I am actually impressed I finished Dawnguard so soon after I finished Borderlands: The Pre-sequel (same day actually).
The Dawnguard add-on brings around 39 new quests which is including the main and side quests. It focuses on the conflict between the newly formed Dawnguard, a faction of vampire hunters and the Volkihar vampire clan led by Lord Harkon. The root of their conflict? Harkon’s obsession with a prophecy that may allow vampires to walk in the sun. Choose your side. Will you help Harkon meet his goal of blocking out the sun, or will you join the Dawnguard and thwart Harkon’s scheme?
The main quest will not start immediately. It can be started in two ways:
a) be approached by a dawnguard member whose looking for recruits
b) hear rumors about vampire hunters gathering at an old fort
Regardless, not all quests begin the same way. Some must be begun by finding the quest-giver at a key time or finding an object (e.g book) and interacting with it.
My original plan was to play both sides, so once I finished one side of the quest-line to replay from an older save and explore the other faction’s quests. However, I kept experiencing issues with the add-on that made me either want to give up on finishing Dawnguard or rage. So I just stuck with finishing the Dawnguard faction side and doubt I will ever get around to trying out the vampire side. I might but it is extremely unlikely to happen.
The story originally felt like it was about a family that had a bitter disagreement, and the daughter is neglected. Towards the end however, it gives a twist on how the prophecy that the story focuses on came about and even references how the Falmer used to be, before they were tricked by the Dwarves and became a corrupted version of themselves. I enjoyed that twist, especially watching Serana actually act pretty bad-ass. She redeemed herself in my eyes from that point onwards. After finishing the quests, I gleefully dismissed her and ran around Skyrim celebrating my new-found freedom (not really, but close).
Compared to other games and add-ons I have played, Dawnguard is by far the most bug-ridden. At points my game has crashed to the desktop (CTD) or the quests become broken, therefore unplayable. The latter is what happened back when Dawnguard was released and I was giving it my first play-through, one of the main quests became broken and I had no backup saves to rely on. I am not sure what really happened, but from what I recall, you were meant to rescue a priest to get his help on reading the elder scrolls. When I went to the cave he was being held at, he was not there and I couldn’t figure out what happened or where he went off too. I forgot there was a thing called the console.
My successful play through, I did not find the previous issues that I saw the first time. I however, did find other problems instead.
This time however, mostly revolved around your vampire buddy, Serana. She quickly became a source of frustration for me. I usually play using stealth, meaning I like to know where my enemies are using the Aura Whisper shout then using the bow to take them out. While Serana will sneak along with you, if you did not get an instant kill via stealth…..let’s just say she will end up charging straight into battle that may or may not give your position away. It got pretty frustrating pretty quick. Till we got to the chasing echoes quest, she wasn’t following me at all, at the time I just assumed she was lagging behind me since I was sprinting for most of the way. When we found the room we were seeking and she is meant to trigger the next part of the quest, she did not. Instead she ended up walking out of the room! So being the genius I am, I continued gathering the items then ran back to find her in hopes she would walk back to the room and start the next part (again) which was meant to open a portal. She didn’t. She kept on walking.
I ended up having to reload an older save, fast-travel so she would be back with me then slowly backtrack to the room then restart that part of the quest again. It went fine till….she decided to stand in a corner of the room. She would not walk up to the pedestal to complete the quest, thus starting the next one. I ended up using the console to go ahead and activate the portal. From that point on, no more issues. Thankfully.
Lots of new locations scattered in the Skyrim map. My favorite was the forgotten vale. The soul cairn was just creepy but I did manage to find the secret boss (Reaper). Although finding the items for side-quests was a pain, especially finding the missing pages (soul) and paragons (vale).
I do wish there was more ancient Snow Elven structure or more lore on that, although hearing the history of the Snow Elves and how it was connected to the Falmer was interesting. Or perhaps more items on the Snow Elves since you only got the ancient armor and that was it. Ignoring the fact you got two artifacts from a god they worshipped, and could even get a blessing from the shrine of their deity.
It could been more enjoyable if there wasn’t so many bugs associated with the game. It seems that other people have experienced the CTD issue as well, but I am not sure if others have met the missing npc bug and the Serana deciding to not be helpful mood. Not something I would want to replay, simply because I do not want to go through that again.