Skyrim's first official DLC has finally been announced, simply titled Dawnguard, a name that caused some controversy when it was first announced. What does Dawnguard hold in store for us? Simply put, we don't know. Gameplay details for the expansion have been kept under wraps, and most of the info we have is rumor and speculation. Still, there are a couple interesting tidbits of info that can be analyzed, giving us at least some notion of what may be coming in Skyrim's future. So let's take a look.
First of all, the only official material that Bethesda has made public was a teaser image with the expansion's title written across it. The teaser image showed us the familiar Nord warrior that has been used in all of Skyrim's promotional materials, except he has been slightly altered. First of all, his eyes now glow with a creepy orange hue, which is certainly something a bit different than what our dark-eyed Dragonborn is used to. Secondly, there is a very prominent quiver filled with arrows on his back. This is a rather obvious difference from how the character is normally portrayed, usually holding a sword of some kind of melee weapon. So what does this all mean?
Well, a Bethesda forum user named Karellan decided to do some data mining to find out. The first thing he saw was a subset of animations in the animation folder labeled "crossbow." This pretty blatantly points toward crossbows becoming a prominent weapon in the new expansion. Perhaps that is why the Nord is pictured with a quiver in the expansions promotional material? Exactly how crossbows operate is yet to be seen, but they will most likely be different from normal bows in some way or else they would be largely redundant. Perhaps they will do their damage based off of different stats than normal bows, or perhaps they will have longer ranges at the expense of rate of fire. This would certainly make them amazing stealth weapons. The addition of crossbows will also highlight the recent addition of new ranged killcams as well. Perhaps the DLC itself will focus primarily on ranged combat over melee combat.
Interesting to note, these new animation files were found in the root animation directory. However, another folder has popped up in the animation directory labeled DLC01. A variety of animations having to do with vampire feeding were found in this folder. They were only three files, and, as of yet, we have been unable to see their contents, but it's possible that this means Vampires will become far more prominent in the world of Skyrim. Perhaps vampires will become a new playable character class with a host of different vampire abilities. This could be what the glowing orange eyes are referencing in the teaser image.
There are a couple other files that were found in the DLC01 directory. Many of them have to do with some sort of "Snow Elf Prince." File names like "Chair_SnowElfPrinceDialogueA" and "Chair_SnowElfPrinceFireBall" point toward a discussion with this "Snow Elf Prince" that may or may not end with balls of fire being thrown at your face. Unfortunately, there weren't many other "Snow Elf" themed file names uncovered, so just what role the Snow Elves will have to play in the new expansion is still hidden from us. Perhaps they have something to do with the Skyrim city of Dawnstar, near the north edge of the current Skyrim world. Dawnstar is covered in snow, which would make it a prime territory for some conflict with the Snow Elves. That would also bring some meaning to the title Dawnguard as well.
There is one further set of files that is a little perplexing in the DLC folder. The files are tagged "RF" like "RF_Serious_Talk01" or "RF_Playful_Idle." What could RF stand for? Frankly, I have no idea. It's obviously some sort of character, as the animations run through a variety of different emotions and body motions. This character can be guarded, open, playful, shocked, and serious, but that's about all the information that the files themselves are giving us. To speculate, we would have to take flying leaps of faith just to start putting together a picture of what RF might mean, so we will leave this one up to your imagination. Still, we would love to hear your theories. If you think you have an idea of what RF stands for, leave it in the comments below.
Dawnguard is certainly set to change the way that Skyrim is played in some way, we just don't know how yet. With E3 coming up quick, we will hopefully see some sort of Dawnguard presentation on the show floor. Until then, all we can do is wait and hope that the data miners out there find out some new interesting tidbits of information.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: May 8, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*