Bethesda finally says “I love you” to all the pack rats and completionists of Skyrim with Hearthfire. This content-over-quest DLC pack gives you all the space you need to store your goodies while offering you slight (keyword) customization of how your home looks. I say slight because the final product of each wing/room always looks the same, regardless of what combination of wings you choose. Linear upgrades and all, won’t play it up. Also, you can adopt some fugly looking kids, but I don’t care about that so I’m not going to talk about it that much.
Hearthfire allows the player to purchase plots of land in three holds: Hjaalmarch, The Pale, and Falkreath. In order to make these purchases available, you must first earn the favor of the hold’s Jarl. The questing will earn you some gold, so it’s not totally wasting your time. Hearthfire makes you piss gold as if your home is on fire and you’re trying desperately to put it out. Tens of thousands. And there are a lot of resources you need to gather.
Once you’ve bought your plot, you can construct a small house on it by accessing the blueprints/workbench placed near the build site. You start off with a fair sum of lumber, which you’ll find depletes itself faster than you’d like it to. Lumber isn’t something your character can carry, and as such you need to head over to a mill to purchase more. Delivery is instantaneous, so you don’t need to wait around while they cart your tree chunks over.
Other necessities are firewood, ingots with iron as a focal point, animal parts including goat horns, glass, hay, quarried stone, and clay. I refrained from adding “a lot” to the beginning of each item listed, because that would have been redundant. Suffice it to say, you need a lot of everything, and you’ll probably wind up pawning your favorite enchanted sword to get the cash you need to finish the house. It’s tedious, time consuming, and money draining, so don’t come in expecting to get everything for nothing.
I’ll list all the rooms available just for you. Also, expect plenty of relevant items to spawn in specific rooms, i.e. food in the kitchen. Ready? Okay: Small house/entryway, main hall, and cellar are the universal, must have rooms. Add-on-wise, you get three wings with three options each. Wing one can be an armory, kitchen, or library. Wing two can be a trophy room, storage room, or alchemy lab. Wing three can be bedrooms, a greenhouse, or an enchanter’s tower. It all depends on what you like.
I guess I should talk about adoption… All player-owned homes can be modified with a child’s bedroom, allowing the player to pick up random homeless kids and dote on them with dresses, dolls, and wooden swords. You could start a modern family by marrying an Argonian and adopting seven Redguard children. Honestly, they just sit at your house and give you occasional gifts. Game features a-go go.
So would I prioritize Hearthfire on my list of DLCs to get? Probably not. It would fall at the very bottom, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad bit of DLC. It’s just more of a time-killing utility than it is a practical addition to the lore of Dovahkin.
Ma’idah Lashani of EscapistMagazine points out that Skyrim Hearthfire is lacking in customization, instead favoring a linear “upgrade path.” This is true, and it was very disappointing to discover that I couldn’t build a ten story evil wizard tower filled with angry bees. Get the whole story here if you’re still doubtful: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/reviews/9907-The-Elder-Scrolls-V-Skyrim-Hearthfire-Review