Review | Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dragonborn
After the entertaining Dawnguard DLC for Skyrim and the lackluster Hearthfire DLC, Bethesda has released the latest content for the game: Dragonborn.
Unlike the first two pieces of content, Dragonborn will take you away from Skyrim and bring you back to Morrowind. Specifically, you’ll be on the island of Solstheim, an area that was seen in the Bloodmoon expansion in the third title.
The backstory behind the latest piece of content revolves around the first Dragonborn, Miraak, who wants to destroy you and bring Oblivion back. He had supposedly been dead for hundreds of years, but you’ll quickly find out he’s just been biding his time, and will use your help along the way to free himself again.
The quest line actually won’t start until you hit a major city, where you’ll quickly run into a group of cultists that follow Miraak. After dispatching them and finding a letter about you, you’ll soon be on your way to sailing to Solstheim.
The island offers quite a bit for fans of the third title to remember. The atmosphere is familiar, complete with giant mushrooms growing around the land. In addition, some of the previous lore of the world is brought in with different groups there.
However, Solstheim isn’t the only place you’ll visit. You also spend some time in an alternate universe made by Hermaeus Mora. While I don’t want to talk too much about it, just know that this was one of the biggest highlights in the content for me as I walked around.
Speaking of Hermaeus Mora, the content should have been more focused around him than actually around Miraak. Sure, you’ll see a shadow of Miraak pop up from time to time to steal one of your dragon souls you get after a kill, but sometimes you won’t even notice when he appears. Other than that, you rarely see him at all. However, Hermaeus Mora makes quite a few appearances throughout, and actually has more personality than Miraak does.
One thing I noticed about the new area is that you can find plenty of crafting items around, including some new ores to make items with. In addition, scattered throughout Solstheim is seven black books that will let you respect skill points, get up to three extra powers and up to three passive effects. The books are one of the big draws of the DLC, and will help extend your time on the island a bit after finishing the main story, which only took about four-five hours.
Another addition teased in the trailer of the DLC was dragon riding, which actually sounds more exciting than it is. Instead of being able to control your dragon, it follows a set path, letting you only shoot spells from its back or tell it who to target. While controlling the flight could have been something great, I can see how that would quickly break a lot of the game.
Overall, if you try to find all the quests that feature any kind of story on the island, along with getting a house and exploring, you could probably put 20-25 hours in the island. It may take you longer depending on your difficulty level, as two new enemies, the Lurker and the Seeker, can quickly destroy you on higher levels. However, I always went out of my way to fight Lurkers, as they normally carried a decent amount of loot that didn’t weigh much and sold for a decent profit.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Bethesda game without mention of glitches, would it? While I’ve heard reports of in-game glitches, such as quests not starting or people getting aggressive at you, I never had those problems. Instead, I had bigger problems: hard locks. My entire system froze at least five times, even with reinstalling the game back on my hard drive. This shouldn’t be a big surprise, but I never had that many freezes in the regular game, and that was an entire continent I was exploring.
Overall, Dragonborn is a better piece of content than Dawnguard in my opinion. It offers plenty of new places to explore, some new puzzles in dungeons and new things to kill. Sure, it has some of the problems that many Bethesda titles have, but it’s still an enjoyable experience. It’s not as in-depth or big as the Shivering Isles, but Dragonborn is still a good addition to the Skyrim universe.