E3 2012: Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dawnguard (hands on)

by: John -
My first E3 appointment was with Bethesda and I headed straight for playing Dawnguard, the first DLC for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
It's hard to really judge the content on the 15 minutes or so I had to play with the game. I mean, Bethesda is going for a much larger content pack this time around versus what thy had for Fallout 3 so seeing a small glimpse of the DLC really doesn't give you a good impression on what's to come.

The demo had me exploring an area that was very Transylvania like with fog, castles, crumbling structures, and lighting striking down to the ground every once in a while. I was told you'll get to the start of the DLC via rumors that you follow from some guards you run into. The character I was allowed to use had the ability to transform into a vampire, which is something new to the game.

As a vampire, you'll be playing in third person mode and that's done by design. Because the mechanic of playing the vampire is a little different, Bethesda decided to keep your view this way.

Some of the vampire skills displayed was being able to transform into bats and recombining at a different location. One of the new monsters, the gargoyle, is something you can summon and the beast is one powerful ally.

From the trailer, you can see that you have wings and you can use them to quickly glide while traveling. It's a lot faster than running so those that want to travel quickly to another location without using fast travel will enjoy this ability.

The vampire mode has its own skill tree so you can level up various abilities separately from your main character.

From what I was able to do for attacking, I had claw swipes, a red projectile, and secondary ability such as summoning a gargoyle. I didn't get a chance to try out a biting attack, but that's something I'd love to see in action.

As I said, playing in vampire mode offered up a nice change of pace and the quick play through that I had didn't really give me a good impression on the scope of the main quest or how fun it will be. Still, as a fan of Skyrim, it's something I'm really looking forward to seeing in the near future.

Dawnguard will net you 10-20 hours of main game play and there will be plenty of side quests as well.  So in that sense, Bethesda's really trying to give your money's worth for the $20 they are asking. No increase in level cap so that's a little disappointing, but there's plenty of new gear and enemies to go up against. Be sure to be at least level 10 before you get into the DLC though.

The DLC will be available for the Xbox 360 sometime this Summer and then the PC and PS3 after a small amount of time. 

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