The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly Of Skyrim : Dawnguard
Christopher Dowdall Gives Us A Low Down On Skyrims Latest Downloadable DLC
As a huge fan of the elder scrolls series I eagerly awaited the first add on for Skyrim. I loved that it gave me a new reason to play as I had already spent upwards of 150 hours in the game and completed all the guilds, major side quests, main storyline and daedric quests. I did enjoy the DLC, however it could have been allot better and it is a bit pricey. I would never have paid that much for DLC if it wasn’t Skyrim. As far as glitches and bugs I did expect a few here and there and my experience wasn’t as bad as some other players, my game crashed once or twice and there were occasional frame rate issues as well as waiting and auto save times seeming to take longer, but hopefully this will all be patched soon enough. I don’t know if this was just me but there also seemed to be a big increase in dragon encounters in one playthrough of the new questline as a vampire lord I must have ended 9 or 10 dragons, even encountering 2 dragons at a time, which had only happened once in my total playtime of the game.
Anyway the main reason of this article is to let people know what in-game content they can expect from Dawnguard and sadly it’s not a great deal, but there are a few nice features that fans will enjoy, if you consider new in game weapons and features spoilers then look away now.
After playing the Shivering Isles on Oblivion you can’t help but expect the same level of quality it was, to quote Aladdin “a whole new world” with a multitude of new enemies, weapons, armour, environments and spells. Whereas Dawnguard the environment is largely the same snowy mountainous areas you always see, there isn’t an entirely new area to go to, the quests you do require you to visit places you’ve likely already discovered. There are new buildings such as the vampire’s gothic castle: Volkihar, which does look pretty impressive with the swirling dark clouds surrounding it, crows flying and the stone gargoyles that are perched on the walk way to the front door. Then there’s the Dawnguard fort which also looks pretty large but similar to other forts in the game. The inside was a little disappointing as well with cobwebs and random things strewn across the floor. I was hoping that this indicated that you would be able to restore the fort to its former glory like you can with the thieves guild but as I finished both playthroughs I found this wasn’t the case. Castle Volkihar’s interior however was much more impressive, as I entered I found vampires sitting down to a massive feast with potions of blood on the tables, human skulls and skeletal hands on bloody plates and even human cattle laid across the tables being munched on by vampires. I even clicked on one of these bodies and much to my amusement they let out a groan as they were still alive.
The vampire’s faces have become noticeably more beast like with clearer bone structures, beast-like noses and glowing orange eyes. Then there’s the brand new vampire lord form which looks pretty impressive, players will look like a larger more muscled version of Kain from the Soul Reaver/Legacy of Kain games with large folded bat wings and claws. There are also two modes of attack, your hovering spell slinging form and you’re on foot melee attack. Perks are gained by killing enemies with a life absorbing spell in hover mode or a blood sucking execution move in melee attack mode. This can get annoying as the absorb life spell can be quite weak and the melee attack doesn’t always trigger a bite sequence. When levelled up players are able to have a swarm of bats around them during combat that also leech health from your enemies, turn into mist form where you cannot be attacked, bat form to dash around quickly from enemies, but what I enjoyed most was the vampire grip spell which drags enemies through the air towards you and chokes them mid air Darth Vader style and upon release of the grip enemies are launched through the air. I had great fun doing this to large enemies like bears as I threw them of cliffs or straight up to see if the fall would kill them and those pesky Falmer were easier to deal with when you can just throw them down an icy crevice. Players can also change back and forth between vampire lord and human form whenever they want, which is handy when looting bodies or as I found quite frequently when your vampire lord form is too big to fit through passageways.
Werewolves are not a part of either storyline but have also received a new skill tree the main advantages this brings is increased health and damage and your howl, that causes weaker enemies to flee, can also be improved to affect higher level enemies and if you find any ice wolves or other werewolves they will join you in combat, however since that is an extremely rare occasion it is largely useless. At least werewolves are now more powerful whereas without the DLC they tend to become weak at higher levels, but still I would have liked to have seen some genuinely useful abilities like the vampire lord has.
Other additions to the game include the introduction of dragon bone weapons which weigh more than daedric weapons but also have slightly more attack power, players are able to create these weapons at a forge or retrieve them from a select few mini bosses you face in the storyline. Vampires and Dawnguard also have their own armour but it’s nothing compared to the daedric armour that you most likely have at this point and then there’s the crossbow, which I found largely useless with slow firing, average damage and as far as I could tell only one type. So in terms of weapons and armour you’re not getting a great deal, especially when you consider that the Shivering Isles featured new and improved heavy and light armour and weapons. I definitely would have loved to see more valuable equipment, perhaps even a new daedric quest, which they could have easily done as they even mention the light God Auri-El in the main quest line.
Depending on which side you take, you can also hire different followers which even include the new death hound, which is a beastly black dog-like creature, a normal dog with leather armour on and, wait for it...an armoured frost troll! As cool as this is they are again largely useless they are slow, weak and do little damage, often arriving after you’ve painted the walls with your enemies blood and the Dawnguard dog never stops barking so I had to send him home before I killed him myself. You can also get your fellow Dawnguard to join you or the vampire follower Serana, who is actually a very powerful follower that uses magic to electrocute, drain enemies and revive them from death to fight for her.
Aside from the main quest line and a few side quests that quickly end up repeating themselves, there is also a major side quest in which you search for an ancient dwarven forge. Players will again, have to search through many dwarven ruins they have already discovered in search of shards to unlock the forge. Upon completion of this players can make one item at the forge a crown, shield or staff. I’ll leave you to find out what they do, but apart from being one of a kind items their not overly useful and it did annoy me that I couldn’t make a weapon, surely this would have been a perfect opportunity to include improved armour and weapons with greater stats than daedric?
I did enjoy my time with Dawnguard but there’s certainly allot of missed opportunities here to include improved and more useful items and equipment. I hope that Bethesda pay close attention to forums and fans for any future content, what we really want is a vastly different new area to explore with more villages and cities, new weapons, armour and spells that are actually useful to high level players. They have already achieved this in the Shivering Isles and in the Bloodmoon, Tribunal add ons for Morrowind that brought some big changes. I would have loved to see the return of the arena from Oblivion or vampire guilds from Morrowind or something entirely new and engaging altogether, but I have faith that Bethesda will take note of Dawnguard’s criticisms and that they will provide players with bigger and better content in the future.
To Game, Or Not To Game.
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