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Skyrim: Dawnguard Review

Skyrim-Dawnguard

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 https://reviewedbylewis.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/skyrim-dragonborn-review/

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