Dawnguard or Vampires: Which Side Should You Choose in Skyrim?

Dawnguard Vs. Vampires

When Dawnguard DLC got released for The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, a lot of fans were excited. Let’s face it, vampires in vanilla were kind of lame and needed a massive overhaul. Luckily Dawnguard delivered. It introduced 2 new factions: Dawnguard and Volkihar Vampires. It completely changed what it means to be a Vampire in Skyrim. And trust me, it ain’t pretty. Naturally, when it comes to picking sides, players always have a lot of questions. This time we’re going to discuss whether you should choose Dawnguard and Vampires. So, which faction is better, Dawnguard or Vampires?

Dawnguard Faction is objectively better due to numerous Vampire Lord form drawbacks you get when you side with the Volkihar faction. Joining the Dawnguard is also the only way to get some rare artifacts that are not available any other way. Except for that, both sides are pretty evenly matched and your choice really depends on your personal preferences and preferred playstyle. Vampires would be better suited for magic-oriented characters and Dawnguard for melee-oriented characters.

So now that we’ve covered the basics of what faction to choose it’s time to analyze both factions in detail so you can make your informed decision. Let’s take a deeper dive into the article and see if you should choose Dawnguard or Vampires.

Who are The Dawnguard?

Dawnguard or Vampires: Which Side Should You Choose? Dawnguard Fort
Fort Dawnguard – The Rift, Velothi Mountains

If you ever wanted to play Skyrim as a vampire hunter now is your chance. The Dawnguard is a faction of vampire hunters, situated in long-time-abandoned Fort Dawnguard. Their leader is Isran, a former Vigilant of Stendarr who recognized the growing danger vampires present to Skyrim and its people. Isran was kicked out Vigilants of Stendarr, and shamed for his beliefs. He decided to reform the order of Dawnguard and face the vampires in a way that Stendarr willed it! With crossbows, armored trolls & no mercy.

Who are the Volkihar vampires?

Dawnguard or Vampires: Which Side Should You Choose? Volkihar Keep
Volkihar Keep, Haafingar Hold

Similarly, on the opposing end, we have Volkihar Vampires. They are the most powerful vampire clan in all of Skyrim. They were led by Lord Harkon. He was an interesting figure, to say the least. Obsessed with power, and ancient prophecies, stuck in a power struggle with his own wife. To make it short. Lord Harkon had a brilliant idea of extinguishing the sun so vampires can walk (and feed) as they please. He was inspired by an ancient (fake) prophecy and was willing to sacrifice his only daughter to make it true.

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What are the pros and cons of joining Dawnguard?

Pros: You get armored huskies and trolls. Cons: you have to deal with Isran and you don’t get to be a vampire.

Dawnguard or Vampires: Which Side Should You Choose? armored troll and armored husky
Armored Troll & Husky Companions

Siding with Dawnguard will give you access to abandoned Fort Dawnguard. It’s a really great home for melee-oriented characters. You get access to master trainers for alchemy, heavy armor, restoration, and smithing. You also get to use Gunmar’s Forge where you can upgrade and enhance your crossbow and bolts. As we’ve mentioned before, playing as Dawnguard is the only way to acquire rare weapons: Enhanced Dwarven Crossbow and Exploding Bolts. You can do that through Ancient Technology quests which are not available if you play as Volkihar Vampire. And if you’re truly in for some vampire massacre, only as Dawnguard you can get spells with the “Sun Damage” Effect, they are not available anywhere else in the game.

What are the pros and cons of joining Volkihar vampires?

Pros: Vampire Lord form and badass castle. Cons: Vampire Lord form.

Dawnguard or Vampires: Which Side Should You Choose? Vampired Lord Form and bat cloud
Vampire Lord form & transformation into a cloud of bats

I’m going to be honest with you, I prefer Volkihar Vampires. In almost every playthrough I side with them. I like the aesthetics better. Besides, since I’m usually playing magic-oriented characters Vampire Lord form is not an inconvenience to me.

Speaking of Vampire Lord form, it’s truly a game-changer for the Volkihar faction and Vampires in general. Playing Skyrim as a Vampire pre-Dawnguard DLC meant nothing, except that you’re going to rush to Morthal to rid yourself of vampirism as soon as possible. With Vampire Lord form everything changed. It’s basically a transformation into a higher-level of vampire. It gives you some awesome new powers and a couple of drawbacks that can really put off some players.

While in Vampire Lord form your health, Magicka, and stamina are increased by 50 points. The drawback is, during the day their regeneration is decreased by 60 points.
You also have unarmed damage (using your claws) same as Khajiit and Argonians. You get improved Vampiric Drain, you get a badass ability to turn into a cloud of bats. You levitate and can effectively “walk on water”. You also get a separate skill perks tree through which you can improve your abilities after feeding.

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The drawbacks are, that you’re forced to play in a third-person perspective. You will get stuck in doorways all the time. You can’t pick up items nor can you initiate a conversation with anybody. I mean this one makes sense who would want to talk to a clawed-up fanged-up vampire lord? This form can be extremely powerful but also inconvenient for many players.

Except for the form, when you join Volkihar Vampires you get access to Volkihar Keep. It’s seriously awesome, but some players might be alarmed and put off by the amount of blood, bones, and corpses decoring the interior of the castle.
You get access to Bloodstone Chalice, Rings of Blood Magic and Amulets of Night power artifacts that can improve your vampire powers further. Volkihar coven has its own version of cuddly pets, a plethora of undead ravens circling the castle, and Death Hounds. I don’t think I have to explain those. You get access to a two-handed master trainer, speech master trainer, and safe non-respawning storage for your items. It truly feels like home, if you’re used to living in a crypt.

Can I complete Dawnguard and then become a vampire?

Yes, you actually can. As long as Serana is around and you’re on good terms with her she can always offer to turn you into a Vampire Lord. Even if you did join the Dawnguard. It’s important to note that once you turn into a vampire, Dawnguard wants nothing to do with you.

What happens if you go to Dawnguard as a vampire?

They attack you and test those dwarven crossbows and sun damage effects on you.

Which faction is better?

It depends on you and your preferences. Whether you would like to role play as a vampire or vampire hunter. Even though Dawnguard has access to some unique things, if you’re not a completionist, it shouldn’t bother you. Vampire Lord mechanic is complicated and buggy at times but it’s worth it once you get used to it. Dawnguard expansion is truly a great one and there is something for every playstyle out there.