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Score: 75%
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG


If the intent behind Dawnguard was to get me back into Skyrim, Bethesda can drop a big mission accomplished sign. It was something I’ve wanted to do, but the option of boosting my werewolf’s abilities, killing vampires, and wielding a crossbow were just too enticing to pass up. Once I was back in, however, I found myself going back to old quests rather than diving right into Dawnguard’s quest lines. It’s not that Dawnguard is a disappointment; it just doesn’t live up to the expectations set by Skyrim.

A Whole New World?:

Dawnguard adds roughly 10 – 12 hours worth of content to a game already bursting at the seams with things to do. According to my Raptr profile, I’ve sunk nearly 138 hours into Skyrim already, and still had a massive 20+ list of quests waiting for me upon my return.

Any character level 10 or higher can begin Dawnguard after speaking to a town guard, who tells you about the re-emergence of the vampire-slaying faction. From here, you can seek out the order's leader, who sets you on a quest eventually leading to the revelation the vampires are plotting to blot out the sun using an Elder Scroll. From here, you’re given the option of stopping them, or joining them, effectively offering two completely different quest lines.

The setup is similar to the "Civil War" quests in Skyrim; you have to join one or the other. Of the two factions, the vampires are slightly more interesting than playing as the Dawnguard. Vampire quests offer more interesting quest goals, while the Dawnguard mostly relegates you to a series of fetch quests. Vampires also get a set of cool powers, while the Dawnguard only gets a crossbow. The new weapon is powerful, but only if you’ve invested in the Archery skill tree. Otherwise, it is useless.

Both quests are very linear. While there’s the chance Dawnguard adds some great new side quests I haven’t stumbled upon yet, the main quest line lacks the open feel of Skyrim’s quests. There are attempts to integrate the content better – such as random vampire and Dawnguard attacks – everything seems set off from the rest of the world.

On the plus side, some of the later battles are massive in scope; you just have to get there. Dawnguard also tosses in the option to change your character’s face – something I lamented not having in my Skyrim review.

Vampires and Werewolves… Oh My. :

Joining the vampires opens up a slate of brand new Vampire Abilities. These are somewhat interesting, though come with a number of peculiar drawbacks. The constant need to feed and aversion to sunlight are expected; though turning into a vampire restricts you from any sort of interaction with your environment beyond combat and feeding. You can’t open chests, loot enemies or check your map. You’re also thrust into a jarring third-person view the entire time. I usually play in third-person mode anyway, so I didn’t mind the requirement as much. I did mind reverting to human form every time I wanted to check my map or pass through any place with low ceilings. Vampires are taller than most structures in Skyrim, making navigation a pain.

Werewolves get a new group of abilities as well, though they come with most of the same technical drawbacks as vampires. They can’t loot or check maps, but can at least get through every door in the realm. At least here, I can understand not being able to loot or anything, but its annoying to clear out areas then have to go back through them to search for new items.

Both alternate forms are more useful for low-level characters. By the time you hit level 45+, there’s a good chance you’ll do more damage without transforming. Unfortunately, you’ll miss out on the new skills if you don’t transform. It would be really cool if some abilities carried over (enhanced strength, for example), but sadly they don’t.


With Dawnguard’s 1600 MSP ($20) price tag, I was expecting something more inline with Oblivion’s massive Shivering Isles expansion. I wasn’t unsatisfied with Dawnguard’s offerings; I just wasn’t super impressed with it. It’s more content and some new weapons, but doesn’t have the same pull as Skyrim.

Dawnguard is a worthwhile investment if you’re a massive fan of Skyrim and desperately searching for something else to do. If, on the other hand, you were waiting for Dawnguard before deciding if you wanted to jump back into the game, it might not provide the experience you’re looking for.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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