As stated by Bethesda previously, Dawnguard is huge. There are several new areas to explore, most notable is a giant vale in the mountains. As with the rest of the game, it looks absolutely great. While I won’t go into spoilers, some of the new stuff is outlined below.
New Smithing Options
While you could create armor from dragon bones before, now you can also make weapons. These weapons look cool and are better than the Daedric weapons, though they are quite heavy. The standard options for bow, broadsword, battleaxe, war axe, sword, mace, and warhammer are all available. The warhammer is especially cool, since it looks like the end of a bone.
You can also make arrows now, which gives you an actual use for having firewood, since it is required for the arrows. Additionally, you will need the basic smithing element for whichever type you are making (iron, steel, ebony, etc.). Arrow-making is a nice perk, but, if your game is anything like mine, you have about 1 zillion arrows right now anyway, so adding more isn’t really that important.
There are a couple of other new items, including a “shellbug” helmet and some interesting looking jewelry.
In general, Dawnguard is fairly ranged-heavy; you get a lot of items that benefit from a high Archery skill.
The Dawnguard gives you a crossbow, which is a new item for the Elder Scrolls universe. It’s a pretty cool ranged weapon, especially if bows aren’t really your thing. You can run while it’s loaded, so you have more mobility than with a bow, and it’s easier to aim since you don’t need to wait for the full draw to fire. Plus, as you continue Dawnguard quests, you can upgrade to different bolts with special effects, like explosions.
Later on in the questline, you will receive a unique and powerful bow especially suited to the vampire/vampire-hunter aspect of the DLC. I won’t go into details, but this bow is awesome.
As mentioned previously, you also can now make dragonbone weapons. There are also several new faction-specific weapons that are fairly powerful.
Dawnguard includes several new armor sets that are fairly decent. Each faction has specific armors that you can get a hold of, and in addition to looking cool, they provide some good bonuses. There are also some random types of armor you can now find, including heavy Falmer armor, along with some others that would be spoilers to include.
In Dawnguard, the vampires are plotting something huge, and one man has re-formed the Dawnguard to hunt them down and stop them. You will get introduced to the factions early on in the quest, and you will have to decide which one to join. While the Dawnguard will give you a lot of new gear for vampire-hunting, the gameplay doesn’t change much. With the vampires, however, you get a pretty sweet new power: The ability to turn into a vampire lord. This ability works somewhat like the werewolf power, you can turn into this other form at will, and you get a completely new combat method. The vampire lord has two modes: Flying and walking. The flying mode is more of a hover, and you can cast Drain Life spells from one hand and Raise Undead from the other. By getting kills with the Drain Life spell, you unlock abilities in a brand new skill tree to make your vampire lord more powerful. On the ground you have powerful melee abilities that also count toward your skill tree. This adds an exciting new facet to the Skyrim gameplay sandbox. As the story continues, you get to use your new powers/equipment to help or hinder the vampire plot to darken the sun. There are several new places to explore, some of them huge, and there are quite a few new enemies, including Frost Giants, Falmer Warmongers, Vale Sabre Cats, and Gargoyles.
As is expected of Elder Scrolls games at this point, Dawnguard is a really solid DLC. The new story is interesting and important, the new enemies are cool, and the new equipment and powers do not feel like revamps of existing stuff. Players who aren’t die-hard fans of the series will certainly enjoy Dawnguard, too. And, just like in the main game, there are new nooks and crannies that I’m sure I haven’t found yet. Overall, the DLC is definitely worth the price tag, and the choice of two factions means that you can play it through twice and have fun both times.
P.S. OMFGN Top Tip: The gem Paragons aren’t just pretty knick-knacks, there is a use for them, and that use is pretty cool.
Image Credit: ElderScrolls.wikia.com, DaxGamer.com