For this review, I have completed the vampire side of Skyrim‘s new Dawnguard DLC. Mind you there are two sides: The (actual) Dawnguard which is the last living line of defense against the undead in Skyrim, and Lord Harkon’s Coven which has dedicated its purpose to destroying the Tyranny of the Sun.
The addition of Dawnguard doesn’t change much on the surface of Skyrim, but as you proceed through the world you may notice a few subtle changes; Roving bands of the Dawnguard patrolling the country side, random packs of vampires devouring the citizens of Skyrim at night, or you equestrian types may have noticed you can also attack from your mounted positions. And much to my assassin’s delight, you are almost immediately given a crossbow. Crossbows are slightly faster than a normal bow, easier to aim, and with a single steel ingot you can upgrade the damage to 100+.
After you pick up on the initial quest chain, you will be given the option to become a vampire lord or return to the Dawnguard and proceed with their side of the quest chain. If you have played through the Companions side of the game you have already become a werewolf, or cured yourself from the “curse”. Much like the werewolf transformation, being a vampire lord transforms you into a hulking, Underworld-esque tribal vampire, armed with special powers and abilities. One noted addition to the transformations (werewolf & vampire) have been given talent trees that allow you a bit of customization for your altered self.
The actual campaign , at least on one side, is not terribly long. The addon grants you access to Lord Harkon’s vampire island estate as well as Dawnguard Keep, and in later quests, gain access to a sort of ”outworld” via the Soul Cairn. While in the Soul Cairn you can earn another dragon companion shout, and do a few mini-quests, but you probably won’t spend much time here. I am glad they included two sides of the expansion to justify the $20 price tag, and all in all I found it to be a rewarding experience, and I like being dragged back into Skyrim.
Now get inside before you take an arrow to the knee!