[Update: Watch the Skyrim: Dragonborn trailer!]
Though an ambiguous proposition from the start, we’re guessing the current fruition of DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim wasn’t exactly what Bethesda had in mind. Almost a year into the game’s release, Dawnguard, though well-reviewed, stands as the only legitimate expansion for Skyrim, while Hearthfire, a home-creation add-on, failed to spark much enthusiasm for the game at all. And of course you’re missing out on all anticlimactism if you only own a PS3; Bethesda still finds itself unable to release DLC for Sony’s system and, as of October 5, still has no timetable for finding a solution.
The developer isn’t yet done with Skyrim, though – not by a long shot, if we had to guess – and intrepid fans might have discovered that the game’s next DLC is its most ambitious expansion to date.
Monday marked the beginning the of opt-in process for the Skyrim 1.8 beta update on Steam. According to details on the Bethesda blog, the only enhancements are a few boilerplate bug fixes:
- General memory and stability improvements
- Fixed rare crash when using vampiric grip
- Fixed issue where Arnleif and Sons Trading Company could become permanently locked
- Fixed issue related to duplicate NPCs
- Fixed rare issue where exterior door would not open properly
That perception changed after players dug into the update’s source code.
As of now, several threads on the official Elder Scrolls forums have compiled source files from the update revealing preparations for a “DLC2″ named “Dragonborn.” One uncovered file seems to establish the Morrowind island of Solstheim as a new setting, with main attractions including Raven Rock, Miraak Temple, Castle Karstaag and Telvanni Tower. Another code contained instructions for a text prompt – “you cannot cast that type of spell while riding a dragon.” Within the various threads gamers are also noting references to new weapons and armor, new abilities like horseback spellcasting, and, perhaps of most importance to a few fans, PlayStation 3 support for DLC.
Bethesda has yet to comment on the reports, and naturally a line of code isn’t always implicit of concrete game content. Assuming, however, that (A) these are the Skyrim update’s actual source files, and (B) that Bethesda doesn’t have any motive to troll their fanbase (their PR prerogative is likely set to “tread lightly” with the current PS3 controversy), the minutia paints an important bigger picture: one of a sizable new expansion; a setting in the fondly-remembered Morrowind; an extremely audacious dragon-riding mechanic; new skills and gear, possibly to accommodate a new storyline; and, just maybe, a release on all platforms.
Interestingly, Morrowind has been foreshadowed as a future DLC destination for Skyrim before… by none other than director Todd Howard. After a modder broke through the game’s invisible navigation barriers and discovered that the landmass was actually built within the game (he also found the province of Cyrodiil), Howard acknowledged that it could be used for future content. That was in February. Considering the size – even for just one island, Solstheim – combined with the physics feat it would be to create ride-able(?) dragons, there might be a good reason such a DLC will have taken one year.
Ranters, Skyrim needs something big. Something defining. Sweeping. It needs a Shivering Isles. Would a Morrowind DLC expansion and the implementing of dragon mounts finally be the addition we’ve been waiting for?
Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.