Mod of the Week: Enhanced Mighty Dragons, for Skyrim
Remember your first fight with a dragon in Skyrim, and how exciting it was? The powerful leathery wings, the blasts of magical breath, the earth-shaking rumble as it landed... thrilling! Now, remember your most recent fight with a dragon? How you sighed and rolled your eyes as you climbed off your horse, how you killed it with one or two blows, how you were already a half-mile away when you absorbed its soul, and how you didn't even bother to take its bones because you already have a dresser full of them in one of your mansions?
Enhanced Mighty Dragons is a mod that restores dragons to their rightful perch as the most feared and deadly creatures in Skyrim by adding sixteen new dragons, each with its own powers, abilities, and fighting styles. Finally, dragons feel truly legendary.
Rather than wait around for a random dragon to show up after installing the mod, I decided to hunt one down. Esbern, in Sky Haven Temple, offers radiant dragon hunting missions, and after talking with him I found myself on a mountaintop with my wife and two of The Blades in tow. I lead the charge toward the resting dragon, my enchanted axe at the ready. Let's do this!
The dragon sees me coming and immediately leaps into the air. I quickly glug a couple potions to protect myself from the standard fire and frost attacks, but something else comes out of the dragon's mouth, a fast-moving ball of ghostly white energy. I think to myself "Huh, that doesn't look like fire or frost," though I only really have time to think "Huh, th--" before I'm suddenly and violently catapulted backwards, doing two full flips before landing right on my face.
I see from the Skyrim wiki that there are some "vanilla" dragons that have Unrelenting Force, but I honestly can't recall a dragon ever using it, let alone leading with it. This particular new dragon uses it almost exclusively and to great effect. By the time I've managed to stand back up, it's circled overhead, scattered my companions with another Force shout, then skimmed back to knock me on my ass just as I've managed to recover.
After being thrown down the hill in a jumble of limbs and armor for the third time, I finally manage to get off a shout of my own: Dragonrend, which forces the beast to land. I sprint over for a power attack with my axe as it turns to face me. I land a nice blow, and see the dragon's hit points decline by a tiny sliver. Okay, so it's got some extra hit points. I may have to hit it a few more times. I try to land another blow, but can't help noticing that my hands are suddenly completely empty. My battleaxe is gone.
I've been disarmed. This scaly sonofagun has a Disarm Shout? That is so not fair and yet so awesome, I say to myself as I sail through the air once again, the victim of another dose of Unrelenting Force. The dragon shrugs off my Rend spell and takes flight again.
It's pretty hard to look for an axe in a blizzard while a dragon knocks you around like a pinball, so I draw my bow and call in my own dragon, who starts dive-bombing with flame breath. After five or six minutes of three Blades, myself, and my wife peppering the dragon with arrows, and my own dragon pitching in, we finally manage to bring it down. I died about four times, once from being bitten and thrown, once from a tail-whip, the rest from being Force blasted all over the mountain.
I check the mod page and discover I just faced Al'Mul'Grah, the youngest and least-powerful of the new dragons. In addition to its love of Force and Disarm shouts, it can also summon animals to help it in combat, which, luckily, it didn't do this time. It had my hands full without some stupid dragon-loving bear ripping into me while I lay stunned and face-down in the snow.
Over the next few days, I look for more of the new dragons. One appears randomly, circling overhead, and I manage to avoid its Force shouts and Rend it to the ground. Sprinting, I raise my axe to bash its head in, and it belches poison on me, then casts a paralysis spell, so I get to watch my helpless, rigid body be slowly consumed by dragon venom. Fun!
On top of a mountain, another dragon spots me coming, summons a Daedra Lord, and takes flight. From the air it blasts me with Shock Breath, and then decides it might as well double-down on the whole electrocution theme and whips up a full blown lightning storm so it doesn't even have to be looking at me to hurt me. Awesome! Also, incredibly painful.
Later, I encounter one in an open field, but manage to draw him into fighting three nearby giants. I figure this fight will be over in no time, but the dragon scatters the giants like bowling pins with Unrelenting Force. It takes a while, and some of my help, but the dragon is eventually destroyed, which you would think would make the giants and me best friends, but they just club me to death.
Those are just the three or four dragons I've seen so far, but I'm keen to find the rest and get slapped around by them. The mod includes a skeletal dragon who can't fly, but fights with deadly physical attacks. A couple of the new dragons can summon storms to hide in, and even turn invisible. One has mayhem shouts, can muffle spell casters, and uses mass paralysis. Another is a phantom with few attacks but incredible defenses. There's even a dragon that can raise the dead to fight for him. I want to see all these dragons, and get killed by them.
The mod is also amazingly customizable. There are four different difficultly levels, from Slightly Mighty to Nightmare, and with each you can choose if you want all random dragon encounters to be Enhanced or just the boss dragons. You can also decide if you want to stick with the classic dragon textures, new ones, or a mix of both. And, if you think fighting extra-tough dragons means you deserve extra-looty-loot, you can choose that as well. You can also increase the spawn time between random dragon encounters if they're proving a little too much to fight on a regular basis. Finally, Dragon Priests can be beefed up to Nightmare levels as well, just in case you want some extra pain.
Installation: While it doesn't appear to be on Steamworks, Enhanced Mighty Dragons comes with its own installer and configuration utility, so my work here is done. It also uses no scripts, so it's easy to uninstall as well.