Those of us who have been playing Skyrim for over half a year are intimately familiar with the Stormcloak rebellion against the Empire over the worship of Talos as a god. However, a secret war is being waged in Skyrim between vampire lords and the vampire killers, called The Dawnguard. And now for our special edition of...
The vampires vehemently detest sunlight and are attempting to kill the sun. The Dawnguard vehemently detest vampires and are attempting to eradicate these bloodsuckers wherever they are found. This conflict of interests propels the storyline for Bethesda’s first expansion pack for the newest Elder Scrolls game.
Dawnguard not only expands the Skyrim content, but it changes the way the game is played, adds some nifty new weapons and armor, adds a fair amount of new dungeons and real estate, and gives players a couple of new skill trees to explore and exploit.
Changing the Game
The decision to become a vampire or a vampire hunter is not one to be made lightly. The moment you make your choice the other side will know and they will come after you. Becoming a vampire hunter means that you are working for a guy named Isran, who is such a jerk that recruiting people he has worked with in the past becomes a real chore. It also means that you will have to constantly resist the temptation to become a vampire, especially since your new travelling companion is herself a vampire, and she makes it look fun.
Playing as a vampire means that you have to constantly feed on humans to access some of the vampire perks. Sunlight has a detrimental, blood-boiling effect and you will lose that robust Skyrim tan that you have been working on since November. Although you will travel the same roads to the same places in search of the same things as your vampire hunter counterpart, you will be travelling in the dark...trailing corpses behind you like mile markers.
Another game changer is the welcome addition of mounted combat. That’s right! Now players can charge through that circle of bandits, swinging an axe, without ever leaving the comfort of your trusted steed.
Just Pull the Trigger
Almost immediately upon your first arrival at the Dawnguard fortress, you are given a crossbow. This is not a rapid-fire weapon but it packs more punch than a standard bow. Think of the crossbow as fabric softener for vampires. Lob a few shots into the crowd and finish up with a melee weapon. The ancient Dwemer also used this technology, as evidenced by the ballistas in their ruins. This Dwemer technology can be applied to modern Dawnguard crossbows, and some Dwarf ruins contain schematics for upgrades, including a schematic for exploding bolts. Oh yeah!
The expansion pack also gives players the ability to craft their own arrows and bolts, access to Dawnguard armor, and the right to quest for an ancient Snow Elf relic that can either kill vampires or black out the sun.
Contact Your Travel Agent
The twenty bucks you lay down for the Dawnguard expansion will also buy you a fair bit of real estate to investigate. In addition to the sprawling Dawnguard fortress, there is the castle of the vampire lords, several new dungeons and ruins, a hidden Snow Elf Vale, and a skooma den. The most interesting new land is the Soul Cairn, a place where souls trapped by soul gems go to complain.
But this land of grouchy ghosts is also inhabited by a ghost steed that can be acquired, as a mount, if players are willing to put in the effort.
Two new skill trees are available, and both are dependant upon the player’s appetite. The werewolf skills require that you eat what you kill to gain new perks.
The vampire skills require either the use of the vampire soul drain or some neck nibbling to perk up.
The new pack is definitely weighted in favor of going vampiric on the Nords of Skyrim. One of the achievements indicates that there is a “Soul Tear” shout out there somewhere, and I aim to get it.
The Dawnguard expansion will make players want to go through the entire game at least twice, and a restart might be in order to take advantage of the new skill trees early. The additional content, downloaded near the end of a campaign, will add several hours of game time, but a fresh start will change the entire game. Dawnguard is worth every cent of the 1600 MS points needed to obtain it and waiting is not the wisest course of action. Get It Now!!