Hello GND! Today I present you with a review of the first DLC, Dawnguard, for Bethesda’s latest and greatest RPG, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Dawnguard is a semi-large scale DLC for Skyrim that edits the existing game world, instead of adding a new one, and gives us many new, interesting, locations. One of the the most intriguing features of Dawnguard is that it gives you two story lines that you can follow.
With Dawnguard enabled, at level 10 you will start to hear rumors of a ‘Dawnguard’ reforming to take down the Vampire menace. Guards will mention it to you as you walk by, Inn owners might tell you about it if you ask, and one of the Dawnguard members Durak might find you inside one of the holds and tell you all about the Dawnguard.
The first quest requires you to side with the Dawnguard, but after it’s completion you are allowed to choose whether to stay with the Dawnguard, or join the Ancient Volkihar Vampire Clan. It’s your choice, and this choice will define the rest of the quest line and even the fate of Skyrim.
It’s a bit obvious who the good guys and bad guys are. Join the Dawnguard if you wish to seek out and destroy the Vampire Menace, or join the Vampires to end the tyranny of the sun and prove your dominance in Skyrim.
The Main Quest is actually quite well done. It’s focused enough to make you want to go on to the next quest and keep pushing forward. I would compare it to the Dark Brotherhood Questline, it’s equally as exciting, but with a much, much larger scale. You’ll visit many smaller locations that include small caves and large underground forests, but the most impressive places you’ll be visiting are huge areas called the Forgotten Vale and the Soul Cairn.
These places are huge, comparable to the Dwemer City, Blackreach. The Soul Cairn is a plane of Oblivion where trapped souls go. It’s a very eerie and seemingly interesting place, but honestly it’s quite empty and boring. It consists of many samey locations and enemies. All the enemies in the Soul Cairn are new and exclusive to Dawnguard, and some of them are genuinely cool. But you’ll be fighting them so much for so long you’ll just get tired of it.
Much of the Soul Cairn looks the same, luckily it has some small side quests that you can do to keep yourself occupied. Be warned, if you plan on fully exploring the Soul Cairn, doing the side quests, and completing the main quest within the Soul Cairn, it’s going to take you around 3 hours.
The Forgotten Vale is a much more interesting, wondrous experience. The Forgotten Vale is a huge location lost in the North East corner of Skyrim, it contains some new, freaky, creatures and some very high level Falmer. The Forgotten Vale has a few unique terrain types, when you first enter it, it’s a misty, dead, temperate forest surrounded by mountains. It then opens up to a huge glacial waterfall with many chasms and cliffs.
It contains some very cool architecture which is reminiscent of High Rock, and even the new Falmer architecture you’re exposed to in the Forgotten Vale is very interesting to explore.
Depending on which Faction you choose, you get access to a new Fort or Castle to act as a Player Home or Base. By siding with the Dawnguard, you get a stone Fort in the process of renovation. As you progress in the story, the fort will gain new furnishings, new defenses and new members.
If you choose to become a Vampire, you are free to live at Castle Volkihar, a huge castle offshore the northern coasts of Skyrim. It’s a very old and strange looking castle with very distinct architecture and style. It’s very large and has everything you could need if you want to make it your new home.
Which ever side you choose you’ll get a nice selection of new gear. The Dawnguard and the Vampires both get very cool looking armors, and you’ll have access to a few new weapons if you join the Dawnguard. Vampires get a new ability called Vampire Lord, which gives you a few new unique spells and abilities. But don’t worry, Dawnguard members also have a nice selection of new Restoration spells.
That isn’t all. Dawnguard offers even more non-faction specific armors and weapons. I don’t want to spoil anything from the quest line so I’m not going to list them all, but I will say that Dawnguard gives players a much wanted selection of Dragonbone Weapons.
Most of the meat of Dawnguard comes from the expansive Main Quest, but Dawnguard also comes packed with quality side quests and one very notable one.
The Dwemer have always been a mysterious figure in Skyrim, and a new side quest touches on that mystery a bit deeper than before. This quest is dynamically activated by either reading a book found in various locations around Skyrim, or eventually told of though dialogue in the main quest.
This quest tells a story of a dead adventurer who spent her life unraveling the mysteries of a lost Dwemer Forge. This forge is called the Aetherial Forge. It’s a very interesting quest with a different structure than most other quests, which I like. After completing the first part of the quest, you’ll obtain a journal which marks the locations of the other places you have to visit.
The reason it’s different is because instead of giving you a straight up map marker telling you where to go, it leaves you with the journal and you can choose when and which location you want to go to.
This is a throw back to how quests were managed in Morrowind and it left me with a nostalgic feeling. As for the other side quests, they’re all much smaller and aren’t really anything compared to this side quest, but that’s not to say they’re bad. To sum it up, the smaller side quests are just more Skyrim.
Now to wrap this up. Dawnguard is Skyrim’s first DLC and it’s a very good one. This is how DLC should be done, giving you roughly 30 hours of content per faction(That is, if you do all the side quests as both). Dawnguard doesn’t revolutionize Skyrim, but it potentially changes up the gameplay by offering the new Vampire Lord form, and very unique arrows that affect the province of Skyrim.
Dawnguard gives players, many new locations to explore and exciting quests to delve into. Everything in Dawnguard is of great quality and bugs have been minimal for me.
Now for the scores..
Presentation: Dawnguard is perfectly integrated into Skyrim, leaving it up to you when you want to start it. It also makes it very friendly for players of any level to jump into it. I would recommend level 15 or above though, it can be difficult and you’ll experience more of the new monsters added by Dawnguard the higher level you are. 5/5
Gameplay: Dawnguard still retains the basic Skyrim formula, but it gives Vampires players a very unique style of gameplay with the Vampire Lord ability. Many of the new spells for both factions are quite unique and different so this expansion will feel fresh if you’re already a couple hundred hours into Skyrim. 5/5
Story: The Main Quest of Dawnguard is more focused than most other quests you’ll find in Skyrim, and it’s a very exciting quest that explores many aspects of TeS lore. The largest side quest is also very well done. You’ll be very satisfied with what the story offers. 5/5
Visuals/Sound: Visuals remain the same, but Dawnguard includes many new, jaw dropping locations. A few of these locations are visually stunning and beautifully designed. It also includes some new soundtracks which as even better than what Skyrim offered before. Fort Dawnguard contains some higher resolution textures than seen in the res of the game so that was nice to see. 4.5/5
Lasting Appeal: Dawnguard is an exceptionally large DLC. It comes with a price tag of $20 but with with that you get 30 hours or more of new gameplay. The DLC gives you two different quest lines to follow, potentially doubling the play time you can get out of this DLC.
The DLC caters to all different types of play styles so replaying it as different characters is highly encouraged. 5/5