Review: Skyrim DLC (Dragonborn)

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Skyrim’s newest DLC, Dragonborn, takes players to a location that may be familiar to some (but not me).

Bethesda’s official description:

“With this official add-on for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, journey off the coast of Morrowind, to the island of Solstheim. Encounter new towns, dungeons, and quests, as you traverse the ash wastes and glacial valleys of this new land. Become more powerful with shouts that bend the will of your enemies and even tame dragons. Your fate, and the fate of Solstheim, hangs in the balance as you face off against your deadliest adversary – the first Dragonborn.”

Solstheim of Morrowind was last seen in the DLC, “Bloodmoon” for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Personally, I didn’t play ES3, but those that did should find this to be a nostalgic trip with some small reminders of the time when your ES3 character visited the Island.

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Dragonborn starts off with your character being attacked by Cultists, whom you discover are from Solstheim, and sent by someone named Miraak. You’ll charter a boat and sail off towards Morrowind. Once there, you’ll find that Solstheim is a deeply, troubled land. Miraak, the First Dragonborn, has control of Solstheim’s inhabitant’s minds. He is using them to facilitate his return from Hermaeus Mora’s realm, back to Tamriel. It’s up to you, the Last Dragonborn, to stop him.

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As previously mentioned, this DLC adds a whole Island, so you know that you’re going to get a lot of content. There is one major city (Raven Rock) and two smaller cities (Skaal and Tel Mithryn) located in Solstheim. One quest line will gift you with a Manor in Raven Rock, but as far as I can tell you can’t live in the others. Raven Rock is a mining town that is full of Dunmer (Dark Elves) of House Redoran. In case you don’t know, the Dunmer are natives of Morrowind. Skaal is a village on the snowy, Northeast side of the Island, and is inhabited by Nordic Natives (the Skaal). Tel Mithryn is a village of Dunmer from House Telvanni that live in mushroom houses in the Southeast portion of Solstheim. The imaginations of the Skyrim Devs never ceases to amaze me!

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Besides the main quest line, there are lots of new, interesting quests in Dragonborn to keep you busy for hours and hours. I still haven’t completed them all! There are new enemies such as Ash Spawn, Lurkers, Burnt Spriggans, Werebears, Rieklings (they’re like ewok-goblins), and more. Some of these guys are really tough and most are pretty creepy!

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You’ll find new ores, plants, and ingredients. There are new armors and weapons to smith/find/buy: Bonemold, Chitin, Nordic Carved, and Stalhrim. I don’t particularly like the Bonemold or Chitin, but I love the other two. Dragonborn has new companions (but none required for more than a  couple of quests, unlike in Dawnguard), new shouts (some cool ones), and on and on. This DLC has more content than both of the last two DLCs combined. And yes, you can tame and ride dragons. That’s pretty awesome.

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Bottom Line: I’ve said in reviews before that a DLC was “fully loaded” and I retract that statement. THIS DLC is fully loaded. It adds a lot of awesome features and quests. It’s a must play. Where it lacks, in my opinion, is in the story. Dragonborn still gets a 4.3, so don’t get me wrong, it’s a GREAT DLC, it’s just not perfect. I honestly liked Dawnguard better. DG had a long, epic, singular storyline/questline that was just perfect. I loved it. Dragonborn, in comparison, has so much going on, that I kept getting distracted. Taking that further, the main quest line wasn’t that long. The boss fight was slightly difficult, but not near impossible. There’s also an elite boss to fight, but you have to be level 81 to fight him. I can’t tell you what he’s like, because I’m only level 51. I’m not sure if I’ll ever level up high enough for that and that’s kind of frustrating. Anyway, this is me just being a little nit-picky. The DLC is awesome and is a must play. I just think that even though it’s the biggest DLC, it isn’t their best DLC so far. It’s too late for the discount, so if you want to get this DLC, you’ll have to pay the full $20. I’m glad that I got it for $10, but it’s still definitely worth paying full-price.

Rhodes Rating: 87/100

Review: Skyrim DLC (Dawnguard)

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Dawnguard. Now that is the way DLC is supposed to be. For a while there, I wasn’t sure that this day would ever come. Dawnguard was released for X-Box 360 on June 26th, 2012. There was only supposed to be a month of exclusivity for the 360, but Bethesda had trouble getting DG to work on the PS3. Yet, Bethesda didn’t give up, and half a year later, it was finally released onto the Playstation Network. So, was it worth the wait? Hell, yeah it was!

Dawnguard is the kind of fully-loaded DLC that we’ve come to expect from Bethesda. There are twelve quests in the questline and many side missions. It’s only $10 on the PSN this week, so  you may want to act fast and grab it before the price goes up to $20.

Official description from Bethesda:

“The Vampire Lord Harkon has returned to power. By using the Elder Scrolls, he seeks to do the unthinkable – to end the sun itself. Will you join the ancient order of the Dawnguard and stop him? Or will you become a Vampire Lord yourself? Featuring an all new faction questline and locations, the ultimate choice will be yours.”

As the description mentions, Skyrim faces a new threat in the Vampire Lord Harkon. He has read of a prophecy that foretells of a way to merge night and day, a way to end the “tyranny of the sun”. Well, even if that’s possible, that’s just crazy. I chose to join the Dawnguard to stop him. They call the Dawnguard an ancient order, and that’s a very true statement. You’ll find that when you join the DG, that you’re it’s 2nd member. Isran, the leader of the DG, has decided to rebuild the order inside of the old, Fort Dawnguard.

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This is the beginning of a journey that will take you places that you never imagined you would go. Along the way, you’ll meet plenty of interesting characters. You’ll even meet a friendly Falmer! Early on in DG, you’ll befriend a beautiful vampire, Serena, who turns out to be the daughter of Lord Harkon. Is she friend or foe? One would think that she’d be an enemy, since she’s a vampire and you’re in the DG, but you’ll have to find out for yourself! By the way, I’m a married man/werewolf in Skyrim. I would never cheat on Aela the Huntress. However, the next time I play the game, I’m going to be a vampire and marry Serena. She is one of my favorite characters in the game.

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There are new locales that you will visit. There isn’t one specific new world, as I believe is the case with Dragonborn, but there are plenty of new places worked into the current world of Skyrim. Well, you’ll be in Skyrim for the most part. There is one part of the DLC that you travel to another dimension. I want to say more, but I can’t do so without spoiling anything. Here’s a screenshot of one of those places, as a tease:

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Dawnguard adds new enemies such as creepy death hounds, gargoyles, and more. Also, 3 new dragon enemies, and one new dragon ally. There were some pretty intense fights, even for this level 50 Nord, but nothing is too difficult! I thought the final boss fight was especially good!

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In Dawnguard, you’ll discover: two new sets of of words of power, new armor, new pets, new werewolf and vampire perks, new weapons, new conjuration spells, and even an undead horse! There is also a new facial surgeon in Riften, if that’s something you’re into. Personally, I’m pretty secure with how my character looks. One of my favorite new additions? The crossbow. I wasn’t a big fan of archery in the game before, but the crossbow is a LOT of fun.

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From beginning to end, this is just a perfect DLC. Let me tell you why. Dawnguard by itself would score a 4.5 for me. It’s really fun, it’s challenging, and it adds on a ton of content. 4.5 is a near perfect score, but what is it that pushes it over the edge to perfection? It’s glitch-free. That’s how it should be. It may have taken them longer to prepare DG for PS3, but to have it glitch-free on the release date? That goes a long with me. I understand that glitches happen, but what I’m trying to say is that you can SEE that they put hard work into it. They weren’t jacking around for 6 months. They were making a perfect DLC. Bravo, Bethesda. I can’t wait to play it again as a vampire the next time around.

Oh, and one more thing. The Vampires have a moon dial. That’s clever right there. It made me laugh, at least.

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Rhodes Rating: 94/100

Source: Official Skyrim Website

PS. Here’s what’s coming soon on The Rhodes Review:

-Skyrim: Dragonborn Review

-Texas Rangers Preview

-MLB 13 The Show Review

There may be more than that in the very near future, but those are definitely coming very soon.

Review: Skyrim DLC (Hearthfire)



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Surprised. That’s my first emotion after playing Skyrim’s 2nd DLC on PS3. I really wasn’t expecting too much, but Bethesda proved me wrong.  There’s a lot of fun compacted into this $5 (that I got for 2.50) DLC. I’m the type of guy who likes to do more than just go dungeon diving. I enjoy the full Skyrim experience. Well, except for The Dark Brotherhood. I destroyed them, instead of joining them. Anyway, back to Hearthfire. Hearthfire isn’t exactly your run of the mill Elder Scrolls’ DLC. You don’t travel to another land and you don’t get a new questline. Yet, Hearthfire still delivers plenty of content.

The DLC starts out with a courier delivering a few messages to you. From the messages you find out three things.

1. You can now change up your current house/hold to have a child’s bedroom. Example: I replaced my alchemy lab in Whiterun with a child’s bedroom.

2. You can now purchase land in Farkreath, though there are plots for sale near Dawnstar and Morthal as well.

3. You can now adopt children, thanks to new management at the orphanage. I’m not sure what happens here if you didn’t kill “Grelod the Kind”.

I immediately set off for Farkreath, where I was already a Thane, to purchase land. If you’re not a Thane, then you must become one. Here’s the first part that exceeded my expectations. I was only expecting to be able to build a house in town, but I was wrong. In Hearthfire, you get your own compound, and is shown on the map as a town. So, from there you set off to start building your home.

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The process of building your home is very fun and just the right amount of sophistication. By that, I mean that it’s not too simple, nor is it too complicated. Construction time is also just the right amount of time invested. You don’t want it to be so time consuming that it’s no fun. The process is like this: make construction plans, gather resources, construct your house, furnish your house. Your home starts out as just a simple house, but like I said, you could build it into a compound. It’s not called Lakeside Manor, for nothing! You have an entry hall, a main hall, and three wings to add on (from a choose of 9 wings.

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The level of customization that they allow is astounding. By the time you’re done, Cribs: Skyrim will want to feature your home! Take one look at this screenshot and you’ll see how comfy your home can become:

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After I was done furnishing my home, I decided to move my wife, Aela the Huntress in with me, but that mansion still felt a bit empty. That’s where that 3rd feature kicks in. It was time to adopt a child.

Back when I assassinated Grelod the Kind, I remember thinking how sad it was that the children weren’t allowed to get adopted from the Orphanage. What’s up with that? Well, Hearthfire changes that. It allows you to adopt two children and I’ve got to say that it was pretty neat seeing their faces light up when they got adopted. You can even get them presents. It’s a very cool feature.

If your home is still feeling a bit empty, Hearthfire also allows you to bring home an animal follower and make it your pet. I chose Vigilance the Dog.

Yet even after all of that, there are still two more mansions that I can build. I’m sure I will build them eventually, but Lakeside Mansion is enough for me right now, especially because I spent most of my septims in building and filling it!

So, what are you waiting for? This is a great DLC and you can get it for only $2.50 on the Playstation Network this week. You can’t beat that. It was disappointing that it took this long for Bethesda to release the DLC, but they came through. It’s here and it’s on sale. You can’t ask for much more! Go get it!

Rhodes Rating: 84/100

PS. Have you heard about Sony giving 10 dollars in credit to loyal customers?

If not, check it out here: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/392424/sony-gifts-free-psn-credit-to-loyal-customers/?cid=OTC-RSS&attr=CVG-General-RSS&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

As it turns out, I had $10 waiting in my inbox, as well. I’m pretty happy. It’s great customer service and that means next week’s DLC for Skyrim, Dawnguard, will be FREE. Thanks, Playstation!

P.S.S. I’ll be reviewing Dawnguard and Dragonborn next week. I wanted to do Dawnguard, before Dragonborn, because I’m weird like that.