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6 Reasons Why "The Sims 4" Was a Major Disappointment

The author is obsessed with "The Sims" and loves collecting expansion packs and playing for hours on end.

Months of Waiting for The Sims 4

My Sims obsession began with the first game and slowly yet consistently grew with each new installment. I gleefully collected expansion packs and created big neighborhoods with complicated social hierarchies that really only made sense to me. I'm afraid to even think about how many hours, days, and weeks I've poured into my Sims. Each new game seemed to get better and better, and I had the same expectations for The Sims 4.

I watched the official trailers and interviews with some of the programmers, downloaded the Create-A-Sim demo, and pre-ordered the deluxe edition in anticipation. I sank about $70 into the game and all the special add-ons. Sure, that's more than I make in a day at my current job, but The Sims has always been my favorite game, and there are so many ways to play.

I was under the impression that it was actually a very cost-effective investment. However, as I am writing this, I've probably only put four or five hours into the game. Perhaps the excitement is partially to blame, but I found the game fairly tedious and missing most of the features that had made the previous games so enjoyable.

A Very Thorough Review on GameSpot

Critics and Players Gave the Game Lackluster Reviews at Best

Because the game was not released to critics before the launch, there were no reviews available at the time that I bought the game. This was actually a pretty smart move on EA's part, as the game did not receive much praise from the critics. In my research, most of the critic reviews I found were mixed and gave the game a mediocre score on average. However, the critics were much gentler than the players, as the players just tore the game apart, such as giving the game a score of zero and adding comments like, "This game was a total waste of money, and I regret buying it." It's impossible to be more direct than that.

As I'm not super into video games, nor am I familiar with how they are created and what makes them appealing on a higher level, I am inclined to put more stock in what the general players have to say. While they might not focus on such aspects as the animation or the details of the gameplay, the Average Joe will certainly answer the question, "Is this game fun?" While video games can certainly be praised for their artistic value or potential for cultural impact, I am most concerned with whether or not I will be entertained as I play the game. Unfortunately, it appears as if most players are in agreement: The Sims 4 is really not that much fun to play, and it's certainly not $70 worth of fun. My lack of enjoyment stemmed from what I felt were six discrete shortcomings.

1. The Functionality of Emotions Is Ridiculous

One of the selling points of The Sims 4 is that Sims now have emotional states. How you control your Sims influences their emotions, and, consequently, their emotions govern the actions that are available to you. For instance, if a Sim is depressed, he or she might be unable to work on his or her comedy routine until in a better mood. Sounds pretty lifelike, right?

Wrong. While the idea itself is pretty cool, the Sims swing back and forth from totally opposite moods in what is an astoundingly short amount of time. I mean, emotionally sensitive people certainly exist in real life, but I found it a bit silly that my Sim could become incredibly happy after receiving a hug from a friend and then become close to suicidal five minutes later when she burnt her mac and cheese. It's not particularly realistic, and it's more exhausting than fun to have to prevent your Sims from spiraling into an incoherent rage because the toilet gets clogged.

Emotions as a whole, despite what the promos stated, wasn't an aspect that was unique to The Sims 4. In The Sims 3, Sims would get little moodlets based on both major and minor events that happened, and the amount of influence that these moodlets had was correlated with essentially how big of a deal the event was. So, if a Sim had a baby, he or she would receive a 60-point mood boost for three days. If a Sim were insulted by another Sim, he or she would have a 10-point mood decrease for a few hours. These numbers themselves are arbitrary, but you get the point. The way that emotions worked in The Sims 3 was much more true to life, more fun, and easier to manage.

While "The Sims 3" marketing focused on showing all the life stages available in the game, ads for "The Sims 4" highlighted young adult Sims almost exclusively.

While "The Sims 3" marketing focused on showing all the life stages available in the game, ads for "The Sims 4" highlighted young adult Sims almost exclusively.

2. No Open World

EA boasted that The Sims 4 would run perfectly fine on mid-range CPUs. What they didn't mention was that they would accomplish that by eliminating the open world that made The Sims 3 so exciting. Sure, the loading screens come and go pretty quickly, but it definitely disrupts the feel of the game. Visiting your neighbor's house used to be a seamless process, but it's now broken up with loading screens. This also means that you can't control several Sims at the same time if they are not on the same lot.

And while Sims from different neighborhoods can visit and interact with one another, the worlds are incredibly small. There are fewer public venues to visit, and exploring is near impossible. Although the game might run more smoothly and crash less often, the lack of an open world greatly limits how much you can control and customize your Sims' neighborhoods.

A More Favorable Review From IGN

  • The Sims 4 Review - IGN
    Kallie Plagge provides a comprehensive review of the game that praises its few highlights while still mentioning the shortcomings.

3. Fewer Traits

In The Sims 3, each adult Sim would have five available slots for character traits. This was a huge stride in making Sims as unique and customizable as possible. However, in the newest installment of the franchise, each adult Sim gets three selected traits and a "bonus" trait that comes with your Sim's particular aspiration. Although the new pull and drag tool in Create-A-Sim was one of the big selling points of the game, the player cannot make the Sims' personalities as dynamic, which, to me, is the most interesting aspect of my Sims. I don't particularly care if I can make my Sim have particular physical proportions; rather, I want my Sims to interact with their world in a manner that fits whatever personality I decide to give them.

4. Fewer Features Than Previous Games

The Sims 4 received a lot of flack from fans when it became obvious that several features that were present in previous installments were nowhere to be found in the new game. At its launch, the game was missing cars, swimming pools, ghosts, and several career paths, prompting players to voice their concern about EA's intent. Would these features become available for download later for a fee? As if $70 wasn't enough for such a mediocre game. As of now, EA has made many of those missing features available free of charge.

The biggest oversight, in my opinion, is neglecting to add the toddler life stage, a feature that first made its appearance in The Sims 2. In the new game, the Sims grow right from little babies to school-age children with no steps in between. Now, the toddler life stage was always my least favorite because it always seemed the most stressful. The child still had to receive constant care, and there was pressure to get him or her to develop rudimentary skills and to learn to walk, talk, and use the potty so he or she could grow into a well-rounded, successful Sim.

That being said, it was always super satisfying to me when my toddlers grew into children with the foundations of several skills. Part of what made the previous games so enjoyable was the small challenges. By taking out the toddler life stage, the game is less challenging and, therefore, less rewarding.

The build tool is supposedly more intuitive than it has been in previous Sims games.

The build tool is supposedly more intuitive than it has been in previous Sims games.

5. The Benefits Were Blown Out of Proportion in the Advertisements

The advertisements for The Sims 4 stated that the Sims are now smarter than ever. Along with the emotions feature, one of the selling points was that the Sims could now multitask. I mean, sure, it's handy to be able to eat a sandwich and watch TV while chatting with your significant other, but you don't really save that much time, and it is more difficult to manage. It's a nice addition, but it was given way too much attention and hype. Having the ability to make Mortimer Goth check his email on his phone as he takes his morning poop isn't really what I would call an innovative new feature.

Bella Goth has made an appearance in every Sims game to date, and the animation has changed greatly since the first game.

Bella Goth has made an appearance in every Sims game to date, and the animation has changed greatly since the first game.

The Sims 4 certainly gets a poor review from me

6. It's Too Whimsical and Cartoon-Like

This isn't really that big of a complaint, as it's more of a personal preference. While I like the goofy touches of the previous games, The Sims 4 took it a bit too far. While The Sims 3 had animation that looked more true-to-life as far as physical features and object detail, all the Sims in the new installment are very cartoon-like. The animation is colorful and pretty, but I hate that the game feels like it's geared specifically towards younger folks, as it's a game that can and should be appealing to a wide age demographic.

Also, with every new emotion or action, it seems there's a cute little sound effect that goes along with it. Listening to all the beeps and whistles and cheeky melodies gets tiring after a while, especially if I'm doing my best to get lost in the game. If I'm trying to focus on getting Betty to hone her computer programming skills, I don't need to be called away with a sound effect when her husband has a conniption fit over the poor reception on the TV.

Better Luck Next Time, EA Games

If you haven't already gone out and purchased The Sims 4, save yourself the disappointment, and spend your hard-earned money on something with the potential to make you happy. Stick with The Sims 3, and you'll have a much more satisfying video game experience. While it will probably be close to a decade before EA releases another Sims game, I can't say I feel any sort of excitement for it, and I'll never make the same mistake again of buying the game before reading the reviews.


Ashley on May 10, 2020:

No story mode amongst other things, massive disappointment

LadySesshy on December 24, 2019:

I'm angry and upset they removed a lot of stuff that made The Sims fun.

1: The burgler alarm

2: No home phone, just a cell phone, though some still like the home phone

3: No toaster oven

4: Worst one, no custom content, you can no longer download and put things into the game made by other fans

Makes me want to play the 3rd game instead.

ZP on December 16, 2019:

Yes, I 100% agree with you on everything you mentioned. Honestly, there's so many more features in The Sims 4 that made it a huge let down.

grace on June 05, 2019:

agree, i bought a bunch of the expansions and stuffs packs in hope that it will make it better sadly alot of them made it so much worse. the items are so dang limited yet cost so dam much pretty sure i paid $20 and got like 20 items in a stuffs pack half of which i found so dang pointless and useless. if i could return them all and get my money back i would.

Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on March 12, 2018:

I loved the Sims games, since I played Bustin' Out on the PlayStation 1. I downloaded a free trial of the Sims 4 and never bought it because it looked naff. So glad I didn't! I enjoyed this review a lot and I loved your little references (Mortimor Goth checking his email on the toilet, hahaha). Your prose is wonderful, something that is often lacking on HubPages. Love it.

pari on August 15, 2017:

Hello, why are some of the features of Sims 4 different? Please advise

Paulkmf on May 02, 2017:

Played the Sims 2 for a long time and recently thought to upgrade. Got tired of shooting people (vitual of course) and wanted to play god again.

Oh look at this, they have Sims 4 already. Oh look at this, it sucks. Oh look at this, you have to allow Origin to big brother your game.

Well, look at this while I buy Sims 3 and all the expansion and stuff packs on Ebay for 5 bucks each and download all the awesome CC until 3 in the morning. Oh look at this while I have fun playing your last instalment of the game... while you get none of my money.

EA, go out of business already and turn this franchise over to someone who gives a damn.

Dogwolf12 on April 05, 2017:

Check the patch. They have added toddlers which are great. But yes, I prefer sims 3.

A Top Fan on December 12, 2016:

First of all, it's her opinion and she's entitled to it. It' s hillarious how people love to complain about other people's complaints because they wasted their own time reading what they probably already knew they would disagree with from the beginning....

Anyways I agree to everyting but the absence of toddlers but I'm not butthurt over her statement. I could care less about the graphics too if they were just going to backtrack on everything else. I've added so many mods to improve the lack of actual simulation of the game and it still doesn't help. My biggest pet peeve as how teens don't even seem like teens anymore. They removed them growing ache, the height which I had to add a height mod to fix, and the interactions between the parents and kids are lacking so much realism. I would go back to sims 3 myself but I happen to enjoy participating with the sims 4 community.

Also the sims 4 updates are annoying. The only thing they are working hard on is weeding out finding those playing unpurchased games. Don't let the annoying constant updates fool you. People are actually working hard on mods for free to fix more of EA's mistakes than they have this entire last franchise and the updates are constantly wrecking the hours they put into those mods out of the kindness of their heart.

Selina on November 05, 2016:

This game is sooo layers to sad

A Loving Fan on November 04, 2016:

Stop the hate! Gods! Look at the hate TS3 got, and CALM THE FREAK DOWN.

Disappointed Sims Fan on September 20, 2016:

This. This, this, this. You nailed my frustrations. I'm especially disappointed in the lack of an open world. Every so often I reopen my Sims 4 game and try to give it another chance - but I always end up quitting right after I make a new sim and settle him/her in a new home. At that point, the game stops being fun. It's no longer a life simulation game, it's a dull cartoon that you poke and prod, hoping you cause something interesting to happen (but it doesn't, because there's no interesting AI in there).

The world is especially claustrophobic. I was a bit shocked when I first opened the game and saw something like 5 empty lots and a few scattered town lots (with little inside them except seats, paintings, and dull NPCs who just make you drinks when you ask them to).

It takes so much time and effort to send my sim to different lots - and then when you get to a town lot there's very little to do. So now I just end up keeping my sim on his/her home lot and fiddling with the house. Of course, I can only redecorate so many times and work on skill levels before I'm bored again. Sims Get To Work added a new dynamic and kept me interested for a few hours, but after I maxed out all three professions, I was back to square one - my sim was stuck at home, on a claustrophobic little lot, in a tiny little neighbourhood (whose NPCs have limited cartoon-like personality traits), just twiddling his/her thumbs.

I loved Sims 3 - it was a mind-blowing expanded sims universe, and each new expansion pack game me something I hadn't thought of but soon realised I desperately wanted (a way to build fame and celebrity status? yes please! seasons and weather? amazing! life as a superstar rockstar? so cool! a homey world full of horses and farms? beautiful. a ticket into the future? beam me up, scotty!).

In Sims 4, most the expansions just give me more strange social features that fizzle quickly. Like clubs? Okay... but really you just made me pay £30 so that my game now programs the same 5 sims to do the same boring 3 things over and over. Outdoor retreat? You just gave me 5 more claustrophobic spaces, except I guess now my sim can sit on logs near some trees, which costs my sim (and me) A TON of money.

Honestly, I don't know how EA/Maxis went from the Sims 3 to the Sims 4. Did the programmers/designers who worked on Sims 3 leave the company or something?

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on September 19, 2016:

I've been a huge fan of The Sims for years. I was captivated by the first Sims and blown away by Sims 2. I became a bit disillusioned by Sims 3 and I flat out refuse to get Sims 4. It seems to have lost its heart and soul.

I agree about the toddler stage being stressful. Getting them toilet-trained, teaching them to walk and talk before their birthday can be hectic (especially if the Sim is a single parent) but satisfying. Just like real life. How I wish I could play Sims 2 again. It is, by far, my favourite.

Imaan on July 27, 2016:

I agree with a lot of this. If you don't want to read an article telling you not to buy something, don't read it. Heck, don't even search for it! You're the one that got yourself to this page, read it all, and then commented - all on something you don't like. That being said, I feel as if the toddler stage wasn't too missed, although it was satisfying teaching them life skills to shape their personality. I actually downloaded this game for free, so glad I didn't spend 40 pounds on it as it got tiresome very quickly.

anonymous on July 19, 2016:

Don't complain about it. It's a great game and EA has put so much effort into updating it to have even better features every once in a while. Instead of making a list and complaining about why people should not buy the game since you think The Sims 3 is better, don't complain about one game? Just write why people should buy The Sims 3 instead of telling people not to buy a game since you dislike the graphics and other petty things such as multitasking. Have a nice day.

anonymus on December 04, 2015:

Why, the style of sims 4 is much more realistic and not a bit cartoon like. Cant see why you complain about the style.

sims4fan on November 25, 2015:

I love this game! This is not true it is amazing you need to get this game and it's only 24.99 and the graphics are amazing an also multitasking obviously saves time! Please get this game!

Meine on June 16, 2015:

I too really wish I hadn't bought The Sims 4 now...feels like a massive waste of money because I got tired of the game after only 5 hours.

Sarah Forester from Australia on June 13, 2015:

Definitely captures my issues with The Sims 4!

Amanda from Michigan, United States on April 02, 2015:

I, too, have had a steady obsession with The Sims since the original game. Of course I was really looking forward to Sims 4! Especially the idea that it would loud faster, smoother, and with less crashing - which was a big concern for me.

The initial rumors sounded excellent. Then the facts started coming in closer to release date. You've already covered them here, but I agree with each and every one of your points. I think "no toddlers" was my biggest deal breaker. Well, maybe the "no open worlds" bit. But I just kept thinking, "You're a life-SIMulator, SIMS! How can you take away a life stage?" I got a lot of condescending comments tossed my way in forums by people who accused those of us upset about the toddler issue of just wanting "cute babies" and "who cares about boring old toddlers anyway?" However, like you said: they were a challenge. If a game is without work, there is no satisfaction.

Anyway, fantastic Hub! (Oh, I never did end up buying the game.)

Florence on January 23, 2015:

You've really captured all the eseatnisls in this subject area, haven't you?