Today, I want to talk about Hearthfire. A DLC which, arguably, looks the least impressive on the surface. It’s got the lowest price point, and seems to be the simplest design of all three. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’ve played a significant portion of Hearthfire, and trust me, it’s nothing to sneeze at. Hearthfire packs a lot of punch in a small package.
The main gist of Hearthfire is granting players the ability to purchase land and build their own home from the ground up. In fact, as a player of Skyrim, you may have noticed that the original version of the game only allowed you to purchase homes in five of the nine game regions. And these original options for homesteads, while entertaining, were fairly limited when it came to customization. The house was already built, and you paid someone to furnish it.
However, the new homes added by Hearthfire are far more expansive. Plus, they allow you to put down roots in three more game regions that previously had no such option. So if you’ve always had your eye on building a home outside of Dawnstar, Falkreath or Morthal, today is your lucky day. All you have to do is pony up $5000 to the local steward and you’ll get a deed to the plot of land in question.
But this is really just the beginning. Unlike previous homes, which came pre-built and allowed very little choice on the part of the player, these new homes are super-huge, highly customizable and involve a great deal of detailed decision making. For starters, every step of the building process requires raw materials. And in a surprising twist, Bethesda didn’t just make use of the existing materials found in the game world, they actually introduced whole new categories of goods which you’ll need to hunt down in shops, mine from the surrounding cliffsides and barter over.
You can now buy logs from the existing lumber mills in the game, quarry hunks of stone from the mountainsides, make clay bricks from the appropriate deposits, and even buy miscellaneous goods like glass and straw. You’ll find yourself using huge amounts of iron ingots, so one of your first tasks will be building an on-site forge and workshop, so you can hammer out your own nails, hinges, door locks and other assorted goods.
The amount of detail you’ll find in Hearthfire is staggering, and even something as simple as installing a front door on your home could involve multiple steps that include the gathering of resources and the use of the anvil to make specialized pieces. You’ll also find yourself making significant decisions as to what sort of rooms your home will have and what kind of furniture you build (piece by piece) to decorate those spaces.
But as impressive as the basic home building options are, that’s really only the beginning. You can bring one of your friendly followers back home and make him the steward of your property. From then on, he’ll hang out, offer new customization options and even lend a hand with gathering resources more quickly.
You can also adopt kids now thanks to Hearthfire, and you’ll find orphans peppered around the word with their own little sad stories who are in need of food and shelter. It’s up to you which of them you decide to take under your wing, and once you do, you can even provide them with some of the brand new childrens clothing on offer in the game.
Hearthfire managed to impress me far more than I expected, and I’m actually surprised it’s going for such a low price. The way Bethesda managed to not only give players new options, but make those options feel like an organic part of the existing world is truly impressive. I’d highly recommend this DLC to any lovers of Skyrim, and if you’re on the PS3, remember that all Skyrim DLC is 50% off during the first week of release. Go get ‘em!
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: Zenimax Media
Release: Feb 19th, 2013 (PS3)
This DLC receives a score of:
9 out of 10