Skyrim: Dawnguard has arrived on PC and is on the way to PlayStation 3, Besthesda confirmed at Quakecon today. Is the vampiric expansion actually worth it? Dave Cook provides the answer.
Typically, console DLC is comprised of single maps, re-skins, costumes and other bite-size, quick-fix downloads. Is what you're buying actually worth the money you're spending? In Dawnguard's case there's no question. It is good value.
Many have already completed Dawnguard on Xbox 360, and now PC gamers, soon to be followed by their PlayStation 3 brethren, we're assured, are going to get the chance. They've flirted with the night and sucked the blood of innocents as the Vampire Lord, or they've sworn an oath to banish the vampiric plague from the moors of Skyrim. It was good, but was it actually worth it?
The true worth of additional, digital content is a tricky question the industry continually asks itself. Bethesda's fallen foul of delivering the wrong answer before with its Oblivion horse armour gaffe, in which a cosmetic piece of equine battle-wear was plonked onto Xbox Live for the princely sum of 200 MS Points back in 2006.
The internet erupted with cries of robbery and foul play at what was really only a couple of quid, but it was nothing to the state of affairs we're facing today: alternate costumes, avatar gear and other, largely useless pieces of digital merch abound.
Yet, we keep on buying it, so developers keep selling it. Our purchases send signals to the games industry hive mind that we still want to buy it.
Take my money
Skyrim: Dawnguard, thankfully, is the right sort of DLC. It's a proper expansion that delivers a solid 10-20 hours of content, depending on whether or not you sample both mission paths. Value like that rarely appears on consoles these days, and that's a sad thing to see.
Typically, console DLC is comprised of single maps, re-skins, costumes and other bite-size, quick-fix downloads. Is what you're buying actually worth the money you're spending?
In Dawnguard's case there's no question. It is good value.
Dawnguard isn't without flaws, however. The Vampire Lord form, while dispensing a great power trip, is cumbersome. You have to constantly changed back to grab loot, which is a problem when there are so many spoils to worry about. Some of the areas haven't been built for your vampire form either, meaning there are corridors you won't be able to squeeze through unless you morph.
Many weeks after playing Dawnguard, and the memories of time spent in Tamriel's dark underworld aren't as fond as they were initially. It's largely because the content feels overly familiar, with only a few new environments to tackle. Plus the crossbow is guff.
But these are minor niggles that can be overlooked. It's a generous package. Why nitpick when so many studios commit worse crimes?
There are few expansions that can match Dawnguard in terms of sheer volume. The GTA IV episodes, Borderlands expansions, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare and the Fallout DLC are part of a dying breed, and that's a real shame.
Hopefully, going into the next generation of console hardware, developers will start to figure out the true worth of additional content, and start delivering smart packages that reward your investment, rather than taking you for a ride.
Dawnguard is proof that studios can still deliver great value console content at a price that makes sense, and hopefully it won't be the last. Be sure to hand over your money for whichever of the PS3 and PC versions are applicable to you. It's definitely worth it.