Skyrim: Dawnguard (Xbox 360) Review
I have put a lot of hours into Skyrim. It’s a great game that draws you in and sucks away your life. However, there is a certain point when you simply ask yourself “Now What?”. My character isn’t fully leveled, sitting at level 43. I don’t have an achievement earning level of gold, or all the best possible items. There is simply no need to become stronger as I can kill everything I come across and I have enough gold to buy any items I need which is none because the powerful potions I’ve stumbled across in dungeons are more than sufficient to last me the rest of my play time. I’ve completed all of the major quest lines as well as many of the smaller quests. I know they’re out there but they can be a pain in the ass to find. I’ve mostly been wandering around hoping for a quest to fall into my lap or at least a powerful enemy to fight. So needless to say when I heard there was an expansion being released I was excited. Hoping that like Nights of The Nine and Shivering Isles for Oblivion, this would allow me to continue a game I loved with new things to do. Dawnguard has not disappointed in this field.
*This review contains mild spoilers*
I’ll say this right off the bat. I don’t use horses. So the added feature of horseback combat has no appeal to me, I haven’t used it, and I therefore can’t comment on the quality of this feature.
Followers have changed in the fact that you can now have a lot of them at once. As a vampire you can have a death hound follow you, as a Dawnguard member you can have an armored troll. So in total for your personal team you can have. A follower, a death hound/armored troll, and a summon (if you’ve done the Dark Brotherhood quest line this can be the Spectral Assassin who is a constant summon). If your follower can summon that’s one more for a total of four. You now officially have a posse, congratulations.
The crossbow. It’s actually pretty awesome if you have a high enough marksman skill. While probably not the best weapon for long shots it is good for quickly dispatching enemies that are getting too close.
Vampires and Werewolves. Rejoice those of you who enjoy being an evil creature of the night. These have been greatly improved. I can not speak too much for the werewolf end of things because one of the first things I did with the new DLC was ditch my werewolf form in favor of the vampire lord form. As werewolves you can now unlock werewolf perks. These allow you to make your werewolf form stronger and helps to overcome that nasty feeling that the werewolf was designed for lower level enemies. As a vampire (through the Dawnguard quest line) you may now use the vampire lord form. This is similar to the werewolf transformation but with a few key differences. First you can change into a vampire lord as many times a day as you like for as long as you like. This is a great alternative to the once a day for a limited amount of time transformation of the werewolf. This also means if you can change back as soon as you like rather than doing what you intended and then sitting around waiting to change back. The vampire lord also has a much different combat system. You have the option of spell mode (hovering above the ground and duel wielding spells) or melee mode (on the ground fighting with claws). You also have a variety of powers at your disposal, with the ability to unlock more through perks. Health also regenerates as the vampire lord.
Challenge level has increased, much to the joy of those who have been playing Skyrim a lot. There have been some more challenging enemies added to the game but the way in which you have to fight enemies has also been ramped up. In Skyrim the enemies generally came at you in groups of 3 to 4 giving you lots of breathing room and as the game progressed, lets you kill entire rooms full of enemies without breaking a sweat. A few things have been done to tweak this. Smaller groups of enemies may now use smarter tactics. Instead of being randomly placed and easily within reach no matter what equipment or skills they have, you may encounter a few close ranged fighters close up, with ranged fighters being in a very hard to reach spot i.e. the top of a tower. This sometimes happened before the DLC but this seems to be more deliberate as opposed to random flukes based on the landscape. You will also notice that you’re facing larger groups of enemies at once. Even if there is a large boss enemy you could have 7-12 enemies attacking you at once. This makes combat far more chaotic and entertaining and often left me having to use potions or find a quiet place to heal. The final difference is multiple factions. With two new factions added to Skyrim it’s now more likely that you will run into more than one at the same time and they might not always have a reason to kill each other, so they may settle on all trying to kill you. The unfortunate part of these changes is that they apply almost exclusively to DLC enemies so you will still find yourself battling off small waves of idiotic bandits.
Legendary Dragons: Were you sick of boring dragon battles? Well Bethesda decided to take the dragons, toughen them up and send them after you. The legendary dragon is not just a quest line encounter either. They will randomly appear just like other dragons. So you’re never really safe from this one.
Gargoyles: It’s always a little unnerving going through a dungeon and not knowing if something is just decoration or trying to kill you. Gargoyles are great for this. Bursting out of their stone shells only at the last moment. Some are also tough to fight so it helps keep you on edge.
Death Hounds: They’re around as followers and as enemies. They’re a bit tougher than wolves to fight but overall not a very tough enemy. They look kind of bad ass though.
Armored Trolls: It was hard the first time you fought a troll. Now some moron’s going around and giving them armor.
Bomemen: Sort of like your standard skeleton but tougher, and they come in black.
Wrathmen: Very much like the bonemen only tougher and they like to hurl spells.
Boneyard Keepers: Skeletal and very strong. May use spells and tough weapons.
Chaurus Hunters: Apparently the chaurus are metamorphic insects. Their final form resemble a large wasp and is very likely to poison you.
I played through the Dawnguard story as a vampire. If you want to know what the story is like as a member of the Dawnguard then I suggest you get the DLC and play the quest line. It really is worth your money. In the vampire story you start out as a member of the Dawnguard, a group of vampire hunters. You are sent to find a “vampire artifact” that some vampires are trying to dig up. After slaughtering your way through the vampires you open a secret compartment and find Serana inside. She has an elder scroll and has been in that place for centuries. She tells you that if you take her back home she will give you information on what major vampire movement is happening. When you get to your destination you are given a choice. Become one of the “Ancient Vampires”, an older type of vampire that can use the Vampire Lord form, or you can leave and continue your work with the Dawnguard. You will be allowed to leave unharmed because you helped Serana, but you will then be hunted by the vampires. Their goal is to fulfill a prophecy to blot out the sun. You try to learn as much as you can about the prophecy and what it means, while working closely with Serana. You can also talk to Serana to learn more about her family. The plot is great, there’s many twists to it and you get to learn some things about the Elder Scrolls universe that have until now been unknown to players.
I feel this deserves its own section because many of the people playing Skyrim were curious about the snow elves and were hoping they would come up in DLC. Bethesda left some hints in the game that they might make an appearance. In Dawnguard we get our snow elves and it is very disappointing. You only actually meet two snow elves and the only thing you learn of them is a slightly more detailed history of how the became the deformed slaves of the dwarfs. There is some hinting that they might come up again in future DLC, hopefully they will be put to better use in the future.
Dawnguard delivers everything a DLC should. New and more challenging gameplay along with a new and interesting quest line to explore. The two faction approach encourages replay of the quest line with different characters.
Final Score: 5/5