The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard
: Bethesda Game Studios
: Bethesda Game Studios
: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
: Role-Playing Game
: June 26th, 2012
Lord Harkon, the master of the Vampire Lords has returned to power and plans to do the unthinkable; to retrieve the Elder Scrolls and use their power to end the tyranny of the sun. The first downloadable content to last year's release, Skyrim, will give you a brand new questline, perks, locations to explore, and the ultimate choice! Will you join the Dawnguard to stop the vampire lord? Or will you join him and end the sun itself?
The downloadable content to Dawnguard will start off requiring you to be at a minimum level before the Dovakiin will start to hear rumors that the ancient order of the Dawnguard is starting to accept new recruits for something big that is starting to happen. As you investigate and meet up with the Dawnguard in their old fort, you soon find out that they are an old order of vampire hunters that are trying to increase their numbers for a new vampire threat that is becoming much more dangerous as time goes on. After talking with their leader, you are given a task to find out just what exactly the vampires are up to and what it is that they are seeking.
It's at this point that you will ultimately get to make your choice of what it is you want to do. No matter what that choice just might be, along the way you'll get the chance to obtain new weapons, powers and perks. Explore Skyrim's hidden valleys that have been lost to time as well as journey back to the plains of Oblivion. Even dragons become much more dangerous as now they can become “Legendary Dragons” depending on your current level.
Dawnguard doesn't add anything drastically new to Skyrim's current layout visually. It does add new areas that will be in typical Skyrim fashion, and you should expect no dramatic change to how everything looks whether it be caves, castles, forts, and ruins aside from the new layouts. So don't expect anything radically different in these aspects. However, with this expansion to Skyrim, Bethesda did add some amazing new settings, including a lost valley that will take place a little later in the story of Dawnguard. At first glance, once reaching the top, the valley can leave the player in awe by looking over the cliff's at the various caves, waterfalls, and other scenery in the distance. This new area is huge and requires you to travel through a majority of it for one quest. It's most certainly eye candy for the player and you should have a fantastic time traveling through the various caves, small Falmer villages, and so on.
Another area that simply shines in this expansion is the Soul Cairn, which will take you to the depths of Oblivion itself. However, unlike in the TES IV: Oblivion, this area is remarkably different from the fiery and dark areas from the previous title. Instead, it has a more calm, but hectic situation to the location. The Soul Cairn has plenty going on including lighting strikes and small storms going off in the distance. These effects are simply astonishing and there were even times when I simply just looked at how well everything was put together.
In the end, the graphics are just as beautiful as ever, but like previously mentioned, these new areas take Skyrim's graphics to new limits and are simply a sight!
Much like the graphics, the audio that was in Skyrim, remains the same in Dawnguard aside from the new voices for the new characters. In this case, they are done really well as should have been expected. The new characters will easily help push Dawnguard's story further and gives the player a much greater sense of what each faction is going through. Aside from the new voices to Dawnguard, the music remains unchanged so don't expect anything new in that aspect.
All-in-all, not much was added here except for the new voices but that should be expected.
The main draw to Dawnguard is what it brings to the table for Skyrim and for a DLC that costs 1600 Microsoft points (or 20 dollars) it indeed brings quite a bit for the player. In addition to a main story that has two factions to choose from, this download content also brings you a new race, The Vampire Lord. If you choose to join the Vampires, you gain the ability to become a Vampire Lord and obtain perks for this new race as well. The benefit of joining the Vampire Lord is much more beneficial as they are much more powerful than just the regular Vampires that roam Skyrim pre-Dawnguard DLC. You also get to choose to feed on humans, if you do, you become more resistant to sunlight, but your vampire powers get weaker. And if you don't feed on humans, the sunlight takes its toll on you, even including complete loss of regeneration of stamina and health but your vampire powers become much greater. In addition to this, new perks for the Werewolf are available that can make you a much more ferocious beast. Unfortunately with this, you must feed on the hearts of humans to be able to gain its perks. But as time goes on, you can also get new perks to feed on other animals in the wild making progress that much easier. Some of the perks include doing more damage, gain more heath off feedings, and even increase your time as a Werewolf before transforming back to your human counterpart.
Next comes the new weapons. As the story progresses you are able to retrieve a powerful bow that can summon powers from the sun itself, or even diminish the sun itself. In addition to this, Dawnguard opens up new side quests that allow you to forge new powerful weapons such as a shields, staves, battle axes, and so forth.
However, like all Bethesda titles, no game would be complete without some glitches sneaking their way into the title. While on my run through Dawnguard, I had run into 2 game crashes, as well as floating dragons that had caused the main questline to break, thus impeding in any further progress in the DLC. Luckily due to Skyrim's auto save feature allowing for multiple automatic backed up saves, reloading a previous save was able to fix this glitch. Ultimately, other than these few minor issues, Dawnguard was a really solid experience with few hiccups along the way.
Depending on how you are going to approach Dawnguard, this expansion is going to extend the life of Skyrim tremendously. The main quest itself can run you about 10 hours the first play through, but if you want to do both sides, that can easily add an additional 5-10 more hours on top of that, even though both factions will take you to the same areas. In addition to this, the Soul Cairn and Lost Vale are huge areas that will take another couple hours to explore if you're looking to get the most out of those two areas. Mastering the new perks of the Vampire Lord or Werewolf (or both) takes an additional hour or two per race. This is not including the various new side quests that Dawnguard brings on top of the main quest. The addition of Legendary Dragons also increases the challenge of Skyrim if regular dragons just weren't tough enough.
Quite simply, as you can tell, the developers weren't joking that this expansion was going to provide 20 hours worth of content. In fact, it can probably provide almost twice that amount. If you want to do everything that Dawnguard brings to the table, don't expect to be done with this one for quite a while!
In the end, this first downloadable content to Skyrim is going to run you 20 dollars, but is going to give you quite a lot in return. If you enjoyed Skyrim and you have it on your 360 console, you definitely need to download this title and give it a go. In an age where DLC is becoming just a way to make a quick buck off the consumer, Bethesda shows the industry just how DLC should be done. And it does it right with Dawnguard!