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Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC review

This is a discussion on Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC review within the Game Reviews forum, part of the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles; Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC by Nagflar Basic Information: Developer: Bethesda Game Studios Publisher: Bethesda Softworks North American Release Date: February 19, ...

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    Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC review

    Skyrim: Hearthfire DLC
    by Nagflar

    Basic Information:
    Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
    Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
    North American Release Date: February 19, 2013
    European Release Date: February 20, 2013
    Trophies: 4


    Hearthfire is the second DLC released by Bethesda for their overwhelmingly popular game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Ignoring traditions of releasing new content that consists of exploring new areas, fighting new enemies, looting more corpses and acquiring rarer treasures, Bethesda took a new approach in this type of game, consisting of building houses and even getting a family.


    As stated above, Hearthfire is all about building houses for the player to decorate, improve, protect and admire. The process is rather simple: first you must acquire a land title from one of three Jarls of Skyrim, giving you the right to build your soon-to-be-mansion on a patch of land close to one of the main Holds. In order to acquire this, you must have performed various side-quests in the specific Jarl's Hold, gaining his favor and, better yet, the title of Thane. Soon afterwards, the Jarl will mention that he's got a patch of land available for you to buy if you so desire, and after buying it, its location will be marked on your map.

    Once you've found your patch of land, you can begin construction of your very own house. One of the first things you should notice is that being an architect in the land of Skyrim is rather easy. The entire process, from planning to building, is conducted via a Drafting Table, which will be there waiting for you. After you've built yourself that one small place for you to live in, you may move on to bigger and better things, adding a garden, a grain mill, a stable, or even a main hall. After that, you can add a few wings which can house a library, a trophy room, or an alchemy laboratory, among other things. You can also decorate and furnish each room as you see fit, using almost anything you could want, be it a barrel, a rack, a bed, a lamp, or a table and some chairs. Hearthfire lets you have pretty much everything you could want or need, all in one convenient location - something that the houses of the core game never did.

    The Drafting Table, which will let you build a house fit for the Dragonborn.

    Obviously, in order for you to start building all that stuff, you'll need materials, which include (but are not limited to) quarried stones, nails, clay, iron fittings and a few wooden logs. Some of these are given to you right off the bat when you purchase the land, and are conveniently placed inside a chest near the Drafting Table. You can also mine quarried stones and clay from nearby deposits that also come with the land, so getting your hands on this basic materials shouldn't be much of a hassle.

    Wooden logs can only be purchased from Lumber Mill owners, although if you do him/her a favor, you'll be allowed to cut your own, free of charge. Nails, iron fittings, locks, and other iron-based resources can only be forged at a Carpenter Workbench, and will require Iron Ingots in hand, which you can buy from merchants or mine from iron deposits. Lastly, there are some more specialised materials which you'll need for decoration. These can usually be found at any General Goods store.

    As you can see, building your own place is very simple and straightforward, with the only bothersome part being acquiring enough materials to build everything. That said, it is a disappointment that, once something is built, it can't be demolished, so if you think that one house near Falkreath could use an Enchanter's Tower instead of a Library on the East Wing, I've got bad news for you. Seeing how simple they made it to construct the house itself, one would think remodelling or demolishing a wing would be an easy addition as well.

    Second, regardless, none of those words seem appropriate. Once your house is complete, and you've taken some time to marvel at it, you can have your spouse, and any children you may have, move in, and you can make your companion the house's steward (whatever that involves). In the case of children, you'll first have to adopt one, which is as easy as visiting Riften's orphanage and picking a lucky lad (or lass) to live with you. Regarding your wife/husband, you should already know how to get one from the core game, and if you don't, there's always the internet for you to find out how to do so. Once you've told both of them to move over to your beautiful house, you may finally know the (dis)pleasures of a family life, including what it is like to get randomly attacked by bandits, dragons or undead creatures whenever you're nearby. This can lead to the premature death of your steward, or the kidnapping of your loved ones, which in turn can lead into paying a ransom for their freedom, or murdering the kidnappers in true Dragonborn fashion.

    As you can see, your house is gigantic and can even have a Smelter.

    All in all, the experience is rather nice and simple. Building yourself the house of your dreams is easy and intuitive, and the inclusion of dwelling-related events is a nice touch, allowing you to experience the hardship of living in the land of Skyrim. Unfortunately, the fun doesn't last long, with the novelty of it all wearing off pretty quickly. Babysitting your family is one huge hassle, given that at any given time you may find yourself fighting something on your own due to the stupidity and inability of your family to help themselves, or due to how weak your wife/husband is. It certainly gets bothersome when you're just about to go waste time on the overworld and suddenly need to head back to protect them from whatever is trying to murder them now.

    Even if you love the thrill of the fight and the need to defend your house and family, it's much more fun to just go raid a dungeon or finish a quest, not to mention less luck-dependant. If anything, it is more fun building the house than checking out what happens afterwards, and as mentioned previously, once something is built, it stays there forever, taking more away from what little fun the DLC offers.


    Now here we get to what is unquestionably the best part of the whole DLC. True to form, Bethesda did an amazing job and, obviously spent a great deal of both time and money to both develop, and test this new addition to their game, making sure it would perform without incident. Consequently, it was entirely unsurprising to find that, many times, your furniture would inexplicably move around on its own, items left or placed around the house would vanish or become unobtainable, staircases would disappear entirely, and companions that had accompanied you on many a perilous quest, that had fought side by side with you against dragons and giants, would suddenly be erased from existence (goodbye, Lydia!). These are but a few of the many and varied game-breaking, annoying, and depressingly hilarious glitches and bugs that you may encounter thanks to Hearthfire and Bethesda's astonishing incompetence.

    I guess one should be happy that whoever attacks your house can't glitch their way inside, or that dragons and giants can't kill someone that's inside with some annoying area of effect attack, but the number of issues, coupled up with the fact that there are issues, makes this as bad, if not worse than, the core game when it was first released.

    Bravo, Bethesda: your inability to make functional DLC is still second-to-none.


    The DLC features four trophies for you to acquire that, depending on how much money your character has, could take anytime between two and six hours to obtain. There's no reason to even look at a guide for this one, for the objectives are so clear and simple to accomplish that the trophy descriptions are more than enough. The fact that you'll probably want to get and fully build all three houses in the available plots of land will surely make this even better for many.

    Closing Thoughts

    Hearthfire is a fun addition to the game that, ultimately, lasts as long as it takes you to earn the trophies. While it is easy to build your Dragonborn a dream house full of stuff, the fact that it adds so little and that you can't demolish and/or re-decorate the house and its wings is a very huge turn-off from further playing. Even having your family move over and see the house get attacked is a novelty that wears off after the first two or three invasions, so I'd highly recommend not buying this one. If you're a completionist and wish to have all them trophies, I'd suggest either a sale or to rent a copy of the Legendary Edition.

    Gameplay: 6/10
    Entertaining, but too little content for you to really enjoy it. The novelty lasts as long as a Mudcrab fighting a Werewolf, and the inability to rebuild/demolish once you're done with your house is a huge turn-off.

    Technical: 3/10
    More screw ups than in the other DLC and more annoying glitches make this one as bad (if not worse) than the game at release. Standing atop the roof of your house to admire the view can hardly compensate this, even moreso when cosidering the game isn't exactly good-looking.

    Overall: 4.5/10
    Last edited by Nagflar; 12-17-2013 at 07:56 PM.

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