The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dragonborn
How many games can you name that you have been playing for a year or more? I had clocked over 400 hours before obtaining the Dragonborn expansion (it’s not an add-on, Hearthfire is an add-on), after playing around five hours a night over the last five nights, I’m on over 450 hours and still have a load to play.
You will probably read around on the internet that Dragonborn takes just a few hours to complete, if you rush in and just do the main story, it probably does, but if you’re a proper adventurer like me, it will take you a lot longer. To fully enjoy a game like Skyrim, you can’t just run around and get things done before moving on to the next game, take your time, savour it and take maximum pleasure in its experience.
Once you’ve downloaded and started up the game, three Cultists Adept will approach you wherever you are and start a dialogue, it doesn’t matter what you say as they’ll attack you anyway. That’s when Dragonborn officially begins, you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything, it comes to you, whether you’re ready or not. If you’ve been playing avidly for the past 12 months, there’s most likely very little you can do besides the odd Companions, Thieves Guild or Brotherhood mission anyway, so it’s not like you’ll have anything better to do than go to Windhelm and catch that boat to Solstheim.
Once there, you’re greeted, warned about rules and regulations and an opportunity arises to ask a few questions before you start on the task of doing jobs for the town of Raven Rock or more specifically, Councilor Morvayn. You speak to Adril Arano (the names start to sound like other things ‘more vain’ and such) who gives you the tasks which lead up to eliminating the apparent threat to Morvayn, resulting in a very nice reward indeed. The leader of the Redoran Guard, Captain Veleth leads you on an early task of defeating a General who has apparently been alive for a couple of hundred years and controls bothersome creatures called Ash Spawn who are terrorizing the surrounding areas of Raven Rock.
Red Mountain is the cause of such monsters due to it constantly spewing ash everywhere, one of the benefits of killing them is due to them usually carrying ore, not a specific kind, but up to three pieces of any ore. Why? Who knows, but since there are around three smelters in Raven Rock, you can turn them all into ingots, ready for use on anything you want to create. Quick thought; why is it called Red Mountain when only volcanoes erupt and pump out ash? Defeating the General stops the Ash Spawn from reappearing because, well, since he’s dead, he can’t control them anymore and so they’re removed as a threat.
When you first look at the map, it doesn’t look very big and thoughts of being able to travel everywhere in five minutes soon dissolve once you start adventuring. There’s a distinct pleasure in discovering locations for the first time, something missed from having found every town, village, clearing, cave and outlook in Skyrim, which is why it’s a little hard to understand why Bethesda were so generous with the achievement for discovering 30 locations, you get a point for each of those locations. You get 20 Gamerscore (GS) just for arriving at Solstheim, that’s 50 out of the possible 250 GS available without having to do anything and I suppose you could say the same for the 20 GS received for owning a house in Raven Rock, something that just occurs and not really in your control.
Dawnguard is small in comparison to Dragonborn. When you consider the cost of Dawnguard, you will certainly feel short-changed when you learn of what you get with Dragonborn. There are many tasks to keep you occupied for ages from various characters, one of which is a rather interesting proposition from Ralis Sedarys who requires funding from you to unearth some ruins. There are a few quite mundane tasks such as fetching items for the sake of some coin and minor satisfaction, the glory is completing the main story, defeating Karstaag who is a very tough ghost and proving your worth against the Ebony Warrior.
Just because you’ve reached level 81 doesn’t mean you’re unbeatable (you may have discovered that when facing a Legendary Dragon on your own), the Ebony Warrior is like, the ‘cock of Skyrim’ (if you remember that phrase from school, not meant in a sexual sense). You will need to have the skills to create the very best armour and weapons if you’re to stand any chance of beating him, a word of advice, his high capabilities means he can disarm you, so taking just one of the best of everything won’t cut it.
There are new armour and weapons to find and you don’t necessarily have to leave Skyrim, I defeated a bandit chief who was wearing the new Nordic Carved Armour, so you might even get a taste of Dragonborn content before stepping foot on Solstheim. The new armour isn’t too impressive, if you already have dragonplate, drgaonbone or daedric armour, you might as well stick with those since none of the ‘Dragonborn’ armour beats them.
The only notable new weapon is the Rieklings spear as it’s the first weapon you can throw. It’s not exactly a formidable item of destruction and best left sticking in the ground where it landed when thrown, unless you’re doing the quest where you have to give someone 50 of them. Rieklings are small and quite insignificant, Lurkers on the other hand are very tall, yet not that difficult to defeat, so don’t worry too much when you first encounter them when sucked into Oblivion (literally) though a Black Book.
There are big black books found in certain locations throughout Solstheim where, upon opening them, you’re grabbed by a tentacle and dragged into the Oblivion realm of Apocrypha. All you’re required to do while in the realm is to find the other Black Book, simple enough, but there is usually a catch to the task of just walking through. One of the realms has darkness that saps your energy until you’re in light, using a spell like Candlelight will help you stay lit while you reach the book to defeat the couple of Seekers usually found around the middle of the path and then a Lurker at the end.
The feature I found most fun in Dragonborn was the lift in Neloth’s place in Tel Mithryn. Neloth is a master Telvanni wizard and the only way to visit him is by going to the giant mushroom of which he inhabits and floating up to a platform. Obviously, the only way back down is to float down, which makes it more fun than running up or down a twisty staircase.
There is just so much going on that I could mention, but then this review would just get boring, so if you want to know whether it’s worth getting or not, yes. Absolutely definitely affirmative. Don’t think that 1600 Microsoft Points is too much, Dragonborn is a proper expansion that gives good value for your money, you will get many, many hours of game time from it and remember, you can travel between Skyrim and Solstheim at any time, which makes sense since you get to own a house there.