E3 2012: Skyrim Dawnguard DLC Hands-On

After several stability patches, gameplay tweaks and new combat features, Bethesda is just about ready to release their first add-on for Skyrim, Dawnguard. Just like the game, the DLC is huge. So much in fact, that it’s being considered a full-fledged expansion, a term that hasn’t been heard by console gamers in some time. Dawnguard focuses on the battle between the Dawnguard, a group of vampire hunters, and leader of the vampires, Harkon. The player is free to choose a side, which will result in completely different 10-20 hour experiences.

My demo kicked off with the Dovahkiin several hours into the Vampirc Lords quest line taking on a quest called “Chasing Echoes” where the objective involves helping fellow vampire, Serana, locate her mother. The two travel into an area of Oblivion known as the Soul Cairn. Here I was able to test out the new crossbow weapon and the Vampire Lord form. The crossbow is a very powerful alternative to the bow, but its lengthy reload time makes it a gamble in hectic battles. The Vampire Lord power is even more useful and powerful. Switching to this winged beast opens up a new set of abilities and forces the third-person view, just like the werewolf. The powers are so diverse and each one is as epic as the last. Vampiric Grip has a force grip effect, Night Cloak surrounds the player with deadly bats, Mist Form transforms the player into an untouchable mass of mist and Summon Gargoyle, well, summons a gargoyle. The abundance of power is felt consistently while in this form. It’s also worth noting that you can exit the Vampire Lord form at any time, unlike the werewolf.

Shortly after taking my vampire into the Soul Cairn, I ran into undead opposition. The skeletons were no match for the intense abilities of my heavy-hitting vampire, thanks to the new dedicated skill tree that the devs were nice enough to upgrade halfway. Sure, you can still sprint, but why limit yourself to the ground when you can use those wings to fly about (you can’t actually ascend and descend). All opposition met a quick death at the grey hands of the Dragonborn vampire.

The remainder of my time was spent testing the limits of the newest player transformation and it breathed new life into the title, and is sure to do so for those well past the 100+ hour mark. It all came to an end a bit fast, but it was entertaining, to say the least. Teaming up with or destroying the all-powerful Harkon, gaining the new mount Arvak (sorry Shadowmere, you’ve been replaced) and filling up the new skill trees, werewolf and vampire, are all sure to provide Skyrim fans with an exceptional new adventure.

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Josh Garibay


  1. Nate
    June 8, 2012, 6:11 AM

    Awesome! Cant wait for it. One question, when your a vampire lord and when you are in human form, does your eyes glow?

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  2. alan
    June 12, 2012, 11:41 AM

    Yet another forced 3rd person view?Todd Howard said Skyrim was meant to be played in 1st person so why the forced 3rd person again.
    Its nice if you prefer 3rd person as you get that choice but 1st person fans dont.I wont be buying this.
    Very disappointed

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  3. Leto85
    June 17, 2012, 7:31 PM

    I think most of what is written above will be exactly what we will get, which have made me very exited.
    We get to choose between being a vampire or a vampire hunter which will be like choosing between good and evil. In my “Bad Girl Shield Mage” save I will definitely go vampire style, in my Pacifist save however, I will go Vampire Hunter, trying not to kill a thing, for as far as possible.

    Knowing now that there will be a skill tree for both vampires as well as werewolves which perks can be unlocked by feeding on victims, which is cool as even your already level 81 character could get and spend the perks which will come with it, it is nicely to know that the Skyrim base game knows a bug in which you can become both. Perhaps then you can “feed up” both of these skill trees in DawnGuard as well.
    I’m looking forward to this one, that’s for sure! :D

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