After seeing that beautifully polished landscape, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Falskaar is an official DLC but you’d be wrong, it’s a mod made by an extremely talented young modder. The mod is much more interesting and engaging than Bethesda’s DLC Dragonborn and Dawnnguard. Personally, I found Dawnguard to be boring and had no interest turning my beloved character into a Vampire Lord. Dragonborn was better, at least boasting the fresh surroundings of Solstheim to explore but then again, running errands for Neloth became tedious after a while.
Falskaar opens in dramatic Indiana Jones fashion. The player enters a pretty innocuous and unassuming cave near Riften, the type of cave that you could be forgiven for thinking is any bog standard Bandit camp, but as the player delves deeper, it becomes clear that Dwemer inhabit the darkest depths of the cave. Eventually after a considerable journey the player will encounter a Dwemer boss, and it becomes clear after defeating the Mechanical beast that it was the protector of a portal, the gateway to Falskaar.
However, instead of being able to openly explore once you have arrived in Falskaar, your player is immediately seconded into a rescue mission. This linear beginning to life in Falskaar might annoy players but I enjoyed it, it gave it the sense of a grand opening to a new chapter. Falskaar is a beautiful and serene place and all credit must go to the mod author. There is also a nice contrast to Solstheim, which was a dusty and barren and made me want to hop into the shower after a playing session, Falskaar is more wooded and not as alien as Solstheim and has some truly picturesque picnic spots.
Falskaar’s biggest strength is the main quest, which is a clear cut and uncomplicated fight between good and evil. So much time and devotion has been spent on the main quest. In particular the voice acting which is impressive as it is sometimes clichéd and time consuming. However, one cannot be too critical, the voice actors are after all amateurs and have the Nordic tones down to a tee and can easily be mistaken for Bethesda’s professional voice actors, a mean feat. And there are moments when one is genuinely roused by Jarl Agnar’s stirring speeches. The problem is that the constant in-house Nord politics can be a bit tiresome and draining at times and you find yourself travelling from one end of the island to the other without stopping to take note of other quests and places of interest. Therefore heading off the beaten track and talking to townspeople is a good way to spend time in between the main quest, if just for a breather. There is the usual array of side quests, family squabbles, retrieving precious items and an interesting quest that started off as an investigation over a missing cow which eventually led to vanquishing a dungeon full off Necromancers. These smaller less intense sideshows make for a nice distraction from the grand drama being played out by the Jarls.
The Mod is a remarkable accomplishment from Alexander J. Velicky and Bethesda should take serious note. The main quest is the biggest draw, and I personally enjoyed my character being immersed in such a grand tale of Nord politics. It did get too much at some points in which I needed a break from all the melodrama. Furthermore don’t think that it is a hollow mod though, besides the main quest there is still much to cover and there are many hours of gameplay to be had and I can safely say this is better than any DLC Bethesda have released.
Written by Tom Pears