Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

The first downloadable content (DLC) for Bethesda Softworks’ critically acclaimed The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is finally available, known as Dawnguard. As a publisher Bethesda Softworks has become widely known as a company that strives to push the envelope with DLC, delivering more than just a new level or extra costumes. Indeed, such is their catalogue thus far that the anticipation for Dawnguard has been riding exceptionally high, and for many only the best well do.

Dawnguard starts off well simply by using that most enviable of modern videogame mechanics to initiate its new plot line: choice. There are multiple ways players can hear of Fort Dawnguard (the first location they must visit to begin their quest true), and there are also multiple methods to progress through and subsequently complete the sideline adventure, each of which will affect your character significantly when you return to your previous activities. The DLC is not an add-on that takes place after the core videogames has concluded nor is it an alternate ending, just as with Fallout 3’s string of new missions, Dawnguard is add-on content in its truest sense: adding to the opportunities that already exist within The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The plot of Dawnguard throws the player back-and-forth across the world map, and back-and-forth between sides. The vampires versus the Dawnguard, and of course only one side can be right. But it’s not necessarily obvious who are the good guys here and who are the bad guys; especially if you’re the kind of player of dabbles with moral ambiguity as a professional endeavour. Whichever side you may choose, it’s not until that decision is set in stone that Dawnguard begins in earnest.

The DLC provides a fair few hours of additional content, includes new weaponry, characters and even a brand new Dragon Shout. It is a fairly linear adventure – the player still has free roam of the world of course, but concentrating solely on the next task set to you will not leave all too much room for interpretation outside of the scripted events – however, without such structure it could well be considered hard to define what is part of the DLC package and that which exists in the world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim regardless.

Of course, Dawnguard is still part of the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim videogame rather than a standalone product, and as such the underlying problems still remain. For all of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim engrossing gameplay design and Bethesda Softworks’ own admittance that there are many issues with the videogame’s technical performance, no amount of painting over the cracks is ever going to fix the problems inherent to the base platform for this new DLC.

Dawnguard carries a reasonable price tag on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, and will also do so when it launches on PlayStation 3 and PC later this month. And for one of the most universally acclaimed titles currently available on current-generation systems, that’s a considerable feat. Regardless of generosity of the core videogame experience, this new addition to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim feels right at home in both breadth and it’s genre leading design, and for only a fraction of the cost of a new videogame you really can’t any fairer than that.











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