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Skyrim: Hearthfire (Xbox 360) Review

/ Sep 5th, 2012 11 Comments

Skyrim: Hearthfire

Skyrim: Hearthfire was released yesterday on the Xbox 360 and will be exclusive to the console for 30 days.

Skyrim: Hearthfire

Hearthfire is the second DLC released for Skyrim and is available on Xbox Live for 400 Microsoft Points ($5). PS3 and PC players are still in the dark for their Hearthfire release date and, as Gaming Illustrated reported last month, PS3 players are concerned they may not receive any DLC for Skyrim at all. Being an Xbox 360 owner I was able to immediately access this new content and spent an entire day of my real life building my cooler fake life.

Gameplay

I have thoroughly enjoyed playing house in Hearthfire. Before this DLC I was a lonely nomad roaming the forests of Skyrim and routinely launching arrows into the throats of my enemies. I was without purpose and since the death of my friend Kharjo, without companionship. It wasn’t until I made my weekly visit to Solitude that I received a letter from the Jarl of Falkreath requesting my audience. It’s the letters from jarls that activate the Hearthfire content. Depending on where you travel or how you encounter a courier, your letter from a Jarl may differ. My letter came from Falkreath and after I met with Jarl Siddgeir I purchased a plot of land and began to build. Other players have reported buying land in The Pale and Hjaalmarch regions as well.

So what does a Dovahkiin do once he or she has bought land? A word from the wise, prepare to stock up on a lot of iron ingots. Hearthfire is all about accumulating and implementing resources and the major resource is iron. From smithing nails, locks, hinges, and iron fittings, your Dovahkiin is sure to go through a heinous amount of iron. Building your Hearthfire home is also incredibly expensive. If you haven’t already secured infinite amounts of wealth through treasure hunting or thievery, you’re going to want to save up your coins. What resources you can’t get yourself (lumber, glass, etc) quickly become expensive, especially if you’re wanting to design a decorative Dovahkiin dwelling. With the money issue addressed, there are many different ways to construct your home. If you’re like me and prefer the quiet, inconspicuous life you can build a small, one room home with pleasant amenities. My unparalleled archer resides in a quaint home that is surrounded by my garden, stable, and apiary (for bees!). Or, for you grandiose folk, you can build a monstrous mansion with a main hall and (if you so desire) three additional wings. There are nine room additions to choose from, including a library, an alchemy laboratory, an enchanter’s tower, a greenhouse, an armory, and more. I suspect a popular wing addition will be the trophy room where Dragonborns can showcase some taxidermied prizes. I chose to put a gigantic stuffed cow on display. Don’t worry, if you’re not into the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous you can choose a minimalist approach to your interior decorating. However, if you’re into opulence there are plenty of sabre tooth cat heads to be hung.

Once my heart and soul had laid the floors and secured the rafters, I decided to fill my humble abode with the sound of family. I married Balimund from Riften and adopted two unfortunate children wandering the snowy streets of distant towns. In Hearthfire you have the option to adopt two children. At first, I thought this “parenting” perk was pretty lame. However, I fell fast in love with my new husband and kids. My daughter is adorable and compliments my maternal practices and my son told me he collected goodies in a chest in his room and, because of my kindness, I was welcome to take any of his findings. He had collected some hawk feathers and laffy taffy. Awesome. I love my kids. I may shout dragons from the sky and slay their priests but I am a family woman at heart; a lethal leader-of-the-Dark-Brotherhood family woman. Not everything is perfect at home, however. My estate is accustomed to being attacked by giants, wolves, and bears. I also found a necromancer performing some dark arts on a skeleton while admiring my homestead’s “lake view.”

Skyrim: Hearthfire

It’s obvious I found the gameplay of Hearthfire to be engaging, entertaining, and offering a new perspective in which to view my character. I was preoccupied with the DLC the entire day and did nothing but build, farm, and play hide-and-seek with my kids. Unfortunately, Hearthfire is not without its glitches. Objects in the house, even objects put there by the game, are liable to catapult out of their bookshelves or fly off of the table. It is not unusual to come home to find the bowl that you had spent 20 minutes filling with cheese had magically exploded across the room. This decorative defect was annoying because it made it difficult to personalize my home. I also frequently fell through the staircases in my main hall. I experienced a substantial glitch with Honorhall Orphanage. My previous Dark Brotherhood activities had made it impossible to adopt children from the orphanage as the current “administrator” wouldn’t quit running away from me. Other players have reported glitches in finding couriers to activate the DLC and finding the appropriate merchants for specific resources. Despite its downfalls Hearthfire was a lot of fun and certainly worth the $5.00.

Graphics

We have all come to expect stellar graphics from Bethesda Softworks. Considering how expansive and diverse Skyrim gameplay can be, the graphics deserve high praise. Nothing about Hearthfire’s graphics are disappointing but instead deliver the same amount of tedious detail and creativity we love. From the tablecloths on the dining tables to the ridiculous looking goat-head wall dressings, Bethesda delivers again and again.

Entertainment

Hearthfire is Fus Ro FUN! Not only was constructing my perfect Tamriel hideaway exciting but filling the halls with family made it all worthwhile. Once, before I had furnished my cellar, my son informed me he was afraid of the basement and thought there “was something down there.” Naturally I ignored my 12 year old’s concerns because all 12 year olds are afraid of basements. However, when I later entered the cellar, I was attacked by a horde of rats. It’s small story pieces like that that really add to the quality of gameplay. I also appreciated having to protect my homestead from wandering vandals or hungry forest beasts. I even found a giant in my garden after returning from a lengthy cave cleansing.

Overall

Although it has its glitches, raising a family and pretending to be a domesticated Dragonborn in Hearthfire was terribly fun. This Skyrim DLC offers a lot of opportunity to customize your Tamriel lifestyle and make your character more unique. Without question, I feel like I got more than $5.00 worth of gameplay and don’t regret purchasing the content. Try out Hearthfire today and let us know how you handled home life in the comment section below!

SKYRIM: HEARTHFIRE (XBOX 360) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall83%

ENTERTAINMENT9

I had fun being a mom by day and a stealthy assassin by night.

GAMEPLAY8

This DLC offers a new Dragonborn home life.

GRAPHICS8

Always impressed with the aesthetically pleasing Skyrim graphics.


Rachel Gray

Rachel Gray

Content Specialist at Gaming Illustrated
Rachel is a game aficionada who lives with her tuxedo cat, Ernest. Some of her favorite things include bears, Chik-fil-a chick-n-minis, White Russians, and Silent Hill 2. When jogging, Rachel attaches her mp3 arm attachment to her wrist and pretends it is a Pip-Boy.
Rachel Gray
Rachel Gray

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  • Nerevar’s Goat

    I bet that necromancer REALLY enjoyed his lakeside ‘view’ once his corpse started floating in it.

    Remember kids: don’t talk to strangers!!!

    I’m loving hearthfire myself- I can’t believe I just spent an extra hour and a half (close to 5am) just playing with the starter cottage. (Good grief.) A proper mansion will eat my life at this rate. :o

  • Dreadhardt

    This DLC is great! I quit Skyrim shortly before beating the main quest due to losing my fire to complete the game, but this gives me a reason to come back! I bought this DLC and then bought Dawnguard to give myself something to do–since it’s awesome being able to come back to a house after a hard night’s questing. Can’t wait to complete my humble abode (enormous mansion). Although instead of kids, I opted out for a bard and a carriage. Totally awesome.

    PS: I work at a Chick-fil-A, and we love serving you those minis!

  • Dean

    Im selling my skyrim I’m a ps3 owner and now will not ever purchase another Bethesda game!! Rachel Gary you are hot

    • http://gamingillustrated.com/ Sean Gibson

      If you are going to complement a lady’s looks at least get her name correct. derp.

    • Spib

      COOL STORY BRO. gonna buy yourself a less complimacated game?

  • David G

    Good review,

    I like Hearthfire, but my only issue is that there are not enough kids to adopt. does not include khajiit children, elf children, and other children I would have liked to adopt.

    I hope Bethesda patches it to add more children to adopt

  • Brittany

    Everytime I enter my house, when I get to the dining room, I glitch. The xbox freezes and I have to restart it. Quite annoying. Also, I can’t use any of my display cases. Other things to add to the glitch list

  • Garrett

    You should add me on facebook :-D but why dont pc players get access first?

  • cassino911

    I was really excited about getting hearthfire but no one comes up to me or gives me anything.

  • bonnieblueblade

    There are actually plenty of kids to adopt…not just the ones at honorhall. There are four others in various places around skyrim, homeless and living in stables and on the street. Also, if any parents get killed in the game eg. gerdur and lod…you can adopt those kids. You can also move them into the houses in the game that you already have eg whiterun or riften…windhelm, etc. You have to talk to the steward and change the alchemy/enchanting room to a kid’s room. More info involving pets the kids bring home and keep … google for more info.

  • Mark Brinkman

    I enjoy it immensely — and there are definitely some things you can have in these houses that you can’t have otherwise — like the mega-armory or trophy room.

    DON’T get it TOO early level-wise. You will get the occasional bandit, wolf, dragon or giant stopping by. If your layout only has one door, getting in your house past a giant will be a problem, although sniping from the rocks above your work table is a mildly effective technique.

    There are bugs, sometimes which can be problematic. (360)
    1) Got the house for Falkreath before doing the Civil war quest-line. When I became Thane again after freeing it for the Stormcloaks, Lydia who had agreed to be my steward vanished, and no replacement ever was available. The redguard housecarl did come but had no conversation option to become a steward. This means running elsewhere every time you need wood, and NO way to buy animals or get servants.
    2) On a layout without library you only have one bookshelf. It is buggy – allowing more than 18 books to a shelf sometimes, displaying the books in a clippy overlay, seemingly upping the limit But when you go back for them, the initial 18 vanish forever. A book-eating bookshelf is a VERY bad idea…
    3) Basement forge area — between the forge and the ore troughs, the floor underneath the skin rug is white on occasion. Stepping into it you fall through the world to empty “space”. Only to reappear in the next room by the mannequin.
    4) As you build some things in each room, occasionally the menu of items to build will reset. This allows you to build stuff you already have. usually doing so causes it to reassess the room and bring the menu back to the last items you are working on, but I suspect if you don’t realize it, you can waste raw materials REBUILDING stuff you already have.

Top Articles

SKYRIM: HEARTHFIRE (XBOX 360) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall83%

ENTERTAINMENT9

I had fun being a mom by day and a stealthy assassin by night.

GAMEPLAY8

This DLC offers a new Dragonborn home life.

GRAPHICS8

Always impressed with the aesthetically pleasing Skyrim graphics.