Monday, September 17, 2012

Skyrim: Hearthfire - My Thoughts

Skryim's latest add-on.
Unless you've been living under a rock, chances are you have heard of Skyrim's latest DLC add-on: Hearthfire released September 4, 2012. Hearthfire goes for 400 MS points and gives you the ability to buy land, build a house and adopt children.

Some people have compared it to The Sims. Since I don't play The Sims (nor do I care for it), I'm not going to compare it to that game. For me, Hearthfire is the final piece that makes Skyrim almost the new Fable, and I loved me some Fable.

In my opinion, Hearthfire is something that probably should have been included with the game from the get-go. I'm not saying it is so important that there was a great lack in the game without it, but it is one of those things that would have been so much more useful and enjoyed during the course of game play and leveling up than crudely tacked on 10 months later when the majority of people have already finished the main quest and stopped playing.

The Good Points

Hearthfire is mainly going to appeal to that niche of players, like me, who love creating in video games; making things, customization (those who are obsessed with customizing will also be a bit disappointed with it, more on that in a bit) etc. However, even for those who could care less about making a pretty house and adopting children (or "Skyrim Brats", or even "Dragon Fodder" as I have heard them lovingly referred to) Skyrim: Hearthfire can be a very useful tool.

The new homes provide an over abundance of space, you'll have more chests and storage space than you know what to do with. That is great news for anyone who is an organized freak like myself and likes to assign certain items to certain chests. Then there's also the ability to add crafting tables. For ONCE you can now have all possible crafting tables in one convenient location (including a forge and smelter! albeit located in the main hall cellar) with chests nearby (great for storing crafting materials)! No more hauling Dragon Bones and Scales across town at crawling speeds to make armor and weapons. Oh if only I had had this add-on sooner! How much easier it would have been!

The Bad

There are some down sides however, the biggest being the cost of building a home in-game. Since I have been playing for a while (I'm still going for all achievements earned in Skyrim), I've amassed a large sum of money, easily over 200K gold. I didn't keep track of how much exactly I spent (I really should have) but I think it was roughly just under 10k which doesn't sound like all that much for a completely furnished home, but can be a lot of money for the younger character.

Another downside are the locations, at 5k a pop, I wouldn't call them ideal. Simultaneously, I probably care more about this than the average player. You have 3 to choose from, the first I was offered (via a letter by courier) was Lake View Manor in a foresty location near Falkreath.
  • Lake View Manor is probably one of the better and "prettier" locations, beside a cliff and over looking a lake. However, if you're into roleplay (which I know most aren't), this is a bad place to raise children. You see, right behind your house down a cute little path is a sacrificial altar with a Necromancer. If you don't mind letting your children play cultist, then this is great.
  • Winstad Manor is in the salt marshes of Hjaalmarch (talk with the steward in Morthal for this one). Salt Marshes. Need I say more?
  • Heljarchen Hall is an alright place. Despite purchasing this piece of land from Dawnstar and technically located in The Pale, it is actually slower to Whiterun. It is located right next to a giant camp and snows a lot though.
Then there is the teensy annoyance of pseudo-customization. Yeah, pseudo-customization. I don't know about you, but when I saw the Skyrim: Hearthfire trailer, I was under the impression that I would have a lot of control over what I would make, what my home would look like (to an extent) and thought every home would be unique. That isn't the case.

Essentially you create a house on one of 3 pieces of land (or all if you want, there's an achievement for that). Each house consists of parts: Small Home/Entry Way (you can transform it to an entry way after enlarging the home), Main Hall, optional cellar (worth it in my opinion) and 3 Wings of "your choosing". Available wings are: Armory, Kitchen, Library, Bedrooms, Green house, Enchanter's Tower, Storage Room, Trophy Room, and Alchemy Laboratory.

So as I said, you only get 3 Wings. Not what I was hoping for, but ok, I can understand you gotta choose wisely. Fair enough. But wait! There's more! You see each wing has a name: East Wing, North Wing and West Wing and some of those rooms belong to a certain wing.

  • East Wing- Armory, Kitchen, Library
  • West Wing- Bedrooms, Green House, Enchanter's Tower
  • North Wing- Storage Room, Trophy Room, Alchemy Laboratory
This is where I, lover of customization, get annoyed.Having to pick 3 I could deal with, being limited to having a Library OR an Armory? I can't. I have spent my Skyrim life collecting all kinds of books, so the Library was a no-brainer for me. I have also spent my time collecting weapons and armor sets (especially having done the Oblivion Walker achievement) which I love to display (when display cases, plaques and mannequins aren't bugged to where they eat the items....). So more limitations. Frustrating. Yes, it is possible to build more than one house; but I wanted MY house, the way I wanted it.

After you have finally decided and built your home, wings and all, there comes the task of filling your home with furniture. I really wondered how this would be pulled off, if Besthesda had FINALLY found a more reliable method of placing furniture than dropping things and dragging/throwing them around hoping the land right side up and where you want. It just wouldn't be possible otherwise. I found the answer as a hollow resounding NO.

Once again, we have pseudo-customization. I know, I know. I'm more harsh about this than most people, but man was I disappointed. Filling your home is more a matter of building everything the room allows you to build. Everything has its set place and set items. The only thing you can control is the order in which you build it and what NOT to build. Cue sad trombone.

The Interesting

You can have pets and farm animals. Doesn't give you anything, but makes the area feel "alive".

The children are interesting and quite interactive. They play, they pout, they talk back, and they can be nice and cute, a bit like real children. (Mine runs around singing with her doll).
The problem is they are so interactive with you (they run to greet you when you come home after a long trip) and their surroundings that your spouse feels really robotic. They don't even interact with the children and the children don't interact with them. I found that disappointing.

The Verdict

Overall I think the add-on is worth 400 ms points (about 5 USD).

It wasn't spectacular as an add-on, but it has its uses. Storage space is a precious commodity and the possibility of having ALL available crafting tables within close proximity of chests/wardrobes is invaluable. Having all the crafting tables located in the same "zone" is also great for those who hate loading (With the exception of Smithing craft amenities located together in the cellar which is its own zone).

Although I was largely disappointed on some points, for most players that won't be an issue. For those who don't care to spend many hours deciding where best to place furniture etc, it may even be a bonus. The benefits of storage and convenience out weighs everything else.

If you want to know more about Skyrim: Hearthfire and/or my more personal experiences with it along with tips, be sure to check out my next blog titled: Skyrim: Hearthfire- My Experiences (aka Learn From My Mistakes)!


  1. Very nice...i really was thinking other way (like a Dovahkin SIMS) now i have decided to put my hands in this! wait! I have a PS3 *_*

    But sounds nice anyway...i would like to customize my own house (i don't care too much about the little brats...throw them to the giants!).

  2. Sucks that the PS3 is getting the shaft on DLC. I think a lot of that is the fault of Sony though. I know regarding the PS3 and Rock Band's Rock Band Network, it takes longer for things to make it through the pipes for Sony as the developer is limited for submissions.

    LOL at "throw them to the giants" xD

  3. Sucks that the PS3 is getting the shaft on DLC. I think a lot of that is
    the fault of Sony though. I know regarding the PS3 and Rock Band's Rock
    Band Network, it takes longer for things to make it through the pipes
    for Sony as the developer is limited for submissions.

    LOL at "throw them to the giants" xD


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