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EGM High Five: Skyrim: Dawnguard

New quests, a whole new realm to explore, and a powerful new class should greatly extend your time in Skyrim, but is there enough gameplay for Elder Scrolls fans to sink their teeth into? Bethesda treated us to a sneak-peak look at one quest to see how the new Vampire Lord class works, and if we truly felt like unstoppable demons of the night.

Have Blood, Will Travel

At the start of the demo, we began as a level 29 Vampire Lord, about to set out on a mission with another vampire named Serana. Of course, blood plays a huge role in quests, and in this case—a hunt for one of the Elder Scrolls—our NPC companion used her own blood to open a portal to the Soul Cairn realm. It’s an expansive place, but definitely not inviting. Piles of bones are scattered everywhere, while the many souls of the dead will grimly grumble about being deceased.

Walking On Water

Once you map your Vampire Lord transformation to a bumper on your controller, you can change back and forth at will. It’s a clunky process that isn’t exactly instantaneous, but the end result is completely game-changer. Although you lose the ability to wield weapons, armor, or your usual spells and shouts, you become a hovering menace on bony, skinny wings. Instead of running or walking, you have the option to glide everywhere, even over water, which dynamically changes exploration.

Bash ‘Em, Slash ‘Em

Now, I’ll be honest—I’m not a huge fan of the fact that you can’t access your normal weapons or abilities in your Vampire Lord form. Sure, the tradeoff is an amazingly durable body, powerful melee attacks, and life-draining skills, but the loss of your standard skill set might have you joining the titular anti-vampire Dawnguard faction instead of the Vampires. What the Vampire Lord class does best is soak up damage. A new enemy type called a “Watcher” killed me in two hits as a human, but as a Vampire Lord, I went toe-to-toe with it, trading dozens of blows with far less trouble.

Dark New Powers

There’s a lot to unlock in the Vampire Lord’s new skill tree, and many of the abilities far outstrip anything that vampires could do in the basic Skyrim adventure. Raise Dead is self-explanatory; Bats is a teleporting spell that turns you into a cloud of, well, bats; and Vampire Sight lets you see things that normal human and animal eyes can’t. There’s more to unlock as you level up, including Curse Corpse (a paralysis spell), Summon Gargoyle (what it says on the tin), and Vampire Grip (drag enemies towards you, drain their life, and toss them aside)—but instead of gaining experience, you have to get skill points by using Drain Life and Bite, which makes sense.

No Need For Bloodshed

If you’re not certain you want to fully commit to life as a Vampire Lord, you might be glad to know that the change doesn’t have to be permanent. If you’re a werewolf and you give up your powers for Dawnguard’s vampire quests, you can get those abilities back, so it’s logical to think that you can abandon your vampiric powers. But given that the class gives you cool perks like an invulnerable mist form, poison-tipped claws, faster combat reflexes, bat familiars that attack enemies, and all around stronger physical defenses. Sure, you’re weaker in the sunlight, but given Skyrim’s vast amount of underground caves and caverns, there should be a lot of use that you can get out of the demonic powers.

Do you think that Dawnguard’s Vampire Lord class is something you’ll change your character for? Or are you more excited about tracking down the blood-sucking demons as a vampire hunter?