Released first for the Xbox 360 on 26 June 2012, and later on 2 August for PC, Dawnguard revolves around an ancient prophecy predicted by an Elder Scroll. Foretelling the eternal obfuscation of the sun, the scroll gave instructions on how to perform a magic ritual with a mythic bow and a special blood sacrifice. A legion of vampires known as the Volkihar Clan, lead by Lord Harkon, seek to actuate the prophecy by performing the ritual; the Dawnguard, a faction of crossbow-wielding vampire hunters counters their aims. Skyrim's Dragonborn protagonist chooses whether to join the Dawnguard and prevent Nirn from being plunged in irrevocable night, or assist the vampire coven with realizing their malevolent ambition.
Twenty-two quests featured in the plug-in; twelve exist in the main quest, with several optional side quests. A few repeatable, radiant quests can also be completed. The questline forks at "Bloodline," where allegiance between the Volkihar Clan and the Dawnguard must be selected. Choice of side is irreversible.
The story of The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard involves the return of a Volkihar vampire lord named Harkon, who seeks to end the tyranny of the sun. Harkon intends to use the power in the ancient Elder Scrolls to accomplish his goal, while an order of vampire hunters known as the Dawnguard seek to stop him.
Dawnguard can be started by listening for rumors or asking Hold Guards about a group of vampire hunters who are recruiting. This will steer the Dragonborn in the direction of Fort Dawnguard, and the add-on will begin.
Joining forces with Harkon allows the Dragonborn to become a Vampire Lord - the paragon of the species. If the Dragonborn is already a Werewolf, accepting to become a Vampire Lord will remove the Lycanthropy, but it can be regained later. The transformation process works similar to Lycanthropy and grants access to unique powers. One such ability is Vampiric Grip, which suspends an enemy in the air with telekinesis as their health is drained. Other powers and abilities include summoning a gargoyle, hovering above the ground and transforming into a cloud of bats.
As with Lycanthropy, townspeople will attack a transformed Vampire Lord on sight, however this will no longer happen if the Dragonborn is a regular vampire. Unlike werewolf transformations, the vampire form can be exited at will.
In addition to new powers, joining the vampires grants access to Castle Volkihar - an island stronghold that not only serves as a base, but grants bonuses to vampiric powers and gives blood potions, which heal and count towards vampiric feeding.
Joining the Dawnguard grants the Dragonborn access to Fort Dawnguard, a large keep said to be hidden somewhere in the southern region of Skyrim. The unique benefits of joining the Dawnguard include various new weapons and armor to fight vampires, including crossbows. Furthermore, Dawnguard members will also be able to "hire" Armored Trolls, which serve as temporary followers.
The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard introduces two new perk trees: Vampire Lord and Werewolf. Rather than spending points to add perks as in the base game, new perks are gained by feeding on enemies with the new powers. For vampires, consuming life blood through a bite power attack or a Vampiric Drain spell causes new perks to be gained; for werewolves, it is consuming the heart when feeding on a dead corpse. This approach allows high or maximum level characters to obtain new perks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain.
|Power of the Grave||50 point bonus to health, magicka and stamina as a Vampire Lord.||None|
|Detect All Creatures||Night Power: Detect all creatures, even dwarven automatons.||Power of the Grave|
|Mist Form||Night Power: Turn into an invulnerable mist, while health, magicka, and stamina regenerate.||Detect All Creatures|
|Supernatural Reflexes||Night Power: Everything slows down while you move faster.||Mist Form|
|Blood Healing||Killing a person with a power attack bite restores all your health.||Power of the Grave|
|Unearthly Will||Night Powers and Blood Magic cost 33% less.||Power of the Grave|
|Poison Talons||Melee attacks do 20 points of poison damage.||Unearthly Will/Blood Healing|
|Night Cloak||In combat you are surrounded by a cloud of bats that feed on enemies within melee range.||Poison Talons|
|Vampiric Grip||Blood Magic: Can pull a creature to you from a distance, and do choking damage once it's close.||Power of the Grave|
|Summon Gargoyle||Blood Magic: Can conjure a gargoyle to fight for you.||Vampiric Grip|
|Corpse Curse||Blood Magic: Target is paralyzed.||Summon Gargoyle|
|Bestial Strength||1||Do 25% more damage as a werewolf.||N/A|
|2||Do 50% more damage as a werewolf.||N/A|
|3||Do 75% more damage as a werewolf.||N/A|
|4||Do 100% more damage as a werewolf.||N/A|
|Totem of Ice Brothers||
Werewolf Totem of Brotherhood howl calls Ice Wolves.*
|Totem of the Predator||Werewolf Totem of Hunt howl has extended range, and shows whether the targets are not in combat, searching or actively in combat.*||Bestial Strength|
|Totem of Terror||Werewolf Howl of Terror affects even higher level creatures.||Bestial Strength|
|Totem of the Moon||Werewolf Totem of Brotherhood howl calls werewolves.*||Totem of Ice Brothers|
|Animal Vigor||100 point bonus to health and stamina in beast form.||Bestial Strength|
|Gorging||Feeding heals twice as much health.||Animal Vigor|
|Savage Feeding||Able to feed off most dead creatures. Feeding off creatures instead of people only provides half the extended time.||Gorging|
*The quest "Totems of Hircine" must be completed before these will become usable.
Crossbows are added to the arsenal of weapons at the Dragonborn's disposal. Crossbows remain loaded while running through the world and provide a quicker shot. They are, however, slower to reload than bows. Another benefit is that each shot has a chance to stagger an opponent. All of the perks spent in Archery skill tree apply to crossbows. Crossbow bolts can also be crafted with various enchantments, such as fire and frost damage.
New shouts are also included in the add-on. One shout called Soul Tear can be learned from Durnehviir, an undead Dragon found in the Soul Cairn. This shout allows the Dragonborn to steal the soul of a defeated enemy and raise their soul as an undead minion.
Legendary Dragons are the new maximum-level Dragon class. In addition to Legendary Dragons, new enemies such as Gargoyles, Death Hounds, Armored Trolls can be also encountered. Within the Soul Cairn realm some of the enemies include Bonemen, Wrathmen, Keepers and an undead Dragon named Durnehviir.
Dawnguard adds a new character in The Ragged Flagon of Riften named Galathil who can alter the Dragonborn's appearance for 1000. Race and gender are locked, but other facial features can be tweaked.
A preview trailer was released by Bethesda on 31st May 2012 that showed various aspects of the add-on.
You have found our fortress.
You have returned my daughter.
But what is it you seek?
Is it to be one of us?
To make the darkness your own?
To feast on the souls of the living...and the dead?
Or are you with them?
They think they can stop us.
But we will find them.
The Elder Scrolls will be mine.
And the tyranny of the sun shall end.
The trailer begins by showing a mysterious fortress on an island, known as Castle Volkihar. The leader of the vampire faction, Harkon, narrates that the Dragonborn has found their fortress and returned his daughter, who is shown carrying an Elder Scroll on her back. An altar that bears a resemblance to the Altar of Molag Bal in Markarth is shown, which seems pertinent as Molag Bal is considered to be the creator and patron deity of vampires. The trailer then depicts the transformation process in becoming a Vampire Lord and a new vampire feeding cinematic.
Fort Dawnguard is shown and the inclusion of crossbows is confirmed. The trailer then shows the Dragonborn fighting a variety of creatures, including a gargoyle-like creature, an ogre-like giant and a vampire who bursts into a cloud of bats. Also included in the trailer is an example of mounted combat, an undead skeletal horse and a Dragon that dives into a frozen lake. The Dragonborn is also shown opening an Elder Scroll, then a map of Skyrim comes into view with the symbols for Markarth and Solitude labeled in red.
Dawnguard became available for download on Steam on 2 August 2012 in English, Spanish, German, and French.
It was released on PS3 in North America on February 26th 2013.
Following the success of PC beta updates, Bethesda announced a Dawnguard Beta for Xbox 360 on 1 June 2012. Bethesda selected applicants in the third week of June, and those accepted, receive an Xbox LIVE code to redeem the full version of Dawnguard.
- The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard on Wikipedia.
- Buy The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard at The Elder Scrolls Official website.
- Dawnguard Trailer!. Bethblog. Bethesda Softworks (31 May 2012).
- Game Informer magazine - June 2012 issue
- Gamespot Stage Shows - Bethesda Booth Tour with Matt
- Gamespot.com - Dawnguard E3 2012 Stage Demo
- G4TV.com - Dawnguard Extended E3 Gameplay Preview
- Gameinformer.com - Dawnguard Vampire Perk Tree
- Gametrailers.com - E3 interview with Todd Howard
- G4TV.com - Dawnguard Gameplay demo with Todd Howard
- Opusculus Lamae Bal
- Vampires of Vvardenfell, Book II
- G4TV.com - Elder Scrolls: Dawnguard DLC Feature
- Fletcher, JC (2 August 2012). Skyrim's 'Dawnguard' DLC arrives on PC today, Bethesda 'not yet satisfied' with PS3 version. Joystiq. AOL Inc..
- Bethblog.com - PSN release dates for Dragonborn/Dawnguard/Hearthfire