In my Dawnguard trailer review I was really excited about the expansion. I thought, like most other people, that it would be released on July 26th for PS3, 30 days after the Xbox 360 release. Yet it didn’t. I did some more research on the release date and came across a lot of mad people. Dawnguard was never actually announced for PS3 and PC. Everyone just thought it was going to come out for PS3 and PC. It was released on August 2nd and still hasn’t been released for PS3. I caved in and bought it for PC, which I didn’t really want to do because it’s a bit laggy on my PC even though it’s Alienware. So very sad.
Now that I have played a bit of the expansion, I have to say I’m not that happy with it. I thought it was going to be in an area not in Skyrim, but the main parts of the quests are. The only other places you can go is between the mountains of Skyrim and Morrowind to the Dawnguard castle. The other places is into the Soul Cairn, which is part of the expansion quest line and there’s not much to do there, but that is where you can get another mount, Arvak, which is a conjuration skill and costs 120 magicka.
I choose to be with the Vampires because of the benefits you get, but I realized that the benefits come with the same amount of negative affect. You take more fire damage while taking less ice damage, your sneaking ability is improved but you can’t regenerate anything while in the sun, and you take even more fire damage while in the sun but you resist more frost damage.
However, the biggest perk of all is the Vampire Lord power. You can turn into a cool looking Vampire Lord. You can use magic spells when you hover, like Life Drain and Force Choke. But when you run out of magicka you can go on the ground and use your claws. When in the Vampire Lord form, you can turn back into a normal vampire anytime you want and vise verse, unlike the Werewolf. They have also added perk trees for the Vampire Lord and Werewolf’s, which you can spend skill points in and become even more powerful.
If you are a vampire before Dawnguard, then you know that people in towns will attack you on sight when you are a full vampire. This has been changed. You will no longer be attack when you enter a town or village if you are a vampire, but people do comment on your pale skin and eyes. If you turn into a Vampire Lord, you will get attacked and get a bounty just like if you were to turn into a Werewolf.
They finally put in dragon bone weapons, which I have not been able to use unfortunately, but I have been attacked with them. When I defeated the enemy, the weapons and armour disappeared because they were Bonemen, which I will talk about next. For the new weapons, they added crossbows which stay loaded while put away and always have a chance of staggering enemies, but are slow to reload. They use bolts instead of arrows. Bolts and arrows can now be made at the forge and the bolts and arrows themselves can be enchanted with fire or frost damage.
Finally, mounted combat – what Bethesda should have put into the base game. It’s so helpful when you are riding and get attacked, you don’t have to get off your horse. You can use your bow, crossbow, or any other weapon on horseback even magic. I found this so helpful and time saving, though you still have to dismount if you want to loot your kill.
Now, the new enemies. Either Vampires or the Dawnguard, depending on who you choose to help. What I found hardest to kill was the new armoured trolls, maybe because I was only level 12 and you have to be level 10 to start the Dawnguard expansion. There are also legendary dragons, but I haven’t seen any yet – just Gargoyles and Death Hounds. The Gargoyles are so hard to kill. When they are still, they turn into stone and can’t be damaged. But when they move around, you better have a good amount of health potions and pretty good skills to kill them. The first time I encountered them I was only level 11 and wasn’t expecting them and they totally destroyed me. I have to “tgm” it, but I really don’t like doing that.
Have you ever wondered where the souls go when you trap them in your soul gems and then use them? Well, they go to the soul cairn. There you will encounter Bonemen, Wrathmen and Boneyard Keepers, and a dragon.
With the addition of new items, weapons, spells and shouts, 60 new characters, new armour, creatures and 23 new locations, I got bored with it. Maybe it’s because I have been playing Skyrim for so long, with 10 different accounts and probably 100 hours played. I found that the Vampire Lord was overpowered against normal enemies and the quests aren’t actually that fun. Maybe it’s because I have been playing too long. But, I think that if you really like Skyrim, which I do, it’s only worth $15 not the $20 they are charging.
It’s not what I was expecting when I was excited about it a month ago. I think they released it too late into the game’s life cycle – 6 months after Skyrim‘s initial release. I’ve just gotten bored with the game. If they released it sooner, I would have been so excited to play it, but it’s a game where I can only play so much. I hope if you buy it, which would have to be for PC or Xbox 360 for now, that you have loads of fun with it. I think it can be really fun with the addition of all the new stuff. Have fun with it!
-Ben Voss, Journalist and Member of the Editing Council