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leaked info on DawnGuard?
The story of Dawnguard involves the return of a vampire lord named Harkon, who seeks to put a stop to his greatest enemy: the sun. Harkon intend to use the untold power in the ancient Elder Scrolls to accomplish his goal, while an order of vampire hunters (the titular Dawnguard) hopes to stop him. The conflict puts players in a position to choose sides; fighting alongside the Dawnguard to defeat Harkon is one option, but you can also join forces with the undead and expand your own vampiric powers. Like the civil war quests in the base game, your choice changes the quests you undertake. "We present players with both sides of the storyline pretty early in the DLC," says lead artist Matt Carofano. "There is a lot of unique content depending on which side you choose."
Regardless of who you side with, your choice gives you access to one of two new homes in Skyrim. Teaming up with the vampires opens up Castle Volkihar, an appropriately gloomy and intimidating island stronghold. Fort Dawnguard, a keep surrounded by trees and rocks, will be your base if you oppose Harkon. These fortresses aren't just new places to sleep - they have other bonuses too. "Each fort will provide the player with unique benefits," says Carofano. "The Dawnguard will have new weapons and armor to fight vampires, including crossbows. The vampires can grant the player bonuses to vampiric powers and give blood potions, which heal and count towards feeding."
As a payoff for your loyalty to the vampires' cause, you can become a vampire lord - the paragon of the vile species. Like the werewolf power gained during your quests for the Companions, assuming the mantle of a vampire lord is a transformation. While you are a vampire lord, you have access to new powers but still pay a price. Townspeople will attack a vampire lord on sight, though this no longer happens if you are just a "regular" vampire. Players can exit the vampire form at will, unlike the werewolf transformation.
The Perks of Power
In the base game, the advantages of being a vampire are negligible when compared to the drawbacks. Dawnguard evens out that equation, giving vampire lords addiational powers rooted in their ghastly new form. One ability, vampiric grip, suspends an enemy in the air with telekinesis as you drain its health. Other powers include hovering about the ground and turning into a swarm of bats.
To balance out this expansion of vampire capabilities, werewolves are getting their own unique perk tree, complete with abilities with names like "animal vigor" and "savage feeding." one power, called "totem of the moon," lets players summon ally werewolves in a howl.
Just as in the base game, you can either be a werewolf or a vampire, but you can't be both. In either case, you earn new perks by engaging in the appropriate beastly activities. By killing foes with your powers, you can continue to learn new vampire or werewolf skills. This approach means that all players can see what these forms offer, despite the fact that gaining standard perks might be difficult (or impossible) for high level characters.
Vampires are the focus of the Dawnguard DLC, but the most terrifying enemies from the base game are also getting some extra attention. Legendary dragons are new high-level beasts that are even more challenging than the ancient-class dragons that powerful characters currently encounter. Bethesda wouldn't clarify what exactly makes these foes difficult - they may require different tactics, or they may simply have more hit points than other dragons.
In addition to legendary dragons, players will also encounter new breeds of enemies like gargoyles, death hounds, and armored trolls.
Back to Oblivion
Your quests for the Dawnguard or the vampires will take you to several new locations, and one of them is a plane of Oblivion - the plane players traveled to multiple times in the Elder Scrolls IV. Unlike the fiery fields of that of that game, Dawnguard's piece of Oblivion has a ghostly, ethereal visual style. Dubbed Soul Cairn, this haunting realm of trapped souls offers a change of scenery from the stark, Nordic surroundings of Skyrim.
The New Archery
Instead of relying on a bow for your ranged combat, Dawnguard adds crossbows to your arsenal. "The crossbows have a different feel from bows," says Carofano. " They will remain loaded while running through the world and provide a quicker shot. They are, however, slower to reload. Another benefit is that each shot has a chance to stagger your opponent." All of the perks you spent in archery still apply to crossbows, so your skills with a bow easily transfer to the new weapon.
The Ratway Makeover
"The ability to change your character's face was something that came up often in fan feedback," says Carofano. In response to those requests, Dawnguard adds a character hidden down in the Ratway of Riften who can alter your appearance. Race and gender are still locked, but you can tweak your other facial features in case your hero doesn't look as awesome as you initially thought.
Are you sick of feeling helpless on foot? Mounted combat is coming with Dawnguard, allowing players to use their weapons while on horseback. Not only is this a more convenient way to deal with enemies on the road, but it will also give you a chance to try out a new set of Dragonbone weapons - another addition in Dawnguard. Unfortunately, your attacks while mounted are limited to weapons; if you want to cast spells, you still need to dismount
Where to Start
A new base and an array of powers may sound tempting, but new players shouldn't try to tackle Dawnguard as soon as they escape activity. The DLC isn't meant for low-level players. "Dawnguard is designed to work with any characters who are past level 10," says Carofano. Go on some adventures first, learn about shouting, and get some perks in your preferred style of combat before undertaking the quest. When you're ready, listen for rumors about the group of vampire hunters who are recruiting, and ask town guards to steer you in the direction of the Dawnguard.
New shouts are also part of the Dawnguard package, letting you continue to expand your mastery of the draconic language. Soul tear is one of the new shouts players can learn, which allows you to steal the soul of a defeated for and raise that foe as an undead minion. While Bethesda wouldn't specify how the new shouts are integrated into the campaign, they are likely tied to Dawnguard's unique locations rather than new word walls popping up across Skyrim.
Giving Xbox an Edge
Dawnguard is coming to the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC, but only Xbox owners get to play it this summer. The DLC is a timed exclusive, meaning the PC and PS3 versions will be released after an undisclosed amount of time has passed. Bethesda took a similar approach with Fallout 3; in that the DLC packs didn't arrive on PS3 until several months after their original release on Xbox 360 and PC. This approach for Skyrim's DLC was announced well before the game released last fall, but considering all of the PS3-specific problems in the base game, playing Skyrim on Sony's console is a losing proposition. At least PC players have the creation kit and mods to keep them busy.