Hearthfire, the latest DLC from the RPG masters at Bethesda, allows players to customize their Skyrim experience by designing and building their own houses for their spouse and adopted children. All this customization for only 400 MS points may lead some players to believe that this could be the best deal of the summer. It’s not. Not even close.
Hearthfire brings the ability to create content that is not only unnecessary, it doesn’t fit well. Players can buy land from the Jarl of a hold that did not offer them the opportunity to buy a house when the player became a thane of that hold (Dawnstar, Falkreath, Morthal). Players can then build a new house and additions on that new land. The fact that Hearthfire was introduced so late in the game means that players already own several homes and have permanent beds in other places (Jorrvaskr, Thieves Guild, The College of Winterhold, etc.) to hang their heads, often in the same city. In other words, there is no housing shortage in Skyrim. The customization level of of the new houses is limited and identical. The house that you build near Falkreath looks just like the house you build in the Southern Marshes of The Pale. Regional differences are not taken into account, building materials do not vary, and the available furnishings are identical and identically placed within the houses. You cannot choose where to put your bed, wall sconces, doors, dining table, hearth, stable, aviary, or chicken. You can only choose to build or not to build. Building consists of the exciting bang on a work table animation with the same “clang clang” that audibly indicates that you are making arrows or upgrading armor. Only now your lethal blacksmithing skills will be put to good use making hinges, iron fittings and...nails, lots and lots of nails. However, making all of this stuff yourself will allow your character to advance their smithing skills.
Running around the province to acquire sawn logs, clay, glass, and straw is also an exercise in tedium. I finally hired a steward to do this for me, and then I let her go ahead and furnish the house because I simply could not stand the “clang clang” anymore. The problem with this: stewards are idiots and will do their best to install furnishings that players do not want while eliminating anything desirable or necessary. For example, my home in Falkreath now has a bed in the entry hall, just in case Sarcasmo Fjones was too tired to actually make it to the bedroom. I could not remove the bed, so I removed my Steward...from her life.
The second problem with Hearthfire, that it doesn’t fit well with the rest of the Skyrim content, is evident from the trailer. It’s like Bruce Willis taking a picnic in the middle of a Die Hard movie. It completely stops a violent M-Rated RPG to to tinker with nails and hinges, and then shop for adoptable orphans and an acceptable spouse. Apparently the idiot in the trailer chose Aela the Huntress, who is a werewolf, to raise his newly adopted children. Maybe he should hire a bandit to guard his treasure. Not that it makes a difference who the player chooses to marry or adopt, but werewolves and vampires traditionally are not characterized as good caretakers. Once the player is committed, it is the player’s grim duty to guide and protect his pretend family from Skeevers and Giants. Dropping this kind of content into Skyrim is like substituting 20 minutes of Animal House with an episode of Barney and Friends. My character has personally tried to burn down the orphanage in Riften...twice. I even set a gargoyle loose inside the orphanage to see if it would eat anyone. I remember that ended with Fjones dodging arrows while hightailing it out of Riften on a stolen horse, but I digress. Sarcasmo Fjones doesn’t need a wife, he needs high-level psychiatric care. If he wanted kids, he would make them the old fashioned way, and the only problem with the children in Skyrim is the fact that they seem to be fire retardant and gargoyle-proof.
This is E-Rated content dropped into an M-Rated game and I cannot recommend this to any of our orphan-burning 2o2p readers. The benefit of the content gives players a few more places to rest their murderous heads and some smithing practice, but it stops the game dead in its tracks.
Completionists, achievement hounds, and grinders may find some value in this content, but hard-core RPG bad-asses should give this turd a wide berth. It’s not glitchy or terrible...it’s just not any fun.
In Other News...
Sexy Skyrim Legos
Justin R. Stebbins, founder of http://www.saber-scorpion.com , enjoys the curious hobby of redesigning Legos figurines into video game characters. Some of his latest works, Dovakin, Aela the Huntress, Dark Brotherhood Assassin, and Thieves Guild Member are tiny homages to a great game. Apparently he recycles figures from previous sets (the Dark Brotherhood Assassin was probably a Darth Vader at one time) and creates new decals to transform them to something more current. Visit his website above or find him at Saber-Scorpion’s Lair on Facebook.
Dawnguard too Buggy for PS3?
What could be bigger than new DLC for Skyrim? How about no DLC for Skyrim? Raptr has gone crazy with rumors that Dawnguard has not only been delayed, but will never come out on Sony’s current console. Will PS3 players receive their highly anticipated DLC for Skyrim? According to the Bethesda site’s admin, the answer is “maybe.” Bethesda has a playable version of the DLC for the PS3 that works some of the time. “This is not a problem we’re positive we can solve, but we are working together with Sony to try to bring you this content.” Bethesda promises to keep Sony players updated when and if something happens. Corroborative sources assure PS3 players that Sony has a “large team” cooperating with Bethesda to get Dawnguard on PSN.