It’s been nearly 8 months since the release of 2011’s critically acclaimed The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. During that time, Bethesda has been hard at work on the game’s first add-on. After many patches and free features added, the content fans have been waiting for has finally arrived. The biggest question many have been asking is, “Was the wait worth it?” Considering The Elder Scrolls has always been about letting you craft your own personal story throughout the games’ massive worlds and many quests, the answer is highly debatable.

The story of Dawnguard revolves around the return of a vampire lord by the name of Harkon. His goal is based off a prophecy that the tyranny of the sun will be ended for the greater good of all vampires. As the Dragonborn, you’re given the option of joining forces with the Volkihar vampires, or rebel against them with the Dawnguard, an elite group of vampire hunters. During my time with Dawnguard, I decided it would be best to play through both sides of the story and experience all the add-on has to offer to get the best representation the expansion. This brought many good things, along with a few bad.

First and foremost, Dawnguard adds a ton of new content and features aside from the many quests it offers. For me, the biggest was the addition of being able to craft arrows. After nearly 180+ hours of play, smithing became useless to me. Being able to craft ammo for my favorite bow has made all my hard smithing work relevant again, as has the ability to craft dragonbone weapons. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as satisfied with the armaments as I was the arrows. Certain dragon bone weapons, like the longsword and bow, look pretty awesome. Other weapons look rushed and lazy. I’ve seen YouTube videos of mods created by fans that are more eye candy than what Bethesda has crafted.

While the effort is appreciated, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. Thankfully, quite a few new weapons and armor were added from the vampire and Dawnguard sides. Bethesda also made quite a few color variants for each set. Aside from some new loot, the biggest additions are the Vampire Lord transformation and perks for the form and Werewolves. Personally, I was never to fond of the whole “Vampires vs Werewolves” spiel, but Dawnguard has made me do a 180. I absolutely love it.

The Vampire Lord is some of the most fun I’ve had in Skyrim in a long time. With specific skills and attacks for floating or being on the ground, it really gives you quite of variety in play style, and leveling up to gain further perks is as entertaining as it should be. My personal favorite is Vampiric Grip. This ability allowed me to take sweet revenge on the entire city of Solitude. Ending with me gripping the Jarl in mid-air, then tossing her high in the sky over her own castle walls. It was quite exhilarating.

The Werewolf side of things is a bit dull sadly, especially if you have a companion. To gain perks as a Werewolf you must feed off your foes. The problem is, ninety percent of the time they were wiped out by my companion. For whatever reason, I could never seem to feed off fallen foes from my companion. Even if you decide to go alone, having to feed off every enemy becomes a long, tedious chore. Not to mention the perks themselves aren’t nearly as entertaining as those found on the vampire side of things.


  1. In my mind I like the vampire lord transformation more than werewolf. It does seem fun to hold someone in the air like a rag doll and then throw them off a cliff.. Try it in the game sometime. I recommend throat of the world or another tall mountain. Only shame about the vampire side is the weaknesses in the sun. Stunted sucks.

  2. This is mostly in response to the very end of this RipTen review, and to some other reviews on other sites.

    One annoyance I have with a lot of reviews of DLC and expansion packs, and specifically with Dawnguard:

    Dawnguard is not an expansion pack. Dawnguard is only a DLC. It is a big DLC, yes, but it is only DLC. The problem with many reviews is that they review Dawnguard as if it is a full-blown expansion pack, and not just a DLC.

    For people who are confused about the distinction or what they mean, here are some examples and clarifications:

    Lord of Destruction (Diablo II), Tribunal (Morrowind), Bloodmoon (Morrowind), and Shivering Isles (Oblivion) were all expansion packs. LoD, Tribunal, and Bloodmoon were obvious expansion packs, as DLC did not exist in its current form when those came out. So what sets Shivering Isles apart from the other DLC? It says it’s an expansion pack on the retail box and online images and descriptions.

    Knights of the Nine (Oblivion) and Dawnguard (Skyrim) are DLCs. They are not expansions. Nowhere anywhere does any advertising for Dawnguard nor Kot9 say that either are expansions. They are solely DLC.

    To summarize, some expansions are DLC, but not all DLCs are expansions.

    • Every piece of content you mentioned expands the base game. DLC means “downloadable content.” The two are not mutually exclusive. 

      DLC is a vehicle (as opposed to having to purchase a new disc with content). “Expansion pack” refers to content that adds quests, storyline and other items that provide additional play time. I would not consider costumes/skins, cheat codes or weapon packs to be “expansion packs.” They simply provide different ways to experience the same content. Knights of the Nine, Shivering Isles, Dawnguard, etc all provide new things to experience that are different than the core game.

      • I will clarify.

        Dawnguard and Knights of the Nine are not defined by Bethesda as “expansion packs”. Shivering Isles, Tribunal, and Bloodmoon ARE defined as “expansion packs” by Bethesda. I make this claim by looking at the “box art” for each release.

        I find Chris Carlton saying in this article that Dawnguard is an expansion is misleading to Bethesda’s classification of their own content.

        Also, I never said DLC and expansion packs were mutually exclusive. I wrote that in the end of my post.

        • If you’re going to talk about me, at least spell my name right :P 

          Seriously though. If you want to get technical, in the first paragraph of my review I stated:

          “Bethesda has been hard at work on the game’s first add-on”

          Continuing into the review, I never once said Dawnguard was an “Expansion Pack”. I closed with saying “Dawnguard is a great first expansion”, because that’s exactly what it does. It expands upon the base game, but it’s certainly not an “Expansion Pack”. 

          •  I apologize, both for spelling your name wrong and being a general butt. I am sorry.

            I meant it more as a general rant about people in general messing it up, and not you personally.

            You are correct in saying that you never said that it was an expansion pack. However, I still stand by my 2nd comment, where I say that I think it is misleading.

            I am sorry what I said was mean-sounding and very direct.