So the first DownLoadable Content (DLC), Dawnguard (DG) is available for Skryim, and comes in at a huge 1600 points. The first question you might want answered is: is it worth that 1600 points?
DG is huge. It’s not just a large story, but it adds quite a number of new locations to the world, and most span multiple, large areas. There’s a lot to see and a lot to explore. Add to that two new perk trees (at least, if you go the vampire or werewolf routes), a new weapon and some new enemies and they’ve filled this DLC quite nicely.
I spent a lot of time ignoring the plot and simply exploring the new locales. Without giving too much away I can say that you get to explore a new sliver of Oblivion and unlike the pain I felt with the Oblivion Gates, I really enjoyed this new area. It felt different and was interesting enough to spend time learning about. Of course the main quest is always there if you get bored. If you complete the appropriate side quest, you can also end up with a new spectral mount.
There’s a lovely, huge, hidden valley to explore with caves, glaciers, ice covered lakes and more within it. I really, really loved this area. The first sight of it is wonderfully executed as you emerge from Falmer-ridden caves into the beauty of the initial area. Further exploration takes you to the aforementioned ice-covered lakes, up rivers and eventually into a glacier cave.
Another place you get to explore is the mostly forgotten and unused portion of a huge castle. I found it well laid out, and a nice change from the usual dungeon crawling. Again, the atmosphere really made this area.
One bonus to DG is that you can return to almost all of the new locations at any time, even after finishing the main story. I love this, because it means that I’m not dissapointed later if I find I missed something, and I also don’t feel rushed to complete everything on my first pass though.
I did mention the new perk trees, but I can’t really say a lot about them, because I completely forgot about them until after I’d pretty much finished this DLC. What I can say is that unlike the usual perk trees, you don’t get new perks just by going up levels but instead by eating hearts of human and humanlike foes – at least if you’re a werewolf; I assume you just feed on people if you’re a Vampire. After you’ve killed/consumed enough hearts, perks become available. So far I’ve only managed two perks, which aren’t really that useful to me. On the other hand, going on a rampage killing and eating people is fun.
One curiosity I’ve found since playing this DLC is the amount of dragons. I’m not sure if it’s to do with the DLC, or one of the patches they released but I’ve found quite a few dead dragons falling out of the sky, and more dragons attacking than I’m used to. This isn’t a bad thing, but the first few dragons disconcerted me. I’m used to having to fight them, not just pick their corpses clean!
Overall, I’ve had a lot of fun with DG, and the amount of hours I’ve invested in it really makes it worth the 1600 points. Even now, I still like to visit some of the new locations to see if I’ve missed anything (I wish I could find the Emerald Paragon), or just to enjoy the atmosphere.