Better weapons faster, bagging an Armoured Troll, crafting killer Dragonbone weaponry, summoning an Undead army, how to survive longer as a Vampire, how to access a super-powered crossbow, locating the Soul Cairn and grabbing enchanted items for free are only the tip of the iceberg. After 40 hours fighting for and against the neck-chomping vamps of Dawnguard, you can rest assured everything you need is on the next five pages...
How to... Get the best weapons faster
Depending on which faction you side with, you'll have access to either Fort Dawnguard or Castle Volkihar as a base for future quests - and both offer unique items to assist you.
In Volkihar Keep, you'll find Potions of Blood, which not only recover health when used but are also equivalent to a feed, reducing a vampire's need to attack citizens. The Bloodstone Chalice in the room off the main hall can be activated for the 'Blood of the Ancients' active power, which results in the Vampiric Drain spell absorbing magicka and stamina as well as health for one day. Also worth noting: several 'Vampire Cattle' are lying on the tables in the main hall, and - as you'll see if you click on the video below - talking to them repeatedly leads to interesting results...
In Fort Dawnguard, there's a plentiful supply of crossbows and bolts, plus a forge where further items can be smithed. Searching the interior reveals a selection of Dawnguard weaponry that is more effective against vampires than the equivalent regular weapon. You can also recruit Armoured Trolls in the fort. (More on that in a sec.)
How to... Recruit an Armoured Troll
After rejecting the Vampires and committing to the Dawnguard, the next quest involves recruiting a Nord named Gunmar to the ranks. Once he's installed in Fort Dawnguard, talk to him and he'll offer you an Armoured Troll follower in exchange for 500 gold. An Armoured Troll can be recruited in addition to a regular follower, and provides strong melee attacks during combat. They can only be given basic commands such as follow, wait and dismiss, and if left waiting for too long they'll return to the wild, and you lose them as a follower.
Although exclusive to the Dawnguard, players who side with the Vampires are not completely left out. Interacting with a Death Hound within Castle Volkihar gives the option to recruit it as a follower, and although not as strong as an Armoured Troll it can still dish out melee attacks during combat.