The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard Review

When the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released last November, a massive gaming experience was opened up to millions of players.  But there's always new features to add and stories to tell.  Bethesda has released the first official expansion for the fifth installment in their fantasy series, titled Dawnguard.

When the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released last November, a massive gaming experience was opened up to millions of players.  But there’s always new features to add and stories to tell.  Bethesda has released the first official expansion for the fifth installment in their fantasy series, titled Dawnguard.  The expansion adds a new quest line and two factions, although you have to choose which one you’d rather be working with.  You can join the Dawnguard, for which the expansion is named, a group of vampire hunters who utilize crossbows, attack huskies, and armored trolls, or the Vampires of Castle Volkihar.  You’re probably thinking, “this game already has vampires,” but Bethesda has added a new Vampire form, known as the Vampire Lord.

Similar to werewolf transformations in the base game, the Dawnguard expansion allows players to become Vampire lords, granting them the ability to transform into flying gargoyle-esque creatures.  Vampire lords gain a new skill tree, rather than gaining these perks through spending skill points, you gain new skills as you feed on the unwilling citizens of Skyrim.  The more you feed, the more powerful you become.  In order to make being a vampire a much more viable option in the game, villagers will no longer attack vampires while in their human form.  As an added bonus, Bethesda included a werewolf tree, adding new perks that can be gained through feeding as well.  A player cannot be a werewolf and a vampire at the same time though.

While playing as a vampire offers new abilities and a new form, playing as the noble Dawnguard opens up a whole new set of equipment and gear.  The vampire hunters have their own set of armor, a light variant and a heavy one, along with their own war axe and war hammer.  However, the crossbow is where the main reason to join the Dawnguard.  By taking on a series of side quests for a member of the Dawnguard you can learn how to craft improved versions of the steel crossbow, a Dwarven crossbow, and an enhanced version of the Dwarven weapon.  In order to ensure you always have enough ammo, the Dawnguard expansion adds fletching, giving the player the ability to smith arrows and crossbow bolts.  In terms of arrows, you can smith any type that you would normally find, with the exception of ancient Nord, Falmer, and Forsworn arrows.  For bolts you can craft iron and Dwarven, along with exploding frost, shock, and fire variants of the two.  Crossbow adds to the archery skill, and fletching adds to a player’s smithing.

Arrow smithing had been a popular mod on the PC since the game’s release, as it seemed like an obvious feature that was missing in the game.  Yet another feature that seemed to be lacking in the vanilla game that was made into a mod was Dragonbone weapons.  With the Dawnguard expansion, players gain access to Dragonbone weapons.  For those on the console who do not have access to mods, the addition of fletching and Dragonbone weapons are great additions to the game.

Dawnguard is a true expansion pack, adding not only a new quest line and side quests, but new skill trees, weapons, armor, and brand new areas to explore.  The integration of new content into the existing framework is seamless, new areas are worked into the existing terrain, and locations from the base game are reused in new and creative ways.  My only complaint about the expansion is that my game has crashed numerous times since installing the DLC, something that rarely happened beforehand.  Still, Bethesda games and DLCs are known for shipping with a lot of bugs, and I had not experienced a single bug in my entire play through.  Bethesda has created what I consider to be the best DLC that I have ever played, and I cannot wait to see what else they have in store.

  • New weapons and gear
  • New skill trees, arrow smithing and Dragonbone weapons
  • Seamless integration

  • Numerous game crashes following installation

Score: 5/5

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About George Alex

George is a co-founder of Zero Period Productions, a small gaming-centric production team. He works for the Zero Period team as a commentator, video editor, writer, and creative lead for the group he helped to found.