Still, I can't entirely hate Skyrim. Despite its deliberate simplicity and redundancy, that insane pile of money thrown into its development yielded a great many serene, captivating hours wandering the snowy slopes of here and there, picking berries and catching fireflies. Paradoxically, a much better designed game recently drove me to fire up my old Argonian character in Skyrim. For all I enjoyed Pillars of Eternity, it did suffer from some glaring half-implemented features cut short during development and though the spell / ability system's shortcomings had a more negative impact on actual gameplay, I can't help but shed a tear for Caed Nua, PoE's woefully lackluster attempt at a home base. You build one-click simplistic upgrades which serve no purpose and offer little to no eye-candy either: dining rooms in which you never dine, libraries which hold no books, defensive walls awaiting raids which never arrive. Caed Nua never feels like home.
(The Endless Paths of Od Nua on the other hand were freaking brilliant but that's a topic for another day.)
So PoE inadvertently made me fire up Skyrim again, not for the game itself but for its Hearthfire expansion. Welcome home.
dank lair into the ground and filled it with zombies and wild beasts if I'd had the choice, but the most you can get out of Skyrim's options seems to be generic Sims-ish homeyness. Well, okay, my tendencies nonetheless assert themselves - I refuse to put in any lighting in my basement aside from the pale red glow from my forge, though unfortunately I've yet to find a way to fill it with cadavers.
The best part is that you actually build the damn place. You buy a plot of land and buy lumber and have it shipped there and dig for clay and collect all sorts of resources like glass and straw to build each upgrade. Simpleminded and linear it may be, like the rest of Skyrim, but the Hearthfire expansion makes you work for it and that's very important to build a player's sense of attachment to one's base of operations. Even more important, it's functional.
ergotism never made it into the alchemical system) and as the stuff grows it attracts butterflies and bees as well. Whoever masterminded the Hearthfire expansion had an excellent mind for detail and went just one step further with every facet of the place. If you build a kitchen it comes with a functional oven for cooking. You decorate the walls with trophies from the battlefield. Your family sits down for breakfast at the big table in the central room. Your servants defend your home from attacks by wild creatures. Last but not least, these homes are... let's say "situated" - no mere "third house on the left" they occupy distinctive locations, carefully landscaped in keeping with the Elder Scrolls series' brilliant mapmaking in general.
Don't underestimate the importance of making the player work for and be rewarded by a base of operations. Hearthfire by itself has more than doubled my Skyrim play-time.