Available on: PlayStation 3, PC & Xbox 360
Developer: Bethesda. Publisher: Bethesda.
Platform Played: PlayStation 3.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the better half of the past year, you’d be unaware of Bethesda’s long running problem with the PlayStation 3 and DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and many problems in general. After months and months of wondering if PS3 owners will see any Skyrim DLC let alone all three, we finally have the first installment, Dragonborn (which is actually the third but hey).
Dragonborn takes place on the Dumner island of Solstheim which is situated in the province of Morrowind, a former setting from The Elder Scrolls III. Playing as the legendary Dragonborn, you come across the knowledge of Solstheim after you’re attacked by a group of cultists claiming that you are the false Dragonborn and that you must be killed for your supposed imposition. After you deal with the would-be assassins, you discover that they were sent by someone claiming to be the real Dragonborn. In short, you discover that you are not the only one. After venturing to Solstheim, you discover that things are very wrong on the ancient island of the Elves. As to how you solve the problems, well, that’s up to you.
Considering the problems Bethesda faced getting the game to the PlayStation 3, the job they’ve done porting it something that stands at a reminder that despite problems, Bethesda are a top quality developer. Some bugs and glitches still exist, but it’s a wonder that the game hasn’t exploded over the strain of running on a console that has had so many problems concerning this one particular game. For the most part, Dragonborn runs relatively well and is on par with the main game in it’s current patched state. There were a few moments where the game momentarily froze after arriving to your location after travelling between Solstheim and Skyrim but any other freezing, slowdown or frame rate drops were relatively low. The freezing upon arrival usually lasts for about five to seven seconds which on more than one occasion had me holding down the PS button to turn of the console but the game then suddenly kicked back into action. It’s a minor problem but can be annoying if you want venture between the two lands frequently.
Dragonborn boasts around about 10-12 hours of new content which is more than most full retail games today. For the time you’re playing Dragonborn, you’re going to find it very difficult to get bored. There’s a new island to explore, a slew of new quests to engage in and all new enemies to remind you that you should have stayed at home young adventurer. The main quest is a pretty decent length taking up most of the 10-12 hours of the game. The main quest will take you all over Solstheim and beyond into a netherworldish realm where Miraak, the ancient Dragonborn resides. This netherworld itself is both pretty and ugly at the same time with the hallways and brief open areas littered with things to look at and there’s a lot going on in the small spaces. Where it gets ugly is where you start realising that it’s the same room over and over with only a few differences but these often serve a purpose in the quest like a puzzle room. The low level of appeal to these areas makes it a tad tedious when you’re in them and it had me just sprinting past the enemies in an effort to get it over and done with. Being an Elder Scrolls game, Dragonborn is once again filled with tons of dungeons that exist in both the main quest and the various side missions that litter the game so you’ll still be finding it hard to be bored with all the raiding crypts that makes Lara Croft look like an amateur.
With the raised difficulty, more loot will be made available to you such as a room quite literally filled with piles of gold coins so those of you who have bummed all of your money building your dream home in the Hearthfire DLC can get a hefty portion of it back. Dragonborn comes with an extensive and generous level of new gear and weapons such as ice armour and a quest related piece of armour that has you trekking all over and under Solstheim. Whilst there is a lot of content in Dragonborn, the side quests are mainly bigger ones at that. It’s a good thing for certain but once you get past the twelve hour mark, you’ll notice that Dragonborn gets a bit dry. Most of the quests both main and side will have you going all over the island so when everything’s done, there’s not really too much else to do since the mini-quests are few and too little.
Once again with the raised difficulty, you’ll find that combat is much, much more challenging in Dragonborn. I was playing as a level 40 Nord and when I’m in Skyrim I dominate most of the time. Dragonborn provided a new challenge and reminded me that the life of an adventurer was that of a tough one if you’re not careful, something that became immediately obvious when I was killed by an enemy after one hit. If you play in a similar fashion to me with relying heavily on weapons, Dragonborn’s going to give you more encouragement to start using magic more often in combat because trust me, you’re going to need to. Doing so will help you level up so there’s still the incentive to vary your play style.
Perhaps the newest addition to Skyrim with Dragonborn is that you can now fly Dragons. With some of the new Thu’ums you’ll learn in your playthrough, you’ll be able to bend a Dragon to your will and then proceed to mount it and then fly it. There are two accompaniments to flying a Dragon that are both good and bad. The good thing is that the Dragon will stop attacking you and you’re then free to run away or mount him. The bad thing is that flying a Dragon is an absolute bore. Bethesda have really misled people on what they meant by “flying a Dragon.” In fact, the reality here is that the Dragon flies you and no, that’s not a “in Soviet Russia” joke. Players are indeed able to mount the Dragon but what they’ll find is that the beast literally flies around in a rough circle before you can either get it to target an enemy which will be a rare occurrence if it actually responds. You’ll also be able to use the Dragon to fast travel but that isn’t the best feature of riding this Dragon. The best feature bar none is landing and then walking away.
Dragonborn reminds the player of why they should look forward to DLC from Bethesda because what this latest addition is, is another reminder of just how deep a DLC pack from this developer will go. Dragonborn is packed with content for the most part until it just stops suddenly. Luckily, you’ll have you fill when it does as the quest in both the main line and the side quests are frequently engaging and for the most part, are a thrill to play through bar a few dull areas. With it’s increase difficulty, Dragonborn will provide quite the challenge even on the lower levels. The biggest problem with Dragonborn is the Dragon “flying” that was advertised as something never done before in Skyrim. After more than a few attempts to fly the Dragon manually, you’ll soon find out why it wasn’t in the main game.
- Increased difficulty means a greater challenge.
- Rich level of content.
- Lots more interesting and valuable loot.
- Brand new island to explore and plunder.
- Riding that damned Dragon.
- Occasional technical goofs.
- Some bland areas in the main quest.
- Sudden halt in the games playability after 13-14 hours.
8.1 out of 10
George Sinclair is an editor for Analog Addiction, the home of the latest news, reviews and previews. You can find George on Twitter and his blog on IGN. Be sure to follow the OFFICIAL Analog Addiction Twitter as well!