Brittany is an avid "The Sims" fan and has been playing and modding the games since the first "The Sims" title was released in 2000!
Sims 3 vs. Sims 4: How They Compare
Despite what the title of this article might suggest, I am a big fan of The Sims 4. I've played it since the day it was released, and there are some things I love about the game and miss when I play older versions. I love the art style, I love how smooth the game runs, I love the fact that Sims can multi-task, have emotions, and I really enjoy some of the DLC released thus far. However, I haven't been able to play the game as much as I played some of the older Sims versions, particularly The Sims 3. I find myself getting bored lately (I'd say since 2016, so two years after the game came out) and shut down the game after playing for a few minutes.
I started playing The Sims 3 again not long ago, and completely forgot how much better the game actually is in comparison to The Sims 4. It's a popular thing in The Sims fandom to go on about how The Sims 3 is better than The Sims 4, but there are some solid points as to why The Sims 3 actually is better than The Sims 4.
Before I get started, I will admit that I am comparing The Sims 3 with all its DLC to The Sims 4, which is still releasing DLC and is still in development. However, The Sims 3 was released from 2009-2013, while The Sims 4 was first released in 2014, and has had more years of development at this point, yet is still lacking some of the content The Sims 3 had when it ended.
The Sims 3 introduced the Create-A-Style tool and blew the minds of Sims fans all over the world. The tool allows players to customise pretty much everything in game, from hair colour, clothing patterns, fabrics used on furniture, and more. The color wheel allows players to pick from unique color swatches, while pre-made patterns can be applied to clothing or objects. You can even download custom patterns and swatches and add them to the game.
This level of customisation is currently only available in The Sims 4 via The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs expansion pack, where you can customise your cat or dog's coat with a color wheel, or stamp patterns. It's too bad the same variety can't be applied to all clothing, hair, and objects in the game, too.
2. Open World
The Sims 3 was the first, and so far only, game in the franchise which included an “open world.” The open world mechanic allows players to travel all throughout the world map, from residential to community lot, from home to home, without loading screens in between. It totally changed game play for Simmers who were used to waiting for loading screens between any sort of travel in The Sims 1 and Sims 2.
Sadly, Sims 4 removed the open world from its game. There are neighbourhoods in the game, which are “open” in the idea that your Sims can walk and jog around the neighbourhood, but if you go to the Sims' house even next door, you'll encounter a loading screen.
3. Wider Variety of Lot Sizes
World customisation is pretty up to you in The Sims 3. You can place lots of all sorts of sizes (and even use a mod to fully expand lot sizes) and place them pretty much anywhere you can find flat land on a map. Further, you can sculpt land and make it flat or suitable for a lot and plop it down. You can plop down a 64x64 lot and build a big cinema, or a 30x40 lot and build a family home. That level of customisation really gives the player the ability to make each world feel unique and their own.
Sims 4 has pre-designed maps with designated plots for lots. While you can demolish lots and place the lot of your choosing in its place, you're still only limited to so many lots per world. Which brings us to...
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4. More Lots per World, and You Can Place Them Wherever!
Again, in The Sims 3, because you can place lots wherever you'd like, you can have a world crowded with lots. I suppose your gameplay might suffer depending on the kind of computer you have, but hey, at least the option is there to have 170 lots in your world, if you so desire.
Most of the Sims 4 maps are very limited in lots. The biggest world to date has been San Myshuno (City Living Expansion Pack) with 30 lots, and the smallest has been Forgotten Hollow (from the Vampire Game Pack) with just 5 lots.
5. More Variety of Community Lots and Places for Sims to Go
Speaking of lots, The Sims 3 has way more variety of locations for your Sims to visit. From the beach or a comic book store, to a tattoo salon or the grocery store, there are more community lots and locations for your sims to go to throughout each world. Even though some were just “rabbit holes” (meaning your Sims disappeared into a building shell and then came back out after a few hours), at least it gave them a variety of things to do and experiences to have. Once all the expansion packs are factored in, there are over 80 different lot types in The Sims 3.
The Sims 4 is pretty limited in comparison. To date, there have only been 29 new lot types introduced in the game (with all DLC included). Some of the lots are also just variations of each other; the “National Park” lot type is basically just the same as a normal “Park” and the “Arts Centre” is just a “Museum.” Having only a few places to visit in the game tends to make gameplay feel boring and redundant after a while.
I remember how revolutionary it was when The Sims 2 introduced the ability to own and drive a car in the series. The Sims 3 really evolved this gameplay element, allowing players to buy from a large variety of cars, build and decorate a garage, take driving lessons, go for a “spin,” rebuild a busted vehicle and even have a “relationship” with your car. Driving is such a part of everyday life for most people, that it feels normal to have cars and driving in the game...and really odd to not.
It's not even the lack of driving in The Sims 4 that's odd; it's the fact that cars don't exist at all except for background deco. Sims don't have to carpool to work, they simply walk out to the pavement and then disappear. They appear back on the pavement when work is over. Same for any other sort of travel. This sort of “evaporate” travel really does break immersion and doesn't feel at all realistic.
7. The Game Feels More Immersive
Numbers 5 and 6 combined with other bits and pieces really lend to The Sims 3's overall experience, making it a more fully fleshed out, immersive game. If you want realistic gameplay, you can have it. There's a variety of places to go, things for your Sims to do, there's cars for them to drive (and even bicycles for children to ride), there's crime, after-school programs for kids, part-time jobs, different worlds to visit, and no loading screens beyond the initial one to start the game. There was also the wonderful game play mechanic called “story progression” which allowed all the Sims in the world to move out on their own, get married, have children, and basically live a life without you having to control them all.
Even if you're looking for a more wacky/fantasy world, there's still more to play with in The Sims 3; mermaids, witches, and wizards, zombies, vampires, werewolves, aliens, etc.
The Sims 4 still doesn't have things everyday things, like crime (no burglars) or law enforcement careers to go with them, no open world, no story progression without player-created mods, just a few supernatural creatures (just aliens and vampires).
It's almost unanimous: Anyone who has played both versions knows that The Sims 3 is simply a better game overall. The Sims 4 is still lacking a lot of content and doesn't compare yet in terms of available gameplay compared to The Sims 3. I've noticed over the years that every time I start playing, I get bored after a few hours; truly, the last time I felt really obsessed with The Sims 4 was when Dine Out was released (June 2016), and I had a lot of fun building new restaurants and visiting them. I suppose that's because the Dine Out restaurants were something “new” added to the franchise, and the level of customisation really drew me in. But most of The Sims 4 still feels very much “been there done that” and after a few hours of play, I start to feel like there isn't much else to do.
Even with new DLC added to the game, that feeling still lingers; as none of the new content adds to the things listed above, things that make The Sims 3 such an amazing and memorable gameplay experience.
What do you think? Is "The Sims 3" better than "The Sims 4?" Do you think "The Sims 4" is better? Or should we stop comparing the two altogether? Let me know in the poll or the comments section below!
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you think that the Sims 4 will improve in at least 3 years before the next Sims game?
Answer: It's really hard to say for sure, but I don't think it'll ever be better than Sims 3. Obviously they keep releasing new packs, which are always fun, but the fun seems to wear off after a few weeks and the game feels flat again. I think the core issue with The Sims 4 is the fact that it just lacks that immersion (#7), and more content won't fix that, necessarily. The basics that they've left out (story progression, for example) really make the game feel dull in comparison to the others in the series.
© 2019 Brittany Brown
andrew on August 11, 2020:
more like the sims 2 is better than 3 and 4
aisho on July 16, 2020:
Sara, just because you played this easy af gameplay of The Sims 4 it doesn't mean that The Sims 3's gameplay is complicated.
Stella on June 28, 2020:
My opinion is the sims 3 is so much better, a reason is that i feel like you could so so much more like go to the shops, drive cars, ride bikes. The world in sims 3 is so much more bigger and better. In the sims 4 you have to buy so many expansion packs just to make the game more enjoyable.
Marie on May 15, 2020:
The Sims 3 is so much better. I tried the Sims 4 and couldn’t get into and to this day I am playing 3. You can play it for hours. They need to make 5 like 3 .
Sara on April 14, 2020:
The Sims 3 is worse than the Sims 4 at the same time as well. You can't remove default households, and gameplay is very complicated.
Kat on March 24, 2020:
This is so true, I am playing sims since 1st grade and I am now 25yrs old and it is my favorite game. However I am disappointed with sims 4 I like sims 2 and 3 better , thing gets really get boring in sims 4 unlike the earlier installment were I would play the whole day and lost track of time.
Cait on February 10, 2020:
Sims 3 is way more enjoyable than Sims 4, imo. There are aspects of 4 that I enjoy, and I play it more often now for the simple reason that it runs better on my computer, but I doubt I’ll ever play it as much as 3.
Though my most favorite Sims game will always be Sims: Medieval
Gguy on December 17, 2019:
The only thing i like in the Sims 4 is the emotion system and the more detailed (at least in certain aspects) CAS. Everything else is just a joke. The Sims 3 will forever remain my favorite of the series. Hell, even the Sims 2 felt more alive than 4 ever will.
l on September 18, 2019:
I prefer the Sims 2 because the genetics is too much simplied in the Sims 3. For other things, Sims 3 is better than Sims 2, but I love the ability to get a genetically logics in the babies.
katie on August 16, 2019:
let me put it this way
i'm 23 now, i've played the sims 3 since i was 13
i played sims 4 for 10 minutes then uninstalled it and never played again.
that should speak volumes :)
Internetwriter62 from Marco Island, Florida on June 03, 2019:
I prefer the Sims 3 myself, I own both games.. I enjoy the creative options especially the create a style.. I also like all the things you listed in your hub! I do like the soundtrack for the Sims 4.. Excellent hub! You made some really good and truthful points!
TheDayDreamer on May 07, 2019:
I still prefer The SIMS 3 over 4. I have tried 4 and played it for 1 week. Gave it a shot with that amount of time. But still I'm missing somthing. Could it be the content? My SIMS 3 only has 4 expansions and I'm not more into stuffs. What I'm missing is my ability to see the "open world". Because I play multiple households at a time. Switching from one to another time to time. I think this is what SIMS 4 is missing.
Although SIMS 4 has a lot of bells and whistles under the hood, like better memory handling, graphics, resource management, etc -- I don't care. My goal on playing this a game is the "expperience". Knowing that in SIMS 4 once you're in your lot, other households "sleeps" on their own progression. I don't like that. It's non-realistic, non-reactive, non-immersiveness, etc, etc.
SIMS 3 has its own hickups, but it has the appeal and feature I need and 'want'. With the emergence of newer technologies, cores and threads, I think EA coud've just released a better version of SIMS 3 supporting these kind of new processing prowess. Would like to see one sooner..