Reviewed by Lewis

Geeky games reviews and other fun things

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Skyrim: Dawnguard Review


To celebrate the release of Dawnguard and Dragonborn Skyrim DLCs for PS3, (finally), please enjoy this special, two-part review. Dawnguard is up first, with a review of Dragonborn on the way.

After cutting a swathe through the snowy hills of regular old Skyrim I was excited when I heard about the imminent release of Dawnguard and Dragonborn. Then of course I realised that was just for Xbox 360 and PC. So, as I am cursed with a PS3, (my 360 is doing a very admirable impression of a dodo) I was forced to wait.

I purchased the two DLCs, Dawnguard and Dragonborn on the same day; watch this space for my review of Dragonborn. First up is Dawnguard; it’s set in Skyrim but there are a fair few new locations to explore. The main two are the vampire hunter HQ Fort Dawnguard and Castle Volkihar, the vampire’s lair.

Pretty quickly you get to choose between aligning with the Dawnguard, a group of vampire hunters, or the vampire lords.

Choosing the vampires gives you access to the vampire lord form. It’s all fangs, claws and destruction magic. The new form feels very reminiscent of gothic vampires like Dracula, especially with some of the powers on offer; including bats, which works much like whirlwind sprint. You become an invulnerable swarm of bats and jump to a spot several feet away. It is pretty handy in a tight spot. Combat is interesting as a vampire lord; blood magic gives you a spell in each hand. The default is an area of effect drain life spell, which is damned powerful almost a one hit kill. Then you get a powerful raise corpse spell in your other hand. Switch to melee and you get to use your claws and teeth. This is similar to being a werewolf, if not more powerful. As an added bonus you get a cool cinematic when you pull off a critical hit bite attack.

There are some negative points though. The obvious; sunlight weakens you. It doesn’t kill you but you take a hit to health, stamina and magicka. You can feed on humans to lessen this, but it also weakens your vampire powers. The less obvious; as the vampire lord form wasn’t in the original game design, the extra height of the vampire lord makes it very hard to navigate narrow spaces, for example doorways, stairs and so on. You’ll have to drop in and out of the vampire lord form (which you can do as often as you please), to get around this. Also you can only interact with the world in a very limited way. No looting. This is a bit of an annoyance. I am rather loot happy.

The Dawnguard vampire hunters are a lot like the Vigilants of Stendarr, but they have way better weapons, armour and a cool, super-secret fort. Well, it’s kinda secret in that every guard in Skyrim knows exactly where it is. The best thing about the Dawnguard, in one word, is crossbows. You can get a basic model, the steel crossbow as soon as you enlist/ visit Fort Dawnguard. Ammo’s another matter but there are tricks to get around this, as you won’t kind crossbow bolts as regular loot. They pack one hell of a punch (better that a standard bow) but are slightly slower to reload. There are loads of new quests available on both sides, needless to say choosing one side precludes the other.

As you would expect there are tonnes of new items available including shiny, new weapons and armour to find and craft. One of the most notable additions are the Dragonbone weapons. You need 100 crafting and the Dragon Armour perk. It is well worth it. These weapons have a better damage output than their Daedric equivalent and look awesome to boot.

Also it is worth a courtesy mention. Combat on horseback is pretty cool, if of limited use. So there you have it Dawnguard breathes new life into Skyrim. It’s a must own for Skyrim fans and it runs pretty smoothly on the PS3 too.

Click here for my review of Dragonborn


Skyrim: Dragonborn Review


Part two of my Skyrim DLC special two part review. I hope you enjoyed my review of Dawnguard. Up next is Dragonborn.

Dragonborn is more in keeping with previous downloadable content i.e. Shivering Isles for Oblivion. It’s all set on an island called Solstheim. A Dumner (Dark Elf) province, so the architecture, creatures and landscape are very much reminiscent of Morrowind. It’s rather pleasant, for an ash-blighted wasteland. There is a greater focus on exploration than in Dawnguard. The whole island is about the size of a regular Skyrim hold, but there are loads of caves, mines and tombs to raid (I made a pun.) There are also some Dwemer ruins to explore too. They have some particularly good loot.

The plot is centred on Miraak, the first Dragonborn, basically he has got his panties in a bunch because he thinks he owns the copyright on the name Dragonborn and doesn’t like to share. So after slaughtering a few of his cultists it’s off to Solstheim to shove a spanner into his evil schemes. To do this you have to find black books that are sources of forbidden knowledge and power. They transport you to the aptly named realm of Apocrypha. Hermaeus Mora is back in his tentacle ridden, gorge rising, glory.

But main quest lines aren’t why we play Skyrim. There are plenty of new weapon and armour sets to make and craft; including the new Nordic gear, which has similar specs to the Elven weapons and armour, but looks awesome. There are of course plenty side quests on offer as well. There is a brand new smithing element to play with: Stalhrim it’s bright blue and shiny. It makes some interesting looking gear, and it has a rather decent damage output/ resistance. It wasn’t really to my liking as my main character is all about the black knight look. Hell there are even pirates and buried treasure to be fought and found.

There are also lots of new powers (plenty of these), shouts and spells to acquire. It feels like Bethesda have gone all out on Dragonborn. After you’ve played the main quest line and explored Solstheim and Apocrypha a bit your character is going to be way more powerful, rich (this is important to me as I horde gold like crazy) and better equipped than he/she is already.

Without giving too much away; get ready for a birds eye view of Solstheim and Skyrim as the new shout, Bend Will gives you some interesting transportation options. If, like my character, being a werewolf is an integral part of his/ her persona then seek out the hidden clan of werewolves who have some interesting trinkets to boost your beast form.

If it came down to a choice between getting Dragonborn or Dawnguard I would probably go with Dawnguard, mostly due to the awesomeness of the crossbows and Dragonbone weapons. However Dragonborn has way more playability and ‘hang time’, as it has a whole new island to explore. According to the Elder Scrolls wiki there are over 90 new locations to explore. It does what a good DLC should do. It enhances and lengthens the player’s experience while bringing something new and different to the ‘table’.

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