Skyrim and the DLC Return


Skyrim is just as I remembered it. The sky is overcast and full of dragons, the mountains snow-capped and the rivers overflowing with mead. Skeletons are restless, Eorlund Gray-Mane is still fond of praising the gods, and Lydia is as lovely and obedient as ever. Doors open slowly, and sometimes not at all, and the arrows I dropped back in 2011 still litter the pavement outside my homestead. All is as it should be, only now I have new lands to discover, beasts to slay, children to adopt and houses to build.

Bethesda finally released the PS3 Skyrim downloadable content in February, the oldest of which had been available on other platforms for almost nine months. Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn are serving as the perfect excuse to spend another fifty hours in a game that I hadn't touched for a year (you can find my original review here). Despite a year of patches, Skyrim is still as glitchy as it is wonderful, full of Alpine sunsets and floating goats and plagued by incessant load screens and frequent crashes, yet my wanderlust ensures that I keep slogging on regardless.

Despite its technical failings, there are few, if any other digital spaces I'd rather explore, spending time slaying, creating, conversing and trying to kiss Lydia. Even ignoring the DLC, there is still so much left to do, and the outstanding trophies from my first hundred hours lend structure to a world that can sometimes overwhelm. I've sucked down all the wordy shouts I can find, escaped from jail and battered an inn-keep with a fish, though unfortunately the platinum is off the table, thanks to some missing Daedric items.

I've yet to touch the Dawnguard expansion, as vampires are rubbish, but I've experienced much of Dragonborn and Hearthfire. Dragonborn opens up a brand new island, Solstheim, full of unfamiliar flora, fauna, and a meaty quest line. You can ride dragons, forge new armour, battle subterranean mecha-twats, hang out with home-invasion goblins and immerse yourself in a culture that differs to that of the mainland. Hearthfire is far more limited, but it satisfies my overwhelming urge to make cabinets and fill them with children. Building a house and starting a family adds yet another dimension to a game that was never short on distractions.


It's unusual for me to return to a game after an extended absence - once the box goes back on the shelf it usually stays there, no matter how fond of it I may be. I was counting on Dragonborn and co. to bring Skyrim out of retirement, and that is exactly what it’s done. I rarely purchase extra content, though I will make an exception for true expansions such as Dragonborn; variations on existing missions or modes, and a pack of colourful new trousers are of little interest.

Burnout Paradise and Red Dead Redemption are the perfect examples of great games that were made even better by new content, content that became an integral part of the full experience. Big Surf Island was an irresistible new playground, and Red Dead Redemption kept plying us with new, free content. And let us not forget the hugely entertaining Undead Nightmare, which added humour and a splash of supernatural to the Wild West without affecting the more serious tone of the main narrative. These additions kept me coming back months, and even years after I had first moved on.

As I push forward with Skyrim, I'm also considering revisiting a few other games, instead of moving onto the latest shinnies. I've let a number of high profile new titles pass me by this year and I’m in no great rush to catch up on what I've missed. I'm not sure if this says more about my current approach to gaming or the quality of the latest releases. I have a hankering for singing and scratching my way through DJ Hero 1 & 2 yet again and I'm considering a full Mass Effect run-through with a brand new Shepard. I never finished Mass Effect, something that I hope to remedy with its appearance on PSN; I can't get enough of Mass Effect 2 and would like to play three again, encouraged by the Normandy knees-up in the Citadel DLC. I'm very much looking forward to downing some space whiskeys, playing strip poker with Wrex and discovering where Miranda keeps her wallet. I still have delusions of a successful return to Dark Souls, and am even trying to enlist my wife into a pass-the-controller nightmare. I thought I'd moved on, but a bizarre dream where I was playing Dark Souls with Dennis Rodman has me mulling yet another ill-fated attempt to re-join the dead.

I was excited for the first half of 2013, but this new found desire for relative familiarity has taken precedence. Perhaps I'm starting to tire of the constant turnover of new games, rushing through the latest title so I can move onto the next, or maybe I'm being subconsciously frugal in preparation for PlayStation 4 bankruptcy. No, I think I just really like Skyrim.

Comments

  1. Every time I think of Skyrim I get a little upset. I loved the game but after losing my save file a while back I have not had the desire to get back into it. Maybe someday. Its funny you mention Mass Effect. I know a few other people that have recently started replaying the full series from the beginning. Seems like fun but I have so many other games on my pile to get to list that it might be sometime before I decide to get back into that series. Though I do want to try out the new DLC.

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    1. I love Skyrim, but don't think I'd start back from the beginning. That's a long slog.

      I didn't try any of the ME3 DLC the first time around, but would definitely get it all if I played through again.

      Cheers

      Delete
  2. Daydream Drooler24 March 2013 at 00:20

    Good times in Skyrim but I couldn't force myself back there. I picked up Dragonborn and at first I jumped right in, soon I realized it was just more, go talk to this dude, go kill that guy. While I wasn't all that interested, I would say those who love Skyrim would find their money well spent here. I was looking forward to building some grand house but with the lack of interesting following Dragonborn, I just couldn't justify a purchase.
    I recently got back into ME, I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth after the fans decided to ruin the experience. I found nothing wrong with the end of ME3, not saying it was a great ending, not by any stretch of the word, I was simply satisfied. Having said that, I've finally gone back to ME1 and after quite the learning curve finally finished my 6th run to have 3 complete files to import into ME2. I'm very happy an have found a new love for the series all over again, I eagerly await ME3 and all its DLC!

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    1. I think my year away from Skyrim helped. Had I jumped straight into the DLC after finishing the game, perhaps I wouldn't be enjoying it quite as much.

      Sixth run? Wow! Why six? A different Shepard type for each?

      Cheers

      Delete
    2. Daydream Drooler24 March 2013 at 07:06

      My first run was just a regular run, just enjoying the game for what it is. My second and third were NG+'s for the difficulty trophies, then I had to do another run to do ever side mission and get everything I could for my core file. Then I did a renegade run and a paragon run. So now I have my core file with all the choices I would make, a full paragon run and full renegade run... yea, I'm that insane, lol

      Delete
  3. I actually just did the same thing recently only with Fallout New Vegas since the Ultimate Edition was $20. Then I did the same with 3 for those three DLC pieces I'm missing. I'll probably wait until Skyrim gets a GOTY edition before I play that, fantasy is just less interesting than a post nuclear wasteland.

    The newest Mass Effect DLC is fantastic and will definitely be a GOTY nominee for me (first time I've even considered DLC for it), though I recommend you either play it before or after you start the trilogy up. It feels a little out of place as part of Shepard's journey, but as a side story that is basically satire, it's exactly what DLC should be. Also, when you restart I REALLY recommend you go with a female Shepard this time. Jennifer Hale is just so much better than the male Shepard's voice actor and it's kind of unique to have a woman lead a sci-fy epic.

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    1. Yeah, I might play Citadel before I do another run through. I like that they have gone for something a bit more light hearted for the final DLC. May well go for an evil, female shepard this time. It would be good to have a completely different experience the second time around.

      Cheers

      Delete
  4. I had been debating on whether or not if I should buy Skyrim again. After finishing it I traded it in because it left such a sour taste in my mouth. I decided against it. Good thing too because it apparently left such a sour taste that I not only traded it in but also deleted my save file.

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    1. That's no good!

      Skyrim rarely forces you to stick to the narrative, so if you were to play it again you could just concerntrate on the stuff that you enjoy, not the things that made you delete your save!

      Cheers

      Delete
    2. The problem is what upset me so much. It wasn't the story or game play. It was the bugs. Don't want to rehash everything but I have never been more frustrated with a game in my life. The game would literally become unplayable at points.

      I am thinking about building a pc and if I do I can see myself picking it up again. Then again I might not. I am getting more and more frustrated with where the industry is headed. The whole who cares if it's not finished or glitchy as hell lets release it anyway attitude the industry has now is really pissing me off. We are seeing it more and more. I need to start voting with dollar more.

      Rant over. Sorry about that.

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    3. No problem. The glitches and performance issues on the PS3 are unforgivable; there are some nights where I want to play Skyrim but won't because i'm not willing to spend such a significant chunk of my available time resetting freezes or sitting through loading screens.

      Thinking of keeping a record of all the downtime in a one hour session. Would be interesting to see just how much time is wasted waiting.

      Cheers

      Delete
  5. I often replay games, but can't think of too many DLCs I played long after release. Maybe it's my lack of rpg playing. Big Surf Island was quite fantastic though.

    I am going to have to tell my brother about this Skyrim DLC. He hasn't been playing games much recently, but it was not too long ago that I purchased Skyrim for him and would find him playing it whenever I strolled into the living room. This may be what he needs to get back in the game.

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    1. Definitely worth telling your brother about the Skyrim DLC. Unfortunately, he will have missed the first week, 50% discount. I was able to get all three DLC for under £15, which was a bargain.

      If he only goes for one, get Dragonborn as it offers the most content and a brand new island to explore.

      Cheers

      Delete

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