Downloadable Content, or DLC, has seen an exponential rise over the years thanks to the adoption of truly digital content. As more entertainment platforms push content to the cloud, and the tech market expands to include even more digital content, it’s no surprise that we’ve also seen the increase of DLC on gaming consoles and the PC.
For the most part, DLC packs provide game studios and developers with a surefire way to make a quick buck.
If developers have an impressive open world shooter with lots of enemies, vehicles and guns and want to expand it even further, they release a DLC pack with character costumes, a new weapon arsenal or even new areas to explore. Most of that content though, ends up falling by the wayside and becomes useless.
Unfortunately, because DLC is so popular that means a lot of developers have also made a push to release pointless content. You know the content we’re talking about, lame DLC like the inevitable, and rather useless, horse armor that did nothing for your steed in Oblivion except make it shiny and proud.
Luckily, Bethesda learned their lesson from failures like the horse armor and have established a need to release more expansive content with their new title, Skyrim.
Bethesda’s Game Director, Todd Howard spoke to Kotaku, in February, on the future that he and his development team had planned for Skyrim DLC.
“For Fallout 3 we did five DLCs,” said Howard. “That was a very aggressive path for us. Our plan now is to take more time, to have more meat on them [for Skyrim]. They’ll feel closer to an expansion pack.”
It seems that Bethesda is true to their word, as their first DLC expansion, “Dawnguard”, will add 10 to 20 hours of additional gameplay and content to the base game. With the impending release of “Dawnguard” right around the corner, our anticipation is almost palpable, so to stem our excitement we’re going to discuss the expansion with you!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dawnguard Expansion
The Dawnguard DLC expansion for the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will not only introduce 10 to 20 hours of additional gameplay, but it will also introduce two brand new factions, new weapon types, mounted combat options and new enemies. We know, we know, you are salivating at the mouth with the desire to know more, all in good time friends.
Dawnguard will introduce the vampire faction and of course the vampire hunters, the Dawnguard, for which the expansion is named. Players will have two separate paths to take in the expansion, and each will open up new opportunities and gameplay elements.
The story of Dawnguard follows both the vampires and the vampire hunters respectively.
A vampire lord named Harkon seeks to eliminate the sun, for obvious reasons. Players can join the vampires in their quest to eclipse the world of Skyrim in darkness, or they can join the Dawnguard and fight Harkon and his army of Vampires, who, gladly, do not gleam in the sun like the vampires of Twilight.
The Dawnguard expansion will also introduce a plethora of new features and gameplay mechanics, that will further improve the base game of Skyrim.
New Player Homes
The expansion will add two new locations for adventurers to call their home, which also offer bonuses to the player. Castle Volkihar is a dark and ominous stone fortress, that belongs to the Vampires; while a mountainous stone keep known as fort Dawnguard belongs to the valiant faction of the same name. Each home will add bonuses like the option to create new weapons and armor to fight off vampires (including crossbows) in Fort Dawnguard and the option to create blood potions and augment vampiric powers in Castle Volkihar.
New Faction Centric Perks
Vampires don’t exactly reap the benefits in the current world of Skyrim, as the drawbacks of being a vampire outweigh the numerous benefits. The Dawnguard expansion will change all that, and make vampires more powerful, but it will also include a new perk tree for werewolves.
A new perk tree for vampire lords will introduce new vampiric powers like an ability to suspend enemies in the air while draining their health, an ability to hover in the air and even a unique transformation ability that allows players to turn into a swarm of bats.
In addition, the Dawnguard expansion will also introduce a perk tree just for werewolves that augments powers and includes new skills like the ability to summon werewolf allies for aid.
Unfortunately, players must choose between increasing either perk tree; meaning you can only be one or the other, a vampire or a werewolf.
The Ultimate Vampire Transformation
Later in the vampire questline, players will acquire the ability to transform into a vampire lord, much like what happens at the end of Companions questline in the base game.
Transforming into a vampire lord will earn the player unique perks and powers but will also cause townsfolk to attack you on sight. Of course, players can exit the vampire form at will, once they’ve slaughtered enough of Skyrim’s helpless inhabitants.
Mounted Combat, Crossbows & New Dragonbone Weapons
The Dawnguard expansion will also introduce mounted combat mechanics and a new weapon type, crossbows. No longer will players be hopelessly vulnerable while riding their spectral horse because players can now attack enemies from the saddle.
In addition to the introduction of crossbows as a ranged weapon, the Dawnguard expansion will also introduce a new set of Dragonbone weapons.
Now we will have something to do with all those dragonbones that are currently encumbering our characters.
More Features Coming in the Dawnguard Skyrim Expansion
Digital Facial Surgery
It has been long demanded that Skyrim receive a facial makeover option that allows players to change the appearance of their character. Apparently, some gamers in a drunken stupor made what they though to be an attractive avatar, which most likely turned into a clone of Lotney ‘Sloth’ Fratelli from the Goonies when they were sober.
A new merchant hidden in the Ratway of Riften will allow players to give their character facial surgery thus changing character appearance. Unfortunately, character race and gender will remain unchangeable so it looks as if you’ll have to get your sex change operation done through alternate means (perhaps through a Steamworks mod).
New Dragon Shouts
The expansion will also introduce new shouts which are most likely tied to the Dawnguard faction. One example of a new shout is the “Soul Tear” which allows players to steal the soul of a dead enemy and then reanimate them as an undead minion.
We’re left to wonder where such shouts were when High King Torygg perished, it would have saved the land of Skyrim lots of trouble.
New Locations Including a Revisit to Oblivion
In addition to the Dawnguard and Castle Volkhir locations players will also be able to revisit the plane of Oblivion, but this time around players will visit a new realm that is more ghostly than it is fiery.
Dawnguard Recommended Player Level
While Dawnguard is not for lower level characters, the requirement isn’t exactly that high- players can start the Dawnguard questline as low as level 10. Bethesda recommends that any new characters learn some shouts, complete some quests and get their head in the game before jumping into the new expansion.
Higher level players may find it difficult to earn attributes for the new perk trees as the expansion has no effect on player level; it does not raise the level cap which is pretty high (currently at about level 81).
The Dawnguard Skyrim Expansion Drops on June 26
Sadly, for PS3 and PC owners, the Dawnguard expansion will hit the Xbox 360 first on June, 26. Playstation and PC owners can expect to wait a month before the expansion is available on the other platforms. This news should not come as a surprise, since we’ve known before Skyrim hit retail shelves last fall, when Bethesda revealed that Xbox 360 owners would have an edge.
To hold everyone over until the release of Dawnguard, we’ve included the official trailer for the expansion. As you can tell from the trailer, the vampires in Dawnguard are much more visceral than the ones from Twilight, which is certainly not a disappointment.