Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dragonborn Review


The last The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC pack, Hearthfire, left a lot of adventurers a little underwhelmed. Based around property ownership and similar social ideas, the DLC was fun for those with patience that really wanted even deeper immersion into the Skyrim universe, but a lot of gamers felt it didn't contain enough action and/or a strong enough story. The newest Skyrim DLC, Dragonborn, attempts to assuage those gamers with a new, complex storyline, a new area to explore, some serious nostalgia for longtime Elder Scrolls fans and - yup - the ability to ride dragons. Dragonborn sounds like a winner on paper, but I found the actual questing inexplicably rushed and a tad dull, and riding a dragon isn't as awesome as it probably seems in your imagination.

Dragonborn takes place on the island of Solstheim, an area lifted from a Morrowind DLC adventure. Don't worry; the area has been updated to Skyrim standards in both appearance and gameplay. For those that played Morrowind, the area feels familiar, but in a hazy way; you know you've been here before, but things are different enough to make it interesting. Anyway, the main drive of Dragonborn is to collect and eliminate Black Books, magical tomes that pull you right in - literally. Destroying these and some weird elemental monuments lead you to Miraak, a somewhat generic evildoer who can use Dragon Shouts and isn't pleased that anyone else, especially you, can do the same. Getting to Miraak's doorstep is the goal, yes, but there are plenty of new side quests and little things to explore along the way. Basically, Dragonborn is Skyrim being Skyrim. Simple as that.

Here's the thing, though. Collecting the Black Books feels more "fetch-quest" than it probably should, and the whole journey will only take skilled players about 6-8 hours to complete. Sure, you see a lot of new, cool stuff in Dragonborn, but it wraps up like it was written by a novelist who just ran out of steam. And you don't get access to the main selling point - the dragon riding - until AFTER the main quest is finished. So maybe the quest's abruptness is a good thing, right?

Nope. If you race through to gain the dragon riding ability, you'll be disappointed. The questing is the best part of Dragonborn because piloting dragons just isn't much fun. You don't have free reign over where they go or what they do, you essentially just cherry-pick targets from a giant flying taxi and attack. Not cool. I feel like if players were given all the freedom you'd expect from an Elder Scrolls game in piloting these beasts, it would have been a whole new reason to pick the game up again, and even bring in a few new players. My imagination on what I wanted to do from the dragons' backs is NOT what Dragonborn gave me, and it was a big letdown.

Personally, I liked Hearthfire, and before that, Dawnguard, better than Dragonborn. The "epic" quest felt like it was cut for time and the dragon riding was nowhere near what I wanted it to be. The questing here will surely be enjoyed by tons of players, but the missed opportunities made this my least favorite Skyrim expansion yet.

Final Rating: 69%. Dragon riding should be more fun than this...