Review: Dawnguard | The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

As the site’s resident The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim obsessive, it fell to me to play and review Dawnguard, the latest DLC. (It totally counts for our blog because in the storyline you are aiding or preventing a force that could ‘blot out the sun’, arguably an apocalyptic event. Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch, but you don’t get to judge me.)
For this review, I played thtough on the side of good. I usually do in computer games. In this case, I may use my secondary character to play through as evil later in the game. If I do, I will update this review with those experiences.
OK, so first things first, downloading it was quick. This is an important thing. The first thing I did was go make me some DragonBone weapons – I’ve been waiting for them and at 100 blacksmith I might as well. As I was wandering around Whiterun getting firewood for the arrows, a guard told me to join the Dawnguard near Riften, and that he was considering joining up himself. Not very subtle, Bethesda, but more so than the introduction of Knights of the Nine andThe Shivering Isles for Oblivion, so you are forgiven.  Me being me, despite spending 1600 MS points on this, I thought ‘no’ and carried on making DragonBone arrows. Because I’m contrary.
Dawnguard - image property of BethsoftAnyway, so I went ahead and started the plot. The first plot related area I saw was Dayspring canyon, and I was impressed – Skyrim offers beautiful surroundings and this was no different. While not drastically different to any other Skyrim areas so far, it was noticeably lovely to look at. The Vampires castle was equally impressive, and I love the difference between the Dawnguard fortifications and the Vampire fortifications – in completely different parts of the country, completely different buildings styles, colour, architecture – wonderful. It’s things like that that make this such a superior game. The new enemies are exciting too and the crossbow is fun to use.
I did notice, however, that downloading Dawnguard meant slower loading and saving times. It happens. My console has also frozen more frequently. This occured with the add-ons for Oblivion as well, so I’m thinking it’s probably an issue with the console.
Bad bits: Bits that should be fixed:
I think it’s a bit too easy to FIND the Dawnguard. Hear a guard talk, track them down. Perhaps there should be a slightly longer lead-in – perhaps you could be told to investigate, go to various settlements attacked by vampires etc. That’d be nice.
Bethesda games have always had oddish character reactions, but it seems especially strange that vampires can attack and kill members of a community, leave the dead bodies just lying there, and no-one really reacts – even the characters familes. I appreciate it would be hard to get the voice actors in to record new lines for every single eventuality, but an acknowledgement like ‘I’m so sad my sister is dead’ would be good.
Awesome bits (No plot spoilers!)
YOU CAN HAVE AN ARMOURED FROST TROLL HANGING ROUND WITH YOU.
Shooting dragons with arrows made out of bits of their dead mates.
Vampiric architecture.
GARGOYLES.
IT’S SKYRIM WITH VAMPIRES WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT.
However, overall Dawnguard is a great add-on for the game, and sure to be of interest to Skyrim fans.
As for what it taught me about the apocalypse? That it’s fairly easy to either prevent it or bring it about if you’re a destined hero with the soul of an immortal dragon. I’ll get on that right away.
[rating:10/10]
(If you want more info on Dawnguard you should check the Bethesda Blog or the Elder Scrolls Wiki)
 
OK EDIT: After a speed-run of the whole game (which took 12 hours) my opinion has NOT changed. GET IT GET IT GET IT.

There won't be any video games.

So, my life is so utterly dull right now it’s untrue. I wake up, I study some, I look for a job, I write some fiction, I go to bed. Sometimes I go on a run (I am really excited for the release of Zombies Run! for android, because I’m pathetic) or do some weights. The rest of the time I play computer games. Mostly Skyrim. I’m so obsessed with this game I have the OST on my writing soundtrack. I nearly had an orgasm over the Dawnguard trailer.
 
So, it’s perhaps a little understandable that my Apocalypse Obsession is being quiet right now (though it’s still there. When studying Pugin and his role in the Gothic revival I was like ‘bloke designed defendable buildings, I’ll  give him that.’ I visited a Cathedral built in the Gothic Revival style, and while other people were praying to their god, I said to my husband ‘Barricade the doors and you have a pretty decent emergency shelter if you board up those big windows.’)
So, I wanna talk about some more things I’ll miss post apocalypse, I have to say that right now the thing  I’ll miss most is….
 
Video games.
GOD I LOVE THEM. SO MUCH.
I mean, I love reading more, but when I’m too tired or distracted or sad or whatever to read, a video game provides the required immersion and reality avoidance with minimal mental effort on my part. I get to feel real human emotions in a muted form about things that don’t matter, and most importantly I get to rack up a terrifying kill count without being arrested because the 1137 people I killed were just pixels.
It sounds like I’m dissing the medium, but I’m not. When I say I love them, I mean I actually love them. I am occasionally critical of bad games or the culture of racism and sexism within the industry, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them. They’re capable of telling real, emotionally affecting stories in a deeply immersivve medium, which is fucking great. Love em. Passionately and positively. I don’t bitch about it when a game isn’t what I want- I am just sad and quietly resolve to not buy the next one as soon as it comes out (Fable 3 I AM LOOKING AT YOU.) This is my hobby, I enjoy it, I generally feel positive about it. I have my favourite franchises like everyone, but I’ll give new stuff a try (By the Way, Enslaved is a shockingly underrated and undersold little game set post apocalypse. It’s pretty cheap these days so if you spot a copy, grab it), but I don’t get overly invested in games in the way I do books. A game has shocked me, often (Bioshock), made me sad in a sort of nice way (Fallout 3 and New Vegas, when coming across the remnants of life before the war) but I’ve never been the sort to cry over a computer game. Throw my controller, sure, but cry, or jump around in happiness? I save that for books. What games do for me is to take myself away from whatever else is happening in my world and make it better for a little bit. I can be an incredible person with magic powers instead of an unemployed 26 year old in rented accomodation.
Post apocalypse, they’ll be gone. Even if elecrtricity is still about, we won’t have enough of it to dedicate to my desperately important Skyrim schedule. And I will REALLY, REALLY CARE ABOUT THIS. Because while I love to read, there are going to be plenty of bookstores to loot, so I won’t run out of new books too soon (though I will kill myself if all that’s left is Dan Brown). And I love to tell stories, but I can do that with my mouth. Video games kinda require modern technology, and there won’t really be anything comparable around, any more. There’ll be nothing that can take me out of my shitty world in the way gaming can, nothing to make me feel amazing, nothing to take out a bad day on, just my unending, heart-crushing life.
 
God, I’ll be stuck with with table top roleplaying. And three of the people on my team are Rules Lawyers. KILL ME NOW.

How can playing Skyrim teach you to survive the apocalypse?

After all, wouldn’t Fallout 3, Rage, Brink, Fallout New Vegas and all the other post apocalyptic games be a better bet?
Well, yes and no.
Yes because of the obvious. Those other games are all set in apocalyptic or post apocalyptic worlds, and for that reason alone you’d think they had an advantage. And, in fact, I have used Fallout as a survival simulator, though for some reason in real life I can’t carry a mini nuke launcher. So unfair.
But there are many things Skyrim can teach you that they can’t. And it can teach it two-fold- once from the in game experiences, and once from the actual experience of playing it.
Continue reading “How can playing Skyrim teach you to survive the apocalypse?”

How can playing Skyrim teach you to survive the apocalypse?

After all, wouldn’t Fallout 3, Rage, Brink, Fallout New Vegas and all the other post apocalyptic games be a better bet?
Well, yes and no.
Yes because of the obvious. Those other games are all set in apocalyptic or post apocalyptic worlds, and for that reason alone you’d think they had an advantage. And, in fact, I have used Fallout as a survival simulator, though for some reason in real life I can’t carry a mini nuke launcher. So unfair.
But there are many things Skyrim can teach you that they can’t. And it can teach it two-fold- once from the in game experiences, and once from the actual experience of playing it.
Continue reading “How can playing Skyrim teach you to survive the apocalypse?”

Good Old Harold Camping.

He’s decided that the world will be ending on the 21st of October, and that unlike his previous prediction that it will be a painless death for all us sinners and heathens.
Aww, how sweet. How nice to know.
This is after the last two or three predictions. Which were wrong. He’s not got the best track record on this.
Continue reading “Good Old Harold Camping.”