Title: The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Dragonborn

Publisher: Bethesda

Developer: Bethesda

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Release Date: Out Now (Xbox 360); Spring 2013 (PS3 & PC)

Dragonborn is the latest add-on to be released for Skyrim, following on from the Dawnguard and Hearthfire expansions, and it marks the most substantial and impressive extra content to be released yet, while also showing the true potential of what developers can achieve through DLC.

Dragonborn introduces an entirely new storyline and location to the already massive world of Skyrim. Once installed, the DLC rapidly makes itself known as the next time the player visits a town they will be immediately attacked by a pair of cultists. It emerges that these cultists are servants of Miraak, the original Dragonborn who seeks to return to power on the isle of Solstheim. This is the starting point for the story which sees the player travelling to Solstheim to foil Miraak’s nefarious schemes.

Solstheim, which was last seen in the Bloodmoon DLC for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is a very welcome addition to Skyrim, boasting a size comparable to one of Skyrim’s holds and enough quests and side quests to match the length of a full release game. Compared to Skyrim, Solstheim is a unique location with its own distinctive culture, architecture and geographical environment. Solstheim’s terrain is a synthesis of Skyrim and Morrowind, with snow-capped peaks and pine forests in the north around the Skaal village, an ashen volcanic landscape around the port of Raven Rock and giant inhabitable mushrooms in the dark elf settlement of Tel Mithryn. You’ll also get to visit Apocrypha, a plane of Oblivion inhabited by Lovecraftian abominations.

Dragonborn also adds a significant number of new armours, ores, potion ingredients and creatures to the world of Skyrim. Most of these creatures are entirely new additions such as werebears and lurkers, though some return from Bloodmoon such as the rieklings, a diminutive goblin-like race who speak in bizarre broken English. The only new feature which is actually a disappointment is the ability to ride dragons. In theory this is a wonderful idea, but in practice it has been implemented in a very constrained way which fails to live up to expectations. This single shortcoming should not detract from the rest of what is an engaging and enjoyable experience however.

Overall, Dragonborn is an excellent piece of DLC which will definitely enhance your Skyrim experience. With an intriguing story, a brilliant villain and a rich island to explore, Dragonborn pushes all of the right buttons. Already available for Xbox 360 owners to enjoy, it can only be hoped that Bethesda will soon open up the experience for PC and PS3 players as well.

By Steven Balbirnie