In case you’ve been avoiding any updates or gameplay details surrounding the upcoming Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for fear of spoiling the experience yourself, this is one announcement you’re going to want to hear. Fans have long been wondering if vampires or werewolves would be returning, and how they might differ from games in the past. Now Bethesda has officially confirmed that Skyrim will allow the player to become tainted with a vampire infection, thus opening up even more chapters in the game’s already dense plot.

It’s not like fans were in need of even more additions to Skyrim‘s cast of playable races, but the differences that will be brought to a vampiric protagonist will be anything but skin deep. It had previously been confirmed that vampires would be returning in some way, but exactly how wasn’t clear.

Now Director Todd Howard has cleared up the mystery, explaining how the option to become a vampire will be introduced, and what new gameplay mechanics and leveling will be introduced as a result. At PAX Prime 2011, Howard gave the exclusive to G4TV, giving just a brief taste of what kinds of new strategies and customization await those with a taste for blood:

“We are revealing that you can play a vampire in the game. So there are vampires, and some people have seen them and run into them. But you can contract that disease, and if you wait long enough you’ll become a vampire, and that’s a whole other mode of playing the game.

“There are various levels of being a vampire, the sun will affect you more the more powerful you get, and you can sort of control your vampirism by feeding on people when they’re sleeping. You can sort of, you know, live the life as a vampire in Skyrim, and kill dragons as a vampire.”

Fans will likely already be dreaming of the brand new ways that their carefully-crafted and unique character will physically change as a result of the vampire infection, and whether flight abilities now seem more plausible. So while we wait to see more details about how large and expansive the new mechanics surrounding a turn to the dark side will turn out to be, once again we can’t help but wonder how much more Bethesda has to reveal before Skyrim‘s release. Lest we forget, whether or not players will have the ability to fly dragons of some type is still unknown.

It’s nice to know that vampires will still be present in the game for those who loved the addition in Oblivion, but a relief to hear Howard imply that the transition will be a choice made available to each player, not a plot twist. Leaving the choice up to players isn’t something that should really surprise us from Bethesda, especially since the confirmation of intra-species marriage. We don’t know how many levels or skills will be possible to those who grow out their fangs, but the possibility of vampire dragon-slayers and vampire brides is too good to pass up.

What do you think of the new customization made possible with the addition of playable vampires? Are you happy to see it return, or are you already more intrigued with some of the other revealed races?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim leaves the choice up to the player when it’s released on November 11, for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: G4TV