Dragonborn DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - PS3 Review
PS3 Skyrim fans have been somewhat neglected since the game's release back in November 2011, with no sign of the DLC that's already available on both PC and Xbox 360. That's all changed with the arrival of Dragonborn in the Playstation store (if you're super quick you can pick it up for half-price until Wednesday's store update on February 20). The Hearthfire (Feb 20) and Dawnguard (Feb 27) DLC (which were the first DLC packs released on other systems) are both due in the next couple of weeks too. So what's Dragonborn all about?
|Exploring Raven Rock in Dragonborn.|
Dragonborn has you journeying away from Skyrim, to the island of Solstheim just off the coast of Morrowind. You can make the trip to Solstheim any time after you're acknowledged as Dragonborn by the Greybeards, but the first you'll hear of it is when you're confronted by two cultists who don't believe you're really Dragonborn. After a brief fight with the cultists (they won't take no for an answer) you'll discover a note that says their job is to stop you reaching Solstheim, on Miraak's orders.
That should be all the prompting you need to jump on a boat and head to Solstheim, where something strange is definitely afoot. Many locals there are wandering about mindlessly, muttering under their breath about the return of Miraak. Asking the less affected locals about Miraak doesn't get you very far as no-one can remember who he is, and instead can only direct you vaguely towards a temple. That's all you have to go on, so with that you're off to explore Solstheim and find the mysterious Miraak.
|Visiting Radoran Taven in Dragonborn.|
Dragonborn is a robust package, which is more of an expansion than an add-on. The main quest, chasing after Miraak, is lengthy, but there are also plenty of other sidequests to undertake, new armour and weapons to forge, a host of new enemies, a few Shouts, as well as the ability to ride dragons for the very first time (which is, unfortunately, not as fun as it sounds). Oh, there are also a couple of extremely tough boss fights to endure if you think you're tough enough. All in all Dragonborn offers at least six hours of fun, but it can be much more than that if you take your time and enjoy all it has to offer.
The visuals in Dragonborn are much the same as the rest of Skyrim from a technical perspective, but they're also quite different in terms of looks. Solstheim is home to active volcanoes, meaning much of the landscape is covered in a thick ash. These areas aren't much to look at but they do help you understand the somewhat downtrodden attitude of the locals. Other areas offer a distinctly different viewpoint, especially Neloth's home town, which he's made out of giant mushrooms.
|This is the first expansion to hit Skyrim on PS3.|
On your travels you'll come across Black Books which transport you to a land known as Apocrypha, which is weird to say the least. Here giant tentacles lash out at you from pools of water, corridors swish midair like a cat's tail, or maybe even grow while you watch. You encounter a host of new enemies in Apocrypha too, making these some of the more entertaining sections in the game.
Elsewhere, if you play your cards right, you'll gain access to a new ore known as Stalhrim, which can be used to forge weapons and armour at least as strong as Ebony. There's a host of new equipment to be found around Solstheim and using Stalhrim to upgrade them (or other favourites) is, as always, enjoyable. Stalhrim supplies appear limited though so you should choose your upgrades wisely. Heart Stone is another new ore you can find on Solstheim, but unlike Stalhrim it doesn't require any special work to unlock.
Throughout your time in Solstheim you'll unlock some new Shouts. The two most useful are Dragon Aspect and Bend Will. Dragon Aspect makes you more dragon-like, meaning you deliver massive blows with your weapon, gain a significant defensive boost thanks to an armoured hide, and Shouts are more powerful too. This Shout is extremely helpful against a couple of the tougher bosses in Dragonborn – I won't discuss them here as finding them is half the fun.
|Exploring Dragon Peak - which has a dragon!|
The Bend Will Shout makes animals, people and (most importantly) dragons do your bidding. It is via this Shout that you can ride dragons. As mentioned at the top of the review, riding dragons isn't a whole lot of fun. You can't control where the dragon flies, instead you can simply target enemies and make the dragon attack them, or attack them with magic yourself. The camera is awkward throughout these sections and it's hard to see anyone using dragon-riding as a method of travel. There is a trophy where you have to ride five unique dragons and I'd say that will be the limit of most peoples' dragon-riding efforts.
Sound thoughout Dragonborn is up to the same high standards as Skyrim. A criticism I had of Skyrim was that there weren't many voices used for the many NPCs in the game. Unsurprisingly that carries over to Dragonborn, where you'll hear many of the same voices over and over. This is a small complaint though, and only barely affects your experience.
|More Skyrim DLC is due on PS3 in weeks.|
Dragonborn is an excellent piece of DLC for anyone looking for a reason to start playing Skyrim again. There are a stack of quests to find and complete, with the main few taking upwards of six hours to complete (and more like ten). The new Shouts and boss fights are worthwhile too, with the latter being tough enough for even the most seasoned Skyrim adventurers. Dragonborn isn't perfect but it is very good. Well worth picking up, especially at half-price if you're quick.
Review By: Mike Allison
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|GRAPHICS||Obviously the same engine as Skyrim, but there's a lot of new stuff including architecture, enemies and environments to keep things interesting.||86%|
|SOUND||Up to the same standard as Skyrim, but could still use a few new voices.||85%|
|GAMEPLAY||No meaningful changes from Skyrim, which is, for the most part, just fine.||85%|
|VALUE||The most important factor for DLC in my opinion, and Dragonborn passes the test, with close to fifteen hours of content if you explore. It's excellent value at half-price (just under $12) but is getting expensive at full-price.||80%|
|OVERALL||Dragonborn is a comprehensive addition to Skyrim, and if you're keen to get back into it Dragonborn gives you the perfect reason.||83%|