The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard Review

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard (Available on PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1
Genre: RPG
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Release Date: June 26, 2012 (360 version only, TBA on PC and PS3)
Price: 1,600 MS Points / $20.00

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Dawnguard M for mature.  The DLC features all the same blood, gore, strong language, suggestive themes, etc. that were present in Skyrim.  As an expansion pack this should come as no surprise, and anyone that wasn’t able to play Skyrim clearly can’t play through this new DLC.

Plays Like: If you have played any of the modern Elder Scrolls games you know exactly what to expect.  This is an expansion to the extremely popular open-world first-person RPG Skyrim, and in my opinion it’s DLC that is well worth purchasing.  You get a massive amount of new locations to explore, new weapons and items to pick up, along with a wide assortment of new quests to complete.

Review Basis: Completed everything the DLC had to offer.  A huge shout out goes to Bethesda for sending along a review code.

Dawnguard is a fantastic piece of DLC.  It feels almost like a small expansion and will likely be adored by fans of Skyrim.  Any excuse to return to this lush and beautiful world is a welcome one in my book.  Bethesda has learned a lot since the early days of horse armor, and thankfully the 1,600 Microsoft Points feels well spent on this twelve-hour adventure.

The Great:

New locations, new weapons and items, as well as a great side-story make Dawnguard a must-download for any fan of Skyrim.  You have the opportunity to traverse a section of the oblivion realm, visit all new areas high atop a mountain range, and take on a great vampire clan.  New locations pop up on your map the minute the DLC is downloaded, and once you initiate the new quest line, a wide assortment of side-missions and other goodies unlock.

The Good:

+ Excellent story.  The Dawnguard are a group of vampire hunters, and depending on how you play your cards you can help them eradicate all the vampires in the land, or play them for fools and aid the vampires is finally getting rid of the pesky Dawnguard forever.

+ Becoming a vampire lord is awesome.  Not only do you gain access to an entirely new perk tree, but you also get all sorts of cool new powers.  You can levitate, teleport short distances, and suck the life out of enemies.  There are countless other surprises that unlock the more you play as a vampire lord.

+ Large amount of quests and variety for the first DLC pack.  From battling huge monsters atop great frozen lakes, to solving puzzles and hours of conversations with NPCs, Dawnguard will keep you glued to your 360 for at least a dozen hours or more.

+ Superb production values.  Sometimes I forget just how beautiful Skyrim is, and let’s not forget about the incredible soundtrack and excellent voice acting.  The new locations in particular are jaw-dropping.

The So-So:

+/- Certain environmental obstacles will force players to transform back into human form because their vampire lord will not be able to fit through these areas.  It’s a bizarre level design choice Bethesda made because this new power is so cool players will want to stay in this form for as long as possible.  Instead you’re constantly forced to switch back and forth.

+/- Aiding the Dawnguard is the ‘right’ thing to do, however you miss out on so much.  I highly recommend playing through the DLC both ways to experience everything it has to offer.

The Bad:

– Bugs remains problematic.  It’s unclear where they stem from (the original game, or this new DLC), but some waypoints are broken, AI companions sometimes turn on you for no reason, noticeable drop in framerate, and certain objects won’t allow you to activate them because the game thinks you’re still in combat even though there’s no one around.

The Ugly:

You can’t play as a vampire lord in first-person, so you see all the gruesome fun in third person, and it looks awesome…except for the innocent villagers you brutally murder.

The Lowdown:

Dawnguard is a fantastic first expansion to Skyrim and one every fan will want to download.  Yes the bugs suck, but the thrilling new storyline, new weapons and items, and loads of interesting and fun quests all come together to make this an experience that you shall not soon forget.  Don’t let it pass you by.

Final Score: 8/10

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