The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dragonborn – the third, and most likely the final, DLC in the epic saga of the Elder Scrolls adds another chapter to the Skyrim universe by letting you visit regions from Morrowind. It leaves you nostalgic at times.
Skyrim’s new downloadable content, Dragonborn, takes you back to that strange land, with all its mushroom-filled glory. The result is the game’s best piece of DLC to date, a self-contained adventure that feels like a legitimate—and legitimately good—expansion pack.
The main attraction, as was widely publicised by Bethesda, was to be… you guessed it, Dragon riding. Sadly, it is one of the most painful experiences of the game along with the usual glitches that Bethesda has now almost made a trademark to ship their game with (be ready to see NPCs walking through trees or your Dragon getting stuck randomly mid-air). It’s very difficult to steer them wherever you want, and the dragons are too weak to kill anyone; it’s easier to get off and hack the bastard’s head off. But leaving it all aside, the game does pretty well to distinguish itself from Skyrim while still maintaining the familiarity of the game which we love. The game has a lot to offer in terms of content and after the rather dismal last two DLCs, Dawnguard and Hearthfire, this one has actually cared to give players something to do in the world rather than create houses and place chimneys in them.
There are two main regions in the game: Solstheim, an island found in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and the second region: Apocrypha, a parallel dimension, land of the Daedric god, Hermaeus Mora. Solstheim is not a very large island, but has plenty of ruins and caves. Apocrypha looks as if someone took a flame thrower to a book store. It’s filled with pools with slimy tentacles that drag you down.
The player is attacked by cultists who call him the fake Dragonborn. A note on the corpses of the cultists leads the player to Solstheim where he meets an old Dragonborn Miraak who is supposed to be dead. Miraak turns out to be the antagonist.
There’s a new map, new weapons and armor, new dragon shouts, cities, enemies and all sorts of varying quests (right from the mundane run-here-fetch-that to the downright bizarre quests of cleansing the souls of goddesses). The story is at par with that of Skyrim in terms of quality and variety, though it’s rather short clocking at six and a half hours with the difficulty maxed out. Still the experience is worth every penny of yours. The end of the quests leave you wanting more and the story feels like it came to an abrupt end. But just like every Elder Scrolls game, it’s the journey that matters and not the final result.
Dragonborn evokes that feeling of excitement, that rush that massive open-world games like Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas are so good at offering. A new map brings with it new places, new dungeons, new quests to discover and rewards to unearth. It’s an explorer’s dream. The excitement and the rush that goes through your head when finding a small Easter egg hidden in a cranny in the corner of a mushroom-dungeon which screams, ‘I was placed here by the developer just for YOU,’ is very satisfying. And if you get your dragon-explorer cap on and explore every nook and corner of the land then you can squeeze out around 25 hours of game play from the DLC.
Bugs aside, Dragonborn is a great piece of DLC. Worth playing, worth exploring, worth leaping into like you’re starting Skyrim all over again. Because there’s nothing quite like opening up a new map and imagining all of the adventures you’re about to find there. It’s a feeling that can’t be beat.
Verdict – Good expansion, great storyline and all in all a solid package for the fans, old and new.
Score – 8/10
Siddharth P. Kumar (Mechanical)
Illustration by Jayanth Vadyala (Architecture)