Vampires have always played a major role in Elder Scrolls lore, whether they’re the enemy in a Companions quest or the leader of the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion. With the opportunity to become a vampire themselves, gamers have been offered some interesting gamplay mechanics in the past when assuming the fabled vampiric form.
But despite all the presence they do have in the games, we really have yet to see a strong, complex narrative centered around the bloodsuckers that doesn’t have to do with you killing a bunch of them hiding out in a cave.
Enter Skyrim’s Dawnguard DLC.
Similar to the civil war taking place within Skyrim, players of the Dawnguard DLC will be given a branching story path very near the beginning of the campaign when they choose to side with the vampires under the service of Lord Harkon, or if they take up arms with the fabled Dawnguard, Skyrim’s vampire-hunting badasses.
Harkon is a Vampire Lord who, like all vampires, has a serious beef with the sun. In an attempt to rid the world (and his kind) of its ill effects, he seeks to harness the untold power of the Elder Scrolls and make it his own so he can pretty much never have to worry about sunrise ever again.
That’s where the Dawnguard comes in. Armed to the teeth and ready to rip, they’re on a mission to not only stop Harkon and his evil plan, but rid Tamriel of all the unholy creatures as we know it.
Much like the civil war between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks, whomever the player chooses to side with will dramatically affect what quests and story arcs are made available to them. There’s a lot of content between the two, no matter which side you’re on.
Dawngaurd will take players to new areas of Tamriel, including Lord Harkon’s vampire hideout Castle Volkihar, the home base of the Dawnguard (aptly named Fort Dawnguard), and we’ve been told we’ll even get to set foot back in the hellish realm of Oblivion once more within the course of the story line.
While both factions are evenly weighed to appeal to gamers, siding with the Vampires will give you a host of interesting new options and abilities. Once you declare your service to them, you’ll be able to assume the formation of a Vampire Lord, transforming into a ghastly creature that puts the sparkling vampires of Twilight to serious shame. Of course, assuming this form will have its own consequences, as townsfolk don’t take too kindly to the supernatural walking amongst them. Abilities such as telekinesis and transforming into a group of bats will also be found on the vampire’s side, giving you an edge in combat over your ordinary human foes.
The Dawnguard will get their fare share of new abilities as well. Coming with the DLC will be the integration of the crossbow in ranged combat, which has the ability to hold its ammo during movement and fire more quickly than a regular bow. All archery skill gained with a bow will carry over to this weapon as well.
New dragon shouts are available, although at this moment, we have limited information as to what they might be, or where they will be found.
Finally, the mounted combat patch is also found in Dawnguard, allowing players to use weapons at their disposal while traveling on horseback. The patch will take away the frustration of having to dismount in order to engage in combat, although it does not carry over to spell casters, who will still have to dismount if they wish to inflict damage on an opponent with magic.
New enemies will also be found in the DLC, including the return of dragons. The trailer even suggests the existence of aquatic dragons, although exactly what that entails, we’re not quite sure of yet. Outside of dragons, expect to also face off against armored trolls, gargoyles, and death hounds, among others.
Dawnguard will be available for Xbox 360 owners first with a timed exclusive expected to release on June 26th for 1600 Microsoft points. The DLC is on its way to PS3 and PC, but no release date for the two platforms has been set as of yet.
Be it the nocturnal life of the vampire or the relentless efforts of the Dawnguard, no matter what you choose, it’s safe to say that merely playing Dawnguard will be the best decision a Skyrim fan could make. So crack your wallets open, friends, and prepare yourselves for round two of the massive time suck that is an Elder Scrolls RPG.