The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Hearthfire Review

Skyrim_Hearthfire

Bethesda Game Studios logoMore than a year after the release of Skyrim, the game is still going strong. It’s one of my favorite games at any rate. So, of course I gladly accept an excuse to stay up until the wee hours of the morning being the Dovahkiin. Initially, I played Skyrim on the PS3, including all the bugs that came with it, and waited patiently for the DLC to be released for my console. Well, I got impatient, and purchased a second copy of Skyrim for my Xbox 360 and immediately downloaded the DLC.

Because Hearthfire and Dawnguard are closely connected pieces of Skyrim DLC, I’ve prepared short reviews of both in anticipation that people will be interested in hearing about each of them. This is my review of the Hearthfire DLC; the Dawnguard review is located here.

Hearthfire really is more of an expansion than a game add-on, so this review is a tad shorter than the Dawnguard one. The main features of Hearthfire include custom houses and the ability to adopt children.

Regarding custom houses, I think being able to build pseudo-custom houses on your own plots of land is fun! I like that the properties you can buy can exist in holds that you couldn’t previously live in, so now the player can feel like a big shot by having property all across Skyrim. To add to the “big shot” feeling, you can even get your own bard and carriage driver. There are times during construction, however, when it feels like a never-ending fetch quest, since you don’t exactly know how much iron, clay or other materials you’ll need in advance (after my first two houses, I now hoard building materials in preparation for my third house). And while I have heard some grumblings about glitches (apparently the seller of one of the properties is a mark in a Dark Brotherhood, which can cause problems, depending on the timing that each task undertaken), I have only seen one: all the mill owners (the people you buy lumber to be build your houses from) disappeared on me after I finished the first house. I got around this by tracking down the owner of the mill in Riverwood (Hod) in his home.

As for adopting kids, they really tug at your heartstrings with their sad backstories. I like the details Bethesda added to the kids, though, like the effect where the child seems grateful that you adopted him or her, and when you have two kids, they actually get into fights (like real kids). You can even give the kids an allowance. I should note, though, that I got the best consistent response by giving them 100 gold.

The only criticism I have for this is that before this expansion, all the children looked like Nords (yes, I know some are listed as Redguard and Imperial, but they all look like Nords). Consequently, I had some hopes that they would introduce some diversity among the kids. I think little Khajiits, Argonians or Elves would have added a little more realism to the environment in an adorable way.

Considering that this is a smaller piece of Skyrim DLC than Dawnguard, though, that nitpick doesn’t deter me from saying that Hearthfire is worth the price of admission. Customizing a home and populating it with kids fits perfectly into the premise of making the Skyrim world your own, and it’s certainly provided some fun add-on entertainment.

Score: 8.5

- Amber Taylor

Platform reviewed: Xbox 360

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