Bethesda has again shown that it has learned so much about the realm of add-on content. A pioneer in the industry, it was one of the first to really push for paid content in games. Oblivion‘s Horse Armor DLC is often joked about, and is an example of bad DLC, yet you also have to consider that in those early days, people knew nothing about what sort of sales to expect. Oblivion was a huge game for extra content in general, and where Bethesda learned most of its lessons. Today, it provides some of the best content in the industry.
With Skyrim, it has pushed the bar higher, and it shows in the quality of the content. Skyrim‘s add-ons have managed to add to the experience, without feeling as if it was simply held back to charge more for it later. Nothing about Dragonborn, or any of the Skyrim offerings thus far, feel like they belonged in the main game, but they do fit into its world very well.
Dragonborn‘s main feature is of course the island of Solstheim, which is a combination of Skyrim and Vvardenfell, the landmass from Morrowind. The content in general is a love letter to the previous Elder Scrolls games. Many of the creatures and styles from Morrowind shine through here, and make for a great bit of nostalgia for some, and a nice change from Skyrim‘s usual landscape for others. Like Oblivion‘s Shivering Isles, Dragonborn offers new quests and locations that don’t resemble the base game at all, yet fit so well into it when you’re done.
The other much-talked-about feature is, of course, dragon riding. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean raining destruction on towns and the like, though you can command your dragon to land or attack. There isn’t much to do in terms of airborne questing, but it is a feature that’s been requested since the first mention of dragons, though I didn’t really find myself using this too much once the novelty wore off.
I was hoping for some sort of great aerial battle mechanic, which didn’t really happen. I still love traveling on foot best; despite being over a hundred hours in, I still find things I miss on the ground even in the original game. (Though I expect the modding community on Steam is hard at work building some sort of dragonflight mod with complete freedom right now.)
The quests of Dragonborn are fairly varied; some are the usual fare, while others are completely off-the-wall and unexpected. A particular group of Rieklings outside an ale hall have a fun quest, should you find them. Others will simply happen as you explore. The main quest is around eight hours long, and offers a good amount of Skyrim backstory, as well as more than a little Daedric madness. Side quests and other content easily put the total gameplay time for Dragonborn around the 20-hour mark, impressive for an add-on offering, and really justifying the $20 price tag. Unlike previous releases, this pack is clearly intended to be a post-game experience.
Dragonborn offers a lot of content for all types of players, and shows just how paid add-ons should be done. Skyrim is a wonderful game on its own, and Dragonborn proves it’s worth its premium pricing.
Pros: Tons of content, more Skyrim, more varied side quests
Cons: Dragon flying could be fleshed out more