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Skyrim DLC Dragonborn review: adventures of a rubbish Vampire Lord in Solstheim

Ed sets foot outside Skyrim, and immediately wishes he hadn't

Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC is out now, and while we'd love to bring you a review immediately, that would require time travel and the capacity to play for 30 hours non-stop. Instead, please enjoy the first part of the Dragonborn Diaries, recounting the adventures of our reviewer's chronically inept High Elf wizardress Sophia. A score will follow later this week.

Hello, how are you doing? Just upgraded to a full set of Dragonbone weapons, eh? Nice. Me, I've definitely had it better. A few months ago, for instance, I was a Vampire Lord in her prime, an awkward-to-control but undeniably terrible entity adrift on the night breeze. Neither man, nor dragon, nor unsuspecting domestic animal was a match for my scythe-like talons and parasitic arts. But then came the dark time known as Hearthfire, when the malevolent Deadric Princess known as Alice Scoble-Rees stole upon my Skyrim savegame, threw all my precious books away and filled the void with houses, which she then filled with bards and loud, dysfunctional children.


Nowadays, playing Skyrim is like starring in a low budget medieval soap opera as the Abusive Husband. Everybody's out to get me. When I linger indoors, my brat - an '80s child actor caught in limbo, by the sounds of it - pesters me for attention. When I step outside, the Dawnguard appear and beat me with axes, presumably in lieu of social services. And just now, a pack of robed hooligans wearing shellfish on their heads accused me of fraud, right slap bang in the middle of the road to Windhelm. "You're not the Dragonborn," they basically said. "Some other dude is. Now prove us wrong by not dying immediately when we spam you in the face with fireballs."

Cards on the table time - if there's more than one Dragonborn, I probably don't come top of the list. I've played for over 70 hours but haven't killed Alduin yet, to my shame, because everybody says killing Alduin is among the least interesting of Skyrim's pastimes and besides, there's a sweet-looking book on that shelf there, I'll just go collect/read/archive it before I get stuck into the business saving the universe. Also, I tend to run away from Dragons because they're tedious to fight, especially when they fly backwards into cliffs and lodge inside them, bellowing incoherently for tech support.

But if I'm not the Dragonborn, I'm pretty damn sure I'm a Dragonborn. This guy with a beard told me. Look, I can Dragonshout and everything. Hey, Dragon-doubters! Suck on my fus - oh, hang on, this is the Revert Form button. My, that's a powerful Atronach you've got there. Look, why don't we pick this up again some other time? Over elevenses, perhaps?


It's taken me a couple of goes to reach Solstheim, setting for Skyrim's Dragonborn DLC pack, thanks to a combination of pleasingly tough enemies and what cultural historians will surely term The Evans-Thirlwell factor. Symptoms of the latter include: the Dawnguard arriving unexpectedly and swording you in the liver; a stray ice bolt piercing a bandit's horse which promptly downed a metaphorical can of Red Bull, galloped into the fray and kicked everybody to death, including its owner; a bug of some kind which left my Vampire Lord temporarily unable to suck the life from people despite a full magicka bar; and me accidentally loosing a summon before the target had finished speaking, which meant they kept locking me into conversation screens during the ensuing fracas. So that's what they mean by "careless talk costs lives".

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