Review

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard

The Dark Knight Returns

Dawnguard adds another line to the Skyrim Dragonborn’s résumé.

By Drew Toal • July 2, 2012

Being a near-transparent shade of white, I can relate to a vampire’s wariness of the sun. Willfully ignorant of the concept of sunblock reapplication, a single weekend at the Jersey Shore renders my skin a splotchy, painful hue of stupid. This hard-won empathy didn’t make the curse of vampirism any more fun to experience in the action role-playing game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. In that game, while you sleep, a vampire might steal into the inn and forcefully recruit you into his putrid ranks. Sure, it sounds cool, but then you can’t walk around during daylight hours without quickly being drained of life. And what do you get in return? Night vision, and a bunch of people constantly telling you that you look like shit. It’s the video game version of a terrible hangover. Hardly worth it.

In Oblivion’s successor, Skyrim, you play the role of the Dragonborn, a prophesied mortal hero with the soul of a dragon. In addition to the usual might and magic, you’re also equipped with the ability to “shout” in the supernaturally powerful dragon-speak. The main quest requires you to defeat the evil dragon Alduin, but many players have lost hundreds of hours just wandering around the vast, mountainous reaches. This land, unlike Oblivion’s golden empire, is an ideal setting for the bloodsucking undead. The Skyrim countryside is bleak and cold, and there isn’t a whole lot of sunshine to speak of. There are plenty of Imperial soldiers, simple farmers, and frost trolls on which to prey, and innumerable crevices and fjords in which to hide when John Law Stormcloak brings the heat.

In Dawnguard, Skyrim’s first major downloadable expansion, vampiring finally gets its much-needed upgrade, and the Dragonborn has new missions to undertake. Post-download, everything about Skyrim looks the same, but you’ll quickly hear passersby talking about something called the Dawnguard. A few well-placed questions will lead you to their base, a fort down near a known thieves’ den.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard

At the Dawnguard citadel, a musty old keep, clearly past its prime, you are faced with a not-so-tough choice. The Dawnguard are an order of vampire hunters, and their management, impressed with your willingness to hunt vamps, gives you a crossbow. Yep, just a regular old crossbow. That should work pretty well against legions of immortal demons sent straight from the bowels of hell. Now, normally I’d still be happy to lend the prestige and sword arm of the Dragonborn to this ragtag, down-on-its-luck phalanx, but for reviewing purposes, I felt obligated to choose the other option. The path of evil.

Becoming a vampire lord follows the usual formula: guy meets girl, guy rescues girl, girl introduces guy to grateful vampire-lord/king father, guy impresses father with his dour Nordic bearing, guy agrees to forsake the uncertainties of mortality for the ability to change into a flock of bats at will, father tells guy his maniacal plan to block out the sun forever. All it needs is a few Stephen Sondheim tunes plus some Thriller-esque dance routines, and this story’s ready for Broadway.

Joining the bad guys means partaking in the vampire king Harkon’s plan for neutralizing the sun, making the world safe for the UV-sensitive. Even though you’re new to the gang, he likes the cut of your jib and sends you out to gather the pieces he needs for the vampocalypse. This includes filling a chalice from a blood-fountain, finding a Moth priest, and engaging in a variety of other silly necessities that require your murderous talents. The Dawnguard will try to stop you, but those crossbows might as well be slingshots.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard

As a newly-christened vampire lord, players can acquire the ability to transform into a flying, roided-out Max Schreck—a being who can raise undead minions and drain the very life essence from its enemies. Some of the powers that accompany your new line of work are sweet—“Vampiric grip” is Skyrim’s version of a Darth Vader force choke. In vampire-lord form, you can’t really sneak around dungeons like you might have in your Dark Brotherhood ninja days. Your new, larger physique is quickly put to the test as you try to squeeze through dungeon entryways and fumble to open treasure chests with your far-from-dexterous vampire talons.

Whichever path you choose, though, Dawnguard will add to your ever-expanding list of group affiliations. My main complaint about the guild quests in Skyrim is that you don’t have to renounce one gang to join another. The Dragonborn can be all things to all people, and there is apparently no conflict in your being a fighter, wizard, thief, assassin, werewolf, blacksmith, real estate mogul, and/or all-purpose entrepreneur. You’re not forced to make choices in that respect, which makes your character feel generic. Just add vampire lord or vampire hunter to the list, I guess.

There isn’t much in the way of new lands to explore, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Skyrim is practically a Pangea unto itself already, with plenty of relatively pristine settings for new quests. Dawnguard isn’t, in any meaningful way, a sequel or a second act. I’m grateful for that. After spending the requisite hundred-plus hours Skyrim demands, wandering the tundra, killing dragons, and selling pillaged swag, I’m not quite ready to re-engage in the full, life-sucking experience. Dawnguard has a definite timeframe and visible exit. Some might see this as a detriment. I see it as an act of mercy on the developers’ part—reason enough to revisit some old Skyrim haunts, pick up some new gear, and kill some things, but limited enough to let me soon walk away again.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim—Dawnguard
Developer: Bethesda
Publisher: Bethesda
Platform: Xbox 360 (PC and PlayStation 3 releases coming later this summer)
Price: $20
Rating: M

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/J5HVQC7AJXHYK5YES6OGKQGE54 Mike

    It’s nice to have a gameplay mechanic that finally makes you pick sides.

    I understand that Bethesda was looking to simplify some of the Elder Scrolls mechanics to make the games more accessible to console-owners.  However, I don’t understand why the competing guilds and houses elements of Morrowind had to be ejected from Oblivion and Skyrim as part of that simplification. 

    Oblivion and Skyrim each have “kingdoms/districts” that could have been utilized to the same effect of the three houses in Morrowind with the player having the option of allying themselves with a particular faction.  Even when your country is dealing with a demonic invasion or civil war combined with dragon infestation there’s got to be someone who’s willing to pull some sh*t on potential power rivals.

    As far as the guilds, just having membership with a guild blocking out possible involvement with other guilds (competing priorities/objectives) would seem the way to guarantee  repeated go-arounds.  As it  is, someone who has high stealth and bow/arrow skills can easily work through the Companion, Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild quests in one walkthrough. 

    • HobbesMkii

      I think there’s an implicit value judgment in making membership exclusionary of another. If you make those three groups you just mentioned cancel each other out, then it seems to indicate that one is the “right” path depending on how your character behaves. But the factions in the game don’t necessarily indicate that. The Dark Brotherhood could easily have members infiltrate the Companions and Thieves Guild (just as those groups might want to have members in the Brotherhood).

      When you want to have groups in opposition to each other, it’s smart to have them be exclusionary. But when there’s no story to justify it, why have it exist?

      • Shain Eighmey

        They do exactly that for the Imperial vs. Stormcloak conflict. You can only be one or the other, no playing both sides that I’m aware of. 

        • HobbesMkii

          Exactly right. Because it’s a serious conflict between two forces, just like in Dawnguard, you have to choose one or the other.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/J5HVQC7AJXHYK5YES6OGKQGE54 Mike

          This is true but it doesn’t seem to have any real ramifications in terms of how the world reacts to you outside of the battle segments. 

          Even when you’re aligned with one side and done a number of the battle missions you can still walk right into the enemy’s camps a couple of hours later and not generate an adverse reaction unless you attack someone (at least from my experience).    

        • HobbesMkii

           @yahoo-J5HVQC7AJXHYK5YES6OGKQGE54:disqus I’ve often been attacked by the camps. Usually, the camp leader gives you a couple warnings to go away. After that, they all attack.

        • Effigy_Power

           Oblivion had a single dynamic like that, and that was the inability to remain a favored in “Knights of the Nine” if you started dropping it like it’s hot as a stabby for the Dark Brotherhood.
          Knights of the Nine was the only aspect of the game I remember taking a full account of your actions and presenting you with a certain code, which was fun. The Thieves Guild didn’t want you to kill anyone on the job, which was less severe, but still fun. Why they dispensed with that, I will never understand.

      • Asinus

         I play as though the were exclusionary. During my play through, I decided that I didn’t want to steal or murder anyone outright.

        On top of that, I hate vampires. I hope I can do a vampire slayer playthrough of the expansion. I love killing vampires and demons so goddamn much.

    • Shain Eighmey

      I must admit, the only guilds that seem to function together in the game are the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild, they even admit to having connections in game. Beyond that, Oblivion had a better set up, where you could get expelled from the more upstanding guilds if you were caught in your nefarious activities in the other guilds. 

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

       I like that you aren’t excluded from one guild when you join another in Skyrim, because it means that you can accomplish all of the main quest lines in one go, instead of starting over for each one. Membership in a guild in Skyrim really doesn’t give you any bonuses, besides some new items; each guild is really just another story to experience.

      Plus, every time you start Skyrim, you basically have to go through the main quest line up through when you get the dragon shouts before you can start doing other stuff.

      • Effigy_Power

         Yeah, the fact that you need to go a few hours into the main quest to truly have the Dragonborn experience is a bit of a pisser. Oblivion was exactly the other way around. “Don’t do the main quest and you won’t have Oblivion Gates popping up everywhere.”
        I guess that this may be why Skyrim was done the way it was done, but I am no fan of that particular aspect. It really inhibits the ability to make your own story.

  • doyourealize

    I don’t know if this a cliche (or even fanboy) argument, but the first Elder Scrolls game I played was Morrowind. I had to start it 5 times over the course of a couple years to finally get somewhere in the game, and thus, appreciate it fully. When I finally did begin to love it, I wandered for hours, completing quests and learning the ins and outs before I practically stumbled onto the story and had a “Oh, that’s what I’m doing” moment. But I didn’t need that moment, at least not yet. The world gave my charismatic thief plenty to do without it.

    And that’s what I was, a charismatic thief. I could talk anyone into doing anything for me, pickpocket them after I picked their lock, and sneak around their backs as they guarded entrances. I could not, however, run up to a group of enemies and expect to survive. I had to pick them off one by one. Oblivion and Skyrim lost that, I think, and all the additions, meant to make the game more mainstream, took something away from the sense that the world existed with or without you there. Now, the world levels with you, and you can go to any store when your level is high enough, and get the most powerful armor. In Morrowind, I had to wait to almost the end game before I could pick up glass armor (which I stole right in front of the shopkeeper’s eyes, thank you very much – and that’s another thing. If it was for sale, it was on the shelves!) Now, anyone can pick a lock, persuade someone, and, as Drew points out, join any guild. In Morrowind, your guild was in competition with the other guilds, and it was impossible to finish all the quests for the guilds, since the final quest had you complete some task that basically put other guilds or houses out of commission.

    I enjoyed Oblivion enough, largely because I stuck with Thieves’ Guild and refused to join others, but it was never quite as awe-inducing as Morrowind. Skyrim, though, just bored me, and I put it down after 25 hours. Maybe the changes Bethesda made to the franchise were the right choices to continue the brand, but I’m all for “Invisible Walls”. If I’m not supposed to go there yet, put some creature in my way I have no chance of defeating until much later. If one house is feuding with another, don’t let me be the champion of both. Make me feel like my character’s different from everyone else’s.

    • Shain Eighmey

      Those kinds of invisible walls are fine, the problem is that actual invisible walls are much easier for developers. 

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      I think the criticism that Skyrim fails to impart any sense of world impact is an accurate one.  As my first quest for the Champions I had to go and bare-knuckle brawl Whiterun’s potion shop owner.  I (squeamishly) beat her to the ground, walked outside, immediately turned around and walked back into the shop, where she stood again behind the counter, offhandedly informing me about some wonderful Draughr nutsack she had for sale.
         But in a purely sandbox sense of the word, I realize that’s something I enjoy about the game.  Due to my own neuroses, I can often be crippled by in-game decision making.  If there’s any hint of a moral grey area, I freeze, wanting the best outcome to any situation.  Or, thanks to Square Enix, I fear a decision will cut me off from an item or area.  But not so Skyrim!  I can try out any damn thing as I choose.  It’s a buffet of nonsensical character paths and if I want pancakes AND a bowl of Barley-Beef Soup (which I don’t) I can.
         It’s nice to be able to sample everything in one go, since I can’t imagine I’ll revisit the game after going through it once. 

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

         Not having played the games, but reading everyone’s erudite posts, I kind of sympathize with your view. I think I more “respect” the design that has choices carry more weight and affect the world, but I’d likely more enjoy the game where choice was of little consequence, and I could see everything in one go. I might feel a little bit guilty (maybe that’s the wrong word?) about that, though.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I should make the disclaimer that I do still very much enjoy games with impact and consequence. Despite their other, myriad flaws, it’s something I think Fable 2 and KoToR 2 both did well.
          It’s more that it’s inadvertently become something that I enjoy in Skyrim. I could feel my posterior unclench when I realized there was little I could do that would matter, and could therefore do anything. It’s the lucid dreaming of games.

    • James Bunting

      I… I thought I was the only one.

      The experience of playing Morrowind was so unlike any of the sebsequent sequels. You really felt like an explorer. It’s so strange: all they had were rats, cliffracers, and zombies, but the setting felt so complete, so alien. The culture felt so rich. The gods were strange and ominous. Did you ever go on the pilgrimage for the Nine Divines? That was almost a game itself. It was a true pilgrimage.

      It just hasn’t been there as much since then.

      I acknolwedge that the graphics have improved, and now there’s voice acting and marriage and stuff, and that Morrowind was crazily unbalanced (level 2 redguard fighter could kill almost anything), but everything else has gone downhill. I have no idea how people are able to sink hundreds of hours quick-traveling from point A to B in order to fight the next group of level-scaled baddies in order to receive generic rewards from dead-faced NPCs. It makes no sense that someone who can’t cast a fireball spell can become the archmage of the College. And FFS, fighting dragons got boring. Boring! How can you turn a dragon attack from something awesome and horrifying into an unwelcome distraction?

      I think part of the reason has to do with the emphasis on simplicity and ease of access. You can barely walk into a town without the following happening:

      1) Immediately witnessing the town’s main “Plot” issue in the square and being asked to fix it.
      2) Overhearing half a dozen townsfolk wishing that someone would fetch something or kill something for them.
      3) Getting approached by another 3 or 4 NPCs individually who ask you to recover heirlooms / take sides in a mafia war / locate a long-lost relative.

      In Morrowind, if you wanted to find stuff, you had to look, so you felt awesome when you actually found stuff. There were swaths of land where there was nothing but desert and dust. You could get lost. If you wanted to be the archmage, you had to get really really good at doing magic. You often had to earn trust before you were even allowed to TAKE a quest.

      In Oblivion and thereafter, if you pick any given direction and walk for 45 seconds, you will find a dungeon/shipwreck/bandit den/giant/dragon. You can be everything to everybody without any real effort.

      I guess I feel that there’s no faith in the player’s maturity, and that this makes for an immature game. Rant rant rant. Everyone should play Towerclimb by Davioware.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/J5HVQC7AJXHYK5YES6OGKQGE54 Mike

        I think the removal of the element that there were specific skills and “points”  that you needed to have in order to advance through the guilds is one of the major holes in the sequels post-Morrowind.  

        I understand that people may not want to have to keep rerolling a character that will get them entry into the guild of their choice but having the only thing that advances guild rank now being just how many quests you do does eliminate the sense of accomplishment.  

        • Asinus

           On top of that, it was kind of hilarious to me when I accidentally became the Archmage in skyrim. I have NEVER tried to join the mages’ guild in any previous ES game even though I almost always play a spellsword. I don’t remember why I started doing the quests in Skyrim, but I think I cast almost zero spells and simply warrior-killed my way through everything. I mean, I have my full set of daedric armor and weapons… I’m not putting cloth on (though I miss being able to drape a robe over armor… kind of dumb they got rid of that). That I’m the archmage is ridiculous.

      • doyourealize

        I could have kept ranting, too. I actually started writing thinking I was going to say something about being a werewolf in the Bloodmoon expansion for Morrowind and comparing it to vampirism or something, but that never happened.

        I did go through the nine divines quest, but can’t really remember anything specific anymore.

        Finally, all your points about Elder Scrolls after Morrowind really illuminate the difference between being a stranger in a totally foreign place and having to make your own way in Morrowind, to immediately being recognized and worshipped in Oblivion and Skyrim.

      • Fluka

        I’d argue that it’s gotten even less impact-full between Oblivion and Skyrim (I played Morrowind after starting with Oblivion, and enjoyed it quite a bit, but TES IV is still my “baseline” experience).  In my eternal obligation to be a “fantasy grad student,” I started both games with the Mages’ Guild (College of Winterhold, whatever) questline.  The Oblivion guild had at least a few separate stages: you start by visiting all the major cities and regions to get recommendations, learning how to use the various schools of magic (during which time you learn a little bit about the politics of the Guild).  Then you get to go to Mage University and get your staff, which feels like a nice minor accomplishment, and *then* you start this elaborate necromancy questline, at the end of which you finally become archmage.  Not super-complicated, but you feel like you’re progressing through a few distinct stages.  Skyrim?  Join the college by using a spell, do five or six quests uncovering some powerful magic, and boom, Archmage with an ugly caftan by level 10.  The whole thing just felt so inconsequential, and somewhat soured me on the rest of the game and threw me into an in-game existential crisis.  That, plus endless caves of draugr.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          In my admittedly brief time with Oblivion, I also tried joining the mages’ guild. (My thoughts were something like: “Magic? Fuckin’ A!”) But then, the quest just broke on me, and I couldn’t proceed any further. That and the myriad other bugs I encountered got me to give up on the game. Mind you, I was playing it five years after release, so it should have been patched up like a ragdoll by then.

          I just don’t have the patience to deal with such a buggy mess, so I’ve more or less given up on Elder Scrolls games. If Skyrim is that dumbed down and boring, I think I made the right choice.

        • Mike_From_Chicago

          I agree that the mage’s college plotline was anemic at best, even compared to oblivion.

          In regards to the rest of the thread, though, I’ll have to join the dissenting minority. I have owned a copy of morrowind for 5 or 6 years and have tried to play it 5 or 6 times, and each time found the game too demanding to play. I understand the opposition to level scaling, but the idea that certain areas of morrowind, while not technically off limits, were unplayable by a low level character just ruined it for me.

          A lot of this has to do with my own disposition as a gamer, and the fact that I have a job now. But even college, when I had nothing but free time, I couldn’t bring myself to dedicated dozens of hours of gameplay to leveling up until I could make the trek north and become a werewolf, which was a big part of my decision to buy the game in the first place. When I played oblivion for the first time, I had an epiphany moment that the game was exactly what I had been looking for when I bought morrowind: deep, expansive fantasy with a real open world.

          Obviously I can’t argue against the consolification of the elder scrolls games, since I clearly belong to the audience for which Bethesda dumbed down the franchise. But I will say that the simplified elder scrolls are some of my favorite games for all the reasons people mention above. I think they gained something after morrowind, rather than losing it.

      • Xtracurlyfries

        I hope you can see this because I’m liking it as hard as I can.

      • The_Misanthrope

         As long as everyone’s ranting, I will add my usual rant to the pile.  In short, I think the addition of  easy fast-travel killed the sense of immersion in the TES games.  Just so we’re clear, there is actually fast travel in Morrowind, but it is embedded into the game world rather than just some feature they threw in.  The reason it worked so well was that it was limited in one way or another–whether by location and price (Silt Stiders, Mage’s Guilds) or by utility (Mark and Recall, Divine/Almsivi Intervention)–which meant you had to plan around it.  It was never powerful enough that you could get complacent. 

        (Note: You could also get spells that allowed you to levitate and jump long distances, but that’s a rant for another day.)

        Yes, I know that a lot of players don’t want to invest  the time plodding across the countryside.  I also know that players seeking immersion can just ignore easy fast travel (although Oblivion seemed to go out of its way to make it the preferable option).  Immersion is an integral part of a good RPG experience and it all comes down to the story.  Which is more exciting:  the tale of the character who embarks on a quest through dangerous, hard-to-navigate territory (coming close to death several times) or the tale of the character who pops to the quest location, gets the McGuffin, and then pops backs without breaking a sweat?  It is hard to feel connected to an experience when it feels like you’re just ticking off a checklist.

        A point germaine to this discussion is the notion that console players are the ones causing Bethseda to dumb down the series.  I would remind people that Morrowind sold really well on the original Xbox, even with its annoying save-game-corrupting bug.  I think the dumbing-down has more to do with the perception that  all console-players are impatient knuckle-dragging subhumans.  It may also be due to Betheseda’s greed for a broader and broader customer base.  Rather than just double-down and craft an uncomprimising RPG experience (*cough* Dark Souls *cough*) that will cultivate a dedicated following, they have to keep making these small compromises to get as much money as possible.

        • doyourealize

          I played Morrowind on Xbox, and it’s my favorite of the series, so does that elevate me from “impatient knuckle-dragging subhuman?”

          Also, I love Demon’s/Dark Souls.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      I hear this argument all the time RE: Elder Scrolls games and it makes a lot of sense to me. I really didn’t like Oblivion at all when I played it. Morrowind sounds exactly up my alley. Unfortunately I have never been able to get into very heavily. I try every once in a while but never put more than a handful of hours into it. I don’t know how to make it click with me.

      • doyourealize

        I don’t know that you’ll ever get into it, but I’m serious when I say that I had that exact experience up until that point where it all “clicked”. No tutorials and hardly even any direction make it a difficult sell, but the sense of accomplishment is greater.

      • James Bunting

        I found that it helped for me to get into character. It’s essentially an immigrant story in a fantasy setting. You arrive on the docks, fresh off the boat. Who are you? That’s important. But whoever you are, you are an unwelcome visitor in a foreign land, and you must now make your way in the world. Feel confused and directionless? You’re off to a great start.

    • The_Misanthrope

      @doyourealize:disqus  :Did you abuse the hell out of that “free absolution for your crimes” trick with the Thieve’s Guild?   I sure as hell did.  Even during the endgame when I had enough gold to make Scrooge McDuck envious and the crime was a petty fine, I still would do it.

      • doyourealize

        Man, I didn’t remember all that, but now that you mention it, I distinctly recall bolting after I had been caught committing a crime and finding the guild, and then whoever was chasing me stopped, so I guess I did do that. And I also remember thinking how annoying it was in Oblivion when the shop owner would follow me around, like s/he didn’t trust me or something.

        Pickpocketing is always a pain at the start, but once you get good, it’s a lot of fun. I ran into a glitch in Skyrim and every time I pickpocketed someone, I would go up a level. Pretty weird, and it stopped as soon as I had to load up my game, but I went up quite a few levels that way.

        • The_Misanthrope

          I was referring to the trick where you can go to the Theive’s Guild to get your crime removed without actually paying for it. If you drop all your money before you pay your guild contact, it will still act as if you paid the fine. It is such a ridiculous glitch.

  • MSUSteve

    The only time I felt strange about partaking in a group affiliation quest line was The Dark Brotherhood.  I might be misremembering Oblivion, but for some reason I thought there was some noble morality governing the targets of the Dark Brotherhood.  That’s certainly not the case in Skyrim and the stuff I ended up doing for that organization in no way jibes with the do-gooder hero that I created.  I prefer to think of my Dark Brotherhood deeds as some alternate timeline that doesn’t actually taint my Dragonborn.  A “what if?” sort of thing.

    Being the do-gooder type, even if it’s of the born again variety, I sided with the vampire hunters in Dawnguard.  We’ll see how that goes, but so far all I got was this stupid crossbow.

    • Shain Eighmey

      The Dark Brotherhood as it exists in Skyrim has little to do with the organization you knew in Oblivion. That’s actually what their quest line is largely about. Their rise from petty killers to the Dark Brotherhood of old. 

      • MSUSteve

        Very true. And I had the option of simply stopping the quest line or even slaughtering all of the members at any time.  Instead I chose to go on and do some of the most onerous and awful things I’ve ever done in a game.  I had some affection for my Dark Brotherhood compatriots even though they were a pack of immoral killers.  I like to think that under my leadership the Dark Brotherhood will not kill any more brides at their weddings.

    • Professor_Cuntburglar

       I do wish that Skyrim had more choices than “Do this quest, or don’t.” Like I wanted there to be a way to take down the Theives Guild from the inside, or something.

      Apparently if you kill whatserface in the shack at the beginning of the Dark Brotherhood questline it starts a Destroy the Dark Brotherhood questline instead. That sounded way less interesting than the main DB quests, though.

      • Effigy_Power

        Very much THAT. I was hoping the entire time that someone from the Occulatus would approach me to bring down the thieves after I had helped the Imperials to take control of Skyrim. I really wanted to infiltrate these guys and report back to the Empire, be a total snitch.
        I found that I wanted to do the same in Oblivion, where it also wasn’t something I could do. Those are the kinds of choices I would have loved to see.

        [SPOILER?]
        PS: I couldn’t bring myself to kill Astrid on my first playthrough… she was just too adorable, sitting there on under the roof, the room abuzz with the whimpering of doomed people. Mind you, then I find out she’s married and all the other stuff later… bwah.

      • Southern_Discomfort

         That Destroy the Dark Brotherhood quest is such a buzzkill. Just go in and wipe everyone out – if you’re leveled enough, it takes all of a couple minutes. So disappointing.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    What of Snow Elves?  Weren’t they supposed to be a new race in this expansion?  Or were they left out when it was realized that the sparkling addition of a crossbow would be tantalizing enough to draw in even the most reluctant gamer?

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

      Oddly enough, my friend is SUPER EXCITED about that crossbow. I still haven’t played Skyrim at all, so I have absolutely no opinions on the matter.

      • blue vodka lemonade

        Crossbows are important.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        Then please allow me to provide you with an opinion.  You are favorably indifferent.

    • Mookalakai

       Spoilers maybe, but I believe it is discovered that the Falmer you see roaming the caves are the remnants of the Snow Elves.

      • Effigy_Power

        [SPOILER]

         I think that’s pretty established. The Falmer fled the surface at the dawn of man, were taken in by the Dwemer and then enslaved and turned into grotesque abominations full of hate. Several books allude to that. And yes, there were rumors of Snow-Elf stuff, but I could imagine that that might be DLC No 2.
        Apparently though there are already Falmer-related files in the expansion, so they might already be prepping.

        • Shain Eighmey

          Have you been to Blackreach? It’s probably the most impressive place in Skyrim, and it’s all about the Falmer. 

        • Effigy_Power

           Well, there’s Blackreach and there’s of course the final questline in the Thieves Guild that illuminates even more, aka with the Eyes of the Falmer.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        I like both your informative style and obscure Homestarrunner avatar.

        • Mookalakai

          Oh stop! You’re making me blush!!!!

  • Wrench50
  • Wrench50

    yesss i cant wait

    • HobbesMkii

      I look forward to the day when Spambots both post links to the Kindle Fire and actually contribute something to the discussion.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        It’ll be a glorious day indeed when a spambot can inform me why my preferred gaming platform is wrong, and provide me a list of irrefutable facts as to why. 

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          omg nintedno sux. horrible grafix and motion ctrl is for casuals. ur a mario fanboi gtfo

          50% OFF KINDLE FIRE CIALIS IPHONE LA-Z-BOY

        • Effigy_Power

           I feel bad enough about the size of my penis without these robots pointing at me and laughing!
          [sob]

  • rvb1023

    This looks surprisingly better than I expected it to be which is impressive because I usually come out of Bethesda games with regret rather than satisfaction.  Of course I have to wait for the PC version anyways so no rush I guess.

  • stryker1121

    From what I’ve been reading the dark side is far more interesting than the Dawnguard stuff, which reads as a more or less typical faction questline. I’m one of those lame-o gamers who tries to role play at least a bit with these games, meaning my “good guy opportunist” character wouldn’t side with the vamps, even if it’s more fun. 

    • Effigy_Power

       That’s the fashionable thing and sort of a downer…
      Siding on the side of law against the Dark Brotherhood, hunting Vampires instead of becoming one… You can’t even expose the dark secret of the Companions!
      Playing the good guy is almost always fraught with disappointment. Without stealing or murdering the game is clearly harder and you get nothing for it other than desperately shortened quest-lines.

      • stryker1121

        I usually play as a ‘good guy’ in RPGs just b/c I don’t like killing NPCs in cold blood. Dorky, but there it is. I will rob everything not nailed down, however, which makes me a little badass at least. 

        • Effigy_Power

           Flexibility certainly pays off, but if you want to play a full-on Paladin in any Elder Scrolls game, someone who is mistrusting of magic, upholds the law and rights wrongs, the game will give you nothing for it.
          It is literally thankless to any good deed, whereas doing evil in limited amounts, sneaking and killing from the shadows, stealing and snatching, bribing and summoning, those things are instantly rewarded by the games. It’s always been on the side of the sneaking archer, that sadly has never changed, not in any version.

      • Mookalakai

         People made this complaint about Red Dead Redemption too, and while it somewhat valid, I still found plenty of people to kill when playing the good guy in Red Dead. Unless you count my constant bandit slaughtering as a complete reversal of fortune, in which I am the true evil haunting their lives.