Skyrim: Dawnguard XBOX 360 review

August 8, 2012

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher(s): Bethesda Softworks
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Release Date(s): June 26, 2012 (Xbox 360), Q3 2012 (PS3, PC)

When I first caught wind of The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard DLC, I was quite skeptical. It seemed like Bethesda was just going the opposite direction of The Elder Scrolls III expansion Bloodmoon. Since they focused on werewolves in the Companions quest-line in the main game, vampires would naturally have to be involved in the first piece of downloadable content. Is this add-on worth your twenty bucks? The short answer: Yes! It adds an eight hour campaign to Skyrim's already lengthy main quest and introduces new and foreign environments, while intertwining an intriguing story with interesting characters. These aren't your pansy Twilight vampires. These are life-draining demon lords of the arcane! Also, crossbows officially rule.

The Good
- Interesting new characters
- 8+ hours for the campaign
- Side with either the Dawnguard or the Volkihar Clan
- Perk trees for being either a werewolf or a vampire
- Being a vampire rules
- Using a crossbow rules

The Bad
- Some of the new environments are bland
- Can be buggy at times
- Easier for higher level characters

The expansion begins when you hear that vampires are attacking the citizens of Skyrim, so you seek out a group of vampire hunters known as the Dawnguard. New environments such as Fort Dawnguard and Castle Volkihar are welcome additions to the game's already impressive landscapes. The Soul Cairn, on the other hand, is a barren, way-too-purple wasteland used only for a small fetch quest and boss fights. Speaking of boss fights, they are epic in Dawnguard. Everything from diving dragons to besting and being able to summon Durehviir (who is way more badass than Odahviig by the way) is amazingly fun. New additions to gameplay such as crossbows and being a towering vampire lord are so satisfying. When you are in your vampire lord form, you can float around using your right hand to drain enemy's life and your left hand to resurrect the dead and have them fight for you. When you aren't floating, you can flail away at enemies in a similar fashion to when you are in your werewolf form.

What's interesting about playing in this particular mode, is that there is now a perk tree
specifically for vampires. The same thing is true for werewolves. You don't spend points after leveling up to increase your powers in these skill trees either. You gain points for the amount of kills you get as either a vampire or werewolf. It's interesting that this is a focus now, especially in some of Dawnguard's bigger fight scenes. There really was no reward or benefit from being a werewolf in the main campaign, so I personally did not use my power to transform into a big, hairy, howling beast very often.

Being a vampire was much more appealing to me as a fan of characters specializing in Magicka and the arcane. One of the main drawbacks to being a master of the undead is that, in the sunlight, your stamina does not regenerate. Luckily, this didn't affect my level forty Khajiit very much, who is proficient in destruction and restoration magicka, but if you play a more beefy, tank-like character you may want to stay on the werewolf path. The eight hour expansion features plenty of re-playability options with two separate factions to choose from, a variety of important decisions to make that impact the storyline, and fun, different  gameplay mechanics.

As a fan of Morrowind and Oblivion's expansions, Bethesda has proven once again that crafting a killer piece of add-on content for a game that seemingly never ends like Skyrim, can be done - and can be done well. Giving us a unique, fun add-on campaign, regardless of the path we choose, is what Bethesda has been doing for years and, hopefully, Dawnguard is only the first of multiple, quality Skyrim expansions to come.

Review by Michael Engle

Final Score “A Must Have” 8.5
Beautifully designed new areas expand on an already stunning universe. The DLC continues to impress.
The new gameplay elements are a nice welcome to the already complex mechanics of Skyrim. Floating around as a vampire demon is a blast.
Whether you side with the vampires or choose to fight them, the story is great value for the money.
As spectacular as always. The voice acting is still top notch and the growling of the vampires is delicious.

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  1. Think I might shell out and buy this! I got 1000/1000 on Skyrim, so it's been bugging me to get the rest of those achievements ha-ha!

  2. If this is just the first DLC for Skyrim, imagine what's in store for us a few months from now! Can't wait to see what Bethesda is brewing behind the doors. :)


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