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Yesterday Bethesda announced Dawnguard, the first downloadable content pack for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. While the news was greeted with excitement by many Skyrim players, I have trouble working up any enthusiasm.
It isn't that I don't like Skyrim. Actually, out of all the games released last year, it's the one I'd most like to take up to Make Out Hill. My exact total playtime escapes me at the moment but it's an absurd amount. I've poured dozens and dozens of hours into exploring the frozen north. Many of you have done the same; the average playtime is about 85 hours.
The problem is, I’m not even close to being done with the game. I don’t foresee myself ever being done. There’s always some new quest to complete or bandit hideout to pillage. I can’t complete a quest without someone offering me another one somewhere along the way.
Furthermore, it’s tough to finish all the game’s actual content because I keep making up little activities for myself. I’ve spent nights just training up skills I never plan to use. My favorite activity was training up Pick-Pocketing by paying the Pick-Pocketing trainer for lessons and then pilfering my money back. I haven’t gotten bored enough to go on a province-wide killing spree yet but that’s certainly in the cards.
I’ve given up on completely finishing the game, actually. Even if I found every Easter egg and completed every little quest, there would be no rest. As a PC gamer, I’ve got access to thousands of user-made mods thanks to the Skyrim Creation Kit. Some of these mods are full-fledged quests, with voice acting and everything. The people who make these quests are dicks who want me to waste the money I spent on a gym membership or other games.
This brings me to the DLC. I don’t doubt it will be fun. Given the amount of time that Bethesda has had to prepare it, it’s probably more scripted and distinct than most side quests in Skyrim. Many are expecting something similar in size and scope to the Shivering Isles expansion to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. That sounds awesome but, again, my enthusiasm is a bit low.
Here’s the best way I can sum up my emotions. Skyrim is like a pile of a thousand cupcakes. It’s more cupcakes than I can ever eat. The Creation Kit is some sort of machine that keeps churning out additional cupcakes. Dawnguard is like being asked if I want to add ten more cupcakes to the pile for $15.
I don’t need more cupcakes. I’m going to get sick of them before I want more. The only way that this DLC could entice me is if it’s really offering something completely different from the base game. For example, I’d like to see an updated combat system or more dynamic dragons. I wouldn’t pay for more cupcakes but I might pay for cookies or a new type of frosting.
Based on what I remember from Fallout 3 and Oblivion’s DLC, I’m not expecting Dawnguard to reinvent Skyrim in some fashion, though. It’ll add a lot of new content but it probably won’t deviate much from the rest of the game. Hopefully I’m wrong but we’ll have to wait until E3 to find out.