Skyrim Dawnguard has been announced as the first piece of Skyrim DLC. We've taken a quick look at the rumours swirling around about it, analysed the trailer and what might be in it. It will probably involve a grumpy looking man in a hat. But there's much more to it than that...
Rumour 1: The original Snow Prince
The Snow Prince was the leader of the Snow Elves, a noble, upright warrior who seemed likely to turn the battle against the humans, before being killed by a child. His body was buried in Solstheim and players in the Morrowind expansion ‘Bloodmoon’ could find his (crappy) armour and (great) spear within. You can read about his death in The Fall of the Snow Prince. Files uncovered in the recent Skyrim patch seem to indicate that the Snow Prince will return in some form in the new DLC. The chances of it being the original Snow Prince is quite high - but more likely, given that the Falmer have moved under Skyrim and that he got a sword through his chest, is that he’s either undead or that it’s a hereditary title. Either way the files show a range of dialogue animations for him, as well as his ‘burning ascension’. The Dawnguard trailer, however, makes absolutely no mention of either Snow Elves or the Snow Prince, so while there's still a chance that he'll show up in some form or another, the money's on him being a future bit of DLC, not the Dawnguard.
Rumour 2: Snow Elves
The Falmer are what remains of the Snow Elves, once the inhabitants of Skyrim. In a final battle in Solstheim they were defeated by a huge Nord army and ended up living underground, given haven by the Dwemer. In time, they degenerated through eating poisonous fungus and fell out with the Dwemer, becoming the goblinoid Falmer. When the Dwemer disappeared, these stunted, aggressive Falmer took over their forgotten halls. As the Falmer are already in the game, having Snow Elves in it seems likely; it’s whether we get to see something of the Snow Elves before their fall that’s interesting. But again, no mention of them in the trailer, so chances are that they're out.
Rumour 3: Crossbows
The cracked files mention a whole range of first person animations for the crossbow, and the Dawnguard image features a quiver of arrows. Assuming that the artist didn’t distinguish between crossbow bolts and arrows, this seems almost certain. There's both shots of NPCs using crossbows and first person views of them being fired, so it's all but certain they're going to be coming with the DLC.
Rumour 4: Spears
Bethesda showed off their implementation of spears in their internal game jam, the Snow Elves were heavy spear users (particularly the Snow Prince) and the hardcore community want spears back in the game (absent since Morrowind.) Despite this, we don’t think they’re going to make a showing, except perhaps as a one-off item for the Snow Prince to hold. The extra mechanics and AI to cope with the additional reach of a spear may be more difficult than the simple act of putting the animations in-game.
Rumour 5: A slightly-different vampire
The DLC files made reference to new vampire animations, including a mesmerise and ‘paired feeding’, but not enough to imply it’s a new mechanic. Perhaps an NPC is (or can become) a vampire as well as the player? There are so few files here, this could easily be a cut additional mechanic. However, there are those crazy bat monsters that vampires can now turn into, and it would be odd if Bethesda just left the vampires with the same mechanics after dedicating an entire DLC to them, so odds are there's going to be at least something new with the central vampire mechanic, even ignoring the giant man-bats.
Rumour 6: A return to Solstheim
Speculation has been rife that this DLC will take place in Morrowind, specifically Solstheim, which is right next to Skyrim. At the far South-East of Skyrim is the city of Riften. If you walk to its south-east, there’s a road leading off that you can’t go down, with a large gate over it. Nearby is a tower containing notes from refugees who fled Morrowind when the volcano erupted. However, Bethesda have almost never revisited areas from previous games and it’s been established that the Snow Elves / Falmer now live under Skyrim. Given the paucity of additional materials, it’s more likely that this will be another ruins exploration quest with an NPC helper, like the relatively crappy Mehrunes Razor expansion to Oblivion. From the trailer, there are a few different locales, both grim and graveyardy, and also some weird tower ruins littered with purple magic. It looks almost weird enough to come from Morrowind, but it's still a long shot.
Rumour 7: A new companion NPC
The text file refers to ‘RF’ and gives him or her a wide range of possible emotional responses, we presume to you. RF could stand for anything - rogue Falmer, Reikling forager - but it’s most likely to be someone’s name. The range of stances suggests that this NPC may have taken on another of the Game Jam innovations - that is, a range of combat styles. There's also at least two new factions coming with Dawnguard, both the titular vampire hunters and some unnamed vampire faction, and for neither of them to come with new companions seems unlikely.
Rumour 8: Capes!
I always wanted a cape on my Skyrim character. He always looked so cold climbing up the side of mountains, and I wanted him to have something to keep him a little more warm. Looks like his hypothermia might be abated in the new DLC, as there's more than a few shots of characters with capes and cloaks on, although they are the major story NPCs, so there's a chance they're just for them, the selfish bastards.