The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim: Hearthfire is a minor add-on pack, it's especially minor in comparison to Dawnguard. Despite the fact Dawnguard has yet to make its debut on the PS3, Bethesda released the second content pack for Skyrim on September 4, 2012, only a week after announcing it. Hearthfire, which only costs 400 MS points, adds two features to Skyrim: building a home, and adopting children. As someone who has invested nearly 200 hours into Skyrim, I can confidently say these weren’t features Skyrim fans were clamoring for. Nevertheless, it’s new Skyrim content, and I want it.
Hearthfire begins when a courier drops off a message from Constance Michel at the Honorhall Orphanage in Riften. Her message urges the Dragonborn to consider the wonderful world of adopting children. At the orphanage she’ll tell you in order to adopt a child you’ll need a home that’s equipped for them. Constance Michel won’t give you any clues about your next step, no matter how many time you hold a bow to her head. If you check your inventory you may notice another letter, this one about one of your homes. I received a message about my Whiterun home stating new home furnishings were available. I didn’t receive a similar letter in regards to my Solitude pad, but I set off for the Blue Palace anyway.
Find the Steward in whichever city you call home and ask him about purchasing Child’s Furnishings. They’ll set you back 3,000 gold and it comes with two beds. Note: adding these furnishing adds a new room to your house. In my case, this meant several bookshelves were removed, leaving some of their contents on the ground. I was not pleased to see my Ruby Paragon on the floor.
Once you have the proper furniture you’re ready to become a Mom (or Dad)! I was able to adopt two children, both the girls. I got the achievement “Proud Parent” and washed my hands of those little rats. I joke.
After I adopted my kids I was ready for the second feature of Hearthfire, building a house. It wasn’t until I had read every letter in my inventory, and talked to multiple stewards that I realized I had fallen victim to a common Hearthfire glitch. The courier in the beginning is supposed to drop off a letter from one of three Jarls. Since I didn’t receive a letter, I turned to the internet to save me. After a failed attempt to buy land from the Steward in Falkreath, I went to Morthal and bought myself a plot of land for 5,000 gold.
Using fast travel I found my land, it was already equipped with a drafting table and carpenter's workbench, along with enough materials to start building. Some of the material were new to Heathfire, like clay. The drafting table has the blueprints for a small house, to your left you’ll find just enough material to build a small house, one room small. You’ll build the house in steps, foundation, walls, roof, etc. There is no customization as far as location, placement and look goes. Other blueprints will unlock with resources and with time. The resources I happened to have allowed me to to add an animal pen, even though I had no animals. Inside the house was another workbench, this one made furniture. But chances are you won’t have enough resources to make anything else.
This brings me to major issues with Hearthfire, it doesn’t do a good job of explaining what you’ll need to build your dream home. The next upgrade for my house was the Main Hall. This sent me on a wild goose chase to a mill, to a mine and to town. Through my own fault of not writing down exactly what I needed, I ended up making multiple trips only to forget Corundum ingot. After I finally acquired the proper materials I was able to continue to expand my house, only to be held up again because I needed clay. Where the hell do you get clay? If there was one central location that made guilding a home a breeze, I'd have way less issues, and way more house.
Over time gamers will be able to add a kitchen, a stable, and even a garden to their home. If your dream is being a master alchemist who grows all of his own plants, then you must be elated right now. If you're content buying, or stealing potions, then planting, maintaining, harvesting and then mixing potions probably doesn't belong in the "Pro" category.
Hearthfire is basically the HGTV add-on for Skyrim. After you build your house you’ll be able to do new Susie-Homemaker activities like baking and beekeeping. Bethesda hasn’t updated the ability to move objects, so decorating in still a nightmare. If you’re stoked to build your own home in Skyrim, or are dying to break out the ol’pickaxe, you’re going to love this add-on. But if you’re looking for more of the Skyrim you’re used to, don’t expect to find it here. Hearthfire adds exactly what Bethesda said it would, no more and no less. Granted, a few bugs have been reported, but it’s still Skyrim, bugs come with the territory.
Should you download Hearthfire? Probably not. It’s not that Hearthfire is necessarily flawed, it’s that it offers an activity you’re probably not going to spend your time doing. If what I’ve described above sounds awesome, then download away. If not, maybe spend your MS points somewhere else.
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