Skyrim is already a hugely expansive game, even once you have seen most of the content it can be hard to leave. Dragonborn the latest downloadable content for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brings you a new island to explore and a new great foe to take down.
Unlike the previous DLC for Skyrim, Dawnguard which took place mainly in the base games landmass, Dragonborn takes place on the Island of Solstheim, between Skyrim and Morrowind and was last featured in Bloodmoon, one of Morrowind’s expansions. The island isn’t particularly large but is packed full of content. Similarly to the main game, you will come across random events that will lead into quests. Occasionally these will lead into multiple larger stories, making progression feel more natural, which didn’t happen in Skyrim beyond guild or main quests.
One of the main gameplay features advertised in previews for Dragonborn, dragon riding, is massively disappointing. Anyone wishing to swoop down on castles and wreak havoc will have this done automatically by the dragon’s AI. A small amount of control is given to the player, allowing you to target enemies, telling the dragon to land so you can dismount (which makes the dragons fly away leaving you where you landed). You have no control over attack patterns or movement. While the dragon is effective in combat, making clearing areas easier, it looks completely bizarre. Once you order your dragon to attack the camera locks on to the target, giving you no control over where you look. What is worse is you gain no experience from flying a dragon making this entire addition to the game completely unnecessary and uninteresting beyond the basic novelty of seeing Skyrim from above.
Dragonborn is a visually diverse expansion. Because Solstheim is based between Skyrim and Morrowind geographically the island is an unusual blend of the two land masses. Half covered in ash from Red Mountain due to events from Elder Scrolls 3, half covered in snow due to Skyrims ecosystem, Solstheim is a gorgeous environment to explore. Besides this though, story quests take you to nightmarish realms covered in black ooze, flying book pages which appeal at first but tire after trudging through them for hours as you venture there multiple times. New armours and weapons are available to obtain requiring you to locate some difficult to find materials, but look fantastic. These specifically expand on sets originating in Skyrim and Morrowind. A new type of dragon appears in the game, which looks similar in design to a certain animated movie about training dragons. Overall Skyrim still impresses visually even if the animations look jarring.
A warning before playing the new DLC, you must have played up to Horn of Jurgen Windcaller in the main storyline to play the new content.
Dragonborn’s plot line is interesting as more indepth back story is given to your character’s role within the world and to some extent the actual origin of the Dragonborn. It is a shame that this story is marred by having to work your way through environments becoming extremely repetitive and give new meaning to the term dungeon crawling. Luckily the island is more interesting containing story quests that are much more involving and enjoyable. A good example of this includes a scavenger hunt using a map to find an armour and weapon set that had been lost to the world, killing off treasure hunters who are in your way as you search for their resting places. It is also interesting to see the effects of Red Mountain’s eruption at the end of Morrowind and how it has changed the lives of Solstheim.
Once again this is a quality piece of downloadable content for Skyrim which adds at least another ten to twenty hours worth of playtime. It would be nice to see some more interesting quest types than simple dungeon crawls through the same environments and more emphasis put upon Solstheim and its inhabitants. Dragonborn is worth the price if you just can’t get enough from the Elder Scroll’s universe.