I never got into the whole vampire and werewolf fad. The idea seemed kind of cheesy and with today’s ‘twisted’ teen versions (the dreaded Twilight series) it all seemed too damn silly for my taste. When I heard Skyrim was going to do the same with its Dawnguard DLC, I cringed slightly. However after spending some time with the game they’ve proven me wrong with a lengthy new quest and provided a little extra sugar coating to the wealth of Skyrim content.
Needless to say the main story of Dawnguard involves vampires. But one in particular, named Harkon, is looking to blot out the sun permanently. You have the choice to either to help him or to join the titular Dawnguard to stop. Surprisingly, things get a tad bit more complicated as your story continues. I won’t say much more as my PC and PS3 brethren are still waiting on the new DLC, but I will say that it offers far more depth and intrigue than Skyrim’s original story.
It felt like this time, my decisions did have more of an effect on what was happening in the story.
New quests, main and side, offer some more variety worthy of the games already innumerable quests. New dungeons are also included in both the main and side quest, none of which are recycled and are incredibly refreshing which kept me interested in seeing the next one.
You’ll also get to explore a whole new section of Oblivion called the Soul Cairn. I won’t delve too deep into how it ties into the story, but it’s definitely worthy of being a section of Oblivion. It appears as massive graveyard with a blackhole in the sky and monoliths and mausoleums as far as the eye can see. The grim landscape is occupied by innocent wandering souls and deadly undead creatures. Some small side quests can be accomplished, but most didn’t seem worth my time.
The new weapons and powers are a mixed bag to say the least. For those of you who placed most of your points into archery, crossbows are ready and available for you to use. However the already locked-in bolt feels odd to ready, compared to your bow. Aiming is also difficult at times because of the odd angle the crossbow is positioned in. It certainly packs a punch, but its cumbersome aiming cancels out its power.
New powers like the Vampire Lord transformation offer something for those of you who didn’t choose to be a werewolf (but if you are you still have the option). The transformation, much like the werewolf transformation, leaves you open to attacks as it occurs. And your initial powers aren’t very powerful either, much like said werewolf power.
Thanks to the new transformation skill tree though you can finally improve those, be you a werewolf or vampire lord. Both require you to feed to improve those perks, which add to your standard powers. Vampire lords can drain their foes life force much more quickly while werewolves are able to summon wolves and eventually other werewolves to your side. These powers are impressive when used properly.
New shouts are available as well, but I haven’t found much use for most of them. Two, however, are rather impressive. One involves summoning a new dragon. It ties into the story so I won’t say too much on the matter, but it’s a worthwile power.
All in all, Dawnguard fits its label as an add-on. It adds a nice extra dash of the same fun you received in Skyrim. It doesn’t blow anything out of the water, but it will definitely sate your hunger for more Skyrim.