Hidden away amongst the anti-PC environs of E3 were the boys and girls from Bethesda, showing off what they're doing with the first expansion for Skyrim, Dawnguard, which sounds like it's chock-full of content. Here's a quick FAQ.
Want to know what's coming to Skyrim's online cousin? Here's our Elder Scrolls Online FAQ.
What new locations will we visit?
Castle Volkihar: A vampire Fortress near Fort Hraggstad, North-East of Solitude. You'll be able to live here, and it has certain vampire-related perks, like blood vials (that combine feeding and healing for vamps) and a portal to the Soul Cairn. Here, you'll be able to become a Vampire Lord. You'll obviously want to dash between each location using Skyrim's new and improved horse combat.
The Soul Cairn: A returning location from Battlespire, the Soul Cairn is a plane of Oblivion where the souls of the dead are trapped. The area features all-new enemy types and an undead dragon (presumably, one of the new Legendary Dragons) who teaches a new shout called ‘Soul Tear’ that lets players steal the soul of a defeated enemy and raise them from the dead. There’s also a side-quest to get a skeletal horse mount, who can then be summoned at will in Skyrim.
Fort Dawnguard (?): A large castle in southern Skyrim. Players choosing this side with get access to new weapons and armour, to fight Vampires, as well as hiring Armored Trolls as followers. Given the Werewolf perk list below, we think it likely the Dawnguard will be tied into this too, somehow.
Is there a minimum level?
It’s implied to be 12.
Are there any new factions?
Two. Either the Volkihar vampires, led by Harkon or the Dawnguard. The vampires appear to want to use an Elder Scroll to block out the sun so they can rule Skyrim; the Dawnguard just want to stop them.
Any new Monster Form Perks
Both Wampires and Werewolves get access to new skill trees, shown below. These are not based on levelling-up perks, but simply the amounts of enemies you’ve fed on (for Vamps) or hearts you’ve consumed (for Werewolves).
The Vampire has substantially altered, giving them an optional monstrous form that allows them to fly as rapidly as a Werewolf can run but is attacked on sight by villagers. He also gets new powers that let him turn into mist, a cloud of bats, do a Force Grip on enemies, and generally be a nasty badass.
Anything else we should know?
Here's a cool new thing: a new character in the Ratways under Riften can alter your character’s appearance.
Crossbows are returning, as we predicted; they’re slower-loading than bows, but have a chance to stagger an opponent, and work off the archery perks. Dragonbone weapons are being introduced, to go alongside the armour. Mounted combat has been added with the latest beta patch.