Disclaimer: The opinions and viewpoints expressed by the various authors (including me) do not necessarily reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Neoseeker.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim add-ons have been hitting the Xbox 360 first for the past few months, leaving PS3 and PC players out in the cold, waiting for exclusivity to wear of. Well, that period is coming to an end for one of the game's best (and still most anticipated) DLCs to date, Dragonborn.
Dawnguard, the previous story-driven DLC, was met with mixed reception. Some liked it, others found it rather underwhelming, yadda yadda. Understandable. While I'm generally of the belief that everything is subjective and no one has to like anything, however, that hardly applies to Dragonborn. This is, by far, some of the best Elder Scrolls I've played since Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's Shivering Isles. As the story goes, players are confronted by an evil cult of sorts that seem convinced you're some kind of sham -- as in not Dragonborn. After they fail to kill you, events will lead your Dovahkiin to the distant island of Solstheim, where we're given a current-gen taste of Dunmer culture.
Not that most of you need me telling you how great a throwback to Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind can be. But as you prepare your bodies for what's to come, consider the following here... and reasons you really shouldn't pass this DLC up.
1. You have to know you're the Dragonborn. Okay, this might sound a little weird, but what I mean is you do need to have progress in the core campaign. You know, the one where you find out you're Dovahkiin. See, this is actually a relevant point because a lot of people don't really bother with the main story in Bethesda games, even on their first playthrough. That's part of the magic, really, getting lost in the content the moment you leave that first town.
The same thing can be said of Dragonborn. Once you have the DLC, you can actually visit Solstheim by hopping a boat in Windhelm without triggering the new campaign. I actually did just this, having gone with a newer file that had less progress in the Skyrim story. While I did enjoy the hours and hours of wandering and side-questing, I'd wondered why the hell the DLC hadn't given me a plotline to follow. Turns out it was because my Dragonborn hadn't passed her exam up in High Hrothgar yet. Sure, she'd absorbed a couple dragon souls and saved Whiterun the one time, but apparently she wasn't actually sure enough, so the evil cultists had no idea either.
2. You're not in Skyrim anymore. Solstheim may be within traveling distance of Skyrim, but you best be prepared for a culture shock once you step off that boat. Gone are the green landscapes of Skyrim's temperate zones, and the snow is nowhere to be found unless you do some more exploring on the island. Greeting you at first glance is a land of ash, and homes that look more like burrows -- or carapace.
That's not really the only non-Skyrim place either. Oh no, if you're a fan of Daedric realms, then you're going to have a ton of fun with Dragonborn. I won't mention which Lord pops up, but suffice to say, s/he's got some crazy sh*t to show you. Not to mention some really nice perks. Either way, the change in scenery is seriously welcome, as beautiful as Skyrim is. It's a wonder what this new locale does in terms of revitalizing an old game -- something that Dawnguard didn't succeed nearly so well at.
3. Silt Striders are awesome. Some of you may not know what a Silt Strider is. That's about to change with Dragonborn, at least to some extent. The problem here is that by the Fourth Era, Morrowind's already been through hell, and most of these giant sand ticks are gone thanks to a volcanic phenomenon. The one that pops up in the Skyrim DLC is more of an Easter Egg for players who're well-versed in Elder Scrolls lore, but Bethesda did pop an NPC right next to it for those who are less aware.
Whether or not you already knew what a Strider is, here's an awesome fan-created video showing them off (plus some Netches):
Note that I'm not going to spoil the surprise in Dragonborn by putting up the exact thing I'm referring to. I will say, however, that you don't get to ride the Striders around in the DLC. There, I've saved you from crushing disappointment.
4. That's no werewolf... it's a wereBEAR! Skyrim has werewolves, but did you know that Elder Scrolls lore includes other forms of lycanthrope? The "beast" races are supposedly less susceptible to this disease, but they can still contract it. Argonians, for instance, can become werecrocs, and Khajiit can become werelions. All those aside, you've got werebears, who actually make an appearace in Dragonborn -- yay! Can you be one? No. CRUSHING DISAPPOINTMENT. Are they even different from the werewolves at all aside from appearance? Nope. Why even bring them up, then? Because they just look really cool.
No reason is really given for why the werebears are contained in Solstheim and not found in other parts of Skyrim. There is mention of the Daedric Lord Hircine once using the island as his hunting grounds, but the in-game lore doesn't really make any sort of connection there.
If you're going werebear hunting, your best bet is to head northeast. These guys are usually seen in packs of three, though it should be noted that a Frost Troll can take them on without any problems; I've seen the bodies.
5. You will want a Morrowind remake. It's difficult to really put in words just how much nostalgia Dragonborn carries. Even if you've never touched Elder Scrolls III, just running through Solstheim will somehow instill that sense of longing in you. Longing and loss, as you realize you're looking at a remnant of a lost civilization whose glory had long since passed, never to return. Fan remasters and mods aside, a remake would be an absolute dream, especially for those hoping to reexperience a great classic. You know, minus the perma-dead NPCs and enemies. For Elder Scrolls newbies, it would make for a wonderful primer to The Elder Scrolls Online... Heck, maybe the MMO will spark renewed interest in seeing Morrowind remade. Still, the DLC is remarkable in the way it seems to evoke that nostalgic feeling in anyone who plays through it, just by offering us a glimpse of Dunmer culture.
Then again, I could just be delusional with fandom.
Follow Lydia on Twitter @RabidChinaGirl or check out her news and reviews every day here on Neoseeker.