‘Skyrim: Dawnguard’ DLC Releases

The Dawnguard DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has finally launched at the end of June, and diehard fans of Bethesda's open-world RPG have gotten what they've been waiting for. Gamers have the option of playing as either a bloodsucking vampire lord or a hunter of these creatures, and each choice will take you on a different path.

The Skyrim expansion has been available for less than a week for Xbox 360 players, but fans have already delved into the vampire-ridden quest line. For those looking to make the most out of their Dawnguard playing experience, here are some tips.

Depending on which side Skyrim fans choose, either Fort Dawnguard or Castle Volkihar becomes available as a base for future quests. Both of these locations provide a slew of useful items to assist gamers in their journey. When searching through the Volkihar Keep, players will find Potions of Blood. They restore health and act as a feed, so vampires will not have to attack citizens. The Bloodstone Chalice in the room right off the main hall can also be activated to obtain the Blood of the Ancients active power.

For those looking to hunt some blood-thirsty nightwalkers, the crossbow is essential to conquering any hunt. This is the main new weapon that has been added to the world of Skyrim, as predicted in advance of the DLC's official launch. To get the best crossbow, be sure to talk to Sorine Jurard after recruiting her to Fort Dawnguard. Speaking to her will spark the Ancient Technology quest, which involves recovering crossbow and exploding bolt schematics from locations across Tamriel. When all of these have been recovered, the Enhanced Dwarven crossbow is unlocked, which has the potential to make armor half as effective and can dish out a ton of damage.

Conversely, as a member of the undead faction, players will expect longer survival rates than their human counterparts. As a vampire, health, stamina and magicka are all reduced significantly while in sunlight and are unable to regenerate. But vampires in Dawnguard do get the Vampire Lord form as a perk, which allows them to gain new powers through the Drain Life spell or bite power attack rather than leveling up.

In addition to new abilities, gamers have the ability to create one of the most powerful combat tools available in the Skyrim universe: the Dragonbone weapons. To craft these powerful items, players must first increase their smithing skill to 100 and unlock the Dragon Armor perk. Once this is done, the next step requires obtaining the required number of Dragon Bones, Ebony Ingot and Leather Strips to create the weapon of choice. This creation can later be updated by using a further Dragon Bone at a grindstone to inflict more damage.

And, of course, what would a Skyrim expansion be without the power of the Dragon Shouts? Be sure to learn the new commands in the Dawnguard expansion by doing the following:

Drain Vitality

Players can absorb stamina, magicka and health from enemies with this Dragon Shout, as the name implies. To obtain it, one must discover three new word walls: one in Dimhollow Crypt during the Awakening quest, another in the Forgotten Vale during the Touching the Sky quest and another at Archwind Point in the mountains southwest of Rift Imperial Camp.

Summon Durnehviir

This Dragon Shout can be learned during the Beyond Death quest after defeating the undead dragon Durnehviir. Players can summon him into Tamriel after unlocking all three words with dragon souls.

Soul Tear

This final Dragon Shout is learned by summoning Durnehviir into Tamriel and gives players the ability to turn enemies into allies in battle. Each of the first three times Durnehviir is summoned into Tamriel, he will teach the player a new word of the Soul Tear Shout.

The Dawnguard DLC has answered fans demand for an add-on to the widely popular game since its November 2011 launch. However, the staff at Eurogamer only rated the expansion as 7 out of 10, due to spawn glitches and erratic quest markers. This begs the question of whether or not it was worth it and if it will live up to fan demand.

It's just that being asked to pay 1600 Microsoft Points for the experience shines an unforgiven light on this sort of construction, writes Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer, after saying that the quests in Dawnguard are similar to those in the main game.

Despite varying opinions, fans are sure to eagerly sink their teeth into Bethesda's additional Skyrim gameplay content, and there's a good chance it won't be the last.