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Page 2 of 2Thaumaturges also get new tricks and auras to choose from. These include Scorching Footprints (you leave burning footprints behind to burn the enemies chasing you), Phantasmal Aide (you summon a werewolf to fight for you), and Storm Adept (you gain a bonus to lightning damage). Most of the Thaumaturge's spells, tricks, and auras are new, but a few are repeats from the Hunter class, like my good friend the Arcane Healing trick.
Another difference between Hunters and Thaumaturges is the equipment they use. Hunters wear hats and capes, and they wield guns and swords. Thaumaturges meanwhile wear occult masks and runecloaks, but they don't really have weapons. Instead they wear spellcuffs, which improve the damage of their spells. Thaumaturges can't use items meant for Hunters, and vice versa, which is fine thematically, but it causes some problems in the campaign. Neocore didn't change any of the fixed rewards you can receive for saying or doing the right things, and by my count half of them (like Darko's Hat and Excalibur) can't be used by Thaumaturges, which is sort of annoying.
To make up for this a little bit, the Thaumaturge DLC adds some new Thaumaturge equipment for you to find, including a handful of item sets, and the three new quests in the DLC can only be completed by Thaumaturge characters (even though the content and rewards would work just as well for Hunters). As far as quality goes, the new quests are competent enough, and they even include voice acting and two new maps, but they're fairly minor, like most of the side quests from the original campaign. In total, the new quests might take you about a half hour to complete.
Arcane Mechanic DLC
The Arcane Mechanic DLC is roughly the same as the Thaumaturge DLC, except that it adds the Arcane Mechanic class instead of the Thaumaturge class. Arcane Mechanics are basically engineers, and between their equipment and their skills, they get to shoot grenades, place mines, and construct minions to help them in battle.
The main Arcane Mechanic skill tree has 20 skills in it, including Minefield (which places mines around you), Mechanical Aide (which summons a mechanical spider to shoot at your enemies), and Artillery (which hits an area with significant damage after a short delay). Arcane Mechanics also get new tricks and auras, including Elyctric Sphere (which places you in a protective sphere so you can heal), Barrier (which places a wall between you and your foes), and Tox-Chemist (which increases the amount of poison damage you do).
These skills, tricks, and auras work well enough together, but I had trouble finding auras that I liked (since my character mostly only did physical damage, and none of the auras benefitted that), and I considered many of the skills to be mediocre, making it tough to pick which ones to use. For example, mechanics get no less than six summoning skills (not to mention the Ghostly Mirage trick from the Blue Blood DLC), and four mine skills, but they're all sort of the same, and because of the interface, you can't use them all. So it was basically a coin flip to determine which ones to put points into. As I mentioned earlier, I like it when games give you options for developing characters, but I'd rather have the choices be a little more meaningful.
For equipment, Arcane Mechanics use the same items as Hunters, except they replace swords and guns with dischargers (which shoot grenades), they replace capes with charger packs (which increase the effectiveness of dischargers), and they replace hats with headgear (which are usually some sort of goggle-type mask). Arcane Mechanics can also find some new unique and set items specific for their class, and the new quests in the DLC can only be completed by them. Just like with the Thaumaturge quests, there are three Arcane Mechanic quests, and they take place on two new maps, but they don't take very long to complete. However, on one of the quests you're guaranteed to find an Arcane Mechanic set item, which is nice.
In other words, the Arcane Mechanic DLC has about the same quality as the Thaumaturge DLC -- except for one semi-serious gaffe from Neocore. This gaffe revolves around DPS (damage per second) versus DPH (damage per hit). Neocore shows DPS for Hunters and DPH for Thaumaturges, and that works fine, but for some reason they decided to show DPH for Arcane Mechanics, and that doesn't work at all. The problem is that while Arcane Mechanics technically use spells with cooldowns rather than weapons with attack speeds (like Thaumaturges), their dischargers affect cooldown rates, and it's tough to tell the difference between fast dischargers and slow dischargers. Worse, instead of using the average DPH when making weapon comparisons, the game uses the minimum DPH, which doesn't tell you anything. So trying to figure out which discharger to use for your Arcane Mechanic is often a headache and then some. Really, since spells have cooldowns, which give them a rate of fire, there isn't any reason not to use DPS for all of the classes.
Overall, while I can always nitpick problems to death, I found the Van Helsing DLC packs to be fun. The Blue Blood DLC gives you more ways to build up Katarina, and the Thaumaturge and Arcane Mechanic DLCs give you more ways to build up your character, which in turn gives you more ways to play the game. Plus, the DLC packs increase the number of quests you can complete in the campaign, and they give you more equipment to find. And they only cost $10 combined, so what's not to like? If you played Van Helsing back when it came out six months ago, and you've been thinking about booting it back up, then I'd recommend buying one or more of the DLC packs first, since they change enough things in the game to make it into a new experience.
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