DLC Review: Dragonborn

I was surprised to learn that Bethesda’s latest DLC for Skyrim, Dragonborn, was going to have such a large delay between console release dates.  You would think it would make the most monetary sense to allow all consoles to have access to it before Christmas.  But I guess they wanted to make 360 owners feel more special.  So rather than gloat, I thought I’d do the responsible thing & let PC & PS3 users know what to expect.

Sand people wannabes!

Sand people wannabes!

Plot: The Dragonborn is attacked by a group of cultists who claim they are a blasphemer.  Upon discovering a note revealing they were task with the assassination by someone called Miraak, the Dragonborn boards a ship for Solstheim.  Once they arrive, they learn that Miraak was the very first Dragonborn… & apparently not as dead as everyone believes.  He plans to take over Solstheim.  To stop him, the Dragonborn must make a deal with the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora, master of fate & hidden knowledge, to learn the secret of Miraak’s power & end him.

Adds:

  • 2 new areas, the island of Solstheim & the Apocrypha, domain of Hermaeus Mora
  • 7 main quests, 29 sidequests & numerous miscellaneous quests
  • 4 new craftable armors; Bonemold, Chitin, Nordic & Stalhrim
  • New enemy types, include a new dragon type
  • 4 new Shouts; Bend Will, Cyclone, Dragon Aspect & Battle Fury
  • New spells
  • New items, foods & weapons
  • 10 new achievements; Outlander (arrive at Solstheim), The Temple of Miraak (quest), The Path of Knowledge (quest), At the Summit of Apocrypha (complete main quest), Dragon Aspect (learn all 3 words of the Shout), Hidden Knowledge (read 5 Black Books), Stalhrim Crafter (make item with Stalhrim), Dragonrider (tame 5 dragons), Raven Rock Owner (earn a house) & Solstheim Explorer (discover 30 locations)
  • Total gameplay time added: as much as you want

Cost: 1600 MP

Opinion: The nostalgia factor was really high on this one for me.  Morrowind began my love affair with Bethesda, & of course I played its Bloodmoon expansion.  Seeing the familiar architecture & locations or hearing familiar names really brought back memories.  But don’t worry, you don’t have to have played either games to get what’s going on.  Terms like House Telvanni or Red Mountain may go over your head, but you don’t really miss out on anything by not knowing their origin.  That being said, some of the island looks very different from before, which is a good thing.  It’s both familiar & unique.

A glimpse of the unknown

A glimpse of the unknown

Dragonborn adds a lot of content.  There’s a lot to see & do.  You can earn a home in Raven Rock, seek out the Skaal, hunt werebears, annoy pirates or any number of activities.  Nearly all of the enemies are brand new.  Of course you still have your skeletons & whatnot, but you also have ash spawn, ash hoppers, rieklings & netches, to name a few.  The new armors & weapons are really nice, as well.  It was cool to see the bonemold armor again, which looks exactly the same as before.  Chitin armor is back also, but it looks different from in Morrowind.  Still pretty cool, though.  My favorite armor is the Morag Tong armor, which is essentially chitin armor colored completely black.  There are also some powerful unique armors & weapons that have unique effects, like tentacle explosion.

I think the best part of the DLC is the Apocrypha sections.  These levels were obviously inspired by Lovecraft (between this & “Shadow over Hackdirt” in Oblivion, it’s pretty clear Bethesda is a fan of Mr. Lovecraft’s works).  It looks like nothing I’ve ever seen in a game before.  Books everywhere, whirlwinds of pages, moving hallways & tentacles everywhere.  It’s beautiful in a “is this going to make me lose my mind” sort of way.  The enemies there look like Cthulhu & Deep Ones.  You’ll go there several times by using the Black Books, & each section is unique.  Better still, reaching the end will give you new skills or powers that you can change just by going back.

Sorry, this isn't Pern

Sorry, this isn’t Pern

The only real downside to this DLC is the dragon riding.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad.  During the final main quest you’ll learn a Shout called Bend Will which will let you temporarily tame dragons.  But this is very limited.  It’s only temporary, so once you dismount it’ll fly off.  The dragons also don’t function like regular mounts.  You can’t control them at will.  You have to select Fast Travel targets.  But you can attack enemies while flying.  Not only can you command the dragon to breathe ice on enemies, but you can use your own magic or Shouts.  The controls for the dragons are pretty simple as well.  So overall, they’re not bad, but not what we were expecting.

Overall, I highly recommend Dragonborn.  Even if the dragon riding is a little disappointing, it still adds a lot of features that make it worth the cost.  There’s a lot to see & do on Solstheim, making it an excellent choice for those who want to get the most out of their money.

– GamerDame

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