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.