I’m pretty sure Skyrim was my first review, and in that review I was pretty discontent with the excess of glitches. Much to my surprise, the Dawnguard DLC expansion has thus far been free of any noteworthy bugs. I’ve crashed to desktop a few times, but the triple autosave mechanic makes that completely forgivable. So let’s get on with the content review.
Dawnguard or Vampire Lord; Just what it says on the tin. Either you help the vampire hunters take down the bloodthirsty scourge, or you join forces with darkness and gain a bunch of kickass powers. Alternatively, you can accept the Vampire Lord powers AND join the Dawnguard. Better yet, you don’t have to worry about morality when making decisions in the DLC. Your choices can have an impact, but nothing major happens without your explicit action.
Before I get started, the lady who can change your face (located in the Thieves Guild pub in Riften) can’t touch you if you’re a vampire. If you want to get some arcane cosmetic work done, head to Morthal and talk to the innkeeper. That’ll give you access to the quest that can cure your vampirism. If you do this while working on the Vampire Lord faction questline, Harkon will scold you then give your powers back if you ask him. All you need is a filled black soul gem and 1000 gold.
A word on the Soul Cairn, which you access while searching for Serana’s mother, Valerica. This area is incredibly large and difficult to navigate, and has very little to offer aside from a single type of alchemy ingredient and three conjuration spellbooks. There are three Keeper enemies that wield dragon bone weapons, and three Reaper soul gem shards that can summon a relatively useless miniboss, but who cares? If you explore the entire Soul Cairn area, that’s about four hours of playtime wasted on trivialities. Or if you’re on the PC, use the console and save yourself the time. It looks pretty, though.
If you want the other spellbooks that teach you sunlight magic, just raid the Dawnguard fortress. I’d wait until the DLC main questline is behind you before raiding either faction area, though. You don’t want to kill anybody important. If you don’t mind, then by all means. Undead healing spells are available from the Vampire Lord area shop NPCs, but they’re pretty crappy.
The new crafting items, namely the dragon bone weapons and special crossbow bolts, are pretty fun. If you’ve already shuffled through a chunk of the gameplay and accrued a fair number of perks, you’ll be able to get the full Dawnguard crafting experience. If not, just kill people and steal junk and you’ll be fine.
The quests reward you for their occasional tediousness, the new powers and abilities are accessible and worthwhile, and the new NPCs and enemies are ever so much fun to interact with. I mean that, for once. $20 is a fair price for all the work that went into this expansion. Hell, I’d have gone to $25 for the Soul Cairn area alone, despite the fact that it took up more playtime than any other aspect of the DLC. You should see how huge that fricken place is. Conclusively, Dawnguard is good, and any Skyrim fan with a spare 20 should invest.
Jason Schreier of Kotaku didn’t seem to like Dawnguard at all, which is a shame. I get the whole “new content without new ideas” complaint, which is definitely a valid point to make, but I don’t think that kills the DLC in entirety. Hell, you can forge dragon bone weapons, and change your face without opening the console. And to the Skyrim team’s credit, more DLC is on the way which will expand the game even further. Either way, maybe it’ll help broaden your opinion to check out this review: http://kotaku.com/5922058/skyrim-dawnguard-the-kotaku-review