*Note: The following contains spoilers for Skyrim’s Dragonborn and Dawnguard DLC
I had returned to the island of Solstheim, bested Miraak and custom-built my own home. It was time to see what adventure Bethesda would send my dark elf on next. That journey would come in the form of the Dawnguard expansion, the final DLC needed to get the PlayStation 3 finally caught up. I went into this DLC greatly looking forward to the Gothic vibe and, of course, the ability to overwhelm my opponents as an unstoppable Vampire Lord. However, in the end, I walked away a little disappointed. The underwhelming outcome can be attributed to many things. First, there’s the fact that I played Dragonborn first, which is arguably the best DLC out of the three. Dawnguard may have passed as a good first try when it hit Xbox 360, but having it follow up Dragonborn’s grand impression was a feat too great for the vampire-based add-on. Then there’s the fact that a handful of glitches prevented me from truly enjoying the experience. Finally, I have myself to blame partially, as I barred myself from one of my most anticipated new features in the DLC. Let’s start at the beginning.
My elf’s journey with Dawnguard didn’t begin with meeting the vampire hunters. Instead I went to the Ragged Flaggon to find the rumored face sculptor. This new NPC allows players to play around with all of the sliders they had access to when the first created their character. Everything except race and gender can be altered. After slapping on a new hairstyle to replace the embarrassing cut I had been sporting for countless hours, it was off to find the vampire hunters known as the Dawnguard. Once I met with the men looking to smite the bloodsuckers, I was tasked with gaining useful info on the vampires’ plans. A few dead vamps later and I had somehow saved a vampire named Serana, who took me back to a castle filled with more of her kind. Obviously, my morally corrupt dark elf wasn’t about to take on the role of the hero. He gladly accepted the vampiric curse (which came with a pair of new, glowing eyes). And so the real story began.
Regardless of which side you pick, anti-vampire or pro-vampire, the story is basically the same. You’ll search for Elder Scrolls, unlock their secrets and take on the final boss, who you knew you’d fight from the beginning. The main issue is that the DLC almost seems to favor the Dawnguard side. Choosing the vampire side bars you from accessing the unique crossbows (a new weapon type) in the DLC, but choosing the Dawnguard side does not prevent you from becoming a Vampire Lord after the main campaign. Had I known that I could be a winged-menace AND run around with an Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow loaded with explosive bolts, I would have gladly picked Dawnguard. But, alas, I was unaware at the time of my choosing. Further pointing out my mistake, the thrill of playing as a Vampire Lord wears off fast, despite all of the powers you can unlock (ex: supernatural reflexes, vampiric grip, etc.). I found myself rarely using it and, instead, becoming annoyed at the fact that fast traveling usually left my vampire elf hungry and in broad daylight. In case you don’t know, vampires don’t exactly like sunlight. Stamina and health regeneration are greatly impacted the longer you go without feeding, leaving you with a character that you must routinely tend to rather than enjoy.