We have rounded up a new batch of reviews for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's latest DLC, Hearthfire, which instead of focusing on new adventures adds a few new mechanics (house building and adoption) for those that like the more immersive sim-like aspects of Bethesda's title.
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.
Hearthfire is a great idea but it suffers from lousy implementation. If we were being cynical we’d suggest that it was knocked out quickly, and with relatively little care, simply because Bethesda had promised Microsoft two timed exclusives and they didn’t want to waste time and money on something that would only be seen by half their audience.
It’s still not clear whether PlayStation 3 owners will even get Hearthfire after its 30 days of Xbox exclusivity are up, but if not they shouldn’t worry that they’re missing out on too much.
To me, Hearthfire feels more like Bethesda testing the waters for a deeper, more engaging home-crafting component in one of their future games, but for your 400 Microsoft Points you end up with what is easily the best house available in the game and the most conveniently accessible for dropping off your vast swathes of trinkets. But even though it's been crafted piece-by-piece, Hearthfire's land never feels like it's truly yours, and the rigidity of the process robs it of any potential satisfaction. Despite the whopping size of your new stately mansions, Hearthfire feels cold and empty.
Skyrim's second paid add-on sounds great in concept but it ends up being debatable if it's worth paying for. For those who are already done with the game, there's little reason to return. The expansion is just one inconsequential slightly meaty side activity with no interesting new quests or locations. Meanwhile, players who love to role-play may be let down by the slightly restrictive nature of the content.
However, at 400 Microsoft Points, Hearthfire is sensibly priced. At its best, it's a neat distraction and a welcome change of pace from all of the slaying and looting.
Hearthfire is a great way to bask in your accomplishments if you've already acquired a lot of friends, money and stuff. Houses are convenient places to store and organize your possessions, and can really cut down on the time you might spend traveling between your favorite forge and the enchanter's table. However, because the cost of home building is so expensive and the rewards are so few, if you don't have a lot of goods or time invested in the game then this expansion probably won't be for you.
The additions are nifty, but Hearthfire isn’t for every Dragonborn. If you want to create a unique house in Skyrim, this add-on won’t provide that for you. If you want an easily accessible hub with everything you need in one place, or you’re an avid collector who needs space to display your ever-growing lot of treasures, Hearthfire was made with you in mind. Even if it may disappoint, the bitterness won’t linger for long, thanks to the relatively low price tag compared to bigger DLC packs.