Ah, mods- growing Skyrim on PC by the day.
Yep, I’m STILL playing Skyrim- and the end is not in sight. Not when awesome quest mods like Helgen Reborn (and Falskaar) are around, and hopefully will continue to come. These are probably the most ambitious mods you’ll find to extend your Skyrim experience, and are very much well worth trying out.
To be honest though, I am a relative beginner with Quest mods. I know there are many already out that came before HR, such as Moonpath to Elswyr and others, but it was Helgen Reborn that I first took a chance on to install. Thankfully I don’t regret it at all- this quest was, as stated, not just a simple town mod or even just a quest, but an experience that very much enriched my current Skyrim playthrough.
The town of Helgen in Skyrim’s Falkreath hold is pivotal in the Dragonborn hero’s life- it was there where his/her life changed forever, where it would have been cut short on the executioner’s block, instead their life was spared when Alduin the World Eater decided to make his public debut in Tamriel. In the vanilla game, Helgen is the starting point for your adventure, introducing you to the harsh land, hinting at the ongoing Civil War and throwing you into the game’s first dungeon. And then, oblivion- ordinarily you’ll only return to the ruined town to find it still in shambles, overrun by bandits for all time.
Helgen Reborn changes that, inserting an entirely new, alternate end for the town. Sometime after you begin the quest (by reading a book yo find inexplicably in your inventory), you’ll be contacted and told someone is looking for you in Whiterun. Heading there you’ll soon be directed to a man named Marcus Janus, a former resident of Helgen who is very much looking forward to asking you about his former home. This meeting soon gives way to a long and winding questline involving an old friend of Marcus, a band of resistance fighters from Cyrodiil, lots of Thalmor agents and eventually one of the best player homes you can get in Skyrim.
As often mentioned in the mod descriptions and other reviews, Helgen Reborn is fully voice acted- something that any serious quest mod seems to require to be really appreciated. To be fair, indeed most of the voice work for HR is well done, ranging from excellent (Janus and Valerius) to more than adequate. There’s even an Ah-nuld clone voice performance that just works because its so over-the-top.
But aside from that, the mod is entertaining for its complex and involving storyline. Though the dialogue is often long-winded, I did find myself very much liking your comrades in the lengthy adventure, and the writing makes you feel you’re really a part of a great and worthy effort. Quests are also not wanting in action- there’s a big rescue mission early on which really gets you into the thick of things.
There are some slow parts too. The middle quests, which involves several ‘training missions’ with prospective guard recruits, was interesting at first, but ultimately repetitive and tedious. The guards you accompany are essential, so there’s little tension (I also would have liked that they remain as available followers at the end of the questline). Another part, where you get involved in a series of Arena fights, had too much repetitive running around in a confusing cavern. Also, perhaps I was too high level for this part, since I basically one-shotted every single opponent.
The climax was well-done and suitably dramatic, even if I did have to reload and replay a scene when a dragon unexpectedly decided to drop in (heh) PERFECTLY during the big end scene. The reward once it was all over though was a lively, busy town and new player home I truly felt I had worked for and owned. Awesome.
If you’re looking for a great way to extend your Skyrim play on PC, Helgen Reborn is an excellent quest/town mod to play. Glitches and bugs are minimal (and usually solved by reloading a save) and the overall production is top notch. With this under my belt, I’m ready to take on something even bigger in the future- Falskaar, anyone?