Actually, Le Corbusier said that, but what does he know–he didn’t spend countless hours fast-traveling and staring at the same ol’ loading screens in Skyrim‘s Hearthfire DLC to gather the numerous and welcome-to-encumbrance building materials, such as clay, quarried stone, and iron ingots, to build three houses that are void of character and personality and truly, without a doubt, not worth all the effort. Really–don’t bother building your own house, especially if you’re already pretty far into the game, wherein you likely already own a home in one of the many cities, such as Breezehome in Whiterun or Honeyside in Riften. Those cost the same base price as your own plot of land, but require a whole lot less work, giving you more time to kill that bandit leader in Cave X or find your twentieth Jazbay Grapes.
Housing in Bethesda’s games has always been a pesky business. For Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, you had a few options to call home, but they were not very exciting. In the former game, I shacked up in Megaton, covering my bed in teddy bears and the shelves with rare trinkets–if I could figure out how to properly move and place an item via an Xb0x 360 controller. Your only other choice was staying in Tenpenny Tower, which came with some neat themes, but required going through a lot of load screens to simply access. Too much waiting, not enough storing of loot, if you asked me. For New Vegas, pickings got even slimmer. Some hotels offered a permanent room, and if you felt like going through a lot more loading screens, you could keep your prizes in the Lucky 38 presidential suite. Strangely, your best place to call home is at The Sink, a futuristic homebase brimming with goodies. Oblivion had a few homes that you could earn through quest completion as well, but I never really used them as once you joined a guild, that became my place to store stuff and rest comfortably.
You could always find places to…let’s call it…squat. Abandoned houses or shacks that seemed ready to be yours, but at an invisible risk. See, while they might have containers or places to store you treasured treasure, there was no was to know if that container was safe or would respawn its contents in a few day, thus erasing yours completely. Unless you used the Internet, of course, but that’s never fun. I’d rather sell off items than lose them to a coding abyss.
So, unfortunately, while the three houses in Hearthfire look pretty cool once totally complete–that’s Lakeview Manor, Windstad Manor, and Heljarchen Hall–they are not fun to build and require, at least for me, a ton of back and forth, as I’m not the sort of character who just carries around 100 iron ingots at a time. You spend a lot of time looking at menus or watching your character mine for quarried stone, which is as exciting as it sounds. And after all that, you really have little input over how your house turns out. Sure, you can place tables and chairs and barrels and weapon racks, but they go where the game designer decided they should go. All you are doing to spending your materials to place it there. Your house is not your vision. And that’s a big bummer. I was hoping to be able to have a trophy room that was filled with my kind of trophies, like a thousand scattered troll skulls, presented in my way. Instead, no. It is a model home, and nothing more. Again, you might as well purchase a house in one of the cities, which is a model house too, but cheaper and easier to fill in.
You can also hire a bard for your house, as well as make any follower a steward. The steward helps a lot in ordering building materials for you which go directly to the chest by the workbench, but only to that chest. If you need that clay for your other house, you best make room in your inventory. The steward can also bring in animals or furnish your rooms completely for a small fee. It’s okay, but came across as very robotic, especially when one is ordering piles of wood after piles of wood after piles of wood.
In short, I wasn’t expecting Minecraft, but definitely some more flexibility for creativity. I mean, I couldn’t even pick the place to build my house, ruining my dream of shacking up right next to the Thieves Guild.
But yeah. This is one Achievement definitely earned with stubbornness and patience, backed by a numbing soundtrack of clinking hammers and thumping hammers:
Master Architect (10G): Build three houses
Here’s hoping that player housing changes quite dramatically in Fallout 4 and whatever the next Elder Scrolls ends up being. Here’s hoping…