Skyrim Hearthfire PS3 review – New build is ambitious but not to all tastes
Home is where the heart is, and even the Dragonborn is no exception. Although you’ve always been able to purchase property in Skyrim, it’s only with the addition of this piece of DLC – reasonably priced at £3.99 – that you’ve been able to build your own pad. That’s right: The Elder Scrolls does The Sims.
Skyrim Hearthfire PS3 review
You’ve got the choice of three plots of land, depending on which Jarls you’ve racked up Brownie points with. There’s one near Solitude, another a short stroll from Falkreath, and a third out in the tundra between Morthal and Whiterun. Deeds cost 5,000 gold apiece, and bag you the land itself, a few tools to get you started, and a picture-postcard view.
You start off by constructing a Small House – ‘small’ in this context meaning ‘bedsit fit for a Dovahkiin’ – and expand from there. Once you’ve tacked on a Main Hall (two more downstairs rooms and a couple of bedrooms) you can start building wings, which up your floor plan to ‘nicely palatial’ and provide Hearthfire’s main opportunity for customisation. There are three options for each of the trio, from armoury through to greenhouse; library to enchanter’s tower. You can also add a stable, a garden, even an apiary (that’s for bees, fact fans). In fact, there’s provision for pretty much anything you could need.
There’s a heavy reliance on crafting here. Many components need iron fittings or hinges, which you forge with from iron ingots. And if you can’t buy enough ingots, you need to dig up some iron ore and smelt it. It offers a convincing reason to delve into mining and smithing, especially if you’ve previously relied on merchants rather than DIY for your weapons and armour, adding a bit of depth to proceedings. You also need to order timber from your local sawmill, so there’s a fair amount of popping back and forth between locations via fast travel – the Tamrielic equivalent of driving into town to grab some shopping.
And then there’s adoption. Provided you have a spare single bed and a dwelling free of workbenches, you can take in a child of your very own to bond with (playing proper little games of tag together is a lovely touch, à la Heavy Rain) and, er, set to work on the chores. The easiest way? Simply pick up a waif off the street with the slightly dubious line, “I could adopt you, if you want.” (Pro tip: don’t head to Riften’s orphanage and try killing the harridan running the place. It only results in mass panic and no child. Trust me, I tried.)
Skyrim is a game you really make your own, and building a home in Hearthfire is a natural and enjoyable extension of this concept. It’s not quite up there with the excitement of slaying beasts and looting dungeons, but homebodies will love it nonetheless.