For months, fans have been not-so-patiently awaiting a downloadable content package for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Bethesda's open-roam RPG has swept consoles and PCs worldwide since its November 2011 release, and E3 2012 brings more insight into the game's first expansion.
After players were able to see a gameplay demonstration of Dawnguard, which was announced at the beginning of May, Bethesda's Todd Howard said that the content will arrive in June, reported Joystiq.
Tentatively, it's coming on June 26, he said.
Although previous beta tests for Skyrim updates have been limited to PC players, this time Xbox 360 owners also get a chance to preview the new content. To apply for a beta key, head over to DawnGuardBeta.ElderScrolls.com, where gamers will need to fill out a brief survey about their experience with Skyrim. Once this is finished, the beta invites are sent out to applicants within a couple of days. If players are accepted, they will receive a download code for access to Dawnguard.
Note that the beta version features the full version of the content, including achievements, so you're essentially getting the DLC for no charge by becoming a beta tester, writes Pete Haas, of Gaming Blend.
Bethesda plans to release the expansion pack for 1600 MS points, or $20 at the end of June. The beta is exclusive to Xbox 360 users because that console is receiving the update before PlayStation 3 and PC owners, who will have to wait an additional 30 days.
Dawnguard puts vampire-esque creatures at the forefront of its story, but this DLC is long from being just another blood-sucking tale. Matt Bertz, of Game Informer, was able to experience the action firsthand through a level 29 character that had chosen to join the dark side of vampirism. This was several hours into the DLC, after the protagonist had already found an ally in female counterpart Serana.
Side quests are also found sprinkled throughout the main terrain, which the Game Informer player chose to skip in pursuit of Serana's mother. Skeletal creatures pop out to pose a challenge, but these are easily defeated with a quick crossbow attack. Pressing the right bumper allows gamers to transform into their alternate vampire persona, with the ability to cast spells from afar and perform damaging melee attacks.
After overcoming a few more skeletons, the player finally reaches Serana's mother's hideout. She doesn't seem happy to see her daughter and her companion, according to Game Informer. The player now learns that Serana's mother was once in possession of two Elder Scrolls, which her ex-husband needs to end the tyranny of the sun and bring eternal darkness over the entire earth. This would allow vampires to freely roam the planet whenever they wish, but Serana's mother isn't willing to pay for the consequences of this outcome. In order to do this, she would need to sacrifice her daughter and Auriel's bow.
However, the Game Informer player chooses to sacrifice Serana and take on Harkon, to which her mother reluctantly agrees. Once the player defeats the soul keepers located at the tallest spires in the soul cairn, he will obtain the second Elder Scroll. This is right where the demo leaves off.
According to Bethesda developers, fans can expect the expansion to pack around 15 hours of gameplay, similar to that of the Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles expansions for Oblivion. In addition to the main quest, Dawnguard will also feature new random quests and dungeons. Before players can dive into the expansion, they need to be at least a level 10, since most of the content is catered towards those in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
I wish I had more time to explore the new content, Bertz writes. But we won't have to wait long for the expansion.
For those who haven't already seen it, check out the official Dawnguard trailer below.