Review | Skyrim: Dawnguard
After putting 100 hours in Skyrim, I was looking forward to getting back into the game thanks to Dawnguard.
After hearing it was announced, I expected content like The Shivering Isles in Oblivion. However, what was actually given seems more akin to Knights of the Nine.
The content kicks off by introducing you to the Dawnguard, a group trying to find the vampires in the world and kill them. By talking to them, they give you a new type of weapon, the crossbow, and send you on your way to kill.
The first mission also introduces you to the vampire lord Harkon, who offers to turn you into a vampire lord for rescuing his daughter and recovering an Elder Scroll. Given this was the big addition the game, I finally gave up my werewolf form and became the vampire lord.
The power I almost never used, though, considering how clunky it seemed. The transformation from character to vampire lord takes time and slowed the game down, and the third-person view given for the lord makes it hard to aim the spells and melee attacks.
Some interesting powers were added for the lord, though, if you want to use it. The lord can raise killed characters up as minions, can quickly teleport across the room as bats and can learn new abilities from the vampire lord skill tree. The lord levels up by killing more people as a lord. There’s also a new werewolf skill tree with similar requirements to level up.
Unfortunately, the vampire lord still suffers the drawbacks vampires do. Sunlight still causes a hit to health and stamina, and the longer you go without feeding, the worse your appearance gets but you develop more vampire skills. Thankfully, Harkon’s castle has vampire cattle you can use to feed and restore yourself.
Getting back to the story, you team up with Serana, the daughter, to try and find a weapon that supposedly can black out the sun. To find it, you better be ready to traipse through some caves.
The content seems more like a guild that was left out with the content given, not a separate piece of content altogether. In fact, there are only two new areas you go to, the Soul Cairn and Forgotten Vale. The Soul Cairn looked different and interesting, but it was an area that was fairly empty with randomly spawning enemies and a few quests to find. The Forgotten Vale also looked impressive, but again, except for enemies, you’re just walking from one area to the next to find wayshrines, similar to Knights of the Nine.
The weapon you find does give some interesting abilities, that I don’t want to spoil here and getting the bow also requires you to meet a race that was previously thought gone. I’d be lying if I said the content didn’t add some interesting backstory to the universe, but most of it is places you’ve seen before.
As far as enemies go, there’s really only one new type of enemy: the gargoyle. You don’t run into them too often, which is disappointing given that they drop crafting ores and gems. However, there have been some new skins added to enemies, such as Death Hounds, a wolf reskin, Armored Trolls and Frost Giants.
Legendary dragons has also been added to the game to kill, but I still haven’t run across one yet in my treks. However, I did run across Voslaarum and Naaslaarum, two dragons that can break through the ice and swim, which looked pretty interesting. I also fought an interesting dragon in the Soul Cairn that will give you something useful. The Cairn also features enemies such as the Bonemen, Wrathmen and Boneyard Keepers.
The content also adds a lot more random attacks in cities and the countryside. Some of the attacks can get pretty bad, too. Not in difficulty, but in killing bigger characters in cities. The first city I went to after the content was installed, Whiterun, saw the blacksmith die thanks to a random attack.
There’s also a new ability to change your character’s look in Riften if you want by paying 1,000 to Galathil, although I didn’t find a reason to do it except for the Achievement. The content also adds two new Shouts.
Probably about the only other thing to mention is the level balance. Enemies will go from simple skeletons to gargoyle brutes to skeletons to frost giants. There’s no slope of difficulty, it just seemed to bounce all over the place.
If you’re a Skyrim fan, don’t worry, you’ll still have fun with the content. It gives players a new reason to get back into the game and does offer some new things to find. However, players expecting something big like the Fallout content or Shivering Isles will be disappointed.