DLC Review: Dragonborn (Skyrim)

PS3 owners rejoice: Skyrim finally has the DLC that so many people have been waiting for. After an agonising wait, made all the more agonising by the suggestion from Bethesda that is might never even happen, every last drop of extra stuff is now heading towards Sony’s black beauty, starting with the now-available Dragonborn. Those who followed the DLC previously might notice that this was actually the last update that was released on the 360, but with each one being separate there’s no problems with taking them in an alternative order.

Dragonborn slots neatly into your existing game and lets you whisk your way off to a different location all together. That’s right, for the next 9 or 10 hours you can wave a fond farewell to all of those spots around Skyrim that you’ve become so accustomed to and get a first class ticket (well, get on a boat) to Solstheim, a massive island in Morrowind shadowed by an active volcano that belches out smoke like a badly maintained Fiat Punto. And while many games receive DLC that drops in some new but samey environments and half-arsed missions, Dragonborn treats things very differently indeed. Here you’ll find settlements carved out of fossils, mushrooms the size of houses and as many side quests as some more feeble RPGs have in the entire game. Make no mistake about it, Dragonborn isn’t really a DLC – certainly not the type we’ve become accustomed to. This is a true old fashioned expansion pack giving a whole new story, new side quests, new enticing caves to wander into and get killed in, new enemies, funky weapons and a new mode of transport.

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Wait, transport? Oh yes. Don’t expect to be able to catch the 110 bus into the city centre or hop onto a nearby Honda motorbike and tear up the countryside. Instead you’ll be learning a shout which let’s you ride a dragon. That’s right, a dragon. It’s pretty cool, letting you fly around and blast people with fire from above. Sadly it’s not quite as free as it could have been, and you won’t get to try it out until near the end of the main mission, but it’s something to look forward to and gives you a chance to see those gorgeous vistas on offer around the new island.

In terms of a storyline (which like the main game will probably be half-forgotten as you romp around carrying out all of the extra quests on offer) you’re seeking out and planning to put and end to the other Dragonborn – your evil twin if you like. The journey to find him is spectacular, letting you find some magic books which take you off to some awesome locations along the way. If you ever thought Skyrim felt a little dry and uninspired, this will change your mind entirely. Everything builds up to a pretty exciting finale, when you face off against your highly-hyped nemesis in a battle to the death. It’s tricky, but only as a result of the other dude having some pretty meaty health to get rid of, and any illusions you had of some spectacular final battle with huge fireworks and meaty creatures getting involved get dashed quite promptly. But that’s just a small blip really that just so happens to occur at the worst possible time.

But as with the original campaign the main storyline is just a spine that the rest of the world is based on. There is so much to do in Dragonborn that you’d be forgiven for seeing it as an individual game, and you’ll certainly get more enjoyment and game time out of it than you would from some full price retail titles currently sitting on our shelves. Seriously, the scope of Dragonborn will both surprise and impress you, and if you’ve found yourself drifting from Skyrim this will bring you right back again.

If you’re reading this now you’ll have missed the half price introductory offer, and while you might look at the full price of £12.99 with a raised eyebrow and think twice, if you’re a fan of Skyrim you still owe it to yourself to grab this. It’s one of the best and enormous DLC packages I’ve seen for a long time, and definitely worth it to become engrossed all over again.

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