The final piece of DLC for PS3 Skyrim owners finally arrives, and bring with it even more great content, new missions, cool weapons and the chance to become a vampire. That’s right, the final piece of the Skyrim jigsaw is yours for the taking, and it’s brilliant.
Dropping more locations and quests into the main map, Dawnguard offers two potential options to take: either become a member of the Dawnguard, a faction of vampire hunters, or become an actual vampire yourself. Whichever route you take you’ll have a new castle to hang out in, new abilities and some new toys to play with. This includes the crossbow, a fantastic new weapon for stealthy players which outshines your existing bows and offers some serious power to drive arrows through your enemies in a way not possible before. You’ve also got new things to aim at too. With a whole new set of bad guys trying to remove parts of your body that should really stay inside, you’ll be cutting down crazy dogs, awesome new dragons and stone gargoyles which have come to life just to cause you more hassle that you probably really deserve.
On both routes you’ll play out the same story, albeit from different perspectives, which revolves around Lord Harkon – an ancient and super-powerful vampire who is hell-bent on destroying the sun. Depending on your choice of path you’ll either carry out missions to help him, or set out to stop him in his tracks. Choose to be a vampire and you’ll get the chance to become a Vampire Lord, something that gives you some epic skills to play with. As a vampire you’ll gain resistance to fire and ice, as well as being immune to diseases and being poisoned, but suffer some pretty nasty effects if you head out and about during the day. But become a Vampire Lord and you have a whole new skill tree, the ability to raise the dead and learn a spell which is super-powerful at draining enemy health. It uses a forced 3rd person camera though – never one of Skyrim’s strong points, and indoor spaces can get a little tough to navigate and fight in. It’s a small price to pay for being able to do some brilliantly neat stuff though.
You’re not out of luck by joining the Dawnguards though – sure you won’t have quite the same type of excitement in what you get to help you out (a few weapons and bits of armour are on offer) but you do get to hire a huge beast thing to help you out when you get into a fight, a bit like Fawkes in Fallout 3. And like the post-apocalyptic mutant friend, your troll will kick an impressive amount of ass before finally deciding enough’s enough. Whichever route you decide to take (yet another choice to make that will determine whether you want your character to be a nice guy or a bit of a bastard) there’s plenty to do, and as mentioned previously your experience will change with the choice you make initially. With that in mind it carries the same overall feel as Skyrim generally – well worth multiple play-throughs if you can find the time.
Which is probably just as well with the £14 price tag – at 15 hours or so you get a lot of extra stuff for your money, more than many full price retail games would provide, but unlike the Dragonheart DLC this is all based around existing areas. There are new dungeons but they look and feel like those you’ve already spent countless hours fighting your way through – alongside the bizarre new locations offered by Dragonheart this doesn’t look quite so novel, but it’s an absolute must-have for Skyrim fans who simply want more to do and some great extras to enjoy.