The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard DLC Reviews

Since the last time we checked quite a few reviews have come out for Skyrim's first piece of DLC, the vampire-themed Dawnguard, which confirm the mixed impressions of the first batch of critiques.

EDGE, 6/10.
More Skyrim, then. And if you've doggedly exhausted every last opportunity in your character's journal, crisscrossing the Nords' frozen homeland until there's nothing left to see or do, it's come not a moment too soon. If you're still knee-deep in your adventure, however, Dawnguard could all too easily slip unnoticed into that sprawling list of tasks. It's not bad at all, but it's not different. It might add to Skyrim, but it doesn't enrich it in doing so.

GameSpot, 7.0/10.
Like Skyrim proper, Dawnguard provides a good mix of conversation, combat, and exploration, and it integrates well with the main game. You learn new dragon shouts, solve puzzles, discover tomes that you might return to the College of Winterhold for a tidy sum, and so forth. If you are a werewolf (which means joining the Dawnguard and forgoing lording over others as a vampire), you too get a set of perks all to yourself, and there is all-new armor to don and weapons to use, like the new crossbows. You can even now do battle while mounted, which feels a bit loose and clumsy, but is a nice touch nonetheless, since you don't need to dismount every time a wolf chomps at your steed's legs.

It's too bad Dawnguard arrives with its own set of bugs, though it's not necessarily a surprising turn of events given the glitchy game it expands. The issues don't fully pull your focus from the add-on's main strengths, however. The new areas and quests make for an attractive and varied journey, and there are fun battles that punctuate an enjoyable and worthwhile addition to a wonderful game. Whether you prefer to avoid the darkness or embrace it, Dawnguard is a fine reason to return to Skyrim's wintry paradise.

The Escapist, 3.5/5.
While some of these issues are part of what makes an Elder Scrolls game feel like an Elder Scrolls game, fans are likely to be disappointed at the lack of distinction in the choice between vampires and the Dawnguard. Whether you decide to fully embrace your vampire destiny, or else take up arms against a sea of blood-suckers, the story beats and quests are far too similar. The NPCs, goals and locations don't really change. All that matters is whether the vampire powers are being used by or against you. It was especially disappointing for me because I chose the vampires because I thought it made a better choice for the review. But after conferring with Paul Goodman, who played through on the Dawnguard side for the sake of comparison, it appears that we spent all of our time doing the exact same thing with the exact same people.

There are obviously loads of other details we don't want to spoil in the review, because half the fun is in discovering them for yourself. Whether it's the unexpected ally you gain in the Soul Cairn, or the ways feeding on sleeping NPCs can go so horribly wrong, there are plenty of fun moments to unearth in this expansion.

Polygon, 5/10.
Skyrim's basic gameplay, known for turning midnight into 4AM, remains solid, even after you pony up the $20 for "Dawnguard." On the off-chance you've exhausted Skyrim and you're fiending for more, "Dawnguard" can offer more.

But "more" doesn't equal "satisfying" or "memorable." "Dawnguard" isn't the journey to a strange realm that made "Shivering Isles" and "Point Lookout." It's not a break from the norm, it's a staycation. You're still in your apartment, doing the same things you always did, and once it's over, you'll feel like it was all pretty much a waste of time.

GameInformer, 8.00/10.
Dawnguard is limited in scope, and its 10-plus hours of playtime (for one path) is significant, but only a drop in the bucket when compared to its base game's hundreds of hours of quests. Lore enthusiasts will appreciate several significant developments, and no matter your choice, both new organizations have memorable characters and conversations. I had a blast returning to Skyrim after a few months away. Even so, Bethesda did such a fine job of entertaining me the first time out that Dawnguard feels more like an added bonus than an essential ingredient of the whole.

GamesRadar has no score, but a verdict: "Buy it".
Dawnguard adds a massive amount of content to the world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The choices made in the main questline demand multiple playthroughs, there are entirely new, open areas to explore, and the story has more than a few epic moments. If you've seen all Skyrim has to offer and are looking for yet another adventure or you just want be an all-powerful badass, Dawnguard has what you are looking for. It's a hefty purchase, but the quality you'll get out of Dawnguard is well worth the investment, both in points and time.

Canadian Online Gamers, 70/100.
When you consider the $20.00 dollar price, Dawnguard is pretty good bang for the buck as you could easily add 20-hours or so to your Skyrim experience. If you are a Skyrim fan who has already invested countless number of hours into the main game, then Dawnguard is for you, but if you have moved on to other games, I am not so certain Dawnguard is reason alone to come back as frankly it is more of the same.

Digital Chumps, 8.2/10.
Vampirism aside, probably what really pulled me towards Dawnguard the most was the story. Once I finally had the time, I devoured its quest line. It was engrossing from beginning to end, comparable and possibly even better than some of the other beloved quests in Skyrim. Although the ending ultimately left me a bit unsatisfied, it was a fun ride getting there. Additionally, having some questions answered about a certain race of elves, whose de-evolution was shrouded in mystery, was a nice touch. If you are a huge fan of Skyrim and have been looking for a good reason to get back into it for a few hours, then look no further. Although it probably could have contained a bit more for its $20 price tag, most gamers who have dedicated months of their lives to playing this game will not be disappointed with their purchase. For the time being, I'm hooked again, and that means I'm probably going to have to go pay off my ridiculously high bounty in Whiterun.

GamePlanet, 8.5/10.
But these are minor irritants in an otherwise fantastic package. Like its parent game, Dawnguard is full of memorable moments watching an armoured troll lumber into battle against opponents, attending an opulent and macabre banquet set within the crumbled Gothic majesty of the vampire headquarters, Castle Volkihar, or stepping into a portal to a different plane of existence, unsure of what awaits. Fans of Skyrim should almost certainly grab it in recognition of the fact that it's hard to get too much of a good thing.

Wired, scoreless.
Dawnguard puts its own spin on the vampire theme by weaving in Elder Scrolls lore and history into the story, and offers Skyrim fans a mostly enjoyable ten to 15 hours of entertainment as a result -- double that to play through as the Dawnguard and the vampires.

But my fingers are firmly crossed that Bethesda's next major DLC steps away from the comfort zone a little more.

Digital Spy, 3/5.
Judged purely on its merits as a piece of downloadable content, 'Dawnguard' doesn't quite live up to its rather steep 1600 Microsoft Points (£15 / $20) price tag. The plot, missions and marquee features aren't as strong as they could be, failing to leave much of an impression past the relatively brief questline. However, it's the little things that help Dawnguard capture that Skyrim magic, leaving players thirsty for more.

D+PAD Magazine, 3.5/5.
Dawnguard is a mixture of old and a little something new, but it's also a case of success and failure. In trying to present an epic pilgrimage, the game becomes exasperating and a chore, but in attempting to do new things it occasionally sets itself apart from the side-quests discovered in the main game. There's nothing earth-shattering or fresh from an artistic standpoint, but Dawnguard has its high points, a very welcome companion as well as new powers for you to play around with. Whether or not you consider this worth the 1600 MS points will depend on just how desperate you are to return to the world of Tamriel.