Published on February 20th, 2013 | by Aaron Owens6
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dragonborn Review
Developer(s): Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: December 4th, 2012(360), February 5th 2013 (PC), and February 12th 2013 (PS3)
Platform(s): Xbox 360 & PC & PlayStation 3
Price: 1200 MSP or $15
Rating: M for Mature
At long last, PS3 owners are getting their first taste of Skyrim’s DLC with the release of Dragonborn. Dragonborn is the largest of the three DLCs for Skyrim, because it adds an entire new area to the game, along with several new quests, new smithable items, and even two new shouts. The wait for the DLC has been long and frustrating, but so far it seems as though it will have been worth it.
The story for Dragonborn begins with you being attacked by some cultists who are claiming that you are not the true dragonborn and ranting about someone named Miraak. The cultists attacked when I was in Windhelm, but I was already in Windhelm when I installed the DLC so I believe you will be attacked by the cultists wherever you are as long as you have progressed far enough into the main story (as I recall you only need to be to the point where you first talk to the Greybeards). After being attacked, you travel to the island of Solstheim where you learn that Miraak was the first dragonborn, and that he now serves Hermaeus Mora, Daedric Prince of knowledge. The main questline involves collecting ‘Black Books’ that transport you to Apocrypha, the realm of Hermaeus Mora, in order to eventually defeat Miraak and free the people of Solstheim once more. In addition to their uses for the main quest line, each black book also allows you to choose a new power or bonus upon completing the area of Apocrypha within that book. The bonuses can range from gaining an extra skill point every time you read a skill book and to improving some of your shouts. The new powers include spells which cost no magicka for 30 seconds or to my personal favorite, summoning a dremora merchant who sells deadric armor and weapons, along with ability to buy your loot. Also, upon completion of the main quest, you gain the ability to reset perk trees of your choice at will, which is immensely helpful. Naturally, there are also many other side missions and dungeons to explore, allowing for hours of gameplay in addition to the main quest.
The geography of Solstheim is split between the northern half of the island, which resembles the geography of Winterhold in Skyrim, and the southern half of the island, which is very similar to the type of geography found in Morrowind. The population of Solstheim is also fairly evenly between Nords and Dunmer. Large areas of the island are also covered in ash from the volcano that can be seen in the distance on the horizon. The visuals within Apocrypha are bizarre yet beautiful, and have even more of an otherworldly feel to them than did the planes of oblivion in, The Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion. My only real complaint is that nearly every time I would enter or exit Apocrypha, my game would freeze for about 1-4 seconds, and it would give me a minor heart attack every time. The freezes never lasted though, so they’re not really a problem at all, apart from messing with your head. My personal favorite new visuals are those of the new armors that have been added. You can make chitin armor, which looks fairly similar to some of the leather armor, bonemold armor, which is a very pale yellow and actually looks a bit intimidating, and my personal favorite, the stahlrim armor. Stahlrim is a rare material only found on the island, and the armor made from it very slightly resembles the imperial armor, but is a very shiny light blue, and it’s armor rating is around the same strength of the dragonbone armors.
The controls are, naturally, the same as in the main game. However the addition of the dragon-riding mechanic adds a new set of controls that I find to be sadly lackluster. While riding dragons you can only cast magic and tell your dragon to attack a target, you have no ability to steer the dragons, you’re simply along for the ride wherever they decide to go. Because of your very limited control while riding dragons, the novelty of the ability wears off quite quickly. Otherwise, the controls remain just as solid and usable as always.
When I got Dragonborn I was somewhat concerned that it may still have some debilitating bugs, but Bethesda has lived up to their word and got it working spectacularly. The DLC is beautifully crafted and is actually one of the least buggy things I can remember getting from Bethesda. I would say that if you enjoy Skyrim and want to get more out of your game, Dragonborn is very well worth the price.
This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version.
Summary: With all of the reported problems in the development, I had some concern about the Skyrim DLC for PS3, but so far Bethesda is proving my fears unfounded with Dragonborn. Virtually everything is spectacularly well done, and well worth the wait. The new quests are just as well-crafted as any other quests in the Elder Scrolls saga, and the new area is beautiful. Dragonborn is a magnificent addition to my copy of Skyrim, and I'm quite certain that any other fan of Skyrim would heartily agree.