Before I bequeath to you my knowledge of the Skyrim Dragonborn DLC, I present to you an image. Imagine, if you will, an obelisk surrounded by NPCs stuck in the “animation not found” Jesus Christ on an invisible cross position, their mouths moving as they speak in droning voices about how their “idle hands will find work once more,” and how they “serve their master.” Imagine walking through a field of these people, seeing their eyes follow you, but making no other movements. Bethesda, though I typically insult you for your horrendously buggy games, that… that truly had an impact on me. In fact, when I fixed the animation bug and got them to use the proper obelisk chiseling animation, I was slightly disappointed. But that’s all rather off-topic.
Welcome to Solstheim, a small island off the coast of Morrowind. Here, the most common characters are Dark Elves, and half the entire place is covered with ashes. Ash spawn will try to burn you, giant floating netch will whip you with their tentacles, and the little ash hopper bugs will bite you a little bit. Also spiders.
Right when you get off the boat, you’re directed towards the obelisk I mentioned in my horror-esque introductory sequence. Apparently, some being named Miraak is infecting the minds of the people of Solstheim. He’s the guy who sent those cultists after you. You remember, the ones who called you the false Dragonborn? You can already tell Miraak’s a dingus. Worst of all, once you read Hermaeus Mora’s first black book and meet him, he’ll start stealing your dragon souls whenever you finish off one of the giant lizards. Nasty tentacle-spewing bastard.
The questline isn’t all that long. In fact, the DLC isn’t that huge altogether. I’ve played for maybe three days and finished all there is to finish. According to the wiki, at least. So, here’s what happens: Meet Miraak, get overpowered. Run around the Solstheim, get the Bend Will Thu’um. Enter Miraak’s temple, kick his ass, and win. He’s actually quite an epic boss, one of the more difficult. His level scales up to 150, so even if you’re endgame, prepare for some pain. He shouts more than you do/can. His equipment is okay if you like tentacles and face covering masks.
Regarding content, there’s a fair bit to collect. There are a load of enchanted weapons and armor, all available through exploration and questing. The DLC introduces a new crafting material called Stalhrim, which is enchanted ice. Whether by looting or crafting, you can obtain a full set of heavy and/or light armor, and a full set of weapons. Same goes for Nordic, though there’s no light armor variant. Chitin (light/heavy) and bonemold (heavy only) armors look absolutely kickass, which is why they’re so damned popular on modding sites.
Magic-wise, expect nothing but gimmicks. I mean that in a good way. Poison runes, spells that seal your enemies in ash, whirlwind magic that flings people around, and the overpowered Chaos enchantment. It’s got a 50% chance for each element to deal damage. With 100 enchanting and all relevant perks, you have the potential to deal over 300 damage per swing. Pure pain.
Worth it for 20 bucks? Sure thing. If you get it on the PC, I highly recommend downloading all the unofficial patches, though. They make everything a lot better. Considering Bethesda’s issue with glitches. The more they add, the worse it gets. Sorry, console players. Prepare for some shenanigans.
Jeremy Parish didn’t think the Dragonborn DLC was absolutely fabulous, but was just about worth the price. The dragon-riding is a fancy but unnecessary gimmick, and all the Black Book quests give you abilities that fall just under the line of overpowered. But hey, you paid for it. Here’s the alternate review so you can enjoy a more subjective take on this tentacle-filled DLC: http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9116790