Hey everyone, guess what!
The Dragonborn DLC for Skyrim came out on Tuesday! Yeahhhhh!
Hopefully, you all know by now how head-over-heels in love with Skyrim I am. If you don’t, you clearly have not been paying attention and your assigned homework is to read all of my previous articles. It’s fun, I promise. I’m a cool teacher. Anyway, Skyrim and I have a beautiful, giving, open relationship. Don’t question it.
But now, here is the part where I tell you that if you don’t want spoilers you should read no further. AHOY, SPOILERS YONDER, MATEYS! Or whatever.
When I loaded up my save game, I wandered around for about five or ten minutes before deciding that I wasn’t going to get contacted by a courier, so I should probably just fast travel to a major city. So I went to Solitude and was attacked by some creepy “cultists” wearing terrifying masks made of bone. Of course, there was the note on one of the bodies that said something like, “HERE ARE YOUR ORDERS. TOTALLY KEEP THEM IN YOUR ROBES SO THAT WHEN YOU DIE THE DRAGONBORN WILL KNOW ALL OF OUR SECRETS. THAT’S A BRILLIANT IDEA.” Geesh, these bad guys in Skyrim never learn. And the note is signed, “LOVE, YOUR MASTER, MIRAAK.” Maybe. I might be making that part up.
So off I trekked to Windhelm to catch a boat to the island of Solstheim.
Solstheim is a really neat place. You don’t think so at first, because you arrive at Raven Rock and some dark elf starts yelling at you and frankly, Raven Rock kind of looks like a shit hole. That area of the island is covered in ash from Mt. Doom or whatever off in the distance that is constantly spewing nastiness over in your general direction (spoiler alert, later you throw The One Ring into its fires). Which is…charming. However, once you start to get your explorin’ on, the place is really damn cool. Like, people living in mushrooms and giant glacial mountains cool. And there’s definitely more than a handful of new creatures and enemies hanging around.
When you arrive, there is a stone off to the left of Raven Rock, and when you get to it, there appear to be a lot of crazy people (or dementia patients) hammering away at a structure surrounding a big stone. Turns out this “Miraak” guy you’ve been hearing about is some sort of Dragonborn-Gone-Cray who has mind enslaved all these random people to build things for him to bring him to power. Sounds like someone is a little attention-starved.
So after this, there is predictably lots of running around and finding things and learning shit to help defeat him. The only catch is that he is on another plane of existence with a Daedric prince. WOO! Sounds fun, right?! Well, don’t worry, because it totally is.
Apocrypha is the world where Hermaeus Mora, Daedric prince of knowledge, exists. And it is full of books and tentacles. SO MANY TENTACLES. I swear, everything there is covered in them. It’s a weird place, but the stuff the developers did with Apocrypha is just amazing. The word “apocrypha” itself comes from Biblical writings that were seen as questionable or heretical, and eventually the word came to mean something was false, spurious, or bad. And based on what I learned about Hermaeus Mora, that makes loads of sense.
The ending to the main quest line was, to me, a little disappointing. You have a great fight, but I was let down by the results and had more questions. Also, I had a strong urge to punch a certain Daedra in the face. You DO get to ride a dragon, and you will have that ability forever now in the form of a shout. It was not as exciting as you would expect something like that to be. It controls very poorly, and I had no idea what I was doing the whole time. I’m interested to see how it will work outside of Solstheim, and that’s something I haven’t had a chance to try yet. Your other shout is some BAD ASS DRAGON ARMOR HELL YES. I am so excited about this because the first time you encounter Miraak in Apocrypha, he rides down on a dragon and has this crazy-awesome-looking armor on, and to say I was impressed is a huge understatement. If I could, I would have just pledged my loyalty to him right there and killed everyone in Solstheim for him. But guess what, now I have that armor, and I am that bad ass. BOOM.
I also want to mention another quest specifically because of how horribly disappointing it was. There is a group of people you interact with a lot called the Skaal (whose culture is all very Native American-influenced) and one of the Skaal’s brothers has gone missing. After asking a few more questions, you discover that he has apparently gone into the wilderness to become a MOTHEREFFING WEREBEAR. That’s right, like a werewolf only a BEAR. Dragonborn, now with 100% more bear. Anyway, you can imagine how psyched I was when I realized I might be able to become a werebear. Unfortunately, the only thing that happens is that said brother will randomly appear and fight you and then you take another stupid note back to the Skaal. I ran across a ruin with a few other werebears hangin’ out, but they would not tell me their werebear secrets, and I had to kill them. It was all very depressing and unfortunate. I demand bear transformations in the next DLC.
Overall, I really enjoyed the six or so hours I have spent in Solstheim. I still have loads of quests to do and plenty of places I haven’t discovered, let alone fully explored. And I have gotten a crapload of good loot. One of the quests also unlocks a new blacksmithing material, so there is potential for some new armor and weaponry. There are a few bugs, although I have only encountered a few. My screen froze quite a bit, to the point that I thought my Xbox had hardlocked and I would have to restart. I also had a weird issue with drauger. They would burst out of their coffins and fall over dead. Which was…nice, I suppose. A bit alarming though. It happened at least five times while I was doing the main storyline. And I have a problem with the “ocean.” It looks like a anthropomorphic blob of jello trying to throw itself against the shoreline. It’s weird. Get to work on your ocean physics, people.
Besides the aforementioned issues and my disappointment in the grand finale of the Dragonborn quest, the DLC is pretty damn great. I have really enjoyed it, and I have a lot more hours to put into the island of Solstheim.
Final Rating: B-
The Skyrim Dragonborn DLC is available on Xbox 360 for 1600 Microsoft points ($20). It will becoming to PS3 and PC in early 2013.