Wot I Think: Skyrim Dawnguard

By Alec Meer on August 8th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.

No, you can't take his skirt off

After a couple of months spent kneeling at the altar of Microsoft exclusivity, Skyrim’s first expansion Dawnguard has made its expensive way to the admirably-supported PC version. It brings vampires and it brings vampire hunters – but will it bring the game-changing of Bloodmoon or the deflation of Shivering Isles? Gaze into my proud undead eyes, human cattle, and allow me to seduce you into reading on.

Bethesda’s RPGs have always had something of a Jenga quality to them – teetering towers of ideas, features, environments, loot and AI behaviours that could collapse at any moment but always just about stays standing, often impressively so. In Skyrim, this wobbling structure looked less precarious than it has in the past, but some of those little wooden oblongs still look rather worn. With over half a year to work on first major expansion Dawnguard, and in the wake of Skyrim becoming Bethesda’s most successful game to date, I’d been hoping – confident, even – that this might be chance to address some of the persistent complaints and to make fundamental additions to the formula rather than simply balance more blocks on top that shuddering tower. Sadly not. Dawnguard seems to have been developed in a vacuum, as it seems bewilderingly oblivious to what the modding community have done, what critics and gamers alike complained about and even to the nature and allure of vampires, which it is so heavily focused on.

I am somewhat perplexed as to many of the design decisions made in Dawnguard – were they a result of limited resources, of Bethesda’s A-team having already moved on to the next project, or simply of faltering imaginations? Not my place to speculate perhaps, but the result is, if not an actual failure, a drawn-out disappointment, and very much at odds with earlier claims made regarding Skyrim expansions being game-changers rather than just more of the same content.

The $20 expansion pack seems to involve crudely forcing a whole load of new things into gaps they don’t entirely fit into, rather than truly redoing or rethinking anything, and as a result its new features and abilities often come across as awkward and rough. I’d say they seem like mods, but given that some of the spectacular stuff the modding community has come up with over the last few months is superior to much of Dawnguard, that wouldn’t be an entirely accurate statement. Mods make Skyrim a better game. Dawnguard, for the most part, simply makes Skyrim a bigger game. Mods are free. Dawnguard is $20. Allow yourself to guided by maths on this one. Maths has the answers. Maths understands. Maths loves you. Maths knows that yet more endless bloody Falmer dens are not what you wanted.

As a clutch of content, Dawnguard is primarily an extra guild/faction campaign, comparable in both size and narrative structure to the Thieves, Companions, Dark Brotherhood et al. That said, it has two opposing paths – either joining the vampires or the vampire-hunters, the titular Dawnguard, so if you’ve got a second Skyrim character there’s in theory double the content. Though from what I’d read both stories wind up on the same path anyway. I’ve played through the Vampire campaign, and rather than a dark odyssey it was a forgettable trudge. So much filler, so much dragging it out, so much tiresomely and repeatedly trekking across the land to find thing X and bring it to person Y, so many bloody Falmer dens. It was boring. It was content, for content’s sake. So much time, money, manpower, anticipation for something so ordinary.

Dawnguard’s tedium is not for wont of ideas – they’re there in abundance. The problem is purely one of execution, but it’s not for me to say whether that’s due to the limitations of Skyrim and the geriatric Gamebryo engine and roleplaying rules underneath it or a human failing. I visited new areas of Skyrim, I found lost, mystical glades, I explored the world beyond worlds that provides the source of Necromancers’ power, I roamed through a secret Vampire stronghold, I visited with members of one of Tamriel’s great lost races. I even had a nose around some botanical gardens. Some of the new settings looked jolly good, though that’s at least as much to do with the slew of graphical mods I’m running as anything else, but many were simply more of the same and, in the case of the two most in theory epic new locales, were so over-sized and empty of interactions as to quickly undermine their impressive appearance.

One thing I should point out, while being careful not to drop any spoiler-bombs, is that Dawnguard will doubtless prove vital for Elder Scrolls lore-heads. It provides direct encounters with and large chunks of backstory on key players in this fictional universe’s meta-narrative, and I’ve no doubt Wikia editors have had a field day with the info-goodies it offers. For me it was a case of fact over feeling, with the latter-day Bethesda games’ traditional flat, flaky voice performances robbing major moments and what should have been tragic characters of emotional resonance.

The storylines, abstractly, are strong and nuanced ones which address TES’ bigger picture rather than get bogged down in further dragon-bothering, but in practice I did not care for the fates of these people. It’s the same old problem, but arguably larger than in Skyrim due to the important nature and sad fates of some of these new characters. Is it that Bethesda simply don’t agree with the ongoing criticism of the acting in their games, that they don’t think it’s important, or that it’s not possible to objective about their babies? It’s not simply a matter of voice, either – the aforementioned encounter with a survivor of a lost race, on paper an exciting, moving moment, involved wandering up to a character standing all but rooted to the spot in a cave, wobbling their head as they drily trotted out lore and quest objectives. What gravitas! What gravitas? For added effect, the game decided to have the character turn their back to me for the duration of my initial conversation with them.

Enough! This complaint has been made so very many times before, after all. Let’s talk about the wampyr. The major feature addition to Dawnguard is flying vampire lords, a new class of vampire open to you upon completing an early quest. Well, let’s take out flying for starters, because a flapping wings animation doth not actual flight make. There’s no gliding gracefully across the mountaintops, and no vertical ascent of any kind, though it does carry you across water, in fairness. Being a Vampire Lord initially seems like it can only the the best thing, as you turn into a hulking monster with wings on his back, the face of a particularly pissed-off dog and a clutch of big new spells such as turning into a cloud of bats, summoning a gargoyle defender and draining lifeforce.

Being a vampire sounds cool! Being a vampire is annoying. It’s a monster mode rather than an addition to existing abilities and armour – you lose access to all world and character interactions other than the vampire’s spells, which are all crazily dumped into the Favourite Abilities pop-up menu. The inventory, map, questlog and standard magic menu are deactivated, with the only screen you’re able to bring up being a special new Perks menu, housing vamp abilities only. Transforming between modes is relatively slow and cumbersome, so checking something in your stash/log or looting bodies and chests if you’re in a Lord form is a real chore. It seems like the quickest, dirtiest way to introduce a new set of abilities – just turn everything else off and shove this entirely different module in instead.

In other words, being a vampire lord is only of use in the midst of combat, as for the rest of the time it blocks crucial parts of the game entirely. I appreciate that conversation with NPCs isn’t an option when I’m a creature so hated and feared, but I don’t know how that encompasses not being to use a map, where my loot vanishes to or being incapable of picking anything up. So, I increasingly avoided transformation, that much did it get in the way of playing the bally game. It didn’t help that my enLordened form was that much more of a weakling compared to my level 46 stealth-warrior with his dragonscale armour and ultra-enchanted weapons.

I stuck it out for a while to try and earn more perks, such as a temporarily invulnerable mist-state and a slow-motion mode, but the new powers didn’t feel worth the combat disadvantage, while having my custom-built hero transform into a one with a prefab appearance and skillset weakened my connection to him. As a final insult, Vampire Lord is third-person view only, and the game doesn’t remember that you were playing in first-person perspective prior to each transformation, so you’ll constantly be switching camera mode.

Dawnguard also fails to do much interesting with the vampire concept. Perhaps I’m spoilt by Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines, but there’s little in the way of trickery and subterfuge, of being the terror that stalks the night, of being the glamorous creature with a heart of ice. Either I’m a hovering dogman or I’m trying to find someone sleeping so I can drink their blood unseen. Dawnguard does toy with the horror of the situation, with its most memorable and only chilling scene being a banquet hall where whimpering human ‘cattle’ lie along the tablets and gruesome chunks of meat and ribcage litter the plates.

It’s really onto something here: when I saw it I sprang to attention, believing it to be the herald of something sinister and amoral, the start of fascinating quests that would dictate the nature of my character rather than purely their abilities. But that was it, just that fixed, repeating scene, with Vampire NPCs’ eating animations on a blatant loop and never actually coming into physical contact with their living meals. It was a visual reward for accepting vampirism, and nothing more.

That’s the greatest let-down of Dawnguard, I think. There is no new means of roleplaying as a vampire here, with the quest chain almost immediately becoming an over-long, over-familiar search for a series of magic doohickeys rather than exploring what it means to be a bloodsucker. Even my new abilities were only called upon once, which was a scripted use of the faintly useless Vampire Seduction power that’s simply Calm by another name. That, bar a climactic boss fight, it all wound up in two absurdly long trudges through the underground Falmer dens (comparable in uninspiring tedium to Dragon Age’s Deep Roads area) we’ve seen so many times in vanilla Skyrim says it all, I think.

Then there are the same old problems – springing to mind are Lydia-style looped, infuriating speech samples from the new follower character and a smattering of bugs it seems impossible to imagine didn’t come up during QA. I repeatedly got stuck in doorways and cramped tunnels while a vampire lord, and at one point had to enter a series of command lines into the console because an NPC I had to follow for one of the storyline-critical quests wouldn’t move. Oh, Elder Scrolls – never change. No, wait, please change. Please.

Were this a positive write-up I’d probably be offering nitpicks by way of balance about now, so let me do the inverse. There are a few aspects of Skyrim which deserve honourable mentions, primarily because they have some benefit to the base game rather than just the underwhelming new campaign. I can’t detail the greatest of these, due to the dread spoiler-beast, but it’s a particularly entertaining new dragon shout. Also in there are some new spells which will please anyone who felt Skyrim gave Necromancy short thrift, and a couple of gosh-wow environments where the game removes the mountains and presents you with an enormous, sweeping space.

Dawnguard certainly doesn’t leave any deep wounds in Skyrim, and there is something to be said for simply throwing a load more toys into its big old sandbox. I’m a big fan of Skyrim (though do retract my perhaps reckless earlier assertion that it’s better than Morrowind, as it hasn’t left enduring memories or pub anecdotes in the way TES3 did) and Dawnguard hasn’t changed that. The trouble is that it’s a series of great ideas let down by what seems like half-hearted execution and, of course, that price. Take 50% off that frankly scandalous $20/£14 tag and I wouldn’t be half as cross with it. Instead, here’s Skyrim’s one true bloodsucker.

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210 Comments »

  1. Paul says:

    I spent 180 hours in Skyrim, but I have precisely zero desire to ever play Dawnguard.
    They should have gone with Shivering Isles-like expansion.

    • woodsey says:

      Speaking of which, what didn’t Alec like about TSI? A wealth of interesting content, and if I remember correctly it was only £15.

      Given the fact that Skyrim has been in the Steam top 10 seemingly every day since its release (bar a few days during the Steam sale, I imagine) , it doesn’t really seem like a non-viable prospect to create an expansion pack like in the days of yore. They’d make a fucking killing on it.

    • Clavus says:

      Same here. More so than Oblivion, this was a game where I eagerly consumed a ton of content, but once I noticed that the only stuff left was more of the same, I dropped it. There’s just no challenge left once you reach a certain level. None of the loot is interesting except for selling, and there’s nothing to buy with it but a few houses to store more junk in.

    • The Greatness says:

      More to the point, how can anyone say anything bad about Shivering Isles? One of the few reasons to play Oblivion in my opinion.

      • The Greatness says:

        Meant to reply to Woodsey.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Aside from a glaring lack of local storage for all your stuff, it’s a fine expansion.

    • Syra says:

      Exactly this, 160 hours, full completion. zero desire OR intention to touch the game again, at least for a few years, probably never and this laughable expansion has come far too late to even pique my interest.

    • derekbob says:

      I overdosed on Skyrim as well. The only thing that’ll bring me back is some time away.

    • Metonymy says:

      It’s not even overdosing. The world that they created this time is lifeless.

      -every quest and event puts the player in the direct center (no suspension of disbelief)
      -dwemer ruins and zombie tombs were uninteresting after the 2nd or 3rd time
      -everything west of solitude/whiterun has no personality
      -loot, combat, skills, enemies, all got zero polish

      any many other things. It pains me to say this, because they did amazing things with FO3, but Bethesda needs to bring in people that know how to make video games, while retaining the people who know how to world-build.

  2. Discopanda says:

    Well. I guess we’ll be waiting on the modders to fix Dawnguard now!

  3. Stellar Duck says:

    “Take 50% off that frankly scandalous $20/£14 tag and I wouldn’t be half as cross with it.”

    Or 19,99€ for even more insane pricing.

    • Wreckdum says:

      I wish I had read this review before dropping 20 bucks on it… I coulda bought 3 of my friends an Awesomenauts 3 pack for the same price. I just got to the part where you choose whether or not you want to be a vampire and I’m already about to quit. lol Snoozefest

  4. RedViv says:

    Delivering what only amounts to the content of a single of the horribly short faction quest lines, at this price, just doesn’t do it.
    Even worse when it really just is another bite of the big Skyrim dish, that is so very much made for taking single bites, lest you gorge yourself or the taste grows stale, with the after taste being even more beastly.

  5. tetracycloide says:

    I came into this thinking there might be a level of excitement for which I would consider buying the DLC piecemeal as it came out instead of waiting for an all-in-one discounted package but honestly I don’t know if that level of excitement is attainable for anything, ever.

  6. Jesse L says:

    “There is no new means of roleplaying as a vampire here, with the quest chain almost immediately becoming an over-long, over-familiar search for a series of magic doohickeys…” If I could pick two (hyphenated) words to describe my feelings about the last two Elder Scrolls games, “over-long” and “over-familiar” might do it.

    I’m sorry that Skyrim has been so successful, because it means Bethesda has no financial reason to change the formula. And it is a “formula,” all right. It’s worn far too thin, but the next title in the series will be almost exactly the same.

    • Fincher says:

      We tried to warn you! Now there’s no incentive to change the formula, OR fix the bugs! They can get away with it and they’re laughing to the bank!

    • gwyrdd says:

      I love their games, but you’re still absolutely right. Skyrim almost left me staggered because it was as though they still hadn’t gotten the memo that boring, real-world landscapes and settings are not what draws us and fantastical, other-worldly settings are what do draw us. If you’re not going to make the gameplay more engaging (although I don’t really know what else you can program a game to do besides make you fight things and perform fetch quests), then at least make the environment more engaging. But instead we got Scandinavia. Oh well.

      • Brun says:

        The “otherworldly” setting of Morrowind which everyone here seems to worship was actually kind of a turn-off for me. Of all the settings in Morrowind I really enjoyed Solstheim the most, and I ended up enjoying (and playing) Oblivion more than Morrowind for that reason.

        • 7vincent7black7 says:

          Here’s a joke for ya. Whats the difference between skyrim and oblivion? One feels like a living, breathing place with this charming feeling that you cant quite understand why, but it keeps drawing you back. The games a little too easy to be fun for being challenging, but most of us find its easy to just do the quests and explore over and over for years. That ending cutscene at the end of the main quest nearly brought me to tears every time, but i”m something of a sap now and then. :)

          The other is better in some respects, but it feels like it was done without passion, by the time you get to the faction quests in Solitude your burning out, and there’s little charm in most cities besides the best ones like markarth imho, that really have a vibrancy and feeling of life that keeps you enthralled.

      • Phinor says:

        One of the main reasons I liked Skyrim was exactly that it had a bit more real-world feel to it. Fantastical worlds have their place but they rarely interest me.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        I love it when people state their own opinion as the prevalent one, even when it isn’t. I think I actually like Skyrim (the province) more than Vvanderfell. Bethesda do have issues, suggesting that world building is one of them is laughable.

        • Crimsoneer says:

          I love what Bethesda do to worlds. I wish they could do what Obsidian do with story. Hell, maybe they should just let Obsidian product an expansion for SKyrim, without changing any of the world.

          • circadianwolf says:

            New Vegas!

            By far the best gamebryo game.

          • Kresh says:

            I’m 400+ hours into FO:NV and I have yet to find the good writing. Care to point it out? I’ve found some interesting things… but the writing is heavy-handed, stereotypical, and very predictable. The storyline and writing is exactly why I don’t do 90% of the quests when I play FO:NV. They’re terrible.

            I’m glad you enjoyed it but I’d NEVER recommend Obsidian for anything, especially anything involving story or writing.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Eeeyup. NV’s writing looks good because it’s alongside FO3′s.

          • xellfish says:

            Also, the guys at Obsidian wrote Planescape: Torment, whose writing was so reality bendingly good that it retroactively improves the writing of all their games made since.

            And yeah, compared to the horrid **** that Bethesda pumps out F:NV is like Shakespeare.

          • SouperMattie says:

            @Kresh err… so please don’t take this the wrong way, because it’s a serious question:
            You’ve played 400 hours of FO;NV while avoiding 90% of the quests, so… what have you actually been doing in the game?

            I truly am curious; haven’t played NV myself yet, but I’ll get to it eventually…

      • dklafder says:

        What do you have against Scandinavia?

        • 7vincent7black7 says:

          I think what he’s trying to say is that, this is supposed to be a exciting world full of magic and monsters that is on the vergal of a giant civil war. They make it feel like a place like scandinavia, which scandinavia is not what I just described at all.

          • nindustrial says:

            While I totally get your point, I would like to point out that Scandinavian culture is actually quite rich in magic and monsters (e.g., Trolls).

  7. archimandrite says:

    Does Bethesda even have a QA department? And if so, what exactly do they do?

    And why don’t they just hire a huge swath of their dedicated mod community to fix their broken games and improve their shoddy art?

    Oh wait. Because people by their half-baked, flea-infested masterpieces anyway.

    • Unaco says:

      Maybe that’s a TEStament to what a beautiful thing their games are, despite all of the flaws… that a dedicated Mod community are willing to make such changes for the games.

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      Does Bethesda even have a QA department? And if so, what exactly do they do.

      Yeah! You tell ‘em, because we both clearly know bug-testing a sandbox game with 200 hours of content, dozens upon dozens of hand-crafted quests, an almost infinite array of procedurally generated quests with the freedom of the player to be virtually any place on your map with any combination of skills, items and quests on three platforms with at least five localisations per platform is easy.

      • Xari says:

        Apologist much? How’s what you just stated relevant at all to the poor state Bethesda release their content in?

        • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

          Right, the sheer quantity of content is in no way relevant to the resources and time required to test said content? Why, making this point -must- make one an apologist for perceived developer laziness!

          Honestly, on the former point, do you even appreciate the world in which we live? You know, you’re reading this, there’ll be a dawn tomorrow, resources for developing a game are actually finite, that world… what I stated is -very- relevant to that world.

          • Fincher says:

            Are we talking about Bethesda before or after they decided to add “infinite quests”?

          • Xari says:

            It’s relevant to them, yeah, because they’ll need to take the appropriate measures to ensure they deliver a stable product to us. Why should we have to lower our standards because boohoo being a game developer is hard? It’s not like they’re even a small indie company that develops from bill to bill and couldn’t invest a little more effort into polish.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            If you can’t release a game without it being riddled with bugs, then it’s because your game has too big a scope for the team you’re working with. Either increase the team size, get a better team composition or downscope the game.

            There really is no valid excuse for leaving glaring bugs in a game, and many of those are glaring bugs alright. I can understand obscure, one-in-a-million issues, but not things like dragons flying backwards.

          • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

            As a preface, I can’t believe I have to explain this shit;

            It’s relevant to them, yeah, because they’ll need to take the appropriate measures to ensure they deliver a stable product to us.

            Which is exponential to the amount of content created and your sentence entirely misses the reality that virtually all of these issues are unforeseen. Do you think they intentionally code-in the glitches just for quality-assurance largesse? Catastrophic issues occur, sometimes only discovered when a developers pool of testers is the size of the retail consumer audience.

            Why should we have to lower our standards because boohoo being a game developer is hard?

            Because you’re trying to apply one standard to very different things and to not acknowledge that is just being, to be charitable, unreasonable. If a linear, heavily directed game on a single, uniform platform had not even the same amount of bugs, but a proportionate amount of issues to its ambition then you could complain all you wish without this reproach.

            It’s not like they’re even a small indie company that develops from bill to bill and couldn’t invest a little more effort into polish.

            It’s not like they’re making an indie game either, they’re making an almost incomparably larger game whose content and very nature requires exponentially more bug-testing. Further on a project of this scale, it’s almost a certainty you will never reach the ‘bottom of the pile’ with regard to bugs even if you wanted to, which would require tonne of time and resources that could have gone into more musicians or artists, inevitably delaying the game even further… and ultimately… even if you found every bug during QA… the game is released and there will be hundreds or thousands of issues remaining due to millions of people just playing the game in unique and unexpected ways rather than a few dozen. And after all that time, money and delays… some ignorant, petulant person will still whine it’s still not bug-tested enough because he discovered a rare game-breaking issues that effects one-in-five-hundred-thousand people.

            In response to FriendlyFire: If you can’t release a game without it being riddled with bugs, then it’s because your game has too big a scope for the team you’re working with. Either increase the team size, get a better team composition or downscope the game.

            Really? You do realise that would mean some of the most acclaimed and circle-jerked games on this website would be severely curtailed and cease being the masterpieces they’re held to be; S.T.A.L.K.E.R., any Obsidian game outside of DS3, Vampire: Bloodlines, DayZ… the idea just because there might be some minor issues for most people, severe issues for some would dictate a game be less ambitious is directly counter to the ethos of those titles.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Tyrone Slothrop, I whole-heartedly agree with absolutely everything you said.

          • Archonsod says:

            “Why should we have to lower our standards because boohoo being a game developer is hard?”

            You don’t. There’s this radical concept you could try out called “not bothering with the game”. I’m told it works quite well.

          • diamondmx says:

            Okay Tyrone Slothrop, let me ask you if you think “Playing the game to max level on the PS3″ or “Complete all quests with one character” is within standard testing parameters for a game which, by the way, prides itself on hugeness.

            Because guess what DOESN’T WORK.

            I don’t think that’s a too much content issue, I think it’s a fucking shameful failure.

            I wasted a whole bunch of money on Skyrim, and it’s because they released it with a plethora of gamebreaking bugs they have yet to bother fixing.
            I still can’t play for more than 30 minutes on the PS3 without the game crashing, and the load times get slower with every quest.

          • Zeewolf says:

            “If you can’t release a game without it being riddled with bugs, then it’s because your game has too big a scope for the team you’re working with.”

            Except the scope is the reason many of us love these games, and I for one would gladly sacrifice some polish for some extra ambition. Which is why I love the Stalker-games et.c. so much as well.

        • Eukatheude says:

          It’s not about the content, even the most basic gameplay functions are broken, and if not broken just sloppy or poorly implemented. Most questlines are indipendent from character location, inventory or skillset, it’s mostly just really *bad* scripting. By the way, i don’t think “procedurally generated” means what you think it means. Also: “because he discovered a rare game-breaking issues that effects one-in-five-hundred-thousand people” this is plain BS, loads and loads of people have encoutered several game breaking bugs, on both consoles and pc. And stuff like this didn’t happen so often in their previous games; moreover, how come some modder can fix in his spare time what a multi-million dollar company can’t?

          • TriangleTooth says:

            Whilst I do not deny that this game does have bugs… I have encountered surprisingly few of them across 7 characters (not counting those caused by mod conflicts). Unmodded, I encountered no CTDs and only 3 broken quests, alongside some minor glitches such as the Louis Letrush clones of doom. That was across 5 characters and I have since made another two for Dawnguard.

            Oblivion on the other hand, was a disaster from day one, and Fallout 3 had some crippling issues for me. Others report Oblivion to be the most stable. I think it really depends on a lot of factors; How you play, your system, your timing and blind luck. For me, Morrowind was usually the most stable but still had the occasional CTD.

            Other than a case of a disappearing follower and said follower weakening VL drain life (which isn’t a bug… for some inane reason Bethesda actually coded the game to do it (Likely so you wouldn’t hurt her with it)) DG has had no bugs so far.

            I would also say that Dawnguard’s characters, whilst still flat, are a BIT less flat than Vanilla Skyrim’s. Then again, Bethesda NPCs have been flat since Morrowind, and even then only important NPCs got personalities. In Oblivion, I couldn’t care for anyone barring the Emperor, Lachance, the count of Skingrad and the cast of Shivering Isles everyone else was… stupidly dull.

      • elmo.dudd says:

        The thing is many of the bugs don’t even call for QA, they just call for bug review. I am now paranoid of any item that doesn’t look generic in Skyrim, for fear that I get a quest item before the quest has begun and thus ruin it for that character. I am reluctant to purchase a home beyond Breezehome as the game keeps emptying out my wife’s non-Breezehome houses. They should have identified the high investment cases to test – the main story arc in each major thread of class, the guild stories using classes most likely to participate in them, and the high player investment scenarios such as home purchases.

        Content and localization should both be segmented in such a way that language and platform are concerns separate from gamecode bugs. I don’t expect a game the scope of Skyrim to be bug free, but good software design, and good test planning (not just throwing people at it, you need test leadership with an actual coverage plan) can make a huge difference. You don’t need to down-scope like some commenters suggest, but you can’t wing it. The problems persisting in their titles has all the hallmarks of winging it.

        I suspect much of their QA was focused on 360 certification cases anyways.

    • Gyro says:

      I’ve read of many cases where decent QA was done on a game but the developers simply ignored many of the bugs that got flagged.

      • Baines says:

        I’ve seen plenty of these as well, for many games from a variety of developers and publishers. Game comes out, bugs are immediately found (some serious), and then some beta testers speak up saying that same the bugs and issues were reported during the beta test period, and apparently were just ignored.

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      That’s like those people who say “Huh! Do Microsoft even *test* this Windows thing?” to which the answer is of course they bloody do. However it often comes down to the business people wanting it out the door because it’s good enough.

      • The Random One says:

        Saying it’s OK for Bethesda games to have bugs because Windows also has a lot of them is like saying it’s OK for airplane pilots to drink because plenty of people drink and drive.

        • InternetBatman says:

          That’s not an accurate analogy. It’s more like saying it’s okay for the air traffic control software to have bugs because lots of pieces of software have bugs. It’s a good analogy too, bugs are not okay in something as simple as a game, and that becomes more true when people’s lives depend on the system.

          The problem is that the air traffic control system and every other piece of software does have bugs. It has tons of them. Planes actually disappear to the system when they’re on top of each other. There are books and books that describe bugs in a system that peoples’ lives depend on. IBM was hired to make a better system and they couldn’t do it, not in a decade.

          The point of my ramblings is this: Bugs are unavoidable, and they almost always increase with the amount of content you offer. Good support is far more important than a low bug count.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            It’s too bad Bethesda’s support is abysmally inefficient.

        • derekbob says:

          Airline pilots drink all the time from what I understand. They do have a captain’s lounge.

    • Alec Meer says:

      The modders exist for a reason, and that reason is not because these games are fundamentally broken – it’s because they love the setting and activities they provide, and want to expand and improve it further. I don’t deny that Bethesda make a lot of bewildering decisions/oversights and tend to be a little too generalist in the roleplaying systems they include, but most of the modders are specialising the game to their interests and the march of technological progress rather than mending something.

      • NathanH says:

        I agree, I see most mods for Bethesda games and I think “I don’t want to play that”. The way that I have Oblivion set up would probably make most people shake their heads in bewilderment.

        Another thing to bear in mind is that, for me at least, if I’m playing a mod and something a bit weird and silly happens, I can shrug that off and not care about it much more easily than if professionals would have done the same thing. Similarly, I tend to ignore Bethesda bugs and weirdness more than a lot of games, because they’re trying to do more than “10 hours of well-polished content”.

      • Diogo Ribeiro says:

        it’s because they love the setting and activities they provide

        then again, what activities are they providing? even the slightest browsing on sites like Nexus will show the most downloaded mods to be things like “sexy_armor”, “caliente bodies” and whatnot. it’s a mistake to assume modders and those who play mods have the same kind of investment in the game. it mostly comes down to how easy it is to mod something, and how easy it is to play the mods. NWN was very successful and people loved it to bits – and i can tell you that for a certain period, the most downloaded mod was called “sex and the single adventuress” (i’ll let you figure out the contents). often it’s not a case of loving a setting, but actually about what you said afterwards – technological progress. unlike MW and OB, skyrim’s graphics are higher quality which ultimately draws in these crowds. is it wrong to assume many skyrim players only use skyrim as a background to take pictures of buxom virtual women? hey, probably! but on a regular day even the lowliest of these kind of mods can get 10K downloads and 80+ user submitted pics with that kind of content. which has zero to do with how the game plays.

        most mods i’ve seen on nexus for skyrim aren’t actually concerned about the activities the game provides. look up mods that allow players to disregard level restrictions, to use god items, or engage in prostitution and sex. we could argue back and forth just what is permissible in modding (everything) and what constitutes as mods that actually feel relevant to the game’s activities (almost none), but the thing is, it doesn’t always boil down to modders wanting to “expand” the core gameplay. mods successful mods seem to provide gameplay that has no context, lore-wise, in the game and which have no bearing on original game activities.

        and there are mods which fix things, often providing cumulative packs. we could argue if their numbers are significant when compared to mc_titties_mod_of_tittaes (they’re not), but they are there. it’s probably worth mentioning that unlike with other games, TES’ creation kit allows you to fix stuff yourself (many problems in Skyrim are data entry types anyway, with spells and effects not being linked, with issues such as Illusion perks affecting fire spells when they shouldn’t or elemental perks boosting elemental damage of some spells and not others even if all the spells are meant to be boosted, etc.) and not all have the burning desire to share the fixes.

        • TriangleTooth says:

          That’s just how modding communities are though, what can you expect?

          Doesn’t mean there aren’t mods that enhance gameplay and are popular, Morrowind and Oblivion had a few. (Also Oblivion had Nehrim, but that was less “enhances gameplay” and more “replaces gameplay entirely”) Furthermore, unlike paid-for stuff, a mod’s popularity has zero impact on its worth, or its chance of being updated. No money goes into a mod, and no money is gained from a mod, so there’s no need for it to be popular, the author just needs to be motivated to continue it.

          Sure, there are a lot of mods that do what you say. There are also a lot of teenagers on the internet, most of whom are well, horny. These mods have no impact on the modding community, because the community isn’t one large blob, everyone can take mods as they like. And also, some of the people making those kinds of mods also make other, gameplay enhancing mods, believe it or not. They’re not mutually exclusive.

    • InternetBatman says:

      People (well me, and I’m a person), don’t mind bugs in Bethesda games because the recognize the tradeoff between crafted content and bugfixing. It’s impossible to do a game without bugs, and bugs increase with the more content you put in, because there are more edge cases. And, I’ll go further to say that I’ve not played a single large scale 3D sandbox game without several noticeable bugs. Gothic, Two Worlds, and Stalker are just as buggy as any of the Elder Scrolls games I’ve played.

      It does really annoy me that Bethesda has repeatedly gotten free passes for this and good scores, while the press came down on Fallout: NV like a hammer. Fallout NV was far superior to any other Bethesda game I’ve played.

      • Baines says:

        There are different types and degrees of bugs, and you shouldn’t excuse them all just because some are hard to catch or just the cost of making a complicated game. Some are a legitimate cost of making a complicated game, while others may just be the result of bad design, sloppy practices, poor testing, or not putting sufficient effort into making sure your game works properly.

        I’m sure Ubisoft’s DRM is complicated software. Should we forgive them when it doesn’t work?

        Given time, people tend to find over-powerful or infinite combos in fighting games. If these are found in testing, should they be fixed, or just ignored on the grounds that fixing them is pointless since more will be found post-release? (Before you answer, realize that developers have taken both stances in the past.)

        Infinity Ward released a Modern Warfare 3 patch to reduce the rate of fire of akimbo machine pistols. The patch increased the rate of fire of akimbo machine pistols. Infinity Ward didn’t notice the mistake even after release, as it took players reporting it. Do we forgive Infinity Ward for failing to catch the mistake? (Before you answer, note that MW3 is a mess. The current IW is a prime example of poor design and sloppy practices. Also note that they recently released a patch that did nothing. Then spent days arguing that players were wrong, the patch worked fine, and that they’d even triple-checked in the face of player complaints that it simply didn’t function.)

        If you are going to release a game like Skyrim, you should take some responsibility in making sure that the game actually works. Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, it is impossible to check everything. Some stuff is going to get through. But Bethesda makes mistakes that it really shouldn’t be making. Stuff gets through that should have been caught. Some stuff shouldn’t even have made it into the testing phase, much less survived the testing+fix cycle.

    • belgand says:

      Bah, it makes me think back to Daggerfall. Their games have always been buggy beyond belief, but yeah, they keep selling. Not even minor bugs that would only be noticed under very specific circumstances unlikely to show up in testing either, but frequently big, major bugs that a ton of people quickly comment on. Like, again in Daggerfall, how the initial quest for the storyline could break with you unable to deliver a letter needed to set the plot in motion. This was a common bug.

      Likewise that modders and the fan community can fix bugs in these games (and let’s not let Black Isle off the hook either) proves that it’s not always that they’re too complex to fix, but that the devs don’t regard fixing all the bugs to always be important enough. Bloodlines is probably the exception. It would likely have shipped buggy anyway, but having it rushed by the publisher was the real problem and the team did their damndest to fix it post-release even after losing their jobs.

      Even worse outside of games there are a disturbing number of developers who are OK with bugs and regard customers who demand bug-free code as annoyances. People who don’t get the latest and greatest software because they’d just complain that it’s broken instead of gushing over new features and just putting up with the bugs.

      • Archonsod says:

        “Like, again in Daggerfall, how the initial quest for the storyline could break with you unable to deliver a letter needed to set the plot in motion. This was a common bug.”

        That wasn’t a bug; you had the choice to deliver the letter or not. It didn’t break the storyline either – if you ignored it you could still pick up the plotline later through several means. The only plot-breaking bug was one of the Sentinel questlines, and that was purely down to it reporting the wrong time limitation, so it was possible for you to fail the quest if you waited too long.

        Also, the fact that modders can fix the bugs indicate they’re trivial and therefore likely not worth the cost of fixing. A developer doesn’t have that luxury – if it costs several thousand dollars out of the engineering budget to change the code, you don’t do it unless you absolutely have to. Or can bill the people complaining about it; Oracle like to do that one.

        • TriangleTooth says:

          It was a bug: prior to patching, if you got that letter and fast-travelled (which was basically necessary unless you wanted to put a weigh on your forwards key for a week) the letter would disappear from your inventory. It might not have broken the Main Quest entirely, but it broke that portion. Also, random quests often assigned impossible goals, dungeons formed with no access to a quest object, several times you could get stuck in architecture and die horribly, or in some cases the game would just kill you for the hell of it.

          Add in all the missing content, and yeah. It was basically said that Daggerfall was a beta that was released far too soon. Honestly, Skyrim pales by comparison, hell Oblivion does, and that was stupidly unstable for me.

    • top8cat says:

      No offense but Kingdoms of Amalur and Saints Row 3 proved you can have a huge sprawling world with little to no bugs, so no, I don’t not give Bethesda a pass.

  8. Yimmeryams says:

    Dawnguard is not an Expansion Pack. It’s like Knights of the Nine.

    It’s not fair to compare it to Bloodmoon or Shivering Isles.

    • caddyB says:

      Knights of the Nine actually had some interesting quests regarding the relics though, and was overall much more fun than what I’ve seen in youtube playthoughs of this.

      Bethesda should just let Obsidian handle their open world rpg titles, it’s not like they do any better than Obsidian when it comes to QA.

      • Yimmeryams says:

        I don’t think it’s fair to compare a YouTube video you watched to your own firsthand experience. I’m pretty sure Kot9 would have been really boring to watch.

        The part that was fun for me was going on the quest for all the relics. Stuff like that is a very personal experience and doesn’t translate well over a video, where you aren’t in control of the character and can’t explore on your own.

        I think any game that has a lot of exploration in it would be a lot less fun to watch.

        Anyway, yeah, Kot9 was pretty cool and I think underrated, but I think it was underrated because most people judged it as an Expansion Pack, and not as a non-expansion DLC.
        So, pretty much exactly as what’s going on now with Dawnguard.

        • caddyB says:

          Was Kot9 20 dollars?

          • Yimmeryams says:

            Kot9 was not $20, but Dawnguard has twice as much, or more, content. I explained this in a post below.

    • denizsi says:

      At the current price tag, it’s more than fair to compare it to Bloodmoon.

      • Yimmeryams says:

        The price of games has inflated since Bloodmoon came out. If you adjust the price for inflation, it’s less expensive.

        It isn’t classified as an Expansion Pack by Bethesda. Yes, it costs a lot of money, but that doesn’t make it an Expansion Pack. I maintain the opinion that the price should be criticized, but the content should be evaluated as a non-Expansion DLC.

        I’m totally cool with even doing a content-to-price ratio.

        The problem I have is, this article states it is an expansion pack, and I’m sure that would influence the writer’s opinion in some way.

          • Yimmeryams says:

            That chart doesn’t have nearly enough information to prove ANY point at all. I still read it, and hey, they linked a nifty tool: http://146.142.4.24/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

            So, using the same tool, I put in:
            $19.99 in 2003
            Has the same buying power as:
            $24.93
            in 2012.

            Dawnguard < Bloodmoon because
            $19.99 < $24.93

          • Schaap says:

            So basically i’m saying the price of games hasn’t inflated (except for Dawnguard obviously) and you’re disproving me by showing the price of Dawnguard? Let’s just take a look at the main games, Morrowind, oblivion and skyrim all had a 60$ RRP even though there’s 8 years in between.

          • Yimmeryams says:

            Wrong. Oblivion was $50 at launch for PC and $60 on the 360. I’ll look for data for Morrowind, but I know on XBox it was $50.

          • Schaap says:

            I just looked it up again, in Belgium Morrowind for xbox had a RRP of 60 euro, exactly the same as Oblivion and Skyrim. Pc prices have also not changed since the introduction of the euro. Ten years ago a new pc game cost 45-50 euro, again exactly the same as now. Only a few companies have increased their prices (Activision, Blizzard, Bethesda are the ones I know of).

            http://seanmalstrom.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/email-why-hasnt-games-kept-up-with-inflation/
            Another link. I mean seriously, the general consensus is that prices have remained by and large stable. The prices are barely if even adjusted for inflation. How can you say they’ve increased on par with inflation when you’ve got no proof they did and the general consensus is they didn’t?

            Edit: And more. Even from MUHRICA! http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2010/10/an-inconvenient-truth-game-prices-have-come-down-with-time/

            So please, this dawnguard pricing is not the logical next step publishers are taking, it’s just a money grab from a publisher who knows people will buy this irregardless of the price.

          • Yimmeryams says:

            First of all, I never said the pricing of Dawnguard was fair. I said the price of Dawnguard does not make it an Expansion Pack, nor should it be compared to one. It should be an overpriced DLC, not a lacking-substance Expansion Pack.

            Second of all, I was only ever arguing with you because all you originally refuted was that the prices have not gone up between Bloodmoon and Dawnguard. I used the EXISTING TOOLS you provided to prove me wrong to prove YOU wrong.

            Third, I am talking about prices in the US, and in US currency. I have only ever said anything about dollars, dollar signs ($), and the US. I am sorry for not making it more clear. I am not concerned with the pricings in other countries. I am only concerned about the pricing in the country the company is based and primarily marketing for.

    • Frazzlet says:

      The problem is that this costs double the price. It’s not very good value for money compared to their past DLC.

      • Yimmeryams says:

        I’m pretty sure Dawnguard gives twice as much, or more content, than Knights of the Nine.

        Kot9 had a fairly short and easy questline. It was cool, yes, and it was a neat experience, but it was very simple. What took the most time was finding all the shrines, and that was only if you hadn’t discovered them yet.

        Once you did that, it was just fast-traveling to each location.

        Dawnguard adds a fair bit. Two quest lines instead of one (easily overlooked because most people only play through the vampire half and skip the Dawnguard part), some pretty big external areas and dungeons (compared to a couple new rooms and I think 1 new dungeon), and an extension for vamprism (Kot9 did not touch anything like this, unless you count the insta-karma wipe).

    • Alec Meer says:

      The price is right.

      • Yimmeryams says:

        How is the price right? Didn’t you complain about it a few times in the article you wrote?

        I think the price makes sense when you compare it to previous DLC prices, but it’s still steep. I mean, $20 is a third of the full game price. Dawnguard does not contain a third of the content of the original Skyrim.

        I don’t mean to criticize you or anything. I really liked the article. It was good. And you seem like a cool person.

        • Alec Meer says:

          I.e. the price broadly matches up with Bloodmoon, Shivering Isles etc. If they charge for it as though it’s a full expansion, it’s entirely fair to treat it as such. Cry inflation if you want – I don’t agree, particularly as this still exceeds most contemporary DLC prices, and in addition this has been marketed as an event rather than a l’il add-on.

          • Yimmeryams says:

            The prices do not match up. Bloodmoon and Tribunal were released 7-10 years ago. Standard video game prices have rose $10 since then.

            Shivering Isles was $30, so it doesn’t match up there either.

            Dawnguard was / is marketed as a large DLC. Nowhere anywhere in any Bethesda marketing has it ever been referred to as an Expansion Pack, whereas all the other Bethesda expansion packs are clearly marketed as Expansion Packs, with capital letters and all.

            I disagree with the fundamental reasoning that Dawnguard can be compared to Bloodmoon because prices are similar. It’s like comparing a Ford Truck to a Ford Mustang, and if you want to have more fun with the analogy, make one a 2004 model and the other a 2012 model.

          • Crimsoneer says:

            What planet are you on where game prices have gone up? 10 years ago, you couldn’t pay under 30 quid for a new game. I don’t think I’ve paid over 25 for a game in the last three years.

          • Yimmeryams says:

            The United States, where XBox and PS2 games were $50, and XBox 360 and PS3 games are $60.

            I don’t mean this in a derogatory manner. Those were / are the prices here, and also I’m talking about dollars, not pounds.

            EDIT: I should clarify in PC prices, as that makes more sense. The United States, where Oblivion was $50 on PC and Skyrim is $60. Bloodmoon was $20 and Shivering Isles was $30. I can’t find data on Morrowind or Tribunal, but my educated guess would be they were $50 and $20, respectively.

          • Grygus says:

            @Yimmeryams – I think your argument has a couple of major flaws. If games went from $50 to $60, that is an increase of 20%. However, over the same time you claim an increase in expansions from $20 to $30, which is a 50% price increase. Therefore, you have not shown that the rising prices of games and expansions/DLC are correlated. You cannot defend Dawnguard’s price using the main game’s price until you show this correlation.

            In addition, I am sure you will agree that there is no precedent set for TES games and content to cost more than content for contemporary AAA games; Skyrim debuted for the standard price, as you note. Lair of the Shadow Broker (DLC for Mass Effect 2) was $10. Rise of the Shogun (Total War: Shogun 2′s first expansion) cost $10. The Legend of Dead Kel (DLC for Amalur) was $10. You can find DLC for $20, and expansions for as much as $40, but they tend to present a whole new game’s worth of content. For what we’re getting, Dawnguard’s price does not seem to be in line with the industry.

          • Yimmeryams says:

            Prices got higher as time went on. That’s the correlation that matters.

            I’m not defending Dawnguard’s price. I’m refuting Alec Meer’s statement that Dawnguard is priced similarly to Bloodmoon and Shivering Isles.

            I’m not looking at the prices of DLC from non-relevant games, nor does it matter. What points do you think I’m trying to make, exactly?

  9. wodin says:

    Funny enough Skyrim itself after a couple of weeks of playing felt like that anyway…it’s an issue with “open world” games. Stuffed full of rinse and repeat quests…in the end it becomes a chore. Not saying I didn’t play it loads, I only did about 6 or 7 of the main quests but about 120 side quests..maybe overdose don them…but thats what said to me this so called open world thing isn’t all it’s cracked upto be at the moment.

    • Brun says:

      TES games are better approached as sandboxes for you to make your own adventures in, rather than story-based open world questing games. Bethesda’s design always puts too much emphasis on doing the quests and sidequests, and not enough on freeform exploration (which is where Morrowind/Skyrim/Oblivion really shine), but that’s probably because the console crowd wouldn’t know what to do without a giant arrow telling them where to go next.

    • Fincher says:

      You should try New Vegas!

      • aliksy says:

        I personally thought New Vegas was a better game than Skyrim. More interesting factions, more interesting quests, better underlying rules system, more interesting story. Granted that’s all subjective, but I say Caeser and House are more interesting than… uh… nord dude and… was there a main Thalmor person? I don’t even remember.

        • Vander says:

          I concur. The main flaw of New Vegas was ihis engine…

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Yep. New Vegas is a superior game in virtually every way compared to Skyrim. I’ve got 210 hours so far in New Vegas; in Skyrim, I only hit 30 hours before I got bored and uninstalled it.

          • Fincher says:

            Taking this into consideration, I cannot fathom how New Vegas didn’t break the 85% mark for Obsidian’s bonus on the game. Coupled with the glowing reviews Fallout 3 got in comparison, I can only conclude that it’s loyalty to Bethesda that most reviewers are unwavering in. Disgusting really when you accept that New Vegas was a step up from Fallout 3 in every single aspect.

          • Brun says:

            New Vegas was **VERY** buggy on release – worse than your typical Bethesda-Gamebyro game. While the most grievous of those bugs were fixed relatively quickly, the game wasn’t fully back on its feet until most of the critic reviews had already been written. (I’m assuming that the contract specified an 85% aggregated critic score rather than user score, because I’m sure the buggyness meant the user score tanked.)

            And while I feel for Obsidian, I think they need to be looking at how their legal team came to the conclusion that tying a financial bonus to a dubiously reliable ratings aggregator was a good idea.

          • NathanH says:

            It’d be nice if occasionally it was allowed to submit a game for re-review. Not very often, but occasionally it would be good. I played New Vegas about three months after release and at that point it was in an acceptable state. It’s not very useful to have a host of reviews sitting around that aren’t actually of much use any more.

          • TriangleTooth says:

            I concur that New Vegas was awesome, but really hard to replay. At least immediately. You have to give it a year or two to forget everything, because otherwise you find yourself falling asleep as you trudge down the road to Primm for the nth time.

            If only a compromise between the two styles of game could be done.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I agree with that statement. You should try New Vegas. It’s an amazing game, and most of the content feels handcrafted.

      • tur1n says:

        It’s not a fair comparison. New Vegas is a roleplaying-game, whereas Skyrim is about travelling from dungeon to dungeon, murdering everyone inside and hauling their stuff to the nearest vendor.

        • gwathdring says:

          You’re right. That’s exactly what it says on the box, too.

          Both games are trying to make exploration, story and dungeoneering equally interesting, valuable parts of the game. One of them, I’ve heard tell, succeeds where the other doesn’t. It’s fine to disagree on that front, but I think it’s a fair comparison.

        • NathanH says:

          A game about going from dungeon to dungeon, killing everything and taking the treasure? Ahhhh… a *classic* RPG!

  10. magnus says:

    Isn’t it unreasonable to expect to be as nostalgic for a game over a decade old than for game that came out 9 months ago?

    • Xardas Kane says:

      Thought the same meself. I actually have quite a few pub stories about Skyrim, honestly at this point I feel I like it just about as much as Morrowind, which is saying something.

      Dawnguard though – I will most certainly get it at some point because I am a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE lore-head or whatever, but at the current price tag? Yeah, no.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I spent hundreds of hours in Morrowind not three years ago so I’m hardly speaking from distant memory.

      • Xardas Kane says:

        It’s still quite a bit. Honestly, I do feel Skyrim has just as many interesting stories as Morrowind did. What it does sorely lack is some more faction action and fewer “kill a half-god in a side quest” activities, but that’s a whole other thing.

      • magnus says:

        You spent those hundreds of hours thenm not now, are you going to spend hundreds of hours with Skyrim? It’s the FF7 effect all over again!

      • Nic Clapper says:

        Is part of the problem that in Morrowind these things felt new? You know like experiencing that stuff for the first time. But, in Skyrim these same type of things didn’t stand out enough on their own. Like, you already have similar stories from the other game so they don’t seem as interesting?

        I dunno I’ve only played Morrowind myself so I’m totally just guessing here. I have no idea what the missions and setups are like in Skyrim and how comparable they are.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          That was part of what I was going to say, but it might be that Morrowind wasn’t Meer’s first TES game, which renders that argument useless. But generally speaking – absolutely.

    • Brun says:

      I never liked Morrowind as much as Oblivion or Skyrim, probably because I played Oblivion first. I think the “baby’s first Bethesda sandboxy open-world RPG” effect is strong with Morrowind. It’s certainly not as flawless as everyone around here wants it to be.

      • NathanH says:

        I suspect that everyone will be affected more by their first Elder Scrolls game. Morrowind perhaps a bit more than the others, because its focus on being a clueless outsider who gets to know their way around, which works well if you’re not familiar with a series at all.

      • aliksy says:

        I feel like morrowind had a lot more options. More skills, more spells. It also didn’t have the god damn level scaling that the newer games have, so you could stumble across a named artifact whenever. That was exciting!

      • jkz says:

        Could be true, I played Morrowind and loved it, the world was so strange and different, the sense of exploration was cool, Oblivion I got bored of really quickly, just seemed like a standard fantasy setting, others loved it and sunk hundreds of hours into it. Skyrim, I tired of quickly (about 20 hours), but have recently gone back to it, it definitely has its moments. For me Morrowind is the highpoint of the series, the other two feel like “more of the same” without the great setting.

      • InternetBatman says:

        I liked Morrowind better simply because of the flying. That, and killing a God is always fun.

      • Blackseraph says:

        It is however much more flawless than Oblivion or Skyrim in my opinion anyway. If only because of lack of level scaling. Oblivion was horrible because of it. Skyrim was bit better, but level scaling gets moronic in it too eventually.

  11. Petethegoat says:

    “though do retract my perhaps reckless earlier assertion that it’s better than Morrowind”
    Haha, yes!

  12. SkitsofRandom says:

    I loved Skyrim, but I think I’ll wait two years and buy the 20$ GOTY edition with this kind of review for the dlc.

    • Hunchback says:

      By that time there will be another TES out…

      • SkitsofRandom says:

        What gave you that impression? The five year wait between TES4 and TES5?

  13. Duke of Chutney says:

    (though do retract my perhaps reckless earlier assertion that it’s better than Morrowind, as it hasn’t left enduring memories or pub anecdotes in the way TES3 did)

    So finally you see the truth Alec.

    only in Morrowind does an NPC genuinely want to see you starkers

    • Xardas Kane says:

      That he doesn’t feel as sentimental about a 9-month old game as he does about one he played 3 years ago. Why yes, what a shocking surprise!

      • Alec Meer says:

        Wow, you really must think I’m sort of hyper-emotional idiot who’s incapable of actually considering things. Thanks!

        • Xardas Kane says:

          That was rather childish. You didn’t have to take it to the extreme now, did you, where exactly did I insult you? I merely said that it’s perfectly normal not to have such vivid stories about Skyrim as you do for Morrowind, those things take a bit of time. That’s how I feel at least, processing and forgetting all the filler quests (and both games have quite a bit of that) for the good ‘uns to stand out doesn’t exactly happen overnight. It most certainly doesn’t while you are still playing the game

          • Alec Meer says:

            Saying through implication ‘don’t trust what this man says because he’s purely motivated by nostalgia’ is insulting, man.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            I didn’t say “don’t trust this man”. I said “it’s normal to feel this way”. If you really think my comment offended you in any way, an honest apology, I really didn’t mean it in such a way.

          • Alec Meer says:

            Oh, it didn’t offend me (gotta have thick skin round these parts), I just think it’s attempting to dismiss someone’s opinion outright, which is a lousy way to debate anything. You just wait til I spot you saying you like something that isn’t brand new, heh heh…

          • Kestrel says:

            I was always taught that Brits didn’t have feelings.

          • StingingVelvet says:

            Nostalgia and timing do massively effect our preferences and opinions. Personally I would respect a reviewer more if he realized this and factored it in, rather than going off on people who dare point out a fact.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Oh, but I do love Morrowind, I absolutely adore it! It’s just that, especially the last couple of months, I am getting sick of all the talk about how much inferior it is to Morrowind and (shockingly) Oblivion. Sugar coating goes a long way towards forgetting Oblivion’s blandness or Morrowind’s abysmal combat, tiny dungeons and Wikipedia-like dialogue system. Guess it just got under my skin. IMO with games like these you really need quite a lot of time to judge them. Expansions (proper ones, not this thing here) need to come out, hundreds of hours of content need to be played through more than once, then let it all sink in.

            TL;DR – I am sick of the constant comparisons between Morrowind and Skyrim at this point. Which one is better? I dunno, ask me around early 2013.

        • Fincher says:

          2009? Nostalgia? Whaaat?

          • Xardas Kane says:

            When playing Risen 2 I got nostalgic about Risen specifically its first act, go figure. Didn’t help that Risen 2 was that much worse than the predecessor. Same thing with DA: Origins. Maybe it’s just me, who knows, but when I was playing the game for the first time I sure as hell thought the main theme was just okay-ish, while I love it now. :D

        • gwathdring says:

          @Xardas

          “IMO with games like these you really need quite a lot of time to judge them. Expansions (proper ones, not this thing here) need to come out, hundreds of hours of content need to be played through more than once, then let it all sink in.

          TL;DR – I am sick of the constant comparisons between Morrowind and Skyrim at this point. Which one is better? I dunno, ask me around early 2013.”

          That sounds a heck of a lot more like assuming other people experience things the way you do than making a reasoned argument about the way people, in general, think about games.

          If it takes hundreds of hours and then several years of distance to properly appreciate a game … what on Earth am I playing it for when there are games that are memorable from the instant I start playing to years after I stop? There are legends told among my gaming friends that were just as sacred days after the occurrence as they are now with all the embellishments of time and practice.

          The alternative answer, is that most games that are good enough to buy aren’t necessarily going to give me life-long gaming stories. That older games, sometimes, can be better, more memorable games. If I don’t have things I’m eager to tell people about while I’m playing the game … I’m not going to have stories worth telling years later, whether I remember the game more rosily at that time or not.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            I meant to compare the two games fairly, this has nothing to do with enjoying them. You took my entire comment out of context.

          • gwathdring says:

            You said that comparing the games fairly is going to take a large amount of time, multiple expansions and years worth of critical distance.

            You also said “it’s perfectly normal not to have such vivid stories about Skyrim as you do for Morrowind, those things take a bit of time,” a statement which provided context for some of me previous post.

            I disagree that I need to play two games for the same amount of time to understand them and compare them. Furthermore, one can easily develop a grasp of how games make them feel over time and how their own opinions change. One doesn’t even need to have a gaming review website. Even just keeping a journal and documenting the way you think helps make these processes clearer–or discussing these sorts of things with people and keeping track of how your opinion changes over time.

            What’s unfair is saying that opinions cannot be rational, well-thought, and reputable unless they come from well-matched experiences–such as playing two games in a similar way across a similar span of time approximately the same amount of time before the opinion was made. Critical distance can be as much a state of mind as a length of time.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Yet again you are twisting my words. Keep doing that if you want, but it’s pretty damn obvious you are manipulating my post for the sake of your own argumentation. Specifically the way you take everything I said in the most literal way possible is pathetic, pardon me for saying so. Lemme give a quick example – you don’t judge MMOs after playing for 10 hours. Neither do you judge a TES title and how MEMORABLE it is until enough time has passed to actually be able to judge whether to judge that. I remeber that wizard falling out of the sky in Morrowind, but I sure as hell didn’t know if I would remember him 10 years down the road, now did I? Couldn’t exactly tell if he was going to be that memorable. Skyrim is by no means a closed book for fuck’s sake, I sure as hell don’t know if it’s going to be as memorable as Morrowind.

          • gwathdring says:

            So now I’m pathetic and twisting your words. Good to know.

            For the record, this?

            “Neither do you judge a TES title and how MEMORABLE it is until enough time has passed to actually be able to judge whether to judge that. I remeber that wizard falling out of the sky in Morrowind, but I sure as hell didn’t know if I would remember him 10 years down the road, now did I? Couldn’t exactly tell if he was going to be that memorable. Skyrim is by no means a closed book for fuck’s sake, I sure as hell don’t know if it’s going to be as memorable as Morrowind.”

            Is exactly what I disagree with. Here’s one way I could check without waiting ten years: right now, are there any great stories I’d tell my friends about the game? If not, waiting ten years won’t help.

            To reiterate: Critical distance can be as much a state of mind as a length of time. It would be better, perhaps, if argued/discussed why you disagree with peoples’ opinions instead of making judgements about their motivation.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            Of course I have good stories to tell. I also had some funny stories to tell about Just Cause 2, a game I played 5 months ago, but do you think I remember any of them? No, but I do remember a lot more from Skyrim, a game I played 8 months ago.

            Yet again, you miss my point entirely.

      • Mman says:

        Holy shit, are you seriously trying to imply that “nostalgia” has any major significance over only three years? That word has been abused so much as no-effort way to dismiss people with a different opinion about any game over a year old it doesn’t even mean anything at this point.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Not only did I imply it, I also gave examples from personal experience.

          • Mman says:

            “When playing Risen 2 I got nostalgic about Risen specifically its first act, go figure. Didn’t help that Risen 2 was that much worse than the predecessor. Same thing with DA: Origins. Maybe it’s just me, who knows, but when I was playing the game for the first time I sure as hell thought the main theme was just okay-ish, while I love it now. :D”

            Assuming you’re talking about this. “Playing a bad sequel made me want to play it’s superior predecessor instead” and “A bit of music grew on me after listening to it more” are not good examples of nostalgia influencing judgement (the latter in particular has nothing to do with it, and is how listening to music is supposed to work for the most part).

          • Xardas Kane says:

            O rly? Because at the time Risen left a very bitter taste in my mouth and I regarded DA:O as rather generic for quite a while. 3 years later, I remember them rather fondly and don’t find them the least bit generic. I have NOT played the in the meantime.

            If that isn’t nostalgia sugar-coating my judgement, I don’t know what is.

          • Mman says:

            If that seriously happened then you’re heavily projecting, because I’ve never experienced anything like that, and I imagine I’m not remotely alone; I’ve certainly replayed games I initially thought were mediocre and came away with a much better opinion of them, but revisiting a game with changed expectations is entirely different to suddenly deciding a game is good after a few years despite no further contact.

            Even taking that at face value nostalgia isn’t necessarily the answer; considering both your examples are RPGs it might just be that an influx of ones you consider mediocre have made you lower your standards and appreciate what you had before despite it’s many flaws (I’ve certainly ended up doing with single player FPS due to modern day 99% scripted campaigns). Or your visual/aural tastes have shifted in a way that makes those games styles more intriguing to you.

  14. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Typical publisher greed on the price full game is only £19.99 now they want 75% of that for an expansion! PC version sold millions of copies its not like there is not a large market for the right price (£9.99 max seems about right to me).

    Someone asked earlier what about getting Obsidian to build future RPG’s well the same company got told by Bethesda no bonus as Fallout NV only got 84% Metacritic instead of the required 85% to trigger the bonus payment! I doubt Obsidian will be working again with Bethesda/Zenimax anytime soon unless they are seriously desperate!!

    Just wait for the GOTY probably by mid 2013.

    • Aatch says:

      Ok… calm down, its going to be ok…

      As for the whole Obsidian 84/85% thing, I know it seems unfair, but the cut-off is the cut-off. This isn’t like when you were .5cm too short for the rollercoaster at Disneyland, it’s for a bonus in a contract. They have to stick to their guns otherwise future contracts hold no meaning. I’m sure that the people at Obsidian were pissed, but I’m guessing they were pissed at themselves, at the reviewers at god(s) as well as at Bethesda.

      The bottom line is that Obsidian got paid for their work, they didn’t get the bonus they wanted. Any businessman would be mad to rely on a performance-based bonus from another company.

  15. anduin1 says:

    This is what I was most worried about, they kept saying how it would be seemless and how it would be much more akin to a shivering isles size expansion but what we got was something slightly more than Knights of the Nine. I can’t justify $20 for a 2 quest DLC pack when the modders are doing a better job that Bethesda. Being the lore hound that I am for these games, I will pick it up once it drops to say $10 where it would be more in line with what I paid for Fallout DLC packs which had substantial meat to them (except Operation Anchorhead).

  16. BatmanBaggins says:

    Yeah, there was no way I was going to pay $20 for this even before I started reading how underwhelming it is.

  17. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Did anyone really expect anything else? A moderate expansion for a moderate game. I haven’t played it, but it sounds like an experience divorced from the real game, and that’s nothing new. It’s been in Betheshda games since Mournhold.

    • Kestrel says:

      Yeah I found Skyrim and FO3 to be pretty lifeless, vapid games. It’s hard to understand how they could’ve been so massively popular, yet devoid of depth and with horrid bugs. New Vegas was virtually unplayable on certain video cards (even high-spec systems had unavoidable crashes).

      At least the worlds crafted by Bethesda were beautiful and expansive, but that was about it.

      • wodin says:

        I think the same…sometimes I just don’t get the buzz when games come out and people rave about them, then I notice a fair way down the line more people have the thoughts I had not long after release. Maybe I’m a cynic.

        Last year especially the hype leading upto the big releases that autumn was huge, and even I got carried away abit with regards to certain games, yet pretty much everyone disappointed sadly.

        So this year I’m waiting until they are released before I get excited, I shan’t be working myself up over a game release. I have my eye on a couple but have no expectations.

  18. Mattressi says:

    Falmer dens were easily the worst part of Skyrim, for me. They were ugly, repetitive in design, had terrible loot, boring enemies and every single part of every single one looked EXACTLY the same. Normal dungeons (caves) at least have decent loot sometimes and have different enemies and often even would have different features/looks. Falmer dens just didn’t.

    And now I’m shocked to hear that they took the absolute worst thing in Skyrim and made a DLC full of it. No matter how much of a sale Dawnguard goes on, I won’t buy it. Unless someone paid me a handsome sum, I will not play it (not even for the crossbows!), so great is my hatred of Falmer dens.

    • TriangleTooth says:

      Eh, I haven’t got that far yet (it is actually quite far in but yes, it’s a huge part of the game. Probably cause people liked Falmer lore, rather than caves, and Bethesda took them to mean more caves).

      Also, DG will eventually be a part of the GOTY version, which will eventually become the only version available (just try and find vanilla Morrowind) so you’ll get it eventually, probably.

  19. Hunchback says:

    You didn’t say anything about the new weapons (cross bows) and stuff, it’s the only interesting addition to the game i believe, no?

    @Cryptoshrimp – you can’t really say the game is moderate, man. Skyrim is truelly un epic game, even if only because of the moders community. Nowadays we live in the age of teh internets, games are not what they were back in the time. Just look at DayZ.

    • Unaco says:

      I guess it depends on what you consider ‘interesting additions’ I guess. There’s a fair bit of Lore for the Lore people… pre Dwemer/twisting/blinding Falmer (Snow Elves) make a prominent appearance and their story is expanded upon (history with the Companions), I believe, as well as the Dawnguard vs Vampire Lord stuff. There are some pretty interesting artefacts and weapons available… including one that can burst the Sun and cause it to rain down on Vampires, or turn it black allowing Vampires to roam, depending on what you want.

      There are more shouts, Dragonbone weapons, Werewolf/Vampire Perk trees, bunch of new enemies and spells and locations and ingredients and items as well.

    • Cryptoshrimp says:

      I can say Skyrim is moderate, because I really can’t see it as an epic game. Believe me, I’ve tried.

      It’s large and expansive and you can do a lot of stuff, sure, but it still looks like Baby’s First Vaguely Nordic Fable Collection. The game narrative promises a large and sweeping civil war, but the engine just cannot provide that. The ‘cities’ are tiny and divorced from the game world. You capture a city, and throw burning rocks at it, but it is magically fine after a few quests. Weather doesn’t do anything. The amount of slaughter you deliver should leave the region lifeless for decades to come.

      There is a lot of world, but you can not affect (effect? I’m never sure) it. Whatever you do, however many logs you chop, the number of trees never dips.The crafting system is a good start, but they could have done so much more – I remember a Morrowind mod that allowed you to grow a farm. If modders could do that then, I see no trouble for developers now. The economy is a joke, there’s no price per region. You can’t start businesses or support ventures. It’s lifeless, static and ultimately, dull. Randomized AI routines can’t help that feeling.

      Perhaps Skyrim is an epic game, and I’m looking at it wrong. But all I see is just a combat game where you aren’t on a visible rails. For a ‘sandbox’ game, that’s moderate. At best.

      EDIT: I also don’t see what this has to do with the internet age, or DayZ?

      • wodin says:

        Agree and is my problem with these huge open world games. Tech isn’t powerful enough to populate or create a living breathing world yet. Where life goes on and you can create your own life within it. Eventually yes it will be amazing but we still have a long, long way before they truly shine. Give me a highly polished linear game that has a great story and brilliant NPC’s and well thought out missions with plenty of variety over a open world game. One day they will amaze, but for me that day is a long time away.

  20. derbefrier says:

    I bought it because i like skyrim and 20 bucks isn’t exactly a lot of money . It does seem a little steep for the content included but hell everything is more expensive these days the video game industry is not immune to the economy and the ever growing cost of running a business. All the bitching about the price actually got me thinking about the cost of games. Full AAA developed game pricing hasn’t really changed much at all at all. I remember buying new NES games for 50 bucks when i was a kid.

    The interesting part is that while the cost of maintaining a business and developing these huge games keeps getting bigger the price has remained pretty consistent (50-60 bucks). It makes me wonder where are these companies making up for this? Well, once you ask the question the answer seems fairly obvious, DLC of course! So is it a necessary evil, if we want to keep seeing these big budget games? I don’t know , it certainty seems reasonable to me but I am not of the liberal thinking that companies only raise prices because of some evil moustache twirling CEO sitting in the back of the room cackling manically as he takes our money. I dunno this is my attempt at justifying these prices with my admittedly limited knowledge of the business side of the industry.

    • Vander says:

      The number of players has increased too. AAA games cost more to produce, but sell more.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      What you’ve stumbled across is actually a pretty big problem in the industry right now. Budgets go up, but the gaming audience doesn’t and we are slowly approaching the breaking point. Dead Space 3, a game whose predecessors sold about 2 million copies each, needs to sell 5 million to break even. Same goes for Darksiders 2. And with new consoles incoming a lot of developers are genuinely scared about budgets going so high that AAA development can’t sustain itself. Games already have budgets as high as Hollywood blockbusters even though they the movie crowd is far bigger.

      It’s not like it’s all doom and gloom, but it is pretty much the biggest issue the industry is currently facing, along with sinking software and hardware sales.

      • wodin says:

        Maybe just maybe these companies have a poor business model and I honestly expect one day someone will come along and shake the whole industry up and create games for half the budget they are spending on them now…

        I think somewhere along the line money is being spent or even leaked out at a tremendous rate. game geeks and developers doesn’t mean they make good business men and businessmen don’t make good game developers, We need someone who can look at the industry and give it a bloody big shake up, again I see no reason why some of these games are costing so much to make.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          Absolutely, it’s an actual law in economics. Money does indeed disappear somewhere along the pipeline and the industry sure as hell needs some pipe-work. But the problem is still a big one, even bigger because of the incoming next gen.

  21. Matt-R says:

    Aww I really enjoyed the blue glow of Falmer dens, and the Deep Roads are my favourite parts of the DA universe I guess we’re pretty much opposites, still not sure about the price though. Most likely wait until a sale and/or the next dlc comes out if its somewhat intriguing. Since the core of this is making the transforms more interesting when I’ve never really been that much into either in TES games, wish theyd have expanded the guilds or something they were too short and could have done with a lot of fleshing out.

    I’m not really sure about the love for Morrowind It was amazing when it came out but.. well meh thats a basket I don’t want to open.

    • Xardas Kane says:

      I also really liked the Deep Roads actually. It really felt like you were going into the Den of Unimaginable Evil and the long stretches of warfaring underlined the atmosphere of those nasty caverns quite well. That whole dungeon reminded me a lot of the old-school dungeon crawlers back when Black Isle and BioWare were nowhere to be seen, and I enjoyed it.

      • NathanH says:

        The Deep Roads weren’t bad I thought, just a bit too long like everything in Dragon Age. I thought the Darkspawn were pretty creepy, so I liked the bits where you get close to them. Part of the reason I really enjoyed Awakening.

  22. StingingVelvet says:

    Stopped reading after the first paragraph because “arg why didn’t you change Skyrim a lot” is not something I agree with or want to read about, to be honest.

  23. derella says:

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again… I’m glad Bethesda chose Microsoft’s exclusivity money over it’s existing customers. I would have bought Dawnguard on day 1, and ended up screwed out of $20.

  24. Eich says:

    Awwwww maaaaaan! When I saw the dude on the picture on the front page I thought it’s a Malkavian and Vampire is back! You crushed my hopes in an instant with the headline tough…

  25. Dariune says:

    Going against the grain a bit here but I was genuinly surprised when Skyrim was as popular as it was.

    In my mind it didnt really do anything particularly well (Except graphics)

    The scenery was nice but grew old quickly. The quests were almost all go here, find that, fall asleep, dream of interesting games etc, the attribute system was hugely dissapointing… I could go on.

    So when I saw Dawnguard I wasnt expecting anything wonderful. Having read this, I’m glad I stayed well away (I expect I would have done anyway though)

    Disclaimer: My post is purely my opinion. It is not meant to offend fanboys or irritate those who did get enjoyment from the game. Please don’t call me wrong, I know my opinion better than you. You may however disagree.

    Disclaimer2: If you do disagree I will chop your nipples off and use them as dials on my 1980′s cassette player.

    • wodin says:

      agree.

    • Blackseraph says:

      I agree too. I think it was better than Oblivion which isn’t saying much, but not by any huge margin.

      Bethesdas games are to me boring and lifeless. They seriously should hire some better writers, because their current stories don’t amount to much.

    • Mattressi says:

      I really liked Skyrim’s setting and never really got bored of it (although, I wish there were parts with less population and more things to discover). Most of the quests were, admittedly, not particularly interesting. The Companions, especially, I just rushed through their boring, tedious quests. Still, I really liked the new features, even if I got bored of the game much faster than Morrowind. I wonder why it is that Bethesda still haven’t made a game that felt as varied (in quests, landscape, dungeons, etc) as Morrowind, yet?

      Can I please keep my nipples, though? I need them for awkwardly printing through my shirt when there’s a cold breeze.

  26. rustybroomhandle says:

    Maybe in the next expansion you get to play as a lawyer.

  27. SkittleDiddler says:

    And so it begins: the Skyrim regret-hate hindsight critiques are already rearing their ironical hydra heads. With Oblivion, it took a couple years.

    • Cryptoshrimp says:

      I don’t know what you’re talking about. A lot of people were dissapointed in Oblivion when it came out, and Skyrim was no exception.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        I’m talking specifically about the overall professional critic response. Oblivion comes out: critics drool all over themselves to call it the best game ever made while at the same time acting as apologists for Bethesda’s ineffective QA department. Fast-forward several years later: those same critics are too quick to point out the many, many flaws Oblivion carries. They show regret at being so hoodwinked by Bethesda’s overpowering Marketing & Advertising department.

        Skyrim comes out: critics drool all over themselves to call it the best game ever made while at the same time acting as apologists for Bethesda’s ineffective QA department. Fast-forward less than one year later: those same critics are too quick to point out the many, many flaws Skyrim carries. They show regret at being so hoodwinked by Bethesda’s overpowering Marketing & Advertising department.

        I only brought this up in relation to this article because of the fact that it highlights many of the problems Skyrim is burdened with: bad writing, deceptive “RPG” elements, chronic bugs and glitches, ineffective QA testing, and lack of ingenuity.

        Not saying this all applies to Alec’s review, but it certainly applies to the overall way in which Skyrim was received by professional critics. Other reviews of Dawnguard are just as quick to point out the flaws of the engine without being as sycophantic as they were in regards to the vanilla game.

        • Fincher says:

          Almost always the case when it comes to these big AAA titles. Hype is a helluva drug… Bioshock is a prime example, and Skyrim another.

        • Xardas Kane says:

          You are over-exaggerating a lot. It was exactly the same with Oblivion, it was exactly the same with Morrowind. Oh yes, even Morrowind was blamed for being dumbed down, boring and brown, having a terrible RPG system, non-existent role-playing because of the dialogue system, small and boring towns, same-ish quests, tiny world, blablalblablabla. Just like in Oblivion (not in Skyrim surprisingly) features that were promised were missing (horsies for instance) and people would write looooong hateful posts about how terrible it is that there are no horses, about how gamebreaking alchemy is and how Daggerfall is the best game ever.

          The media in the meantime? They loved it. The way they loved Oblivion and Skyrim. Not because they were “bought”, that’s laughable, but because they didn’t spend years playing each and every iteration of the series and scouring the internet and memorizing every bit of information about the game. In other words, they have a relatively fresh mindset when playing the newest one. And while people were whining about how small Morrowind feels compared to Daggerfall or how stupid the Dunmer sound in Oblivion (why the fuck did they change their voices anyways?!), the press enjoyed the games for what they are.

          The other problem is that these games are just too darn huge and often problems actually come up after dozens and dozens of hours. I didn’t quite feel anything was really that inherently wrong with Oblivion until about 50 hours in, how many reviewers do you think have the luxury of spending that much time with the game? It’s just too darn big.

          last, but certainly not least – you give an AAA title a low score, instant flame wars ensue. THAT’S the main reason for the inflated review scores as far as I am concerned. When Kevin VanOrd gets flamed for giving SW: TOR an EIGHT, there is just something wrong here.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I’m admittedly exaggerating a bit. As far as I know, no critic has referred to Skyrim as “the best game ever made”.

            I didn’t bother to mention Morrowind simply because I got into it long after it came out. With both Oblivion and Skyrim, I was front and center for the drama brought about by professional critics who were openly willing to shit copious amount of unrealistic praise upon the games while sugarcoating the negatives or simply ignoring them outright. Lack of playtime is no excuse for that type of shoddy reviewing.

            And if you don’t think payola is a problem in the game review business, you haven’t been paying close attention to the scene over the years. It’s not a matter of being “bought”, as you put it; it’s mostly a matter of advertising dollars. Negative reviews can result in pulled advertising, which in turn results in lowered profits for the companies that hire the critics. I’m seriously hoping I don’t have to provide examples for you — they’re all over the internet.

          • Xardas Kane says:

            They are. Give me one for a Bethesda game though. Because, you know, they are such gigantic advertisers and all.

            Generally speaking though – yes, that’s a problem. But do not underestimate the nerd rage. When you get life threats for giving a game a low score, that’s when things get fun. I know reviewers who have given games more than they think they deserve just because they fear how the readers would react if they don’t.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            “Give me one for a Bethesda game though. Because, you know, they are such gigantic advertisers and all.”

            I can’t off the top of my head ATM. I can only state — from experience — that payola is a common practice in the world of advertising, and video game industry members that employ third-party advertising firms (as many AAA publishers do) are susceptible to using it as a lever. That’s obviously not going to be the case for all of them, and Beth may be one of the more ethical companies when it comes to marketing practices.

            Hell, I don’t even know if Beth actually employs an outside firm for their admark; I’m willing to bet they do though.

        • wodin says:

          sycophantic…love that word…if you want to see it in action see Facebook…dear god it’s full of it…

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Lolz, sycophantic is one of my favorite words. I’m guilty of overusing it, but it’s just so darned tasty on the tip of my tongue.

        • Baines says:

          I don’t know how much of the about-face is due to critics feeling hoodwinked…

          Some will shout payola, and yes it does happen at varying degrees. Some will shout that critics just don’t do a decent job, and yes that is also true at times.

          But there is also the expected backlash.

          Any site that knocked Skyrim at release would have been hammered by fans.

          Any site giving it a harsh review (rather than just docking it a point) would have been seen as intentionally baiting controversy, or trying to fake being a “serious” review site.

          Now, time has passed, and the shine has worn off the game for the general public. The general public is willing to hear complaints. So now critics who had previously praised the shine will now focus on the blemishes. (Failing to do so will make them be seen as “blind”.)

          Of course, some times sites misread when the change-over occurs, or whether a game is really going to produce an “all shine” effect in the first place.

          Mind, then I think about how many gaming sites treated the Mass Effect 3 ending issue (with many sites just dismissing all complaints as meaningless whiners, without even looking to see if there were real issues involved,) and maybe it does mostly come down to the people at many of these sites just not being that good at their supposed job. (I say “supposed”, because one can argue whether their primary job is to get the truth to gamers or to sell products for the publishers.)

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I won’t say I agree with you 100%, but it’s pretty disheartening that raving rabid fanboys can have so much clout over what critics feel comfortable publishing. I wish more review sites had the balls to stand up to the little twerps — fanboys are as much a blight on the industry as shareholders and marketers.

  28. MythArcana says:

    “Allow yourself to guided by maths on this one.”

    Again in English*? All our base belong to us? Right, got it. And regarding the price, one would pay at least that for an expansion back in the day. I think you kids are spoiled by Gleam’s $1.49 parade of crap. But, all respective price points aside, these expansions need to contain a nice array of new content to help counter the DLC problem that some companies (Paradox, etc) are making a mockery of. Does anyone really want 1,289 DLC packs for a single “game” at $1.49 each?

    * Math is plural by default, by the way. Just think of fish – you get a bunch in one shot.

    • NathanH says:

      Your posts are becoming increasing garbled, old boy.

      Also, in England, there’s no such word as “math”. (Actually there is, but it has only obscure meanings.)

    • Xardas Kane says:

      It’s all your base ARE belong to us, if you don’t mind me saying. And I don’t think it’s a secret that Dawnguard isn’t as big as a proper expansion.

    • Brun says:

      Not sure if serious…

      “Maths” or “The Maths” is sort of a peculiar little internet/pop-culture thing, not sure where it started. I didn’t read that as a typo but as an attempt to bring a bit of humor to an otherwise negative review.

    • Nick says:

      That was in english, try and be less ignorant of the language when attempting to correct someone.

    • wodin says:

      In the UK we say Maths..for mathematics.. or our old lesson in school we called it Maths.

      Whether it’s colloquial I’m not sure, but I’ve heard many many people say Maths for mathematics.

  29. Insurgence says:

    He had me at “S”. If there are more than one, just pick one.

  30. Didden says:

    But does it have horse armour!?!?

  31. czc says:

    So in other words, “This is not the DLC you were looking for.”

  32. doraeminemon says:

    Sidenote : you can use the calm ability ( vampire’s seduction ) to get people to feed without the chore of find sleeping people.

    Also, I found they done Crossbow really poorly.

    • Qabal says:

      And I was sitting here thinking I’d wait for Dawnguard to go on sale in order to play my crossbow wielding monster hunter. Thanks for killing my dream…

    • TriangleTooth says:

      Crossbow was fine for me, though it’s only any use to Archer characters. It’s more powerful than a dragonbone bow when fully upgraded+perked, though reload time makes it a case of you better hope it one-shots (OR get the perk that makes it cause stagger).

  33. Sayori says:

    Wot I Think: Skyrim Dawnguard
    The price is too damn high!

  34. Beelzebud says:

    Their lack of ability to make meaningful story lines is why I really hope they continue to allow Obsidian to do Fallout games. New Vegas schools F3 in every way that matters.

  35. lyons says:

    if anyone wants it cheaper, you can get it for $15/€15 (£10.50) on green man gaming at the moment using a coupon

    ORDER-NTCOM-PLETE
    or
    PCGMR-ALLIN-GREEN

  36. The Dark One says:

    Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall.

  37. Star Guarded says:

    I don’t disagree with anything in this review and I hope Bethesda reads it, but I think it’s a little unfair to say Bethesda doesn’t listen to criticism. Skyrim addressed a lot of specific problems Oblivion had, and even in Dawnguard I’m seeing a lot of response to fan complaints with Skyrim (underdeveloped vampire/werewolf abilities, underdeveloped companions, crafting arrows, etc). Yeah, the core game is clunky and the storytelling is bad, but I didn’t expect a mini-expansion pack to redo the combat engine and I don’t really expect Bethesda to get any better at writing. Dawnguard is just More Skyrim, if you want that, and I quite like how well integrated it feels into the existing world, rather than just being an island of content you click on a boat to go to. I think Bethesda listens to criticism; they just don’t have very good writers and they need to let go of Gamebryo. I just hope they let Obsidian make some more Fallout games (or any games). I’m still looking forward to the next Skyrim DLC releases and whatever games they come out with next.

  38. Leosaurus says:

    WHY DOES NO ONE IN GAMING JOURNALISM REVIEW THE DAWNGUARD SIDE.

    I played the Dawnguard side and THOROUGHLY enjoyed myself. Upgrading the crossbow? A few fetchquests and you have a badass piece of equipment. Armored. Fucking. Trolls. At your beck and call. Dawnguard armor is sweet, and DUDE the new shouts.

    Play the Dawnguard side, vampires fucking suck anyways. (Pun intended).

  39. Captain Joyless says:

    The Jenga metaphor fails because the Jenga tower is perfectly stable at the start of the game until the players begin removing the pieces in an effort to be the one who does not knock over the tower.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      By contrast, you are trying to say that Elder Scrolls games were always unstable because they had too many pieces to begin with. This is the opposite of Jenga.

  40. WittyUsername_01 says:

    I know someone has probably said it, but I really dont care. If you ignore the flimsy story, Skyrim is probably one of the best worlds ever. What Bethesda essentially gave us was modders paradise. A massive fleshed out world, with a forgettable story. And with the addition of the Creation Kit essentially giving modders access to many of the engine’s functions, modders can create whole new worlds and stories (ala Middle Earth in Skyrim). So, shit story and crap mechanics aside, Dawnguard has given us even more stuff to play with/mod.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      The only people who say this are people who didn’t play morrowind.

    • wodin says:

      What massive fleshed out world?? The typical open world type world where your supposed to be in a city in said world that consists of 20 houses and 20 people…? A world that really you can go from one end to the other on a horse in what 10 mins? maybe 15?

      It’s a lovely setting and the majestic mountains and northern lights and all that make it look beautiful, but for me thats all it had to offer over any previous open world RPG I’ve played. The visuals and vistas can be breathtaking. However take that away we are left with nothing innovative or new.