Bethesda’s most recent installment for The Elder Scrolls franchise, Skyrim, has been a massive success with the gaming community. Not only did it expand on an already massive universe and intricately provided extensive amounts of new lore but it also featured Dragons(!!). Not long from now – mid July 2012 to be exact – Skyrim is about to get even bigger and almost certainly even better. Skyrim: Dawnguard is the name of the first of supposedly many new DLCs for Skyrim. That said, it really hasn’t deserved the title DLC. In fact, one could argue that it really is an insult to Dawnguard, for it offers an entirely new area and a range of new sites to visit, two massive and engrossing quest lines and a large number of additional features that will change the way we play Skyrim as a whole.

Intrigued? So were we, so why don’t you hit Read More to find out what all the Dawnguard fuss is about!

Vampires. They have always hated the sun. Daytime is when they are most vulnerable It burns them, makes them weak and really quite grumpy. And no, their skin doesn’t shimmer like millions of shards of diamond dust were sprinkled over their buff, muscular bodies. Not in Dawnguard at least. In fact, the Volkihar vampire clan led by Harkon – the overlord of vampires – are so fed up with the sun, they decided it’s about time the world got plunged into eternal darkness. No more sunburn, no more spouts of weakening and definitely, a lot more time for feeding. Sounds like a plan. If only there weren’t those pesky kids from the other side of the continent who call themselves the Dawnguard and live in Fort Dawnguard (yes, we know they aren’t particularly original). You see, they really quite like the sun and really quite dislike vampires.

Now that the background is set, this is where you will come in. As of Level 10 you can start a chain of quests that will eventually lead to the ultimate choice: Join the vampires and obliterate the sun or join the slayers and cleanse the world of Harkon and his gang. Both have promising and enticing benefits – and from a purely selfish point of view provide a great deal of replayability. Play for the vampires and you will gain incredible strength and new powers. Eventually you can even turn into a Vampiric Lord and fly short distances or drain victims dry with your vampiric grip ability. If that doesn’t sound bad-ass enough, why not just summon yourself a massive Gargoyle to do your bidding for you. Choose to fight for the Dawnguard and you will be provided with Dragonbone weapons – the most powerful in the game yet – and you will finally be able to use crossbows, which are definitely going to be any bloodsuckers worst nightmare. If that wasn’t enough, members of the Dawnguard can also call for the aid of Armored Trolls if things get a bit hairy. All of this would suggest that there will be a great deal of difficult and challenging end-game content, which will make Dawnguard exciting even for those of us who are already running around with max level gear.

Finally, we have been told that there will also be a new area, Soul Cairn, which can be accessed from Castle Volkihar in the north-west of Skyrim. Whether that means that it’s only accessible to vampires or if soldiers of the Dawnguard can also get there still remains unknown, but what we do know is that it will feature the dragon Durnehviir, often considered to be the granddaddy of all dragons. So far so good. Durnehviir will not only teach us new dragon shouts but if we manage to slay him and absorb his soul, it seems we will also unlock the ability to summon the dragon to fight for us. Don’t think that this will give you an easy ride though, as you will also face new, legendary dragons as enemies and first indications suggest that they make the Vanilla dragons look like a walk in the park. As per usual to Skyrim (and generally all games of The Elder Scrolls series), it is going to be incredibly easy to stop doing your main quest and get side tracked onto sub stories. All in all, we are told, Dawnguard will take 15 hours to complete. Not bad for saying it is “just” as a DLC. There are some AAA titles that don’t even last half as long.

What else can you expect to see from Dawnguard? Well, let’s just say that there will be a new special undead mount (seen in picture to the right), which you can unlock through a quest chain. We do wonder, however, how citizens will react to the mount if you were to ride through Whiterun or Riften with it, as they already go into a bit of a mental attacking frenzy if you reveal yourself as a werewolf or vampire. While on the topic of mounts, Dawnguard – or rather pre-patch 1.6 to Dawnguard will introduce mounted combat. Yes, you now get to swing your axes, swords, maces and even cast magic while galloping through the wilderness on your trusty old steed. In fact, as you read this, the patch should have already gone live. Last time we checked it was in final beta stage on Steam. Another little aspect of the game is that you will no longer feel like you are questing along. Summon Armored Trolls, Gargoyles, convert enemies to allies who will fight at your side or even just use your Shout to summon Durnehviir himself. Prelude to The Elder Scrolls Online? We doubt it, but it does add another layer of depth to an already astounding game.

What’s that you said? Surely, there must be something that’s bad about Dawnguard? Well, unfortunately that is the case. Altough it’s not really a problem with the game…more so with the game’s marketing strategy. You see Xbox users get access to Dawnguard a whole 30 days before anybody else. We know it sucks, but Xbox players are gamers, too. Some of them at least. So if you’ve got a mate who owns an Xbox (and Skyrim), now would be a good time to suck up to them if you want to have a first go at the expansion that is likely to blow all other expansions out of the water, and hopefully send a message to other developers: This is the kind of new content we want to see!

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