From Dusk ’til Dawn.
Taking our cues from how Bethesda handled DLC for the Fallout series, fans of Skyrim have all been wondering why we’ve had to wait so long for content to be added to Skyrim. The wait is over, if you own an Xbox 360 anyway, as Dawnguard is here. Dawnguard marks a different approach from the episodic DLC’s we’ve become used to, and a return to the expansion pack format. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you may be saying “for $20 it better be good”, well, it is.
Dawnguard follows the rise of a new vampire clan, in the lands of Skyrim, and the resurrection of an ancient order of warrior sworn to defend the world from the creatures of the night. The best part? You’ll be able to choose your side. Become a Vampire Lord, with all it’s associated powers, or defend the innocents as a member of the Dawnguard, it’s up to you.
With a good percentage of their DLC packs, Bethesda has transported you to a different location where you spend a few hours questing, only to return to the main game world when it’s all over. Dawnguard, on the other hand, adds a number of new locations to the main Skyrim map so you’ll never have to put your character’s whole life on hold to complete this DLC. No planning what gear you’ll take with you, no long journey, no gear restrictions, the vampires are invading Skyrim so you’ll be running around Skyrim.
This isn’t to say that Dawnguard is just a bunch of new quests in the same old terrain, there are a bunch of new and extensive areas to explore, they’re just all attached to the original map. From new caves, to castle dungeons to the Soul Cairn, a new type of oblivion like plane, there is a ton of content added with the Dawnguard expansion, it’s just done subtly.
Not long after starting the main Dawnguard questline you’ll be given the option to either join the vampires or join the Dawnguard. It may not look like you have a choice at first, but hang in there and you’ll see it. Depending on which side you choose, your experience will be drastically different. As a vampire, you’ll be given new powers, and a new skill tree, that weren’t available to you if you were just a run-of-the-mill Skyrim vampire in your main game. These aren’t just simple spells either, you’ll be able to transform into the Vampire Lord, which drastically changes combat and gives you a number of new options.
As a member of the Dawnguard you’ll be rebuilding an order of warriors who will offer you a number of less fantastic, but equally useful, bonuses. If you surround yourself with good people, good things will happen. By good things, I mean crossbows and upgraded crossbows. Oh you can also hire armored trolls to follow you around.
This isn’t to say the whole experience is smooth, I did have a couple of issues while playing. First there is a companion who is a big part of the story and is also really bad at following you. She’s always getting lost and simply waiting for her to catch up doesn’t work, you’ll have to go find her. This got old quick so I decided to leave her behind on one mission, only to find out that the particular quest breaks if she’s not with you. I completed one part of the quest, which I won’t spoil, but the next objective was to talk to this character, only she was back at the base. Due to this I wasn’t allowed out of the cave I was in and had to reload.
Some parts of the two stories will overlap, but there is distinct replay value in the Dawnguard expansion pack as the story for one faction will play out much differently from the other. Completing only the main quests of either faction took me well over nine hours and there are numerous side quests available to pad the experience. Though it’s twice the price of your typical Fallout DLC, it has well over twice the content.
There are no multiplayer modes added with the Dawnguard DLC.
Though it was a long time in coming, Skyrim’s Dawnguard DLC was well worth the wait. A few technical issues can’t hold back the tide of new and engrossing content you’ll get with this download. I was also a big fan of the way it was presented, as a collection of new locations off the main world map, rather than a self-contained chapter. If you were looking for an excuse to pick up Skyrim again, this is that excuse.