Dawnguard Dungeons and Dawnguard Dragons
The first expansion DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim brings a lot of bang for your buck. Dawnguard is bringing new skill trees, new realms, new mounts, new weapons, new dragons, a host of new and very impressive new characters, new factions, new monstrous beast forms, and MORE to Skyrim. The new DLC will be accessible to level 10 and above, to find an explore; once purchased and downloaded, the Dawnguard DLC contents become fully integrated parts of your Skyrim world (as it was with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion). The DLC will launch Tuesday, June 26, for 1600 MSP as an early access Xbox exclusive, coming to PC and PS3 later on. (Be sure to check out the gallery of Dawnguard screen shots and more, at the bottom!)
DAWNGUARD DLC CONTENT
The DLC brings a wealth of content to the game, up to 20 hours of entirely new gameplay and a host of new characters and features. One minor but (literally) refreshing new character is a woman in Riften who lets characters change their appearance; though race and gender will still be unchangeable, you can finally redesign the look of your character, which is especially good if they’ve evolved and you’d like it reflected with an appearance to match. There is also the spectral mount, a horse called Arvak, that can be summoned from the Soul Cairn, a plane of Oblivion ruled by the Ideal Masters. With Update 1.6, which includes mounted combat, dropping this week, Arvak offers even more exciting prospects for gameplay.
But by far the biggest news, and the main questline of Dawnguard revolves around VAMPIRES. Not just any vampires, but “pure vampires” lead by a powerful and ruthlessly ambitious vampire lord, Lord Harkon. As the trailer for Dawnguard suggests, he’s not content with the limitations of being nocturnal. (Azura, preserve us!) Speaking of Daedra, the Daedric prince, Molag Bal oversees the “pure vampires,” so there’s a chance to learn more about him, too. In the main fight, players can opt to join the faction of the pure vampires of Lord Harkon’s vampiric court, or to battle against them as part of the Dawnguard, a society of vampire hunters. As a pure vampire, your character takes on highly powerful abilities, including vampire lord form, which allows your character to morph into a flying, telekinetic nosferatu and de-materialize into a swarm of bats. Additionally as a high-level pure vampire you can utilize the Soul Tear shout (gained by killing a particular dragon, Durnehviir, new to the game, guardian of the Soul Cairn) … ‘Soul Tear’ allows you to rend and keep the souls of your victims, you can then summon them to fight for you later. (Whether this shout is available to non-vampires, is unclear.)
TIP: The first step to joining either side is to make your way to Fort Dawnguard… it may not seem like it, but this is also the entry to joining the vampires.
New skill trees for vampire lords and for werewolves are both parts of the Dawnguard feature upgrades. Feasting on your victims promotes your power and progress in either skill tree. Vampires can feed on victims to the point of death, which allows your character to draw high-level powers from their life force. As a werewolf you will be able to feast on the corpses of your fallen in order to achieve high level powers.
New weapons are also a part of Dawnguard, cross-bows have been added, as well as a legendary long-bow, Auriel’s Bow. Dragon bone is getting a crafting upgrade, too, that will let you make the most powerful items in the game; a change that makes all the to-do about dragons much more worthwhile. So, if beast-form isn’t always your thing, there’s still some powerful all-new combat content coming that will be available to you. (Tip: Store up some ebony.)
ONE DETAILED PREVIEW (via CVG) **Caution: spoilers
NORTH OF THE BORDER
Your fellow vampire Serena has traced her mother Valerica to Castle Valkihar, far north of Northwatch Keep. An all-new area, Valkihar lies on an island far out at sea in an area shrouded on Skyrim’s map. There you’ll find a portal to Oblivion – an experiment conducted by Valerica which saw her become trapped in Oblivion’s Soul Cairn with dozens of other lost souls. Passing through the portal begins the quest Beyond Death in a deep purple world haunted plaintive spectral souls and aggressive skeletal Bonemen, apparently pissed off about being named “Bonemen”. Here, in a prison cell, you’ll find Valerica who explains how to end “the tyranny of the sun” and why doing so will be good news for vampires but bad news for Serena. But let’s steer clear of spoilers and stick to the Christopher Lee side of Dawnguard. Playing as a vampire opens up an all-new vampirism skill tree which powers your Vampire Lord form. With a tap of the left bumper you’ll morph into a flying, spell-casting, blood-sucking, Buffy-bothering demon able to cast vampire magic or attack with razor-sharp claws. Vampirism works like lycanthropy in Skyrim; your monster form gives you new abilities but denies you others, but the risk is worth the reward once you’ve powered up your ugly side. At the top of the Vampire Lord’s three-pronged skill tree is the time-slowing Supernatural Reflexes, an instant paralysis spell, and Night Cloak – a cloud of bats which surround you and attack anyone looking to stick a wooden stake in your chest. Of course, being a vampire means you’ll have to look like death warmed up, avoid travelling by day, listen to shitty nu-metal and fight an entire army of vampire hunters. In Dawnguard’s first hour you’ll be faced with a choice – to fight with the vampires or against them – and fighting on the side of mortal men brings with it an all-new werewolf skill tree. It’s another throwback to that Game Jam, along with improvements to the game’s dungeons and the game’s first epic mount, Arvak – a spectral horse you’ll bring back from Oblivion and can summon at any time.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE… BEHIND THE SCENES DETAILS FROM TODD HOWARD
On direct inquiry, the notoriously rumored “snow elves” were hinted at and smirked over by Todd Howard (when interviewed by Morgan Webb at E3) … “it’s a really huge DLC…. there’s a lot in it that I’m not going to give away” (loosely paraphrased); it’s not a confirmation, but it did come off as a classic Todd Howard tease. Also, revealed by Todd Howard in a separate interview at E3, more details I found particularly exciting, including the Riften woman who will let you change your appearance. Want more behind the scenes discussion on the creation of Dawnguard? I recommend this great Todd Howard interview with Kotaku which features exclusive gameplay footage and play-by-play discussion.
THE ENEMY STRONGHOLDS – THE DAWNGUARD VS. THE PURE VAMPIRES
DAWNGUARD PREVIEW GALLERY
GET IT HERE, NOW: SKYRIM: DAWNGUARD
Sources: Bethesda/Todd Howard, Skyrim Wiki: Dawnguard, and others as noted.
Dawnguard Dungeons and Dawnguard Dragons,