Travelling the land of Skyrim almost feels like a second home now. Despite the fact I still have plenty of dungeons to search through, I’ve explored every corner of this frigid nation. I can recognize what direction to head through landmarks, rarely having to use the map to guide myself. Solstheim, the new area you explore in Dragonborn, feels new and visually presents itself as a completely foreign location, yet still brings back memories for those who have played through Morrowind.
Dragonborn creates a much more worthwhile DLC to Skyrim, in the same vain as Shivering Isles to Oblivion, allowing for immersive exploration of a new area, yet bringing a nostalgic feeling of everything great about an Elder Scrolls game. Those who have taken a break, or have grown tired of Skyrim will definitely find themselves returning with this wealth of new content.
The DLC begins when a group of cultists who follow the expansion’s main antagonist, Miraak, attempt to kill you, believing you’re a false Dragonborn. From there you find yourself on a boat heading for the mysterious island where the lands of Skyrim and Morrowind meet.
While the northern part of the island will feel like your exploring Skyrim again, the southern part will remind players of the foreign and mysterious land of Morrowind. As soon as you step onto the town of Raven Rock’s shores you definitely get the feeling you’re not in Skyrim anymore. The small stone carved huts and bone armored guards gives you a taste of how close you are to Morrowind. Look far enough south and you’ll see the smoke rising from the Red Mountain on the mainland.
Bethesda even went so far as to provide remastered versions of Morrowind’s original score to help further separate your experience from Skyrim.
One of my complaints is the new area’s size. Even for a new area Solstheim is a relatively small playing space. While there is a wealth of new dungeons and side quests to accomplish, there’s no need to use the fast travel option. Many of the towns and dungeons can be reached on foot, which in some aspects, feels more natural when it comes to exploration, but you soon come to realize the relatively small size of your playing space. I would’ve loved a larger area to explore, but beggars can’t be choosers.
But Solstheim isn’t the only new place you’ll be able to visit. You’ll be making another trip to Oblivion, but this time to Hermaneous Mora’s realm of Apocrypha. The clearly Lovecraft inspired realm is filled with tentacles, shifting hallways and terrifying enemies with even more tentacles. The prince of forbidden knowledge also appears to you as a massive amorphous blob of tentacles, horrifying enough to give you nightmares.
With the mix of dealing with Hermaneous Mora and Miraak, this is by far one of the best quest lines I’ve had the joy of playing. Both antagonists are ruthless and cruel, which offers plenty of reason to obliterate them and save the people of Solstheim.
To deal with Hermaneous Mora’s forces and Miraak, Bethesda provided a few new shouts to combat them. Dragon Aspect provides all of the power and defense of a dragon. It can only be used once a day, but the shout’s effects last for a significant amount of time making it all worthwhile.
The Bend Will shout allows for control of animals at first, with the successive words allowing for control of mortals and dragons. Using the shout to control dragons ultimately leads to using them as mounts, which despite sounding incredibly awesome, is more of a pain than a fun romp riding through the sky.
The controls for riding dragons are limited. Your dragon will do most of the work while you can only issue commands of attack, which also lack any serious power to enemies. For being one of the highlighted additions to this DLC it’s rather disappointing Bethesda couldn’t take the time smooth out what could’ve been an awesome new feature.
The new armors and items are exciting, but if you’ve already delved into dragon armor and weapons there’s hardly any need to try them out. Some of them are nearly on par with dragon armor, so using them is completely up to your discretion.
Dragonborn may have flopped on one of its biggest features, but overall is a nice addition to the world of Skyrim. Going to Solstheim provides a new and foreign land for you to explore with more dungeons and labyrinths to traverse through. If you ever needed a reason to return to Skyrim, the Dragonborn DLC is all the reason you need.