Skyrim: Hearthfire Review

Have you ever been playing Skyrim and thought to yourself:  I’d really love to build a house?  Well, Hearthfire is the latest expansion for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and will allow you to do just that.  It is a fairly simple expansion that will allow you to build your own house and adopt children to put in the house.  Building your house is quite the endeavor and is actually the high point of Hearthfire.  Building a house consists of two stages.  The first stage is building the actual house structure: creating doors, walls, rooms, and roofs.  After you have built the structure, you can then populate the rooms with all the standard house fare from chests to beds.

Hearthfire Crafting

New crafting tables are where you actually design and build your house.

Both of the stages of building your house have wonderful progression to them.  Many different materials have been added to Skryim and will be necessary for building a house: hinges, nails, glass, straw, stone, clay, and several others. At first, only a few materials will be available, and its up to you to find what you need in order to make your dream house a reality.  Steadily finding materials and adding new attachments or objects to your house is at the heart of what makes Hearthfire enjoyable.  Earlier, when I said “dream house,” I used the term loosely since Hearthfire doesn’t allow for much customization, however, seeing your house slowly being built as you travel and find more materials is pretty awesome, it truly gives the sense that you are accomplishing something.

The houses that you actually build are incredibly useful.  You can build smithing stations, enchanting table, gardens, alchemy labs, treasure rooms, and much more. This allows for plenty of storage space and all of the amenities necessary for crafting any weapons or potions imaginable.  The only real choices that can be made throughout the building process are what you want the north, south, east, and west wings to be.  Do you want an armory?  Then you wont be able to have a kitchen.  A Greenhouse?  Say goodbye to the enchanting tables.

Hearthfire House

Seeing your house slowly being built is what makes Hearthfire fun

Unfortunately, aside from these choices, there is almost no customization.  As far as what goes in each room, there is simply a set list.  Do you want to fill that empty wall space with a chest? Too bad, you can only place an end table there.  Each space in your house can only have one object in it, and there is no choice as to what that object is.  The overall shape of each house is also not customizable.  Each wing and area of the house will always look the same way, so there is also no customization as far as the shape of the house is concerned.  The lack of customization doesn’t kill Hearthfire, but it definitely leaves more to be desired.

I haven’t done very much as far as the children are concerned, but it seems to be shallow.  You can adopt and raise children either at the house you build or one of the preexisting houses in the game.  Raising them boils down to playing with them and trying to make them happy.  I have not found any sort of reward for doing this, and children appear to be added simply as “something to do.”  Perhaps there is more depth in that area, but I have not found it.

The Verdict

The joy of Hearthfire lies in the creation process.  Finding the materials you need and watching your house slowly go from a tiny settlement to a huge, two story house complete with everything you need.  Honestly, I’m disappointed with Hearthfire.  After Dawnguard added so much content, I was expecting more out of Skyrim DLC.  If the price were any more than $5, I would say don’t bother buying it, but with the price being what it is, Hearthfire is a nice addition that wont blow you away but will add several more hours of gameplay and fun.

2 Responses to “Skyrim: Hearthfire Review”
  1. Andrew Brown says:

    Note: After completing my house, I went to the market. Upon my return, I found a lone bandit murdering my chickens. I quickly fus ro dah’ed that fool into oblivion and found a note on her body. The note said that local bandits had captured my wife and would return her for 5000 gold. The story ends with many dead bandits and my wife safely at home. So FYI, the expansion does add some fun small random things to do. Not much of meaning, but these little details are part of what bring Skyrim alive.

  2. chaddersxd says:

    nice review, hope this comes out on PC and PS3 soon though…

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