So, you've been adventuring around Skyrim for some time and managed to avoid a career-ending arrow to the knee. Well done, traveler. Now, what? Well, rumor has it an ancient order of vampire hunters known as the Dawnguard is rebuilding in order to deal with a powerful vampire threat. That sounds like something an adventurer such as yourself might want to stick his nose in, eh?
Of course, when it comes right down to it, things will hinge on a choice you make. You'll have to eventually choose sides. Do you strive to become Skyrim's most renowned vampire slayer, or do you embrace the gift of immortality and crush the living beneath your heel as you consume their life force? The powers of darkness abound in Skyrim: Dawnguard, indeed.
That's right, you can now choose to become a vampire, which is not without its benefits. For example, vampirism offers three special abilities: Vampire Lord, which turns you into a monstrous beast, Vampire's Servant, which acts like the spell reanimate corpse, and Vampire's Sight, which enhances your vision at night.
However, I should point out that being a vampire does come with its own disadvantages, as well. The first one most people would think of is the whole daylight thing. That is an issue in Skyrim as one would expect, taking the form of lower stamina and reduced ability to recover stamina during the day. This can be especially annoying when fast traveling from a place at night to find yourself arriving at high noon. Oh, joy.
However, quite possibly the biggest inconvenience of becoming a vampire, in terms of game mechanics, is the need to feed. While there are a lot of game mechanics around food in Skyrim already, from cooking to baking to harvesting and even growing ingredients, when it comes down to it, none of it really matters. You can recover health by using health potions and could just as easily ignore the food in the game without any real consequence. Until you become a vampire. Then, you'll need to feed on enemies. There are "blood potions" that count toward vampiric feeding, but they're only available at the vampires' castle.
In an interesting design choice, Skyrim: Dawnguard balances the pros and the cons of vampirism in a fairly unique way: the longer it's been since you've fed, the more powerful you are and the more the sun hurts you. This is actually a very interesting dynamic; if you feed before going into town, you won't look as scary, the villagers won't be afraid of you and the sun won't hurt as much, but your vampire powers will be dampened. Lay off the blood for a while and any commoner on the street will be able to see the unnatural hunger in your eyes, but your powers will be heightened, as well. At least until you feed, then they subside again...
If you're fang-curious, but you don't want to give up normal life forever, there is a cure to be found, but it will cost you a filled Black Soul Gem, so bear that in mind.
If your main goal has always been to be stronger, you may want to be a werewolf. If you also like the idea of increasing your endurance, you may want to be a vampire. If any time you get together with your friends, people start singing, "Who let the dogs out?" ...well, you get the picture. One advantage of being a werewolf over being a vampire... no problems with the sun. Also, when you're adventuring around in human form, you don't look different from others. Vampires always look a bit pale and, when they haven't fed for a while, are feared and hated by the townsfolk. And who wants to go through that, right?
If you've always been more of a Team Jacob sort, no fear, Dawnguard has you covered with some enhancements to the exciting world of lycanthropy, as well.
It was already possible to become a werewolf in Skyrim, via the Companions quests, but Dawnguard adds a skill tree to master along with some useful benefits that it provides. Buff up your strength, endurance and gain the ability to summon spirit wolves to assist you in your fights... for those familiar with the weakness that werewolves have against ranged combatants, increased endurance and the ability to send wolven companions after a foe should be welcomed additions, indeed.
Leveled everything as high as it will go? Tired of making skills Legendary? Dawnguard offers some new Skill Trees to work through. The Vampire Lord skill tree includes 11 perks designed to make you a more perfect undead predator, enhancing your health, magicka, stamina and speed, allowing you to basically force-choke opponents and poison and paralyze others.
The Lycanthropy skill tree offers 8 perks, but the first one, "Bestial Strength," has four levels, bringing it up to 11 unlocks, same as the Vampire Lord skill tree.
Obviously, the werewolf skills focus on strength, allowing you to do up to 100% more damage while in werewolf form, but other skills include upgrades to health and stamina, improvements to the Werewolf Howl of Terror and the ability to call creatures to fight at your side.
The perks in both of these skill trees are obtained differently than in other skill trees, however. Both the Vampire Lord skill tree and the Lycanthropy skill tree award perks based on the usage of their unique attacks to kill others. For vampires, this is draining the life blood, while for werewolves, this comes from eating the heart of an enemy.
Dawnguard adds fourteen main quests and twenty-three side quests, all of which focus on the vampire versus Dawnguard conflict. (Sorry, werewolf fans.)
But wait! That's not all!:
You also get 80 new characters (primarily vampires or Dawnguard members), the Legendary Dragon, Frost Giant and Chaurus Hunter, 5 new armor sets, 5 new alchemy ingredients, new books and jewelry, the introduction of very heavy, yet ridiculously strong Dragonbone Weapons, the handy-dandy Dawnguard Crossbow (which shoots a really nice distance) along with a slew of interesting bolts that pack some additional wallop, new shouts, new spells, new blessings and more than 20 new locations located about Skyrim. All for the low, low price of twenty dollars.
Seriously, I could try to cut this DLC into little pieces and try to determine how much each part is worth to me, but you get all this for just twenty dollars. Regardless of whether you choose vampire or Dawnguard, this is several hours of gameplay and the new weapon upgrades are usable wherever fine punishment is accepted.
Whether you have any interest in killing vampires or being one... or you're just looking for new weapons or places to go, this decision should be easy. Pick this one up and spend this Halloween as a vampire or a werewolf... from the comfort of your couch.
IMPORTANT NOTE - COMPATIBILITY:
This content is NOT compatible with Skyrim Legendary Edition. Requires Skyrim Disc BLUS-30778