Hearthfire isn’t quite what you’d expect from a piece of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim DLC. This doesn't offer an epic journey into the heart of an unknown land – it’s about expanding your experience through lovey-dovey stuff like making you and your spouse a new residence from scratch, or adopting children. In short, the DLC adds welcome depth to some of the game’s lesser mechanics.
So, you’ve become thane of every hold. You’ve bought every house in every city. What’s next for your Dragonborn hero? The only answer is to buy a nice patch of land and build a mansion on it. Building is much simpler than it sounds – but it can still be a time consuming and quite engaging activity. By mining newly added materials like clay and stone and combining them at special work benches, you’ll quickly be able to create anything from foundations to trophy rooms and libraries – perfect spaces in which to display all of your well-earned treasures.
Hearthfire is really all about customisation; it’s a relatively small add-on – at least for Skyrim – that serves to make your game more personalised. You can flesh out your new home any way you want, adding standard furniture or more grizzly décor like stuffed hagravens and dragon skulls. In many ways, the non-documented quests for the rarer materials you’ll require to create your ideal home are the meat of the DLC. Hearthfire gives you an excuse to spend more time adventuring, especially if you have the desire to create the perfect abode.
Things get even more personal if you’ve already got yourself a lovely husband or wife. The DLC adds in numerous children to different towns and cities, all of whom are desperate to be adopted. You can foster up to two children and place them in any home you want, provided you have a child’s bedroom at the ready.
Kids will run up and greet you after coming back from a long adventure, tell you about their trip to the market for the hundredth time, and even try to scrounge gold from you now and then. And, like all of Skyrim’s NPCs, they’ll go about their own business, making friends with woodland animals and playing in the dirt outside. However, all of this doesn’t stop children from still being the most annoying personalities in the game – sarcastic quips as you walk by included.
Outside of standard house building and parental duties, Hearthfire brings some handy features to the original game. You’ll be able to assign a housecarl to your estate, who can supply you with any materials you may need and can even be ordered to handle decorating while you’re off slaying dragons. You can hire both a personal bard and carriage that can take you to any city, town, or village. There is some action too – on occasion, giants will try to raid your livestock and bandits will attempt to rob your family, making it all the sweeter when you put them down.
Overall, Hearthfire is far more of an add-on than an expansion like Dragonborn. Our only real complaint is that the content appears to bring with it a few annoying glitches here and there, but other than that, you can’t really go wrong with a DLC that costs so little and adds so much.
Hearthfire is currently available for £1.99/$2.49 from the PlayStation Store. It will revert to its standard price of £3.99/$4.99 on 27th February.