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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire (PlayStation 3) artwork

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Hearthfire (PlayStation 3) review

"Home is where the heart(break) is..."

One of my favorite activities in Skyrim involves amassing an impressive collection of specialty weaponry. Rather than sell these magnificent pieces, I prefer to put them on display in one of my many houses and come back to bask in their collective glory. The only problem is that there isn't a single house in the game that can hold all of the unique weapons. Thankfully, Bethesda realized that some of their audience is similarly self-absorbed, and thus created a helpful expansion pack called Hearthfire.

Unlike Skyrim's other DLC campaigns, Hearthfire doesn't provide additional quests or extra tasks. Instead, this plug-in offers various vacant lots to purchase and develop into manors, each with customizable wings and furniture to build. Display cases also appear among the many fixtures you can create to fill your domicile, including weapon racks, mannequins and shield mounts for showing off your awesome spoils. If that's not your bag, then you can also develop several other rooms, such a master bedroom, a trophy room, an alchemy lab and an enchanter's tower. You can even deck these chambers out with a variety of decor, from dressers to chandeliers to wall-mounted saber cat heads.

Though these features sound neat, they don't come without their share of problems...

Hopefully you're not dead set on deep customization, because Hearthfire offers rather shallow options in regards to decorating your house. For the most part, you spruce up your living space by farming materials and selecting your desired goods from a menu. Once you've made a selection, your newly built room or piece of decor simply appears in a preset location. You aren't able to choose where a particular piece of furniture manifests, nor can you move it or modify it any further.

Honestly, this represents a minor issue. It would have been great to be able to position your goods where you want them, but not having that ability doesn't break Hearthfire. My main beef with the expansion's lack of customization is that the house you eventually create is not much different from any of the game's preconstructed homes. Building an abode is basically like buying a preset one, except now you have to gather or purchase more resources and fuss with a ton of menus. The end result is a house that, for the most part, still looks and feels manufactured.

I can live with illusory customization, though. What truly gets my goat about the PS3 version of Hearthfire is the nasty bugs infesting it.

After fleshing out my own crib, I decided it was time to put my goods on display. I went all around my house, placing swords in display cases and mounting shields on walls (as well as putting crossed swords behind the shields). All was right with the universe until I came home from an adventure and found one of my blades sticking halfway out of its closed display case. That wasn't the only time I had an issue with an item that refused to remain in its display, either. Throughout my campaign, I found weapons jutting from their cases, laying on the floor when I had left them on racks, and even flat out gone, having vanished from their new homes without a trace.

Possibly the most bizarre instance I encountered involved a sword that I had placed behind a shield. This sword never fell from its position or disappeared, but slowly ascended. Every time I returned home, I found that it had risen a few more inches. However, this situation didn't evolve into a real problem until I found the sword's hilt protruding from the boards on the second floor.

At first I laughed all of this nonsense off as another classic Bethesda moment, but my laughter died when I reached for one of my Daedric weapons and found I couldn't pluck it from the rack I had placed in it. The weapon didn't even register as being there, yet I could plainly see it. I could even place a weapon on top of it. It was as if the blade had disappeared altogether, though its specter remained in place.

I suppose I could go on about how awesome it is to be able to adopt children, hire a bard, and promote your housecarl to steward, but these feature don't make up for Hearthfire's weapon display glitches. I'm especially pissed off about the weapons that I'll never see again because they vanished off the face of Skyrim. Honestly, I should have expected as much from Bethesda. The PS3 version of Skyrim in general comes with bugs than a termite mound, so it shouldn't be any surprise that the game's DLC is also glitched to high hell.

Yet, I don't completely advise everyone against purchasing Hearthfire. Every player will have a different prerogative behind obtaining this DLC pack, and your ability to enjoy it may differ greatly from others who have experienced it. Unfortunately, if your expectation is to create a museum showcasing your awesomeness through displaying your arsenal, you're in for a bout of heartache. The same goes for anyone pining over new quests or storylines. However, if all you want to do is build a basic house, adopt children and listen to awful lyrics belted out by a spoony bard, then by all means tuck in.

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (February 03, 2021)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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Nightfire posted February 04, 2021:

I'm curious... Are these bugs are confirmed to only be present in the PS3 version?

I only played Skyrim on PC and I built a house in Hearthfire, but I always stored my stuff in containers, as I didn't have a huge desire to make elaborate displays. I haven't played that game in a long time but I do intend to go back to it at some point. It'd be nice to know if my house will mysteriously eat my stuff if I drop it on the ground or put it on display (if I choose to do so).
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 04, 2021:

I'm not sure. I haven't researched beyond the PS3 version to see if the others are bugged, too. I figured they would've fixed them by now, but the PS3 version's last update was right before the DLC dropped on that platform (which was later than the others). Of course, they've released revamped versions of the game since then, so I assume they're taken care of.

I hope...
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overdrive posted February 05, 2021:

I really can't tell you if it's bugged on the 360. I didn't get into this one enough to really tell you anything about it other than I got a laugh at there being a bandit stupid enough to come to your guy's house and kidnap his wife. But the whole "Now you can REALLY build those houses!!" angle just didn't get my interest. Kind of in that "Do I want to do this, or go into a couple dungeons to do quests and kill stuff?" sort of way where Hearthfire NEVER was my choice.

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