Skyrim Dawnguard DLC

8.5 Overall Score

Lots of content, interesting story, new stuff

Bethesda bugginess, price point

Written by on August 10, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , , ]

Dawnguard has been out for the Xbox 360 for a while now, but it just hit PC. So you know what? I’m going to talk about it now.

Dawnguard does deliver on the initial promises made by both the trailers and Bethesda DLC in general. There’s a lot of content, a whole host of new places, people, and equipment, and a few branching choices to make.

The beats of the DLC story are set to take place during any time of the main dragon invasion crisis of Skyrim. You get pulled into the middle of a dispute between vampires looking to enact a prophecy and an ancient order of vampire hunters who are the only people in all of Skyrim to understand crossbows are a thing.

Throughout your exploration of one of these two sides of the conflict (vampire, if you want to get to the newly advertised crazy vampire powers) you’ll mess with some elder scrolls, a whole bunch of necromancy, daedra, and a centuries-old traveling companion whose fate you will help decide. You know, Bethesda RPG stuff. I’m not trying to be overly reductive of the storyline, because it is utterly immense in scope for a piece of DLC, but it’s not selling anyone on TES games who wasn’t already way into TES games. There is a ton of new voice work, and the characters are interesting and different from the pile of dudes you met in your last foray into Skyrim.

Graphically Skyrim still looks great, and on the PC still has the potential to be one of the most visually impressive titles you’ll be running, and Dawnguard gives you a whole bunch of new (and similar) environments to mess around in. Of course, you also spend a whole lot of time skulking around caves, ruins, dimensional rift…things, and other places. The core gameplay conceits of Skyrim haven’t changed, and the game leans heavily on the formula of sending you through caves with a few dozen enemies in search of some mystical thing or other. Occasionally you’ll divert from this, but Bethesda’s hallmark is the vast, empty space filled with stuff that goes bump in the night for you to murder and loot, and it’s heavily present here.

Of course, Bethesda’s other trademarks are present as well. Dawnguard crashed multiple times while I played it, and I learned my error was one of a number that had come up. All had fixes or were on the block to be patched, but expect some of the typical jank to exist with the DLC. So far nothing has required more than liberal saving and a restart to finish, though a crash in the middle of the final fight made things a bit less climactic than expected.

Perhaps the most unpleasant element of Dawnguard is the price point. The PC and 360 versions of the add on are $20, a bit steep compared to the $5-10 price point for most DLC. Dawnguard, however, delivers a rather enormous amount of content for that price. The main quest took me about eight hours to get through, but an early branching point means you’re doubling that to see the full game, and a new pile of sidequests can easily beef that up past the twenty hour range. Additionally, two extra perk trees with an independent leveling system are introduced for the vampire and the werewolf, offering a whole host of ways to tweak your Dragonborn and his various supernatural powers.

Over the last couple days I dropped eight hours into Dawnguard, and I’m already planning my second trip to look into the other storyline. I was also a big fan of Skyrim. If you’re in the same boat you Dawnguard’s a pretty safe buy. If you’re one of the three people that hasn’t tried it, this is probably a good time to get into Skyrim, as the patch that integrates the DLC adds in a whole host of tweaks and fixes (and mounted combat, hurray!) and the pairing can easily provide you with more than enough content to keep you busy until the holiday rush.


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Author: Zach Snell View all posts by
Hi there. If you're reading this you've probably read some material of mine. If you want more go here and read my stories about a guy who punches wizards.

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