The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dawnguard Review for Xbox 360

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dawnguard Review for Xbox 360

Skyrim, Now With Ten Percent More Twilight

I have a confession to make: I never finished the main quest line in Skyrim. Now, this doesn’t mean I’m not a Skyrim veteran; I finished the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild quest lines, as well as the Companions and the College of Winterhold. And that’s not to mention the insane amount of exploration and random side questing I’ve done. In fact, just last weekend, my Skyrim play time was at about 115 hours.

Still, I feel weird about actually being excited for Skyrim’s Dawnguard DLC, with that main quest line still unfinished in my log. I mean, does a game this large legitimately need to get any larger? Well, when the new content contains so many great new features, it’s hard to turn it down.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dawnguard Screenshot

On top of adding a brand new story quest line to the game, Dawnguard brings in some features that we’ve been waiting a long time for. Like skill trees for werewolves and vampires. In the base game, it was difficult to justify the transition into creatures of the night, because the benefits never seemed to outweigh the cost. Dawnguard changes that. And adds crossbows.

But let’s talk about the real meat of the expansion, the new quest line.

To initiate the Dawnguard quest line, just speak with guards in any major city (once getting your character above level 10) and be on the lookout for people antsy to talk about the Dawnguard. The first person I talked to in Riften pointed me in the right direction. Of course, this is where we encounter the DLC’s first bug, as the quest arrow will lead you astray. Don’t try to find the Dawnguard based on either the quest arrow or the physical location of Fort Dawnguard—both are mislabeled on the map.

But another bug—a much worse one—presents itself just a bit further into the content. There’s a character you’ll have to rescue and take back to Fort Dawnguard, but he has a tendency of being aggressive toward the other NPCs, attempting to murder them violently every chance he gets. There’s nothing you can do about this; you just need to watch this whole scenario go down. This becomes especially problematic when you need him to read an Elder Scroll for you. See, instead of reading the thing, he’s busy slicing up your friends. You can bring his health down low enough to stagger him, but then he’s trapped in this state where you’re unable to interact with him. It’s hopelessly frustrating, and a quick Google search showed me I wasn’t the only one experiencing this problem.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dawnguard Screenshot

In order to fix this problem, I had to reload an earlier save, which caused me to lose about an hour and a half of progress. (Yeah, I tend to wander a lot. I had gotten distracted by some other side things in the meantime, and had to wipe all the progress I had made in that time, including completing some side quests and murdering a dragon.)

Well, this is definitely a Bethesda game.

Anyway, I decided to side with the Dawnguard rather than the vampires, mainly because I wasn’t ready to give up my werewolf form before I maxed out the skill tree. Unfortunately, the werewolf skills aren’t half as cool as the vampire ones, which I eventually got to toy around with about halfway through the Dawnguard quest line. I mean, bat swarm? What’s cooler than that?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dawnguard Screenshot

There are some new side quests too, and there’s one in particular I want to complain about. So, the absolute worst side quest in all of Skyrim was probably the Crimson Nirnroot quest, in which you had to collect twenty of the buggers in a gigantic underground cave. It was tedious, dull, and frustrating. Well, Dawnguard has a side quest that’s worse. This one has you collect ten pages of notes scattered across a realm called the Soul Cairn. This area is substantially larger than the Crimson Nirnroot cave, and unlike Nirnroot, the pages don’t grow back if you wait a week. I managed to find one single page in about an hour and a half of searching. The other nine? No thanks.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Dawnguard Screenshot

It must be noted that this side quest is optional and has no bearing on the storyline. Still, it’s obnoxious to see it sitting unfinished in my quest log just taunting me.

Ultimately, though, the Dawnguard storyline is substantial and satisfying. It leads you through some very clever twists and turns as you unravel a vampire plot to completely blot out the sun. Well, from the Dawnguard side anyway. You can also decide to help the vampires in this plot if you’d rather do that, but, as I mentioned before, I chose to slay vampires rather than to help them. (However, I did end up becoming a vampire anyway, making me the biggest hypocrite in all of Skyrim.)

While the amount of content included in this DLC is substantial—definitely worth the twenty bucks—it’s also riddled with bugs, and a few of those make it damn near unplayable. It’s frustrating, at the very least. I’ll say that buying the Dawnguard content is a no-brainer for Skyrim fans (and I assume most Xbox 360 Skryim owners have already purchased it), but it comes with the caveat that you shouldn’t expect a flawless experience—at least not until Bethesda throws us a patch to fix some of this stuff. But, I mean, more Skyrim isn’t a bad thing, right?

The same Skyrim visual quality we’ve grown accustomed to. 4.5 Control
Skyrim’s controls feel as great as ever. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Plenty of new NPC dialogue, and the Dovahkiin music still gets our blood pumping. 3.0 Play Value
A ton of content for your money. Unfortunately, this comes with an absurd amount of bugs. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Dawnguard™ is the first official game add-on for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® – the 2011 Game of the Year.
  • The Vampire Lord Harkon has returned to power. By using the Elder Scrolls, he seeks to do the unthinkable: to end the sun itself. Will you join the ancient order of the Dawnguard and stop him? Or will you become a Vampire Lord yourself?
  • Featuring an all new faction questline and locations, the ultimate choice will be yours.

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