The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard
|The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard|
|Developer(s)||Bethesda Game Studios|
|Series||The Elder Scrolls|
|Release date(s)||Xbox 360
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard is a downloadable content add-on for the action role-playing open world video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The Xbox 360 version of Dawnguard launched in English-speaking territories on 26 June 2012, and in France, Germany, Italy and Spain in mid-July 2012. It was released on Microsoft Windows via Steam on 2 August 2012. Due to performance issues, the PlayStation 3 release of Dawnguard was delayed until 26 February 2013.
Dawnguard revolves around an ancient prophecy predicted by an Elder Scroll. The Dawnguard, an organisation dedicated to hunting Vampires, are reformed to attempt to stop the return of a powerful clan of Vampires named the Volkihar. The Volkihar's leader, Lord Harkon, intends to use an Elder Scroll to permanently blot out the sun. The player can choose whether to aid the Dawnguard, or join the Vampires, becoming a Vampire Lord themselves in the process.
Introduced in Dawnguard are two unique skill trees, one for vampirism noted as "Vampire Lord" and one for lycanthropy. Players are given the choice to either join forces with the Vampires, or fight them alongside an order of Vampire hunters known as the Dawnguard. Depending on the player's choice, they will be granted access to one of two home bases, Castle Volkihar or Fort Dawnguard, respectively. New armors, perks and weapons, including a crossbow for the Dawnguard, have been introduced. Crossbows will remain loaded when running through the world and provide a quicker shot than bows. They are, however, slower to reload. Crossbows fall under the Archery perk tree and all points assigned to Archery will also apply to crossbows. Crossbow bolts can also be crafted with enchantments to create bolts with additional magical damage.
Additionally, in the case of the Vampires, a transformation into a "Vampire Lord" is available, working in a similar way to the existing Werewolf transformation, with the exception that it may be used repeatedly, rather than once a day. The Vampire Lord has a new skill tree to level up, as well as a separate tree implemented for Werewolves, with both leveling up individually from the regular skill trees. The Vampire Lord skill tree contains eleven perks and the Werewolf skill tree contains eight perks. Ten new achievements can be earned, as well as eighteen new loading screens and several new world interactions. The Vampire Lord levels up through kills with its drain life spell, or its bite attack, while the werewolf gains experience towards its skill tree by consuming corpses while transformed.
New locations are featured in Dawnguard, including the player character journeying through a rift into a realm of Oblivion called Soul Cairn. A "face sculptor" character is introduced in The Ragged Flagon in Riften, allowing players to change the facial appearance of their character at will. "Legendary" Dragons are also present in Dawnguard, appearing randomly throughout the environment, and can be slain by the player character and absorbed like any other Dragon (awarding an achievement). Three new Dragon Shouts (Drain Vitality, Soul Tear, and Summon Durnehviir) have also been included, exclusive to Dawnguard.
The player character may begin the expansion questlines in a number of ways. Town guards can be overheard discussing the return of the Dawnguard, or the player character may be approached directly by an Orcish Dawnguard member named Durak and asked to join the order to combat the growing threat of vampires within Skyrim. Regardless of how it is initiated, the player character travels to Fort Dawnguard, accessible through Dayspring Canyon, located near Riften. They meet with the Dawnguard commander, Isran, who reiterates the renewed strength and threat of the Vampires, citing their destruction of the headquarters of the Vigilants of Stendarr as reason to reform the Dawnguard and eradicate the Vampires. The player character is given a crossbow and asked to travel to a ruin the Vampires are known to be investigating. Upon arrival, the player discovers a Vampire named Serana (voiced by Laura Bailey), trapped inside a statue. She is in possession of an Elder Scroll, and informs the player that her family live in a dwelling off the coast of Skyrim, near Solitude, called Castle Volkihar. She asks the player character to escort her safely back to her home. When she has been returned home, her father, the Vampire Lord Harkon, offers the player the chance to become a Vampire Lord out of apparent gratitude for his daughter's safety, or the chance to leave Castle Volkihar safely and return to the Dawnguard. This choice begins the main storyline of Dawnguard.
If the player accepts Lord Harkon's offer, the Vampire Lord bites the player character. The player awakens in a room, in front of a shrine to the Daedric Prince, Molag Bal. Harkon explains Molag Bal is considered the "father of our kind". Thousands of years ago, Harkon was a King and a human, he pledged his soul to Molag Bal, and sacrificed "a thousand innocents" in his name. The Daedra granted Harkon and his family immortality by afflicting them with Vampirism. Harkon shows the player character how to utilize their new Vampire Lord form and powers. The player is then tasked with retrieving the Bloodstone Chalice, a powerful artifact intended to aid Harkon's cause, fill it with water from Redwater Den, then add the blood of a powerful Vampire. While retrieving the Chalice, the player character is attacked by two of the Volkihar, Stalf and Salonia, who are plotting to overthrow Harkon. After killing them, the player adds their blood to the Chalice and returns to Castle Volkihar.
After receiving the Chalice, Harkon spreads false rumors regarding the alleged discovery of an Elder Scroll around Skyrim to try and lure a Moth Priest to the land. The Moth Priests are an ancient order, capable of looking upon the Elder Scrolls and deciphering prophecy from them. The player travels to Forebear's Hideout, and captures a Moth Priest named Dexion Evicus. The player turns the Priest into a thrall, and upon reading the Scroll, Evicus reveals to the Volkihar they need to locate a weapon named Auriel's Bow, as well as two more Elder Scrolls. One of the Scrolls lies within the Dwemer ruin of Blackreach, and is retrieved as part of the original main questline. The other was taken by Serana's estranged mother, Valerica, when she fled the castle. The player character and Serana journey to a plane of Oblivion known as the Soul Cairn. They locate Valerica and retrieve the final Elder Scroll. Before they return to Tamriel, Valerica warns them to stop Harkon, as he intends to kill Serana to fulfill the prophecy.
The player character learns from the Elder Scrolls that Auriel's Bow is located in Darkfall Cave. The player meets with Gelebor, one of the last remaining Snow Elves, and a Knight-Paladin of the Chantry of Auri-El. He instructs the player how to retrieve Auriel's Bow, by passing a series of tasks and defeating the Arch-Curate Vyrthur, Gelebor's brother, corrupted heavily by the Falmer. The player character and Serana confront Vyrthur and discover he is a vampire, and the creator of the prophecy with intent for the blocking out of the sun to disrupt Auri-El's influence in Tamriel, retaliation for the god allowing him to be afflicted with vampirism.
After retrieving the Bow, the player character and Serana confront Lord Harkon in Castle Volkihar. They battle Harkon and slay him, ending the threat to Tamriel and to Serana, and the members of Harkon's court acknowledge the player character as their new master.
If the player character refuses Harkon's offer and returns to the Dawnguard, the plot plays out nearly identically, albeit viewed from the perspective of the Dawnguard. Serana makes herself known to the Dawnguard, relaying information about Harkon's plan, and pledging assistance to the Dawnguard. In order to enter the Soul Cairn, the player must be blooded as a Vampire by Serana or be partially soul-trapped to gain access. Aside from these details, the questlines follow the same path and reach the same conclusion as the Volkihar quests.
Dawnguard was announced by Bethesda Softworks on 1 May 2012 via a teaser image on the Bethesda Blog. The first trailer for the add-on was released on 31 May 2012. This showed the first gameplay footage of the add-on, which was later shown in a demo at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012. Bethesda announced a Dawnguard beta for Xbox 360 on 1 June 2012. On February 1, 2013, Bethesda announced on Facebook that Dawnguard will be available for the PlayStation 3 on February 26, 2013.
Dawnguard was released to a generally positive critical reception. IGN stated that "Dawnguard is neither as meaty nor as cohesive as Shivering Isles, its Oblivion expansion pack counterpart, but then again it's not as expensive either. The other issue, as with any Elder Scrolls add-on content, is usefulness... but Dawnguard is certainly worth the investment". UK newspaper The Guardian was impressed with the content of the game, but felt that there were a few bugs in it; the newspaper stated: "If you already own a copy of Skyrim, buying Dawnguard isn't so much a good decision to make as it is a no-brainer." Wired UK was generally positive about the game, writing that the game was interesting and had a good plot: "Dawnguard puts its own spin on the vampire theme by weaving in Elder Scrolls lore and history into the story, and offers Skyrim fans a mostly enjoyable ten to 15 hours of entertainment as a result". GameSpot enjoyed what Dawnguard had to offer, commenting on its "excellent new areas to explore" and "number of great individual moments", and stating that "Being a vampire lord can feel gleefully evil." However, they found that "Being a vampire lord can also be a headache" and complained about the number of bugs within the game.
The Dawnguard DLC was released on Xbox 360 on 26 June 2012 and later released on PC on 26 July. However, the game was yet to make it to the PlayStation 3 platform. Bethesda released a statement on their official forum stating, "The PlayStation 3 is a powerful system, and we're working hard to deliver the content you guys want. Dawnguard is obviously not the only DLC we've been working on either, so the issues of adding content get even more complicated. This is not a problem we're positive we can solve, but we are working together with Sony to try to bring you this content". On 17 October 2012, the official Bethesda Twitter page stated that they are "Still working on free updates, paid content and more for all our Skyrim fans. Thanks for supporting us and all your patience!". On January 18, 2013, Bethesda revealed that the PlayStation 3 would probably receive Dawnguard in February via the PlayStation Network. Dawnguard was released on the PlayStation Network on February 26, 2013.
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