The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn Review
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With its large new map, unique dungeons, and captivating story and side quests, Skyrim's Dragonborn feels far more like a complete expansion than basic add-on content. Familiar issues persist, and riding dragons isn't all that cool, but it's certainly great to play more Skyrim.
- Large and interesting map to explore
- Unique dungeons and worthwhile main quest line
- Tons of new sidequests and NPCs
- Riding dragons is a letdown
- Main quest is rushed
- Familiar long load times, grainy graphics
Just like the divide between the Imperials and Stormcloaks, people are torn when it comes to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Most of us became enthralled the first time that dragon filled the sky as our head's lay on the executioner's chopping block. We stayed glued to our controllers after hundreds of hours exploring the vast and snowy landscape, completing what felt like thousands of quests, and slaying an endless supply of dragons. We were lucky enough to work through some potentially game-ending glitches and bugs while living the life of a Dragonborn.
Then there are those who hold a grudge against Bethesda for releasing a flawed game on the PlayStation 3 and failing to properly fix the problem in a timely manner. Both groups have their rationale and as I side with the former, I ask that you try to put aside your frustration and anger with Bethesda. Try and forget those long months without a proper fix for the horrible glitches in many PS3 versions of Skyrim. Don't mind the fact we've waited patiently for a successful fix and even longer for the new content our Xbox 360 friends were enjoying over the last several months. It seems Bethesda has fixed the major issues for PS3 gamers (so far) and now that the three downloadable content add-ons are all available on PS3, we can once again pleasantly waste our lives in a fantasy world.
With the release of the Dragonborn DLC on PS3—more of an expansion than today's typical fluffy add-on content—those two divided sides have a perfect reason to come together. Everyone deserves to enjoy this terrific new content. There is a large new world to explore as we're taken away from Skyrim's arctic setting and brought to the Morrowind era's Solstheim Island. With so many new locations to uncover and dungeons to explore, you can easily spend dozens of hours revealing every crevasse of Solstheim's desolate shores, arid planes, and rocky mountains. There is an interesting story complete with a main quest series, plenty of miscellaneous and side quests, new NPCs, new enemies, even new dragon shouts. Heck, you can even ride dragons—that’s not as cool as it sounds, though.
All of this new content is great, without a doubt. But it is still tucked into the Skyrim formula. Quests generally send you into a dungeon to recover something then back to your original quest giver who instructs you to ask someone else for help. Seriously, can't you just send me to that person without running your errands? Some of Dragonborn has that standard go-get-me-that quest structure but at least a fair portion is tucked into trippy new settings.
Those trippy new settings come courtesy of the main storyline, which sets you in pursuit of the original Dragonborn. Entering the world of Hermaeus Mora, a Daedric prince, via Black Books is something that feels uniquely unfamiliar to the rest of Skyrim. In these dungeons giant tentacles reach up from the black and acidic water to slap your silly face, the sky is filled with eyeballs, Seekers do their best to set your head spinning as they clone themselves out of your reach, and walls of books create a labyrinth to ensnare the feeble-minded. These dungeons are the true star of the new content. Yes, it's all still enclosed in that Skyrim quest system, but at least the setting feels fresh, even mind-bending.
The bulk of the story quests prepare you to battle Miraak, the original Dragonborn, by eliminating these worship stones scattered throughout the island. These worship stones put the dismal residents under something of a curse. With the help of some new friends, you'll learn how to blow the worship centers to the ground and free the brainwashed inhabitants. It's all a surprisingly enjoyable experience, albeit too brief. After eliminating all the worship stones, collecting the Black Books, and exploring Mora's realm I found myself face-to-face with Miraak. ... (continued on next page)
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