Dawnguard is the first expansion to the massively popular RPG, Skyrim, and as such it opens up a whole mess of new stuff to explore in the snowy wastes of the end of the world. The game revolves around a dastardly plot by a vampire lord to, well... blot out the sun, as The Simpson’s Mr Burns would put it, and it’s up to you to stop/join the evil bloodsucker.
On paper the game sounds pretty good. It’s going to open up a new vampiric skill tree, let you shift into a new Vampire Lord form which looks like something straight out of Coppolla’s Dracula, and new gear, including crossbows – the weapon of choice for vampire hunters.
So far, though, the game is only being announced for Xbox, and all our requests for confirmation of any PC release are being met with silence. If you’re playing on PC, I guess you can skip to another page now, because I kinda have a bad feeling about this.
A game the scope and size of Skyrim, even just an expansion, is a tough prospect to demo in as brief a time as you typically have at E3, but our hands-on session was set up to show as much of the highpoints of the new content as possible. We started apparently a few hours in to the game, just before an ally takes a few drops of blood from her wrist to open up a portal to a mystical realm of the dead. You follow, and...
Well, you follow, and it’s pretty boring, actually. It’s all very ghosty and magical, but pretty limited in terms of colour palette and terrain. Ghostly forms flit about, and while you’re ostensibly there to find your companion’s mother – it’s odd trying to work out the plot from this far into the expansion – there are also sidequests you can take up from poor lost souls. In one, you’ve got to find the skull of a dead horse, so its restless spirit can rest.
We did however get to play around with the crossbow, which feels different enough from normal bows to make the inclusion worthwhile – plus, they look totally cool. Even cooler is the Vampire Lord form. This monstrous visage turns you into some giant man-bat, with stunted, twisted wings emerging from your shoulder blades. In this form you get access to your main vampiric powers, and, impressively, when you sprint you actually fly across the ground. In fact, even normal movement sees you floating over the environment.
It’s a pretty neat gimmick.
The feeling of being let down likely comes from simply dropping into the game at some seemingly random point; Skyrim’s a great game because of the way it lets you make your character truly your own. Without that choice, you start to notice that game’s a bit emptier than you first realise. That said, given the choices on offer in Dawnguard, and the epic scale of what’s at stake, I’m sure playing it as intended – from the beginning – would make all the difference.
Now; if only it comes out on PC...