Skyrim: Dawnguard review
Contrary to popular belief, which is sadly overrun by fourteen year-old females, Twilight was not the beginning of the vampire craze that we’re currently indulged in. In fact, a little videogame series called The Elder Scrolls has been knee deep in these bloodthirsty creatures. Thankfully, this entire review is dedicated to this thrilling series, and more importantly, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s first expansion pack. Skyrim: Dawnguard pits players smack dab in a chilling situation amidst Skyrim: Vampires are returning and are rumored to have an Elder Scroll that grants them the ability to block out the sun and reign supreme. And if that’s not enough, a group called the Dawnguard has returned to stop the vampire’s vicious plot. The DLC gives you, the player, the choice between both “factions,” and boy does it take you on a roller coaster ride.
The Dawnguard expansion pack, which can be accessed by level 10 players and above, is started by a courier’s message/invite or asking throughout Skyrim about the Dawnguard. Players are then invited to Fort Dawnguard to be greeted by their rugged leader, Isran. Cutting to the chase, Isran details the problem at hand, and since it’s still somewhat of a mystery, you’re asked to find out what the vampires are up to. After a lengthy “start up” quest, you discover a friendly vampire who’s quite confused to what’s going on. Your new “buddy” then takes you to a mysterious castle far to the west where you’re introduced to the Vampire Lord, who just so happens to be the father of the girl you just brought home. He cynically describes his plot to overthrow Skyrim’s leaders through an Elder Scroll that they’ve now attained. To add to the drama, he gives you two options: become a vampire or become their prey.
In our first playthrough we chose to decline the Vampire Lord’s offer and follow up on the Dawnguard’s mission to stop these evil creatures. Their journey took us throughout Skyrim (and beyond) for a twelve-hour ride that highlighted this enlightening plot. The early missions do start off a bit slow, though it’s primarily to introduce the new characters and plot, but as action intensifies, Dawnguard shines. One of the add-on’s best moments pit players and their ally against two ferocious dragons…on ice. Another confrontation near the end of the DLC features the entire Dawnguard faction against the evil vampires on a bridge strewn with trolls that are available to Dawnguard members. These action sequences are heavily focused even throughout the normal cave/fetch quests, and actually help the narrative intensify to its outstanding climax and resolution.
Dawnguard’s uniqueness, though, is revealed through the vampire questline. Their side off the DLC features several new additions including health draining and the ability to fly (and who doesn’t wish to fly?). These new abilities aren’t a one-time deal, though. An entirely new skill tree is presented to vampire players that certainly offer some interesting gameplay, in contrast to the Skyrim we’ve all come to know and love. The vampire section of Dawnguard features several more graphical hiccups due to these new abilities, but they’re nothing that ruins the overall experience.
For $20 and considerably shorter than some previous Elder Scrolls add-ons, folks may be hesitant to check out Dawnguard, but after a hefty amount of time in the DLC, we can tell you that it’s a worthy addition to the series name. Dawnguard offers up to twenty hours of content that’s heavily action focused and unique in its own sense. Despite some issues with frame rate and character responsiveness, Dawnguard presents itself in a fantastic way: beautiful scenery, eerie characters, and of course, dragons. If you’ve invested hundreds of hours already into Skyrim, or are looking for something off the beaten path, then Dawnguard will warm your heart, or leave a mark on your neck…your choice.