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DLC Review: Dawnguard

It took me a little longer than usual to finish Skyrim‘s first official DLC, Dawnguard, because I was working through two save files.  One file was with the Dawnguard & the other was with the vampires.  I wanted to see how both factions felt before sticking with one for the rest of the game.  After about the halfway point, I decided to stick with my non-vampire playthrough, but I feel I have enough experience with being a vampire to give an accurate opinion on both sides.

The vampire perks

Plot: The Dragonborn hears from the rumor mill that a group of vampire hunters calling themselves the “Dawnguard” is recruiting.  During their first mission for the Dawnguard, the Dragonborn meets the daughter of a powerful Vampire Lord.  In thanks for saving his daughter, Lord Harkon offers to make the Dragonborn a Vampire Lord.  Regardless of which side you choose, you’ll ultimately be working to stop Harkon from fulfilling a prophecy to blot out the sun forever.

Adds:

  • 2 factions, the Dawnguard & the Vampires
  • Perk trees for both Vampire Lords & Werewolves
  • 2 completely new Shouts; Soul Tear & Summon Durnehviir
  • 12 story quests & 9 sidequests on each faction’s side
  • 23 new locations
  • New weapons, including  dragonbone weapons, crossbows & the legendary Auriel’s Bow
  • New armor, some of which are higher levels than any previous armors in the game, including Royal Vampire Armor, Falmer Armor & Ancient Falmer Armor
  • Ability to change your character’s face (only available to non-vampires)
  • Dog companions
  • New summonable mount, Arvak the skeleton horse
  • Dawnguard can hire armored trolls as followers
  • 10 achievements; A New You (change face), Awakening , Beyond Death , Kindred Judgement, Lost to the Ages (all require completing quest of same name), Soul Tear (learn all three words of Soul Tear shout), Auriel’s Bow (use Auriel’s Bow), Werewolf Mastered (complete perk tree), Vampire Mastered (complete perk tree) & Legend (defeat Legendary Dragon, only available after level 70)
  • Total gameplay time added: 10+ hours

Cost: 1600 MP or $20

Arvak’s pretty boss lookin’

Opinion: I think this DLC adds a lot of great content to Skyrim.  I think the biggest draw is the addition of the Vampire Lord & Werewolf perk trees.  The great thing about these perks is that they don’t level up like the rest of your skills.  Instead of being based on your overall level, these perks increase as you feed on people, either with the Vampire Drain or by feeding on corpses.  Each subsequent skill requires more enemies to feed on.  This means even high-level characters can learn the skills.  I haven’t played around much with the Werewolf perks yet, but the vampires get some cool skills.  And even if you decide to side with the Dawnguard, you can become a vampire later by talking to Serena.  I’m also glad that you don’t actually take damage when you go in the sun as a vampire.  Instead, going in the sun stunts you regenerative abilities.  The longer it’s been since you’ve feed, the worse these effects are, but the stronger your powers are.  My only complaint with the vampires is that they do feel a bit overpowered.  I was at level 48 & my Vampire Drain could take out most regular enemies in a single hit.  Flying through tunnels can also be a pain.

The story itself is pretty interesting & takes you to some cool locations.  You get to work with a Moth Priest, read some Elder Scrolls, meet the last of the Snow Elves & even engage in two proper boss fights.  For me, the best locations were the Soul Cairn, as massive ghostly area, the Ancestor Glade & the Forgotten Valley.  All are quite beautiful in their own way.

This image can’t do justice to how stunning the Ancestor Glade is

The new equipment is nice as well.  Some of it is higher quality than the best equipment in regular Skyrim.  The armor is well-balanced with something for light & heavy armor.  The only downside is vampires seem to be lacking heavy armor.  Crossbows are nice additions (can’t be a vampire hunter without them) & behave in ways that distinguish them from bows.  I’m also glad Bethesda included Dragonbone weapons, which gives me something to do with all of bones I’ve been collecting.  The new Shouts are also pretty powerful.  Soul Tear lets you raise a vanquished enemy to fight for you, & you learn to summon another dragon.  Each faction also has two canines you can have travel with you.  Dawnguard gets two armored huskies while vampires get two death hounds.  And does it say odd things about me that, even when I saw the death hounds, my first response was, “Puppies!”?

Overall, I think this DLC adds a lot of great content to an already great game.  If you like Skyrim, I highly recommend this.  Everything about it stands up to Bethesda’s usual quality.  The equipment, locations and powers are a lot of fun to play around with & really enhance the overall experience.

– GamerDame

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Honorable Mentions of E3 ’12

I mentioned in my last post that I would be making an “Honorable Mentions” post to cover games that were showcased at E3 this year that I wouldn’t be able to play, mainly because I don’t have the right systems.  These are the games that I think look really promising & I’m excited about, but I’ll have to wait until some generous soul uploads them to Youtube before I can actually see them.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

 

PS3

Translated as “The Another World,” Ni no Kuni was actually released in Japan for both the PS3 & Nintendo DS.  However, it’s only being released on the PS3 in the West.  As I don’t own either system, it doesn’t make that big a difference to me, but I am disappointed.  Ni no Kuni is the first game to be co-developed by Studio Ghibli, which for those of you who aren’t into anime has created such great films as Laputa: Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke & Spirited Away.  I love all of these films, so I’m very saddened that I won’t get to play this myself.

For those familiar with Studio Ghibli’s work, the art style will instantly be recognizable.  Studio Ghibli created the animated cutscenes as well as the musical score.  The story revolves around a thirteen-year old boy named Oliver whose mother has recently died.  A fairy who was one of Oliver’s dolls transports him to a parallel world where his mother can be saved.  The main villain is obviously the White Witch, but the trailer also shows a dark wizard who wants to taint Oliver’s pure heart with despair.  Overall the game seems to have a colorful & whimsical feel.

Ni no Kuni is an RPG with real-time battles, similar to Tales of Vesperia.  You can pause combat to change strategies, but otherwise you can control Oliver or his companions directly.  Oliver has the ability to capture “familiars” that he can summon in combat as well.

This beautiful game is set to be released in the West in early next year.

Beyond: Two Souls

 

PS3

Another PS3 exclusive, Beyond: Two Souls comes from Quantic Dream, the studio behind Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit) & Heavy Rain.  Although I couldn’t play Heavy Rain, I loved Indigo Prophecy despite the flaws of the second half of the game.  Beyond has been scheduled for Q1 of 2013,  so not a whole lot has been revealed about the game yet.  What we do know is that it follows a young woman named Jodie who has an… entity following her named Aiden (a popular name at E3 apparently).  The game will follow fifteen years of Jodie’s life, letting the player watch her grow up as she seeks to figure out what this entity is & how to accept his presence.  A large part of the game also appears to be avoiding government forces that probably want to experiment on her.

Director David Cage has stated that Beyond will be more action-oriented that their previous titles.  There are no pre-rendered cutscenes & players will be able to control all of the action.  Players will be able to switch between controlling Jodie & Ivan, both with their own abilities.  Cage has also stated that Jodie “can’t die,” in the sense that you lose & have to restart a section.  She can, however, fail, but the story continues in a different direction.  For example, the demo at E3 had Jodie escaping from SWAT teams on the roof of a train.  If she fails, she gets arrested & the next section probably involves her escaping from custody.  For Quantic Dream, the game is about telling a story, & it loses the impact if you have to keep repeating the same section just because you didn’t complete it like the developers wanted.

A much shorter list than the last one, but I have some general but important notes from E3:

  1. I didn’t list it on the previous post because it’s an HD re-release, but I’m looking forward to playing Zone of the Enders.  As it was previously as PS exclusive I didn’t get to play it the first time around, but I heard it was a great series, especially The 2nd Runner.  The HD collection is coming out this year for the 360, PS3 & PS Vita.
  2. Bethesda gave us some solid information on Dawnguard.  I won’t list the information here, but the info includes perks for both the Vampire Lords & Werewolves, a new leveling up system & quest details.  Check out the Elder Scrolls Wiki if you want the details.  They also set the release date for the 360 as June 26, which is awesome because that’s my birthday!  It’s like a present to me from Bethesda… except I have to pay for it.  Between this & picking up Dragon’s Dogma with the gift card I’d better be getting, when will I have time for a party?  Oh, & not release date has been set for the other consoles.

So that’s it for E3 this year.  I know some people were disappointed by no new console news, but between the strong sales still going on for the systems, the good gaming lineup & the ability to upgrade the consoles online, I don’t expect to hear anything more for a while.  I wouldn’t expect any console news until the next E3 at the earliest.

– GamerDame

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