Skyrim's Dawnguard - When Sucking Doesn't Suck Pt. 1
Greetings minions! Today I want to offer you depth and insight into the new downloadable content for Skyrim called DAWNGUARD. And the first thing I have to say is: Why the hell did you wait so long to put it out, Bethesda?!?! When I buy a game, I expect an over priced, crappy add on within the first couple months. But did we get that? Say hell no, Sephris. We didn't. I played my dark little heart out every day for what seems like forever, and only when I finally start to lose interest in it and move on to other games such as Lollipop Chainsaw do they drop this new DLC on me. And then those greedy bastards make you fork over twenty bucks for it. Seriously. That is easily twice the price I normally pay for extra content. So my initial feeling was feeling toyed with emotionally as I waited for the content and then treated like a crack junkie who just had the baking soda rocks suddenly become more expensive than my gym shoes. So was it all worth it? Let me tell you all about it....
If the movie Underworld had an illegitimate child, it would be the Dawnguard DLC. The most ancient of vampires have a bit of a problem, and you are going face first into the cream pie of blood munching the moment you start your first quest. You see, every family has issues, and this ancient little vampire coven is no exception. You begin the content by being at least level 10. From there you go to the nearest tavern and ask for rumors and they will tell you about Dawnguard and how they are in need of people brave enough to fight vampires. And you will fight them. And not just in caves and ruins either. from the moment you accept your first quest the vampires will start to show up everywhere. And I don't mean out in the wild, though they will find you there as well. No, these little fart nuggets will come into town and eat anything in their way. This is more than just a little annoyance. Simply due to the vampire attacks alone I lost both merchants at the blacksmith shop in Whiterun as well the general merchant and that red haired girl who wants to be a merchant. So, as my nephew would say, these bitches is serious yo!
Still, the vampire content is pretty awesome. The first thing I noticed when I fully installed the content was that I had to restart the game. This is very important because if you are like me and don't read up on the content before you play, (which I couldn't do since I got it the moment it came out), you end up playing for over an hour wondering why your content isn't coming up. So yes, make sure you restart. After that, however, you get a wonderful trove of new items that will make you drool like Pee Wee Herman in a dark movie theater.
I went to the blacksmith shop in Whiterun after the restart and noticed there was something new when I went to craft a piece of armor. They now have DRAGON weapons!!! There was also some very strange looking bug head helmet. Oddly it seems to have no purpose at the moment as I have searched every inch of the map for the creatures needed to make the helm to no avail. Perhaps this is a hint to upcoming DLC? Perhaps since you were so good at killing dragons they want you to infiltrate the nest of a growing cockroach problem? And thinking about it, they would totally be more fearful than a dragon. You question me? Drop a nuke on a dragon and then one on a cockroach and see which one walks away from it. And you can blather on about how roaches exist and dragons don't. But that only proves my point. The dragons couldn't even make it to the point we could nuke them. Dragons suck. Roaches are far more evil.
You will pick up other cool items along the way. Your initial meeting with the Dawnguard gives you the crossbow; a slow loading but powerful weapon that you can upgrade if you choose to stay human. I put a fire enchantment on mine and it burned the baddies to a crunchy crisp. There is also a variety of new vampire and wolf armor you can get depending on which path you take in the adventure. Vampire armor, especially if you can get the Royal armor version, is a beautifully designed set of light armor that comes complete with clawed gauntlets.
There is also a side quest given that is suppose to give you the treasure of the ancient dwarves. It's a long and involved quest where you are lead by the ghost of a woman who was such a serious failure at what she dreamed of doing that she died doing it, and now needs your help before she can gain eternal slumber. Of course you don't care about her plight. The mentally retarded should not become adventurers, and when they do they deserve the limbo-like hell they find themselves in. But an ancient dwarven treasure horde? Count me in on that. You are taken to four different dwarven locations that have this pretty looking semi-circle of glowing blue that they call Aetherial Shards. The four pieces must be combined to open the door to this great and mighty magical forge, and you will have to fight pretty hard to obtain all of them. But once you get them your heart beats a little faster and your eyes grow wide. You know the treasure is at hand.
One addition I liked to the new content was the dwarven structures. In several instances you are facing doors that won't open and it takes a few minutes to realize there are glowing spinny things that you can strike that will spin and open them for you. But they are up high and fireballs won't work on them. thankfully, if you are not a moron, you will have the crossbow on you which will take care of the problem and get you on your way. The forge has one of these spin thing puzzles as well. But now that you know what they are it really is no problem to just tag them with your crossbow and get the prize. And it is easy to do. Though you have the great and powerful Forge Master who can breathe death all over you, but delights in just pounding you into a puddle of quivering pudding. And then there is the infestation of dwarven spider workers that are battering your lower parts like a twisted, steampunk pinata.
Once all is taken care of you learn that you need to use the Aetherial Crest that you had assembled to make an item on that forge. Only Aetherial material works here. And you only have one piece of it. Of course you have come all this way and want the cool stuff, so you pray the door didn't lock behind you and you melt down the Crest. And you get three items with it. Yes. Three. For some reason the dwarves made a great and magical forge that can only make three frigging things. I can only assume that the dwarves found a large poppy field near the end of the forge's construction and it had it's effects. The worst part is, two of the items are crap. It was almost a let down. But then I looked at the items again and saw something cool about one of them. the Aetherian Crown, while it's enchantment doesn't seem to be all that much at first, allows you to have two Standing Stones working at the same time. If you have forgotten, Standing Stones are the oblong stone things you are introduce to in the beginning of the game where you have to choose between magic, stealth and might. There are other stones all over the place that give you specific boons. However, only one can be active at a time. Until now. The combinations you can make are massive. You can use the Lover Stone with the Mage Stone and rack up magic skill super fast. You can use the Warrior Stone with the Shadow Stone and take down enemies before they even know you are there. So the end of the side quest does have something good for you. Just don't lift your hopes up too high.
The rest of the content is wonderful. The main story centers around a girl you find trapped in a stone pillar that was buried in the ground. She is one of Skyrim's hottest females, so for those who can only get them some pixel, your dream girl has arrived. She is, of course, a vampire. But she is a very polite and innocent sounding vampire. And no, you can't kill her when you first meet her. I tried. And got my ass handed to me. With a level 53 character. Anyway, not only is she a delicious vamp tramp, she is also the daughter of one of the oldest vampire covens. You save her and she takes you to daddy's place. Daddy doesn't like you much at first, but if you say you will die for his daughter he will let you date her. Well, no. Not really. But he will reward you with undeath. Sweet, sweet undeath that is far better than the undeath you could have had earlier. He will make you a Vampire Lord, and you get a ton of goodies with it. You also get the Vampire Lord perk tree. The upgrades you can get with the vampire perks are well adjusted and work well together. And it is easy to perk up. Pretty much anything larger than a bunny will give you perk boosts if you float around, (yes, you can FLOAT!), and cast the spell that lets you drain life out of people. It is the same spell that all the vamps use...the red colored, bloody spell. And now you have it. It only takes a few hours of using this to fill the perk tree and then you are pretty much invulnerable. I was taking down dragons in under sixty seconds. Being a vamp rules!
After vamping out you learn that the hottie you just had congestive heart failure for has an Elder Scroll and her father plans to use it to kill the sun. You heard me right. Literally kill the sun. (SPOILER ALERT: It doesn't really kill the sun in the end. I was totally bummed). But unfortunately around the time when his daughter was trapped in the floor of an ancient ruin, Mommy uber-vamp decided she didn't like Daddy uber-vamp and took off with the other Elder Scroll he needed to get the job done. Now let me step away for just a moment to say WTF? A HUGE WTF? Ok, so Mr. Vamp kills the sun. this kills the vegetation. Which then kills the animals. Which then kills the people. Which leaves Mr. Vamp forever with the munchies. Which is why I wanted the sun to die in the first place. Nothing makes my day, or night, better than to watch something in eternal torment.
So now you and your sexy escort have to go find mommy vamp. and it turns out she lives in the land of the dead now. No problem though, you are a vampire and are already dead. It's kind of a vacation spot for you. Of course if you had refused the dark gift you still have to come here. And now you aren't dead. But you can still get in...if you want half your soul put in a soul gem which makes you much weaker while in their realm. See what happens when you wussy out on eternal damnation? Fool.
This place is a great spot for soul gem harvesting. Especially black soul gems. You get gems on everything you kill and can fill them with ease from one of the many soul fissures that erupt from the ground. When you get to this point I suggest taking time to learn and recognize your surroundings rather than just running in wildly. There are no marker points on the map here, you can't put marker points on the map and you will need to know the locations of certain souls if you want to get the most out of the area. It is here that you can get an undead horse, there is a merchant who will sell you magical items for soul husks you can harvest there, you can enter a cave having to do with the Reaper, though I couldn't because something glitched and it wouldn't let me go in, but I know it has something to do with the reaper soul gem fragments you can find there. Oh, did I mention that there is a big, nasty dragon you have to fight to get to the Elder Scroll? Not to worry, once you kick his scaled backside he will meet you later and want to be your buddy, giving you a new dragon shout to call him into battle whenever you want him. If you have played through the Alduin part of the game, you now have two winged serpents you can call on to ravage anyone and anything that gets in your path.
You eventually find momma camp and have to free her from the prison she was put in. She gives you the second scroll but refuses to leave while her husband is still alive. Now you have the two scrolls and you can go foil poppa vamp's plans. Or can you? If you were able to get the Elder Scroll (Dragon) from the game's main storyline, then you are ready to go. If not, you will have to go through the Alduin story to the point where you get the Scroll before you can advance the plot. You find out that there is a certain godly item that when used with the blood of your companion, the sexy vamp, or her mother's, you can blot out the sun for a while. You can also go to Dawnguard and have your arrows blessed so the sun returns. Though you aren't going to get a great reception there if you chose to become a vampire. Now you just need to kill daddy vamp and if you are a vampire you get the entire castle as your prize and the coven that remains become yours as well. You can even go back to the land of the dead and get momma vamp who turns out to be a great gardener and alchemist. A happy ending, though you will still be hunted by the Dawnguard until you are cured.
The werewolf side of things was less appealing. I made a new character for it and had him up to level 25 before I started the vampire story. I was assuming, like the vampire perk tree, that the werewolf one would come up and be handed to you as the story progressed. I was wrong. You HAVE to join the companions in Whiterun and become a werewolf through them. Then you automatically get the perk tree for it. And sadly when you compare it to the vampire tree it fails to equal up. The coolest part of the werewolf perk tree is that you can gain the ability to call other wolves to fight for you. There are two different types of wolves you can call on if you spend perk points on them. The rest of the abilities don't really help out that much. It was as if the developers saw how many "tween" girls were pleasuring themselves over Edward the Sparkle Vampire and wanted to cash in on the vampire wave while it was still rolling in, and then threw the werewolf part of it in at the last minute to give a little filler.
(Continued on Part 2)