The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard Review

Shjade

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Soopy said:
The thing with the Nevarine was that the only reason the things you did, could be done, was because you were Lord Nervar incarnate. Sure there wasn't much flash to it, but it was what it was.

Skyrim, not so much. Most of the story progression is spurred by an completely arbitrary event as the antagonist did bugger all after the opening scene. I mean, we could have just ignored Alduin's little escapade and the world wouldn't have been effected even in the slightest. At least there was the plaque in Morrowind, 6th house assassins and political conspiracy to give the character some reason to persu the antagonist (who's motives aren't even immediately clear).
In theory, sure. In practice, the only reason you make that claim is because that's what you're told. Nothing that happens in the game ever proves that claim; nothing really demonstrates that you are, in fact, the incarnation of anything other than a badass. The Dovahkiin can prove he/she is that thing because of the Shouts. The Nerevarine has no such concrete claim. You're basically just told, "You're this guy. Trust me." And that's that.

As for antagonists, if you want to compare Alduin with Dagoth, at least Alduin is present in the game. 99% of Morrowind's plot is spent running around doing seemingly arbitrary things that you only know are necessary because people swear to you that they are; you don't even meet the big bad until about five minutes before you kill him, much less interact with him in any significant way. Alduin might be an inconsistently present threat, but Dagoth Ur is comatose by comparison to the dragon's activity. Could just as well "defeat" him by keeping the mountain sealed off and ignoring it as far as I could ever tell by playing the game. Alduin may only be flying around waking up dead dragons, but at least it's something you can see happening.

shintakie10 said:
Shouts are basically just spells that they replaced with a special graphic. Its actually because of shouts that bein a mage has so fewer options than they did in previous games.

It was my biggest gripe with the gameplay honestly. I always played a Mage, but shouts were retarded and I didnt want to use them. However if I didnt want to use them I missed out on several essential spells because there are no equivalent spells to the shouts.
Yeah, I'm torn on whether I like the shout system or not. On the one hand, it makes playing non-mage characters have a lot more variety compared with the previous games (in which playing a warrior/rogue consists solely of "continue swinging until dead"). On the other, it really does strip down the merits of magic, particularly coupled with the already much streamlined magic system compared with past games in the series (though, granted, I kinda hated the old magic system, so while I recognize the oversimplification taking place, I can't say I mourn the loss of the old build-your-own-spells feature overmuch).

As a story mechanic, however - which is why I brought it up - they do indisputably mark you as That Guy for purposes of being their chosen person for the plot, as compared with just some helpful adventurer who happens to be saving the world (see above re: Nerevarine).
 

Rooster Cogburn

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Shjade said:
Soopy said:
The thing with the Nevarine was that the only reason the things you did, could be done, was because you were Lord Nervar incarnate. Sure there wasn't much flash to it, but it was what it was.

Skyrim, not so much. Most of the story progression is spurred by an completely arbitrary event as the antagonist did bugger all after the opening scene. I mean, we could have just ignored Alduin's little escapade and the world wouldn't have been effected even in the slightest. At least there was the plaque in Morrowind, 6th house assassins and political conspiracy to give the character some reason to persu the antagonist (who's motives aren't even immediately clear).
In theory, sure. In practice, the only reason you make that claim is because that's what you're told. Nothing that happens in the game ever proves that claim; nothing really demonstrates that you are, in fact, the incarnation of anything other than a badass. The Dovahkiin can prove he/she is that thing because of the Shouts. The Nerevarine has no such concrete claim. You're basically just told, "You're this guy. Trust me." And that's that.

As for antagonists, if you want to compare Alduin with Dagoth, at least Alduin is present in the game. 99% of Morrowind's plot is spent running around doing seemingly arbitrary things that you only know are necessary because people swear to you that they are; you don't even meet the big bad until about five minutes before you kill him, much less interact with him in any significant way. Alduin might be an inconsistently present threat, but Dagoth Ur is comatose by comparison to the dragon's activity. Could just as well "defeat" him by keeping the mountain sealed off and ignoring it as far as I could ever tell by playing the game. Alduin may only be flying around waking up dead dragons, but at least it's something you can see happening.
What you're describing is a very simple, mainstream-friendly plot, which is probably why we were given just that in Skyrim. Morrowind's story was a lot better than Skyrim's. It had craft, style, emotion, depth, intrigue, mystery and so on that was missing or fell flat in Skyrim. The Dovahkiin is the first player character who is a superman. The Nerevarine and the Champion of Cyrodiil were just badass dudes fulfilling a prophecy. I think that is a much better story but the superman approach has broader appeal.

I agree to some extent. They had an explanation for why you had to unite the Great Houses and such but it was kind of weak and it wasn't expressed in gameplay. You can take Nibani Maesa and Caius Cosades' word that it's a practical necessity but the player does not experience any evidence of that. I also agree that Elder Scrolls games do not lend themselves to race-against-the-clock storytelling, which is what they have done in III, IV, and V. If you know you can't do it justice then don't do it. But it wasn't emphasized nearly as much in Morrowind.

However, I think Morrowind's approach to the Nerevarine had a lot more craft and style than Skyrim's Dovahkiin and was way more emotionally rewarding. Basically all the things you are criticizing are things I liked. There were elements of mystery and discovery in Morrowind. No one knew if the prophecy was real or if you were it's fulfillment. Not even the player knew until you received Azura's blessing and met the failed Nerevarines. Even then, many remained skeptical including the Blades themselves. This doubt left room for political intrigue, mystery and more rewarding challenges. The mystery, skepticism, and divided loyalties made the story better, not worse. Skyrim missed an opportunity by not doing this, but I guess they couldn't copy Morrowind too closely. Not everyone believes you are the Nerevarine, and that made the story more exciting.

On the other hand, you know you are because you piece it together before being flatly told. You fulfill the prophecies as you go, you wield his artifacts that only he can wield, and finally a freaking Daedric Prince tells you so and makes you it's champion. You have the powers the Nerevarine is supposed to possess like resistance to all diseases including the dreaded corprus. That was a pretty clear and dramatic demonstration. It may not have been as dramatic as the dragon shouts but it wasn't ambiguous either. And like I said, you're not supposed to be superman. Just a badass.

In Morrowind you spent your time fighting an active and dangerous Sixth House Cult. You even get accosted and attacked in cities by sleepers and dreamers. You certainly saw all that happening. There's nothing wrong with saving the big-bad for the final showdown as long as it's built up properly and given interesting relevance to the audience, which it was.

When you finally became the Nerevarine, it was very rewarding because it not only resolved a mystery but also served as pay-off for all your work so far. In Skyrim you just kind of get it at the beginning. And you don't even know or care what a Dragonborn is because the game did not build up to it like in Morrowind. It wasn't exactly an emotional high point. I can't think of any emotional high points in Skyrim to be honest, even though it was packed with interesting stuff. Maybe Sovengarde, but that was more about the concept. All it really had was the appeal of being superman. I liked Skyrim's story, honest I did. It just doesn't compare to Morrowind.
 

Shjade

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Feb 2, 2010
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Rooster Cogburn said:
On the other hand, you know you are because you piece it together before being flatly told. You fulfill the prophecies as you go, you wield his artifacts that only he can wield, and finally a freaking Daedric Prince tells you so and makes you it's champion. You have the powers the Nerevarine is supposed to possess like resistance to all diseases including the dreaded corprus. That was a pretty clear and dramatic demonstration. It may not have been as dramatic as the dragon shouts but it wasn't ambiguous either. And like I said, you're not supposed to be superman. Just a badass.

In Morrowind you spent your time fighting an active and dangerous Sixth House Cult. You even get accosted and attacked in cities by sleepers and dreamers. You certainly saw all that happening. There's nothing wrong with saving the big-bad for the final showdown as long as it's built up properly and given interesting relevance to the audience, which it was.
Ah, I knew I'd forgotten things. Disease resistance when facing a foe whose major strength seems to be disease certainly is a pretty good thing! Maybe I'm just too pragmatic a person, but from my point of view the whole Nerevarine thing was never all that big an issue because, well, it was irrelevant. Most of the tasks given were things anyone seemed capable of doing with proper training and experience, so I pretty much assumed it didn't matter if people calling me Nerevarine were right or not - same things getting done either way. Legends based on kernel of truth, etc.

As for the other bit, though, I can't say I interpret being attacked by crazies as a representation of a big bad thing doing bad things. Crazy people do crazy stuff; if it wasn't for Dagoth Ur it'd be for something else. For all I knew their cult was based on something that didn't even exist anymore, much less pose a threat to anyone. It's hard to be motivated to combat an antagonist that isn't...well, antagonizing. I was happy to kill the cultists and dreamers when they wanted to kill me, sure, but all that told me is crazies wanted to kill me.

I think the major point we both agree on is Bethesda's choice of driving plots for their TES games has been...ill-advised, let's say. "Really, this dragon-raising business is that urgent, is it? It can't wait for me to spend a few months bailing out miners' daughters from being kidnapped by fanatics or chilling with cannibals in a cave? ...oh, it can wait? Cool, I'll get back to you on that Dovahkiin thing, then." Yeah, that's some compelling stuff. -.-
 

scw55

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Not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that now I'm not in much of a rush to buy this.
Saves me £s but it means I'm not excited over this DLC.
 

Rooster Cogburn

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Shjade said:
Rooster Cogburn said:
On the other hand, you know you are because you piece it together before being flatly told. You fulfill the prophecies as you go, you wield his artifacts that only he can wield, and finally a freaking Daedric Prince tells you so and makes you it's champion. You have the powers the Nerevarine is supposed to possess like resistance to all diseases including the dreaded corprus. That was a pretty clear and dramatic demonstration. It may not have been as dramatic as the dragon shouts but it wasn't ambiguous either. And like I said, you're not supposed to be superman. Just a badass.

In Morrowind you spent your time fighting an active and dangerous Sixth House Cult. You even get accosted and attacked in cities by sleepers and dreamers. You certainly saw all that happening. There's nothing wrong with saving the big-bad for the final showdown as long as it's built up properly and given interesting relevance to the audience, which it was.
Ah, I knew I'd forgotten things. Disease resistance when facing a foe whose major strength seems to be disease certainly is a pretty good thing! Maybe I'm just too pragmatic a person, but from my point of view the whole Nerevarine thing was never all that big an issue because, well, it was irrelevant. Most of the tasks given were things anyone seemed capable of doing with proper training and experience, so I pretty much assumed it didn't matter if people calling me Nerevarine were right or not - same things getting done either way. Legends based on kernel of truth, etc.

As for the other bit, though, I can't say I interpret being attacked by crazies as a representation of a big bad thing doing bad things. Crazy people do crazy stuff; if it wasn't for Dagoth Ur it'd be for something else. For all I knew their cult was based on something that didn't even exist anymore, much less pose a threat to anyone. It's hard to be motivated to combat an antagonist that isn't...well, antagonizing. I was happy to kill the cultists and dreamers when they wanted to kill me, sure, but all that told me is crazies wanted to kill me.

I think the major point we both agree on is Bethesda's choice of driving plots for their TES games has been...ill-advised, let's say. "Really, this dragon-raising business is that urgent, is it? It can't wait for me to spend a few months bailing out miners' daughters from being kidnapped by fanatics or chilling with cannibals in a cave? ...oh, it can wait? Cool, I'll get back to you on that Dovahkiin thing, then." Yeah, that's some compelling stuff. -.-
I think we're just looking for different things in the story. I like the fact that you are not a superman in Morrowind. You're just an adventurer who gets caught up in larger things and discovers power within himself/herself. The tasks given to you were suitably epic, you just have to understand that the Nerevarine is about fulfilling prophecy. It's not a magic cape. To me that would cheapen it.

The people who attacked you were driven to madness by Dagoth Ur's evil powers and the Sixth House Cult. If you didn't stop it from spreading, everyone would become his corprus beasts or dead. He had extensive fortifications all over Vvardenfell and about a third of it was lost to his abominations. And they were pretty frickin' scary. I mean this kind of relates to the ticking clock thing- nothing is that threatening because in the back of your mind you know Balmora isn't really about to erupt in violence. But it's not like the threat was totally absent.

I understand why Bethesda writes stories that way. Obviously, the easiest and laziest way to create drama is to threaten that the world is going to blow up like now. I actually liked the story in Fallout 3 a lot because they didn't do that for once.
 

unoleian

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I'll be honest, I was hoping for more. I guess one of the downsides to this DLC is it adds a lot of little things that improves what's there (to some extent) but adds so little that truly feels new. I loved their treatment of some of the environments, but it really was just more of the same, and the one new-new environment was so completely empty, it felt like the world's most sprawling afterthought. Which, is rather sad. So much missed opportunity to play up that bleak, desolate area and make it something interesting that went almost fully unrealized. With what's there, they could have eliminated 80% of that map's real estate to the same essential goal with less empty wandering spent fighting palette-swapped baddies.

Don't get me wrong, it felt substantial in some ways, the main questline that was added was a superb "journey" plotline that really covered a lot of ground and was fun while it lasted, it just really, really felt like familiar ground, more often than not.
I'll look at it this way, and be optimistic that they have a meatier package in the works. If this is Skyrim's Tribunal, let's just bloody hope its Bloodmoon (or Shivering Isles) is coming up around the corner.

I do just want to say, though-- that thing you can do with the sun, pretty cool. Also, it gave me Soul Tear, easily my most favorite Shout now. So, there's that. Finally, one of their games has a few powers that feel like POWERS. Something they've missed the mark on often in the past.
 

Serfix

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Aiddon said:
I will say at the very least Bethesda FINALLY put an NPC in the game that didn't feel like a mannequin. Serana I found to be very interesting with some actual depth to her. Plus it helps that she's voiced by Laura Bailey (a.k.a. Catherine, Chun-li, Platinum the Trinity, and a BILLION anime voices) who actually puts some emotion and effort into her lines.
I must agree with you. She has that something on her that makes her bit differend compaired to other npcs. And ofc she can tag along you though then she acts like any other npc, I don't mean npcs that usually follows you. Shes like enemy npcs who goes somewhere checking out if she heard something and one time she even began tanning leather when I was standing still.
 

remmus

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JasonBurnout16 said:
QUESTION: Are any new monsters introduced? I don't mind about spoilers, I just want to know if there is added variety.
tho I haven´t played the DLC, a wiki spoke of a total of 6 new monsters and one new special named dragon
 

minimacker

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Heheeheheh. PCs will have an enormous amount of mods to remedy and fix the issues you're having. Such as the Dawnguard guardsmen murdering.
 

HellenicWarrior

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http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/mods/17077

This mod is amazing, I feel it's what Dawnguard should have been. Running through the countryside blisteringly fast, blinking in and out of existence, the inability to trespass, be around holy shrines or sunlight AND feeding as a necessity?

Vampires just got awesome in Skyrim
 

BroJing

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Conn1496 said:
Yeah, I never really liked Skyrim as much as Oblivion... it's just generally worse than Oblivion in every aspect.
The first part of this is fine, after all everyone gets their opinion. Not sure you can say it's worse then Oblivion in every aspect.

Just picking a few off the top of my head there's the improved combat mechanics, the tighter focus of the skill trees, as you mention better graphics and a much more interesting setting. I'll take pseudo-scandanavia with celtic influences over 20 square miles of english countryside (tm) any day.
 

BroJing

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Aiddon said:
I will say at the very least Bethesda FINALLY put an NPC in the game that didn't feel like a mannequin. Serana I found to be very interesting with some actual depth to her. Plus it helps that she's voiced by Laura Bailey (a.k.a. Catherine, Chun-li, Platinum the Trinity, and a BILLION anime voices) who actually puts some emotion and effort into her lines.
God I hate her so much...I'm Dawnguard and all I want to do is murder her, I agree that it's an improvement over the puppets that used to follow you (only ever had the 1 they give you in the main quest and funnily enough she got her throat ripped out by a master vampire a few minutes later).
 

JasonBurnout16

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remmus said:
JasonBurnout16 said:
QUESTION: Are any new monsters introduced? I don't mind about spoilers, I just want to know if there is added variety.
tho I haven´t played the DLC, a wiki spoke of a total of 6 new monsters and one new special named dragon
See, that has my attention as long as it's not six new bandits with six new hats and a dragon with a slightly bigger forearm.
 

unoleian

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JasonBurnout16 said:
remmus said:
JasonBurnout16 said:
QUESTION: Are any new monsters introduced? I don't mind about spoilers, I just want to know if there is added variety.
tho I haven´t played the DLC, a wiki spoke of a total of 6 new monsters and one new special named dragon
See, that has my attention as long as it's not six new bandits with six new hats and a dragon with a slightly bigger forearm.
FYI so your expectations are realistic-- three of the six new creatures are essentially particle-enhanced palette-swaps of existing undead creatures. The others are completely new, and the new dragon is...well, it's definitely got more than a slightly bigger forearm going on.
 

UncagedDuchess

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Huh, I seem to be in the minority when I say that I have pretty much no complaints about it. Yes, there are a few bugs but over all I really enjoyed it.
 

remmus

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unoleian said:
JasonBurnout16 said:
remmus said:
JasonBurnout16 said:
QUESTION: Are any new monsters introduced? I don't mind about spoilers, I just want to know if there is added variety.
tho I haven´t played the DLC, a wiki spoke of a total of 6 new monsters and one new special named dragon
See, that has my attention as long as it's not six new bandits with six new hats and a dragon with a slightly bigger forearm.
FYI so your expectations are realistic-- three of the six new creatures are essentially particle-enhanced palette-swaps of existing undead creatures. The others are completely new, and the new dragon is...well, it's definitely got more than a slightly bigger forearm going on.
I wouldnt say slapping armour on a troll made it new compare to palette-swaping undead X3
 

Shoggoth2588

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It sounds really good but it also sounds like the biggest problem is still there namely that nobody cares about what you do in Skyrim. Join the Stormcloaks and the Imperials don't care or, attack on sight (even if you enter their camps). Finish the main quest and leave a certain main character un-dealt with and the people who tell you to deal with it don't care. Honestly, I'm kind of hoping one of the next big DLC things they do for Skyrim will be some form of Demon that's been spreading apathy across Skyrim.
 

Druyn

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I guess I'm in the minority in these comments. I actually really liked Dawnguard. Yeah, it was annoying that the stories weren't different (the game made my decisions for me after everybody in the vampire castle was a dick and I could still become a vampire lord at any time in the dawnguard), I love Skyrim for the sheer sandbox scale. I love the new werewolf perks and just find myself running around on seer werewolf rampages, killing men, trolls, and dragons alike, the vampire powers are cool, the Forgotten vale is beautiful, Serana is easily on of the best characters and followers in the game, and some other unrelated side quests are fun.

Basically, for somebody who plays like I do, which is basically dick around and have a good time doing whatever, its great. The story is fairly high quality too, but the actual quests and such get pretty dull sometimes. And the Soul Cairn is awful. Just awful. So yeah, I get how people don't like it, but it was worth my money to me.
 

jthm

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Despite the negative comments (some of which I can't help but agree with about the empty feel of skyrim) I sure would like to play it. So why are pc and ps3 gamers getting the shaft? My desire to play this is mitigated by my desire to not give bethesda my money so I don't support this timed exclusivity garbage.