Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC Review
Owning property in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is nothing new. Everyone remembers spending the early hours of the game saving up to purchase and furnish Breezehome (only to immediately lose one of the two bedrooms to Lydia). Sure, you could live the high life in Windhelm’s Hjerim or Solitude’s Proudspire Manor, but serious RPG players love leaving their mark in a game. Bethesda’s second Skyrim DLC offering, Hearthfire, promises to give us all the tools necessary to custom craft the roof over our head, and then some.
Does Hearthfire provide a memorable experience, one that rivals the quality found in Dragonborn and Dawnguard? Let’s find out what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of the Hearthfire DLC.
This may be a role-playing game, but not everyone dives deep into their character (ex: creating a background, establishing primary ideals/morals, consider stance on game’s political turmoil, etc.). Those who go the extra mile and seriously roleplay in their role-playing games get the most out of the experience. The same can be said about Hearthfire. Unlike Dragonborn and Dawnguard, there really isn’t a story to blindly run through or some main villain awaiting players. Instead, Hearthfire puts more customization options in our hands. The add-on content opens up three purchasable plots of land — Helijarchen Hall (Dawnstar), Lakeview Manor (Falkreath) and Windstad Manor (Morthal) — that can be bought after talking with the appropriate Jarl or steward. Depending on how thourough you’ve been in combing out side quests, a mission may need to be completed before the land becomes available. Assuming you’ve surpassed that minor hurdle, you’re ready to slap down 5,000 gold and grab an empt plot of soil.
Creating a home can be a fun endeavor. After using the house layout, you can pick up the materials needed to craft some nails, locks, hinges and other house necessities after you lay the foundation. Greenhouses, alchemy laboratories, armories and more all await player input. It may all sound inviting, but customization is rather limited. For this reason, roleplay is a must. If you’ve invested countless hours into your character and brought them to life with your imagination, then building a home is one more exciting adventure. From expanding the home’s small origins to filling your trophy room with the corpses of conquered beasts, the true roleplayer can benefit from immersing themselves into this experience. And what about once the house is built? Well, besides fending off random attacks from your custom home, you can bring more people inside.
Homes can be filled with more than just lifeless furniture. Stewards, bards, carriage drives and, most interestingly, adopted children can inhabit your creation. Let’s focus on the latter. Up to two human children (sorry, no Khajiit kittens or scaley Argonian hatchlings) can be adopted from Riften’s orphanage, assuming you have children’s beds in your home. Following a brief interview in which the Dragonborn is asked about current living situations and occupation, these little rascals will become a part of your family. You’ll be able to interact with your kids in fun ways like playing tag or hide and go seek or even letting them have a pet. If you’ve saved the world from Alduin, taken a side in the war and learned every shout, settling down with a small family in the woods (while not as exciting) may be a nice change of pace for anyone looking to dive deeper into their character.