Dec 162012
 

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It is a sad but true fact that a Dovahkiin’s work is never done. First, you had to juggle my time between saving the world from Alduin the World Eater and choosing a side in a civil war. Then, you were faced with the tough decision of squashing a vampire uprising or subjugating the living citizens of Skyrim. After all that, you somehow managed to build an impressive lakefront home and start a family. Now, with the release of the newest add-on pack Dragonborn, a new and malicious force is threatening Tamriel, and it is up to you to stop it.


The Good
If you read my review of the previous DLC pack for Skyrim, Hearthfire, you may remember that it was plagued with problems from the beginning. Lack of any real direction from the game or its NPCs forced me to scour the Internet for answers as to how to even get started on the quest line this pack added to the game. Thankfully, this problem didn’t rear its ugly head again in Dragonborn. After the pack was downloaded and installed, I headed to a city and events of the main quest began to unfold immediately.

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Dragonborn will take you to places such as this, where wizards live in giant mushroom houses.

Dragonborn takes you to a whole new area of Solstheim, which is an island closer to Morrowind than Skyrim. This island is fairly substantial, so it takes a bit of time to traverse on foot. While this may seem daunting to a newer Skyrim player, it felt like a welcome addition because it made the game seem brand new again. Not only was the terrain new, but enemies were almost all new as well. The main quest pits you against a brand new foe, who could potentially be your deadliest enemy yet; the first Dragonborn. Finding out his motives and learning how to stop him was not only fun, but also involved traveling to some delightfully creepy and gross locales.

The newness didn’t stop with terrain and enemies. You can now tame and ride a dragon, there are two new materials available from which players can craft new weapons and armor, and there are also several new shouts with which to experiment.. Aside from the main quest, there are scads of side quests that will keep even the most focused player sidetracked and occupied for a few hours. Overall, 10-15 hours of playtime is included in the main quest with much more in side quests. That’s not too shabby, considering there are few other forms of entertainment you can do for less than $2.00 an hour.

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Confirmed: baddies like this will be all up in your grill while playing Dragonborn.

The Bad
Dragonborn was freezing quite frequently in the first couple hours of playing. This may have been a problem unique to my particular combination of game disc, DLC files and console (it’s not like Skyrim never froze on me before), but it’s worth noting. The only other real complaint is that something so amazing as dragon mounts was included, but the feature was hobbled severely. You can only tame a wild dragon and then fly to a fast travel location on your map. This is a fun new feature, but it would have been preferable to be able to summon a dragon at a whim, and then be able to fly it anywhere. Thankfully, the beauty of this generation of games is that features can be changed just as easily as they were added.

I was pretty hyped for Skyrim, but if you had told me a year ago that I’d still be playing it now, I probably would’ve released a substantial belly laugh in your face. However, if Bethesda keeps releasing great content like Dragonborn, then I could see my relationship with the game lasting at least another year. That’s because Dragonborn isn’t just a little DLC pack that adds a few new features; it is a full-fledged expansion just like in the old days of PC gaming. There is a whole new map to fill out with locations as you explore, new enemies, and oodles of new quests. If it’s been a while since your last adventure in Tamriel, I suggest you get a glass of salt water and gargle to prepare your th’um, because there is a whole new corner of the world out there for you waiting to hear you shout.

Pros: This is the first fully realized “expansion” for Skyrim, and it is sure to sink its hooks into you if you’re a fan of the game.
Cons: There seems to be a glitch that causes frequent game freezes in the beginning; there were some missed opportunities when designing the dragon riding mechanics.
Verdict: If you have been dying for some newness in the world of Skyrim, then you definitely need to pickup this expansion.

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