Game Review By: Cesar Cisneros
If you are not already exhausted from over playing Skyrim over the course of the last eight months and wish to have more content to continue the journey as the dragonborn, then you will be pleased to know that Bethesda has pushed out new downloadable content for their open world role-playing game. In the Dawnguard DLC, you are offered a good amount of content that doesn’t alter the gameplay, but in fact enhances it. The content varies from new weapons, companion followers, new spells, and new locations, as well as new transfiguring creatures. The game itself is
overwhelming and it is hard to think that they can top it off with any more content, but the fact of the matter is that this extra content will fill in about another seven hours of gameplay per quest line and give the dragonborn a run for his money.
What we have happening in Dawnguard is a faction divide between the undead vampiric lords and their makers, the Dawnguard. The dragonborn, the playable character, has a choice to help one side of these clashing factions and commit to that quest line once the quest is triggered by a traveling Dawnguard who tells you that they are looking for new
recruits. Although you will be working for one faction or the other, the quests will both disappointingly prove to be the same quest line as they are both intertwined. Some of the new quests that involve the new massive locations will also at times seem to be both redundant and wearisome. If you were hoping for two new and unique quest lines, you will find yourself disappointed at its replay value. Aside from the main quest line, there is also a bit of other interesting miscellaneous side-quests to venture into and gain some experience or unique artifacts and weapons.
This downloadable content will unlock an array of new weapons. One of the first weapons you will come across is a crossbow. The crossbow seems to have been the DLC’s biggest attraction as it can be fun to use as it can also be deadly. This weapon will benefit in the fight against the vampires as it uses steel bolts, to which vampires are vulnerable to. Although it can be a great addition to the game, the crossbow can be cumbersome at times of dire danger. It is good to note that this weapon is best utilized at range as a sniper since the shot is direct and quick. Reloading the mechanism seems tedious that some might just retreat back to using a simple bow. Aside from the crossbow, it is now possible to craft many new weapons as well as craft arrows for your bows. Some of the new weapons you can now craft are dragon bone weapons which are the strongest type of weapons overall. You can make daggers, swords, long swords, maces, battle axes, and a bow made of all the dragon bones you have collected from all the slayed dragons the dragonborn has come across, putting good use to that collection. There is also a limited amount of rare weapons to be found throughout the new quests.
There are also some unique followers to take along with you in your quests. There is a fiendish hell dog that can be acquired through the vampiric quest line, an armored husky dog and an armored troll acquired through the Dawnguard quest. The armored troll isn’t as good as it sounds, but I was still fascinated at the thought of having it follow me around. Aside from pet followers, you can also have companion followers, the main one being the vampire lord’s daughter, Serana, who can be acquired by whichever of the two quest lines the dragonborn chooses. There are also other Dawnguard followers you can ask to follow you around, but none as unique.
There is a new creature that the dragonborn can now be transfigured to. Upon following the vampiric quest line, it is essential that you become a vampire lord to continue the story, rejecting the offer will put you back at the hands of the Dawnguard. Becoming a vampire lord will grant you the power to revert form to and from a fearsome and ugly, well, vampire lord. While in vampiric form, you have new abilities which can be enhanced by the new vampire lord skill tree, which you will need to acquire points from using the vampire lord’s abilities. The vampire form will give you a stubborn third person over-the-shoulder view and will make fighting hard to accomplish. The dragonborn will have the option to use magick abilities to drain health, conjure gargoyles to fight alongside, raise dead, or choke someone using a vampire grip among other unique abilities. It is also possible to go old fashion and make use of its claws and feed on victims. Being a vampire will also hold some advantages of gaining other abilities in human form such as night vision and a persuasion ability. With advantage also come disadvantages, the major one being the inability to function properly during the day as is common in vampire folklore. The DLC will also add a different set of skill trees for the already established werewolf from which will also grant the dragonborn extra abilities while in werewolf form.
A couple of new locations have been added to the already massive world of Skyrim. There are, of course, the two new castles for the dividing factions, the Forgotten Vale, and a new plane of oblivion called the Soul Cairn. The two new castles are massive and resemble forts from which both factions will shelter themselves throughout the game. The Forgotten Vale is a massive ice world in which the extinct Snow Elves once inhabited and worshipped the God Auri-El. You will encounter many Falmer in this location as well as a couple of new enemies such as a snow giant and some dragons that dive into the ice beds you walk on. The Forgotten Vale will also uncover a lot of details involving the extinct Snow Elves and will cover some speculations to the race. The Soul Cairn is also a massive area in the world of Skyrim filled with many lost souls and a fierce dragon as its guardian. There are a couple of new hallowed enemies in this realm that prove to be a challenge at times.
New spells can be learned in this DLC as well. There are some restorations spells that help ward off against the undead and mainly vampires. There are new conjurations in which you can summon newer creatures to fight alongside you. In the Soul Cairn, you can also learn a conjuration spell that will summon an ethereal horse in both the Soul Cairn and in Skyrim which you can ride at no hesitation. There are also some new dragon shouts the dragonborn will utilize in the game.
They have also added the ability to re-edit your custom appearance by adding a merchant whose expertise is in molding faces. This should give the dragonborn the privilege of changing the ugly appearance he is currently embedded with, for a fee. This includes facial features, make up, hair, and war paint.
At the end, we are left with a fair amount of content that will enhance gameplay in the world of Skyrim. Although it may at time seem a bit clunky and the user might undergo some game freezes within the experience, it will still be hard to put the controller down with all this content to explore. Bethesda’s latest game has already gained much notoriety and could have been the same without extra content, but they did so with the customer in mind. Although it is up for debate whether it is worth the asking price for the content, I can say I very much enjoy all the effort and attention they put in to all their highly appreciated Elder Scrolls games.