Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
The Sims 4 is a game of emotion and opportunity, fun and drama, life and death. It is, at its most existential level, playing god for a bunch of digital characters—and that includes creating them in the first place. Every game of The Sims 4 has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is, invariably, character creation.
This article will help guide you through character creation in The Sims 4. Most elements in this step are aesthetic in nature, though others will fundamentally alter how your sim acts, and reacts, once he or she steps into their house for the first time.
Character Creation Steps in The Sims 4
- Walking Style and Voice
The obvious first is giving your sim a name, though you don’t need to do this immediately if you decide to focus on looks and personality first. You can change your sim’s name in the top-left corner of the screen, and, if you’re indecisive or just don’t want to think of a name, you can click on the dice icons beside the two name boxes to randomize your choices.
What you choose as a first name ultimately does not matter. Your second name, however, does matter, as it determines your relationship with other characters of the same last name. We’ll come back to this once it’s time to create a second character.
Male or female? Your sim’s gender will have some small effect on how they’re perceived in-game, as well as the relationships they can form, but for the most part gender plays an aesthetic role: Guys can wear one set of clothes, girls can wear another. You can change your sim’s gender in the top-left menu.
How old should your sim be? Sims can age in The Sims 4 (assuming you allow them to age—you can change this under the menu settings), and each age brings with it different options. There are five starting ages you can choose from—child, teen, young adult, adult, and elder—and your sim will move from one stage to the next as they play through the game. Note that children and teens need to be placed with at least one adult sim when put into a lot for the first time.
4. Walking Style and Voice
You can change your sim’s walking style and the tone of their voice via the top-left menu. Neither of these selections have any impact on game play, though they give your sim some additional character.
Ahhh, now it gets finicky. You can mess with virtually every aspect of your sim’s appearance in order to specialize them. The Sims 4 has a robust enough character creation system that it’s not too difficult to create a sim to your exact specifications. Note that you can change the perspective of your sim by clicking on the space around the sim and dragging to the right or the left. You can also do this by clicking the arrows at the sim’s feet. Use your mouse’s track wheel to zoom in on the sim for minute touches.
Changing your sim’s physical appearance is quite easy in this version of The Sims. Simply position your cursor over the body part you wish to change, left click, and drag. The body part you’ve selected will change shape accordingly, growing or shrinking. A grid will appear on the sim when you hover over a particular body part, so you’ll always know which body part you’ve selected.
Note that changing your sim’s perspective can sometimes change how a body part will transform when dragged; play with the stomach from the front and from the side for a good example of these changes in action. Clicking on a body part will also provide you with a pair of sliders, positioned to the left of the sim, which will grow or shrink that particular body part.
Looking for even finer detail? Click on the head. The character creator will zoom in on your sim, as well as open Detail Edit Mode on the left side of the sim’s head. Click this and you can mess with your sim’s facial features, such as widening / narrowing the eyes, adjusting the bridge of the nose, or thickening the lips. You can also change your sim’s presets via a menu on the right when you zoom in on the head.
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Click on the head and you’ll open a series of menus on the right side of the sim. From here you can change the sim’s skin colour, add additional facial details such as freckles or moles, and change their hair. Each hair style has a range of different colours available, some of them two-tone. (But no, as of now you can’t customize the second tone. Sigh.) You may randomize your skin and hair tones by clicking on the dice icons in the menu.
Click on any part of the body and a menu will come up on the sim’s right. From here you can change the sim’s clothing choices. These options include hats, make up, accessories, full body outfits, tops, bottoms, shoes, and underwear. There are also ‘styled’ looks which are basically pre-made clothing selections. If you want to jump right into the sims, a styled look will help you do it in, you know, style.
Clothing colours can be changed via the colour bars that appear at the bottom of their menu pictures. As ever, you can randomize your clothing options, one at a time or all at once, by clicking on the dice icons.
Outfits for All Situations
Click on one of your sim’s pieces of clothing, then look at the top of the pop-out menu on the right. There are five icons up here:
- The first, Everyday, dictates what your sim will look like when walking around normally. You’ll usually see your sim in this outfit.
- The second, Formal, dictates what your sim will look like when going to work or attending a formal function. You won’t see this one too often.
- The third, Athletic, dictates what your sim looks like when they’re working out. Send your sim out jogging and they’ll don their Athletic gear.
- The fourth, Sleep, dictates what your sim looks like when they go to bed. Your sim will continue wearing their PJs for a while after they get up.
- The fifth, Party, dictates what your sim will wear when throwing, or attending, a party. Antisocial sims may never get a chance (nor want a chance) to wear their Party outfit.
Now for the personality stuff. On the left side of the screen you’ll see five hexagons, arrayed in a rough row. The first two hexagons from the left are for your sim’s Aspiration. Aspirations determine what a sim wants out of life. A sim with the Food Aspiration, for example, will ultimately want to become—and receive the most bonuses for pursuing—a career in food preparation, whereas a sim with the Love Aspiration wants a successful love life. Each Aspiration has its own subsets, so the Food aspirant may want to be a Master Chef or a Master Mixologist. How you should develop your sim in-game is determined largely by their Aspirations.
Each Aspiration comes paired with a bonus Trait which will bolster their actions in regards to their Aspiration. A sim with the Athletic Aspiration has High Metabolism, for example, and will have an easier time getting—and remaining—physically fit compared to sims without this Trait. More on Traits in a moment.
Aspirations ultimately dictate your sim’s overall happiness. You’ll have more opportunities to appease a sim by pursuing their Aspiration than by sending them off on a completely different track. Choose your Aspirations carefully.
The other three hexagons are dedicated to your sim’s Traits. Traits determine your sim’s personality, and how they’ll act when they’re controlling their own actions. Traits can also determine what activities the sim finds pleasing . . . and which activities their find utterly repellant. Choosing activities that align with your sim’s Traits will make them happier; trying to force a sim to do things they don’t like will upset the sim. You get to choose three Traits in addition to the bonus Trait given when choosing an Aspiration.
Traits come in four different categories:
- Emotional Traits determine your sim’s mood swings. An Active sim will want to get out and play sports or jog often; a Romantic sim likes to schmooze it up; Creative sims like to create new things. Some Emotional Traits conflict with one another, so your sim can’t be both Cheerful and Gloomy.
- Hobby Traits determine which activities your sim likes the most. Bookworms like to read; Music Lovers will want an instrument. You’ll usually have to spend a bit of money to indulge sims with a Hobby.
- Lifestyle Traits determine how your sim lives, and are another branch of their personality. Lazy sims like to sit around and do nothing, while Materialistic sims want to own a lot of fancy stuff. Lifestyle Traits can conflict with one another, so your sim can’t be both Ambitious and Lazy.
- Social Traits determine your sim’s attitudes towards others. Family-Oriented sims want children; Hates Children sims—well, the name says it all. The more Social a sim is, the more they want to be around other sims. Again, Social Traits can conflict with one another; your sim can’t be an Outgoing Loner.
Assuming you want an easier time, you’ll want to choose Traits that align with your sim’s Aspiration. Otherwise you may have a difficult time aligning your sim’s ultimate goals with their personality. For example, a sim with the Athletic Aspiration would do well with the Loves Outdoors Trait, but their exercising would suffer if they were also Lazy. (Of course, if you want a challenge . . . )
As soon as you create a single sim, you can place them into a Household. Households are just what they sound like, and every sim in a Household lives in the same house. You can start out with one sim if you like, or, if you want, you can create one or more additional sims to live with them. You can create additional sims by clicking the + icon at the bottom-left corner of the screen. You have two options upon doing so:
- Add New Sim. You create an entirely new sim, using the same process as with your first sim. The only addition is the Edit Relationships tab, which appears next to the slider for determining your sim’s voice. Here you can choose if your sims are simply Roommates, or if they have a closer familial bond from the start. Note that Roommates can ultimately form into romantic partners, if you really want, though you’ll have to work at it. (That’s half the fun, really.) And, yes, you can have same-sex relationships in The Sims 4. Huzzah!
- Play With Genetics. You create a new sim based on one or more existing sims’ physical attributes. The resulting sim is an amalgam of their existing templates. Using Genetics you can create children, siblings, or even parents for your existing sims. Character generation continues as normal once you’ve created a sim through Genetics.
Choosing a House
That’s that! You now have one or more sims, loaded with personality and ready to step into the world. Click the checkmark in the bottom-right corner of the screen and you’ll be taken to the Moving screen. Here you can place your sim in an existing house in one of two towns (as of now, anyway), or buy an empty lot and build your own house. You have $20,000 to get started, or a bit more with multiple sims, so you won’t be able to afford a whole lot from the start . . . but that’s where the rest of the game comes in.