Saturday, January 5, 2013

Skyrim: Dragonborn review

    I liked it but it's not as good as Dawnguard. That's my short but accurate summary of the Skyrim: Dragonborn DLC. The premise of Dragonborn is that the first Dragonborn, Miraak, has returned from the grave and is upset at you taking his place as the most important person in the world. As a result, he sends a couple of no-name cultists after you. These cultists, of course, fail miserably and leave clues which lead you right to Miraak's doorstep.

    I'm paraphrasing things but Dragonborn isn't a particularly deep story. Once you arrive, Miraak isn't all that difficult to find and the storyline is surprisingly short. It's just a series of dungeon-crawls culminating in a final boss fight with Miraak. Compared to the story of Dawnguard, especially with Serena serving as an emotional anchor, it just seems to be far weaker.

The buildings are very different from the rest of Skyrim.
    There's also a slight issue with the fact the storyline builds on a premise which doesn't get too much exposure. Miraak is the first Dragonborn, we are the last, but we learn very little about what it means to be a Dragonborn during the storyline. Even more so, we learn very little about the villain who is supposedly the antagonist. At the risk of spoiling one of the DLC's plot twists, we actually learn more about the Daedric Prince Miraak made a pact with long ago.

    This doesn't mean the DLC is bad as the bulk of the work clearly went into making the unique environment of Solstheim and it shows. Solstheim is an environment wholly unlike Skyrim with giant mushroom buildings, weird buildings, and many visual homages to Morrowind. I never played Morrowind so it was interesting to see and hear a bunch of references to the game I only recognized second-hand.

    The environment is beautiful, strange, and bizarre all at once. They become especially surreal when you take a journey, later, into one of the more intriguing planes of Oblivion. Sadly, by the time the main quest finishes, Oblivion is starting to feel a little stale and that's something it should never be. I say this as a person who had to shut down more than a dozen gates of Oblivion while playing the Elder Scrolls game of the same name.

    Dragonborn offers a variety of new equipment for characters but I can't honestly say I'm particularly impressed by it. A lot of it is merely window-dressing that will probably appeal to fans of Morrowind more than me. I have no particular desire to dress my character up in armor based on spiders but now I have the option if I ever change my mind.

I like the Eskimo feel of the Solstheim Nords too.
    The biggest change is now the option of dragon riding. Unfortunately, this system doesn't really wow me anymore than the rest of the DLC. Basicaly, you have the option of using a new Dragon Shout to enslave a dragon and can use your Fast Travel marker to send it in a certain direction. You can also target things on the ground. This should be awesome but it feels somewhat clunky and unwieldy.

     Overall, I really enjoyed Dragonborn and think it was a good additional set of material for people who enjoyed Skyrim and Dawnguard. I wasn't blown away with it but I think it's a perfectly serviceable piece of gaming.


1 comment:

  1. Seriously, get X-Com: Enemy Unknown or Borderlands 2. Both are great.