It’s been ten months since Skyrim graced our consoles and computers, and for many of us, we still aren’t finished. The sheer size of Skyrim has had us enthralled since November, but even with the game’s massive scope, many of us are craving for more. Back in June, we got a taste of downloadable content in Dawnguard, and while not bad, it didn’t have the same spark you saw in Oblivion’s Shivering Isles expansion. Bethesda has continued the DLC support in Skyrim in the new pack, Hearthfire, which promises the simple prospect of building your own home from scratch. Is such an expansion worth the $5 entry? Well, it could be worse.
In the world of Skyrim, where you do all sorts of amazing things like slaying dragons and shouting to the heavens, doing something as menial as building a house doesn’t sound great on the surface. I mean, you can sleep in any unowned bed you want, and can store your items in any chest, container, or cupboard, so what’s the appeal? Well, the sheer size you can make your humble abode is something you shouldn’t sneeze at. What you get from Hearthfire can be attained no matter where you are in the main storyline. Visit any town, and the local courier will present a letter from one of the Jarls, telling you that you can buy some property. Visit said Jarl, do a few menial tasks for him, and he’ll let you buy the land. Only the cities of Falkreath, Dawnstar, and Morthal will let you purchase the land, however. You’re able to purchase the land of all three, but it’d be the same house each time.
Your land comes with a guidebook, a carpenter’s table for mapping out the building, an anvil for making nails, and a workbench for making the house. The house is divided into sections (the foundation, walls, doors, things like that) which must be completed to move on. Some of the ingredients are a pain to get, so be warned. Once you get a house built, you can have things like Stewards to help keep your house looking sharp. You can even adopt a child. It’s a nice completion of the family dynamic you get if you choose to get married, but there’s not a lot to it. You can do things with the children, but you quickly run out of things to say. The Dragonborn doesn’t seem to be much of a family man.
If you’re looking for Animal Crossing levels of customization for your house, you’ll have to look somewhere else, because in Hearthfire, what you see is what you get. For all the hullabaloo of making your own house, you think they’d let you make it look different than most of the other houses. Of course, in the PC realm, that’s what mods are built for. Either way, it’s disappointing how little your house caters to what you want it to look like. What you are given isn’t bad in any regard, and actually having your own place with rooms dedicated to your adventure, and even a family, is kind of a nice feeling.
That’s about all that there is to this DLC, it’s not very substantial in any sense of the word. But, it’s only $5, so you have to temper your expectations a little, you shouldn’t have expected another Dawnguard or Knights of the Nine, but its certainly no “$4 horse armor” either. You get what you pay for in the truest sense, but even what it promises – your own house – isn’t that customizable in terms of the interior. This DLC isn’t for everyone, but if you want to experiment and are a rabid fan of Skyrim, it isn’t priced ridiculously as to deter you from picking it up.