, Dragonborn will keep players eager to venture into the world of Tamriel once again.