The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dawnguard Expansion reviews

We've scoured the web to find out what the gaming greats made of the first Skyrim add-on

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dawnguard Expansion reviews are in. We round up the best to see what the gaming world’s critics made of the RPG

Update: We've now got our own Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dawnguard Expansion review

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim landed to much fanfare when it was released late last year, but as expected, just mere months after its launch, people stopped talking.

The media lost interest (even the Indie's Michael Plant admitted Skyrim had "gone a little stale – after three solid months"), fanboys began gossiping about the prospect of an Elder Scrolls 6 and Skyrim went from so right now, to so last year.

But Bethesda, the firm behind the successful Elder Scrolls franchise, has pushed Skyrim back into the limelight with the release of Dawnguard.

It’s the first download add-on for Skyrim, and opens the door to a world of vampire lords and blood-sucking adventures.

So, what have the critics made of it? We've rounded up the latest reviews to find out…

The good…

GameSpot referred to Dawnguard as "grotesque fun", saying: "In many ways, roving as a vampire lord is a treat. The form is visually striking (you cannot play as a vampire lord in first-person view), and the array of vicious attacks can make you feel deliciously evil.

"It's grotesque fun to fling a falmer around, or to raise a gargoyle from the dead and have him join the fray. It's also a joy to take wing and glide: it's faster than sprinting, and you get a nice stamina boost to keep you floating forward."

Meanwhile, the Guardian's Nick Cowen, who is also a writer for T3, had this to say: "The missions in the vampire storyline are more interesting than the rather generic narrative tied to the Dawnguard faction.

"Furthermore, once Harkon embraces the player, they gain access to a rather impressive list of powers."

Wired's Nate Laxon was impressed by the game's production quality, saying: "Generally, the plot of the game is very much in keeping with Skyrim itself, feeling like it could have been part of the main game. Characters are superbly voiced and production values are exceptionally high.

"As such, the storyline will have instant appeal to anyone who enjoyed some of the main game's larger scripted quests."

NowGamer were also impressed, concluding: "It’s a tough, inviting challenge that fans will appreciate, and while you can access the DLC from level ten, we experienced it at level 36 and it still threw some tough battles our way.

"So if you’re a Skyrim fan you absolutely do need to experience Dawnguard’s challenge, but don't expect something revolutionary."

…And the bad

EuroGamer called the new Skyrim add-on a “curious thing”, before explaining that Dawnguard is far too plot-reliant for a roaming-heavy RPG like Skyrim:

“Unlike the blockbuster ambitions of BioWare, Bethesda RPGs are more about place than plot.

“They're about roaming, poking around and seeing what happens, and the various quest lines are there to tug you in the direction of new places.

“That's why Bethesda downloadable content usually introduces some new, separate area to explore, away from the main map.

“Dawnguard, in contrast, squeezes its handful of new locations into the tiny spaces not already occupied in Tamriel.

“That means that a lot of its impact relies on the story, and that's not the game's strongest suit.”

IGN’s Ryan McCaffery says the new levels are far too confusing: “In joining the Dawnguard faction, the expansion pack starts a bit slow.

“The new areas you encounter aren’t particularly interesting to look at aside from a few pretty caves, but even those are a bit puzzling to navigate – unexpected after most Skyrim dungeons provide a quick way out after you reach the end of them.”

However, according to McCaffery, things do get better: “Things ramp up as you progress, however, leading to several breathtaking battles.

“One highlight took place in an open arena against a dragon and a plethora of skeletons.

“Under the heavy rain and darkened skies of the Storm Call dragon shout, lighting bolts cracked down upon the undead warriors, turning them into dust all around me as I dueled the dragon.”

The Independent's Michael Plant was quick to point out how long it took to download and install the add-on: "I was frustrated by the download wait, and then the update wait, and then the realisation upon loading my last save game that I was hopelessly lost in some Dweemer purgatory," he wrote.

"About an hour to wait while I fumbled round the deserted ruin for the exit, eventually escaping, before having to sell all my stuff before even contemplating setting off on another adventure.

"In fact I began to remember all the things that had wound me up about the original release."