Arriving more than a year after the initial release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the latest downloadable content (DLC) pack for the videogame proves that Bethesda Softworks may have stumbled with the idea of add-on content on consoles once upon a time, but are now leading the way in how the distribution model should be handled. More than this however, it proves that many publishers are far too quick to dismiss their titles in the modern industry, and that there is plenty of life left in those mountainous ranges capping the northern line of Tamriel.
The DLC that has been made available for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim thus far has been both experimental and eye-opening; with players able to radically adapt the character they first created or begin fresh with far more options available to them. Dragonborn is designed as an expansion for those who have already completed the main quest line included in the original videogame, and takes players far away to brand new shores. Once installed, a random encounter with some cultists will lead the player to the Windhelm docks, where locating Gjalund Salt-Sage will allow for passage to Solstheim for a small fee. This small island is a brand new location, and the venue for all of Dragonborn’s new activities.
Arriving in Raven Rock the player is still left largely without clue as to how the mission will proceed, but is already aware that this is a pre-emptive strike; a just for revenge rather than a moral victory. Having discovered the involvement of one Miraak, hunting him down is your first job. Upon discussing the situation with the locals you soon discover something fishy is going on and set out to investigate.
Dragonborn is not merely a new questline – a new series of checkboxes for the player to mark off their list one-by-one – this is an entirely new land filled with new characters, locations, items, enemies, finishing moves and much more. Dragonborn follows the traditions established by expansion packs rather than modern short-term DLC plans, and for that it’s every bit the package it should be.
With the island of Solstheim suggested to be under Morrowind rule rather than that of Skyrim, the Dragonborn DLC effectively emulates the look of the third title in the series through the use of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s already existing art. While the grey ash covered floor and consistent use of wooden mine-like framework will allow many players to feel as though they’ve returned home, it does highlight many of the subtle advancements that have been made in the years since, with its lightly wooded areas and flat landscapes.
Along with the recently released RAGE DLC, The Scorchers, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dragonborn proves that a videogame can remain relevant more than a year after release; and in these times where software can often become disposable even a week after arrival this is surely the finest mission statement that a DLC pack could possibly have.