I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed that so many games these days seem to “nickel and dime” us with micro transactions. So I have to say it is nice to see Bethesda release a downloadable content (DLC) pack that feels more like an expansion than a game add-on. “Dawnguard” DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a 1600-point add-on and is exclusive to the Xbox 360 for now. In Dawnguard, vampires have become a bigger threat and are causing absolute chaos. There are more of them than ever and they are attacking at a much more rampant pace. This spawns the revival of the Dawnguard, an ancient organization of vampire hunters who want to rid Skyrim of its vampire problem once and for all.
Before I go on any further, I should caution you as you must be at least a level 10 to access the content. So it is clear this add-on is intended for those who have spent a considerable amount of time in the Skyrim world. After you download the add-on pack and you have met the minimum level 10 requirements, you will start hearing guards talk about Skyrim and you will be approached by a courier to head to Fort Dawnguard and join up. After heading to Fort Dawnguard you will meet Isran, a man who has had enough of the vampires and wants to re-establish the Dawnguard. He tasks you with heading to a crypt to kill a group of vampires and find out what they are looking for. What you find in the crypt however reveals the vampires plot to use the Elder Scrolls to destroy the sun. You are then given the choice to either continue helping the Dawnguard stop the vampires, or you can choose to become a vampire lord yourself and join the Vampire ranks.
Whatever side you choose, both have an interesting story and so I would recommend playing through both. I will however warn you that the Dawnguard quests can start out a little slow but they do quickly ramp up to epic battles against some nasty dragons that are truly memorable. Playing the vampire side is even more interesting and much more appealing. Playing from beginning to end with one side will take you anywhere from 10-12 hours. So when you consider the $20.00 dollar price tag for this DLC that is exceptional value. There are some side quests available as well however they mostly revisit places in Skyrim where you likely have already travelled.
Dawnguard also adds a ton of extra content that you can use in your adventures back in Skyrim. Choosing Dawnguard comes with its own benefits. With the Dawnguard, you get access to Fort Dawnguard that has everything an adventure can want including: two merchants, a full blacksmith set up, enchanters, alchemy table, and armoured trolls that you can take with you on your quests. You can also do side quests that unlock some exclusive crafting options allowing you to build crossbows and enchanted crossbow bolts that add some extra elemental damage to each shot. On the other hand, joining the vampire’s gives you access to Castle Volkihar, which also includes the blacksmith set up, enchanting and alchemy tables. You are also given the ability to become a Vampire Lord where you have access to certain powers and even a vampire perk tree.
There is also a long list of other additions like the new crossbow weapon that fires a bit slower but packs quite a punch. You are also given the ability to craft dragon bone weapons and you can now craft arrows. There are also three new dragon shouts to learn. There are new enemies and a new class of dragons to fight. There is a particular side quest that gives you the ability to summon a skeletal horse, which works well with the ability to swing your weapon or fire a bow while mounted on a horse. There is also someone in the Ratway under Riften who lets you change your characters face for a small cost.
While there is a lot of new content added, the Dawnguard add-on is really just more of Skyrim. In other words, there are some new locations to visit and they do look fantastic but they are still contained in the continent of Skyrim. Not to mention, other than the new Vampire lord transformation there is no real changes to gameplay either. I also noticed some technical glitches as I played the DLC as well. I frequently noticed some clipping issues and the game seemed to slow down when the action become a little chaotic on screen. These are not major issues but more of a small annoyance.
When you consider the $20.00 dollar price, Dawnguard is pretty good bang for the buck as you could easily add 20-hours or so to your Skyrim experience. If you are a Skyrim fan who has already invested countless number of hours into the main game, then Dawnguard is for you, but if you have moved on to other games, I am not so certain Dawnguard is reason alone to come back as frankly it is more of the same.