A look at 'Skyrim's' first downloadable expansion, 'Dawnguard'

What do we know and what can we guess about this summer's add-on pack?

  • The Bethesda Blog released this "Dawnguard" teaser image on Tuesday and noted that more details would be released at E3, which is June 5-7.
The Bethesda Blog released this "Dawnguard" teaser… (Bethesda )
May 02, 2012|By Dave Gilmore

Six months after the game's initial release, the whispers of the first expansion pack for Bethesda Softworks' "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" have finally been confirmed.

The pack is titled "Dawnguard." The name is, as far as we know, unique within the Elder Scrolls universe, and isn’t referenced in any in-game literature (according to the very useful Elder Scrolls Wiki). If you consider the "Dawn" part of the name, the location immediately seems to point to the northern Skyrim city of Dawnstar, which is near the edge of the current playable map. Of course, "Dawn" could point to time, not location. We could be in for something at the dawn of one of the universe’s four eras, or the dawn of a particular group or conflict.

With more details coming at the E3 expo on June 5-7, the only morsel we have to chew on is the teaser image released on the Bethesda Blog. Now, the image itself isn’t really new. It’s the same Nord warrior used in "Skyrim's" promotion countless times, with two notable additions. First, the glowing orange eyes are an enhancement to the original image. Next, the more obvious insertion of a quiver of arrows strapped to our hero’s back stands out as a pretty glaring hint.

This information is most interesting when held against what an enterprising Bethesda forum poster found in the most recent patch coding. Among other things, the files seem to reference crossbows, Snow Elves and vampires. The latter is already a large part of the game, but perhaps there will be expanded abilities associated with being vampiric, or even a new vampiric class? The crossbows and quiver in the teaser image obviously fit together nicely, which would freshen up ranged combat in conjunction with the latest patch’s excellent new ranged killcams.

The Snow Elf references could be the best clues as to what the new story and quest content will entail. As referenced within in-game literature going back to "The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind," the conflict between the Nords and the Snow Elves was one that pushed the elves underground to live among the Dwemer, whose cavernous ruins pepper the Skyrim landscape. After being betrayed and slowly poisoned by the Dwemer, the Snow Elves eventually evolved into the Falmer, who occupy a good portion of Skyrim’s caves. The only visual representation of a Snow Elf so far occurs in one of the Thieves’ Guild quests in “Skyrim” in the form of a statue with huge crystal eyes, lootable as rare and valuable items. Perhaps there’s some connection between the eyes and the glowing ones on the poster, or maybe it’s just a coincidence.

It’s also safe to assume the expansion pack will take advantage of the 200 Kinect voice commands enabled in Tuesday's title update of the main game. In addition, the downloadable expansion will be exclusive to Xbox players for the first 30 days. The news that the first two expansion packs would be Xbox-exclusive for a month was announced last August, well before the original game even released.

One of the great things about "Skyrim" is that it offers seemingly endless gameplay. However, once you reach a certain skill level with your character, there isn’t too much the game throws at you to make you sweat. It’s often more rewarding to simply restart the game with a new race/sex and make different decisions than simply wandering around with your maxed-out warrior. Whatever the “Dawnguard” DLC pack entails, let’s hope it’s substantial enough to breathe significant life into an already illustrious title.

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