Skyrim: Dragonborn – Detail Round Up!
A few days ago Skyrim’s third and much anticipated DLC title ‘Dragonborn’ was released on Xbox Live, with Bethesda calling it their best piece of downloadable content yet. Xbox 360 players everywhere were at the mercy of their internet speed as they eagerly waited to download and play the latest plugin, which promises some meaty additions to the already epic vanilla game.
The setting for much of the titles new gameplay is on the island of Solstheim, a location veteran Elderscrolls fans previously visited back in 2003, during Morrowind’s werewolf themed expansion ‘Bloodmoon’. Like Bloodmoon, Skyrim’s Dragonborn will offer hours of fresh gameplay; including a new main quest line and a plethora of new equipment, shouts, enemies, locations, and dungeons, as well as an enormous new landmass to explore – which is already being compared favourably to Oblivion’s expansion ‘The Shivering Isles’. Details and spoilers are coming thick and fast, so if you’re on the PS3 or PC (which have to wait until ‘early’ next year to get their hands on the content) and want everything to remain a surprise, then look away now!
Quests: It was lightly gleaned at during the trailer, but the main quest pits you against the ‘first’ Dragonborn, the infamous Miraak and his team of cultists. Miraak used to be a Dragon Priest back in the day, but turned on his evil dragon masters, choosing to feed on their souls instead (much like you do!) in a quest for his own personal power. During this time he came to serve Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Lord of Knowledge and Fate (who you may have already met briefly in Skyrim, in the form of the ‘Wretched Abyss’) who helped him hone his powers. After Miraak’s death he went to live on the realm of Apocrypha, a plane of a Oblivion, until the time was right for his return – which is where the plot begins. As well as the lengthy main questline, there’s over 20+ other quests of varying sizes (7 of which make up the ‘Black Book’ storyline) including one entitled ‘The Ebony Warrior’ which you’ll have to reach level 81 in which to start.
Locations: The main location will of course be the island of Solstheim, its size roughly equal to one of Skyrim’s holds, and crammed with plenty of new locations to discover. Raven Rock will be the first inhabited place you visit, a large city primarily inhabited by Dark Elves, complete with Dunmer architecture that will be familiar to Morrowind fans. Skaal village makes a return too, along with several other prominent locations. Plenty of dungeons, Dwemer ruins , forts, caves, new standing stones, and mines dot the landscape, rejuvenating the fun of exploration for those that have seen every nook and cranny of Skyrim’s (estimated) 14 square miles. Roleplayers will also be thrilled to learn that Dragonborn offers two new player home options, a Dunmer Manor in Raven Rock, and a Telvanni style ‘mushroom’ home in the city of Tel Mithryn. Players will also get to venture into Hermaeus Mora’s realm of Apocrypha, a sickly green land of curious structures and tentacles, just as otherworldly and impressive as previously visited Oblivion planes.
Weapons & Armor: If there’s one thing the new DLC isn’t short of, it’s new weapons and armour. Craftable armor sets include the awesome ‘Stalhrim’ heavy armor (the ethereal and icey looking set featured in the trailer), the traditional looking Nordic ‘carved’ heavy armour, the slightly rustic looking Chitin light armor, and the previously seen Dunmer styled ‘Bonemold’ heavy armor. Matching weapons for both the Stalhrim and Nordic carved sets can also be created.
Findable armor include Blackguard’s armor, Deathbrand armor and Morag Tong Armor – the latter of which will be particularly welcomed by Dunmer lore junkies and those playing an assassin build. Dragonborn also introduces some new unique weapons to the world of Skyrim, all of which are pretty cool. The Bloodskal Blade is a sinister looking two-handed sword that fires blades of light during power attacks, the Champion’s Cudgel looks to be an intimidating looking warhammer, and Miraak’s sword looks to be particularly impressive – aesthetically straight out of Apocrypha, with a creepy tentacle that leaps out of the blade as you swing it. Soulrender, Bloodscythe and Stormfang are other other unique arms up for grabs.
Dragon mask collectors will be pleased to hear that two new masks are available, both Zahkriisos and Dukaan, the former enhancing shocks spells and increasing shock resistance, and the latter working in the same way but for ice magic.
New Shouts: For those especially fond of a good thu’um, the four new dragon shouts that you can learn are as follows:
Battle Fury — “Your Thu’um enchants your nearby allies’ weapons, allowing them to attack faster.”
Dragon Aspect – “Once a day, take on the mighty aspect of a dragon, delivering colossal blows, with an armored hide, and more powerful shouts.”
Bend Will – “Your voice bends the very stones to your will. As it gains power, animals, people and even dragons must do your bidding.”
Cyclone – “Your Thu’um creates a whirling cyclone that sows chaos among your enemies.”
Spells, Powers & Enchantments: With all the new kit available to warrior builds, it’s only fair that mages get some new stuff too; and Dragonborn certainly has plenty of new features for those with a penchant for spell casting. New conjuration spells include ‘Ash Guardian’, ‘Ash Spawn’ and ‘Seeker’ which all summon useful familiars, whilst ‘bound daggers’, as the name suggests, summons some lovely daggers all the way from Oblivion in your time of need. A new ‘Whirlwind’ cloak spell, ‘Poison Rune’ and ‘Frenzy Rune’ spells also make their debut.
There’s plenty of new powers available too, most of which are offered as rewards during the ‘Black Book’ quest line mentioned above. The powers and their effects (as written in game) are as follows:
Mora’s Agony – Summons a field of writhing tentacles that poisons foes.
Mora’s Grasp – Freezes the target between Oblivion and Tamriel for 30 seconds, making them immune to all damage.
Mora’s Boon – Fully restores your Health, Magicka and Stamina.
Scholar’s Insight - Reading skill books gives you an extra Skill Point
Companion’s Insight - Your attacks, shouts, and destruction spells do no damage to your followers.
Lover’s Insight - Do 10% more damage and get 10% better prices from people of the opposite sex.
Along with new spells and powers, a new item that’ll be coveted by mages everywhere is the all new unenchanted staff. There are four different versions available (one for each school of magic) each giving the player the ability to place their own choice of enchantments onto their staves, instead of relying on pre-existing ones. An obvious and well overdue addition perhaps, but no less welcome.
There’s also a couple of new enchantments to apply to your equipment, one of which is the previously seen water walking enchantment (along with a potion that grants you the same ability), so you can become Tamriel’s very own Jesus, almost.
Perk Respec: This is perhaps a controversial addition in the eyes of old school Elderscrolls fans, but a welcome one for the many players out there who have regretted perk decisions, which up until now (unless you’re on the PC and have access to the console) have always been undoable. Upon completion of the main quest line, you’re granted access to an area in the game which allows you to clear out entire perk trees (having the points reimbursed) for the cost of one dragon-soul per tree. This can be done any number of times, allowing players to completely change their characters build, or to simply ditch that one perk they regret. Health, stamina and magicka levels however, stay the same.
Dragon Taming/Riding: After seeing footage of a character on the back of a dragon during the Dragonborn trailer, smart fans were reluctant to get their hopes up in anticipation of some Dova flying fun – and rightly so. Technology restricting, (or at least on the consoles) the likelihood of being able to fly over such a huge open world without the game crashing (and the console exploding) seemed an unlikely prospect – and it turns out it was. Instead, and very disappointingly, players are only able to ‘tame’ a dragon with a shout, and then hop onboard whilst the dragon takes off and flies wherever IT wants to go – as opposed to where you want to go. Unlike with other mounts, you have zero control. You can command the dragon to attack enemies however, which may prove useful, though it’s hard to imagine how when you can’t control where you go. Another ‘feature’ of this so called dragon riding malarkey is the ability to fast travel whilst on the back of a dragon and see a pretty landing animation, however this is by no means quicker (in real life time at least) than fast travelling whilst on foot – rendering it completely useless. Sorry!
Creatures: Many of the new creatures featured in Dragonborn were previously seen in Morrowind, and it’s good to see them again after almost 10 years, beautifully redesigned. The Goblinesque Rieklings make a fresh appearance (along with their hog-mounted superiors) as do the Netch, Ash Spawns and Seekers – all of which you’ll no doubt enjoy killing with your flashy new armor and weapons. The werebear makes it’s debut, however a lot of players have been disappointed about not being able to become one, as they’d hoped.
So there you have it, a relatively brief overview of the vast amount of content that Dragonborn has to offer. If you own a PS3 or a PC and you’re suffering with post-spoiler shame because you couldn’t wait until Dragonborns release early next year, then banging your head against a solid wall until you forget all details is the recommended cure.
There’s still a mammoth in the room…
Despite the excitement felt by fans across all platforms, there still remains a very large mammoth in room – and it stinks. PS3 players are still to hear whether there’s any intention of bringing the long overdue Dawnguard and Hearthfire expansions to their platform, and Bethesda are as reluctant as ever to break their silence and be straight with their fans. After months of struggling to get the content to work on the PS3 (and drafting in Sony to hold their hands) the last few weeks had seen a glimmer of hope that Dawnguard might finally make its journey through the land of cable broadband and into our hungry DLC deprived Playstations. Pete Hines (Bethesda’s PR guy, who ironically doesn’t usually tell the public anything except “No news yet”) had hinted via his twitter account that they almost had it working. However, recent tweets from Mr Hines indicate that their attentions deviated away from the anticipated vampire adventure to deliver Dragonborn to the PS3 instead – causing players to wonder whether Dawnguard has been abandoned altogether and if this is an attempt to avoid further backlash. Given Dragonborn’s size and complexity compared to Dawnguard, it would be an unusual outcome. What’s more, Bethesda were bold with their announcement that Dragonborn would be coming to the PS3, which certainly indicates that any problems they had with adding DLC to the Playstation have now been solved. Either way, at least PS3 fans will finally have something to look forward to whilst they wait with baited breath for Dawnguard and Hearthfire’s fate.