Every so often a game comes about that engulfs us. Transports us into a completely different world and allows us to live there for as many hours as we let it. We can begin another life there. After we complete everything there is to do in that world we inevitably cry out for more even after a year since its release and so for the latest DLC for Skyrim, Bethesda gives us Dragonborn.
So to celebrate another invitation into the world of Skryim we actually have to say goodbye to Skyrim and hello to Solstheim an island in the realm of Morrowind. A brand new isle to explore, with new quests, enemies, shouts, ingredients, materials – pretty much everything you know about living in Skyrim has been expanded on. It’s like doing your Christmas shopping in a new and exciting city.
The journey begins by an almost typical attempt on your life back in Skyrim. Once the ‘cultists’ are easily dealt with a note found on their person directs you to a ship captain whom takes you to the mysterious Solstheim and the town of Raven Rock. From there it’s immediate that this latest content is much more established than what has come before. While Dawnguard offered a nice new quest with cool Vampire/Werewolf powers and Hearthfire contributed just foundations to make something look nice, Dragonborn is a true comprehensive expansion pack.
Residents of Solstheim are behaving mysteriously – mindlessly working on restoration of temples to one of the Deadras. It turns out they are being controlled by the first Dragonborn who is plotting his return to the living world. It’s an appropriately epic storyline that matches the impact of the civil war plot from the original game. Even the eventual battle of Dragonborns is deliciously done and allows you to experiment with your shouts in a way you may not have been able to before.
Aside from the main quest line there are plenty others available with new towns and new tribes like the Skaal and peculiar creatures called Reiklings which are a bit like smurfs mixed with Gremlins after midnight. In fact there is plenty to lead you astray from the main quest and explore new dungeons. Other quest lines include hunting for a new material to craft weapons/armour with, treasure hunting, foiling an assassination, discovering Black Books of Daedra and yet more classic dungeon exploration. Its the kind of distraction which makes Skyrim such a joy to play. It’s a world which is yours to approach as you see fit and being placed in an entirely new area allows the experience to be freshened up.
The newest addition is undoubtedly the power to tame and ride a dragon. Something most fans were most likely hoping for from day one. It’s finally here though and unfortunately it’s lackluster. The skill is the only excuse to storm through the Dragonborn quest before exploring other tasks, as it’s unlocked through a new shout on the way to fight the antagonist. While watching your character climb onto a mighty Ancient Dragon as transport to the final showdown is thrilling – it wears off. You never feel complete control of the Dragon. You can point it in a general direction to fly, command it to attack targets and use it to fast travel but there is no input of variation in attacks, no real smooth input of direction of flight and you don’t need a Dragon to fast travel anyway.
It is slightly disappointing that finally riding a dragon doesn’t live up to the potential we know it still has. I can only imagine that it is a difficult game play mechanic to master and we may just have to make do with what we have so far. I wouldn’t mind if however, Bethesda were working on yet another patch to give more if not complete control over a tamed dragon.
The overall experience of Dragonborn is very enjoyable. Most veteran Skyrim players will be a rather high level and not find a great deal of challenge against the new enemies but it is a great chance to upgrade the skills that may have been previously neglected (for example I managed to up two-hand skill by 35 points). Exploration is just as fun as it has been, new enemies from the Reikling to Seekers on Daedric planes are imaginative as ever and the new characters and story lines you come across are fresh and exciting.
This latest DLC Bethesda has delivered is a true expansion and rumour has it there is two more on the way meaning that the Dragonborn’s adventure may thankfully be far from over just yet.