Is "The Sims 4" Really Worth Buying?
The Sims 4 was released in September 2014, and many loyal fans have already purchased the game and been playing non-stop ever since. However, The Sims 4 created a lot of dissension in the fandom, particularly amongst fans whom were upset at the game's lack of features. I've been a fan of the Sims franchise since the very first Sims game was released in 2000, so naturally, I picked up the new game regardless of the reviews and rumours.
Many people are on the fence about spending their hard-earned simeleons on the new instalment, so here's a run down of The Sims 4: what's new, what's missing, and if the game is even worth buying at all.
What's New: Emotions
The developers for The Sims 4 promised a LOT of new features prior to the game's release, and they definitely delivered.
The biggest thing that's new to the game is Emotions. While the game's objective was always to make your Sim happy (unless you're one of those people who just like to torture their Sims...), now the game allows for your Sim to feel a variety of emotions; everything from happy, sad, uncomfortable, embarrassed or angry. In all, there are 15 emotional states that your sim can feel.
Emotions are triggered by events, interactions, and even decor. Emotions dictate how your Sim reacts to the world around them, and their whims (more on that in a second) change reflecting on how they feel at the time. For example, if your Sim is feeling sad, they might have a whim to "Call the sadness hotline" or "Cry it out" under their bed. If you fufill this whim, their emotional state might change. It's definitely fun to see how the emotions play out and to see what mood your Sim might be in from moment to moment.
Whims and Satisfaction Points
Speaking of whims- they're technically new to the game, too. The Sims 3 had "wishes" and the Sims 2 had "wants/fears", but the Sims 4 has "whims." Whims are little bubbles that appear over your Sim's head in the UI, and they represent things your Sim wants to either obtain or achieve.
Whims are a bit different from the wants in Sims 3; there are only three whims at a time, you can only "promise" or save one whim at a time, and the whim on the far left constantly fluctuates depending on your Sim's mood at the time. Much like Sims 3, however, when you successfully achieve your Sim's whim, you're rewarded with Satisfaction Points.
Satisfaction Points are The Sims 4's new version of Reward Points (introduced in The Sims 2). These points are only accrued upon fulfilling one of your Sim's whims, or upon completion of your Sim's Aspirations (more that later, too). There's a Satisfaction Point menu in the game (much like in the Sims 3), which allows for players to redeem their points for objects, upgrades, or special traits.
Aspirations also make a return from The Sims 3, though this time, they are fine-tuned and much more in-depth. Lifetime Aspirations are done in 4 stages, with each stage having several small goals before completion. For example, a Sim with the "Master Chef" Aspiration must, in step one, cook 5 excellent meals, and make 5 large orders of grilled cheese. As the Aspiration levels get higher, so do the goals; level 4 requires the Sim to cook 20 excellent large meals, reach level 6 gourmet cooking skill, and cook 5 gourmet dishes at a single event.
Aspirations can also be changed, unlike in The Sims 3, and once your Sim completes their Aspiration, they can choose another! The reward of completing an Aspiration is a new trait (typically related to said Aspiration), though Sims also receive Satisfaction Points while completing goals for their Aspiration.
Children also have Aspirations, now. Theirs are modified a bit from the adult ones, as there are only three stages, and only three Aspirations to choose from. However, for completing a child Aspiration, your Sim will earn a special trait that will allow them to develop skills related to the Aspiration faster as an adult.
Two other big components of The Sims 4 is the new Create-A-Sim tool, and the revamped Build Mode. As seen in the Create-A-Sim demo game, making a Sim is now easier and more customizable than ever. You simply drag and pull the body parts to make a Sim of your liking. We can finally have Sims with wide hips and small tummies, or Sims with broad shoulders and a slouch. You can customize everything from your Sim's eyes to their hips, butt, calves, feet and arms.
Building a home is easier than ever with the new build tools in Build Mode. Similar to the blueprint feature from The Sims 3, The Sims 4 allows users to choose from pre-made rooms which can be placed together to build a house. There's also the ability to drag walls and shape rooms to your exact liking. Roof building is easier than ever, too.
For the first time ever, Sims can easily travel between worlds. The Sims 4 comes with two new worlds- Oasis Springs and Willow Creek. Your Sim can live in either world, but it's amazingly easy to move to the other world, or even just go for a visit. Living in Willow Creek, but want to go to the bar in Oasis Springs? Easy! Just open map view and click on the other world. Fans are already hoping future expansion packs will come with more worlds to add to the base game.
The Sims 4 also brings back the ability to change households during the same save game- a feature that was last seen in The Sims 2, and sorely missed in The Sims 3. You can theoretically play every single household in each town- it's easy to switch back and forth, and you can even turn off aging so your Sims don't die while you're playing with other homes.
There are TONS of new features in The Sims 4; everything from new jobs to small in-game surprises have been tweaked and added. Multitasking is included- as promised- and though it's a small feature, it's such a necessary one that I don't know why it wasn't included in previous games. Because yes, my Sim should have ALWAYS been able to read on the toilet, or talk while cooking, or chat with five different Sims at the bar at once.
I don't want to give all the new features away, and couldn't possibly cover them all, anyway. Part of the fun of the Sims games has always been just playing and seeing what happens next.
Note: this was written prior to the Sims 4 game patches being released. Since I first wrote this article in October 2014, there have been various things added- please scroll down to see a full list of new features.
Of course, most fans are wondering what The Sims 4 doesn't have that the prior games did. There was a lot of controversy before the game was released, when fans learned that the Sims 4 would not include toddlers and pools. The developers have announced that pools will actually be released in a free patch next month, but there's still no word on the toddlers.
Though the new neighborhoods are great, The Sims 4 doesn't have an open world like The Sims 3 did. If you want to travel between your Sim's house to a community lot, you'll encounter a loading screen. Want to travel to the park? There's a loading screen. Heck, you want to visit your next door neighbor? There's even a loading screen for that.
The lack of an open world is obviously a bit disappointing, especially after being able to travel to so many areas in The Sims 3 without the game having to load anything.
The Sims 3 (base game) VS. The Sims 4
The Sims 3
The Sims 4
Ability To Switch Households
Ability To Travel Between Worlds
No, not included in base game
Yes- two worlds
Variety Of Life-Stages
Yes, except toddler
Yes, but limited
Ability To Install User-Created Content
Yes, can either be found online or in the new in-game Gallery
Yes, though slightly limited
Yes, and have been expanded
Variety Of Skills For Sims To Learn
Yes, and several new ones have been included
No, but will be released for free via game patch
Create-A-Style, which was introduced in The Sims 3, is also missing. There's no longer the option for full customization as there was before. Instead of being able to pick from the colour wheel, or from a variety of patterns and fabrics, you can now only choose from a few pre-selected colour swatches/patterns for clothes and objects. Most of the clothing and objects have 3-7 recolour options (though some of the clothes have 10+ recolour options), but there's no longer the ability to truly customize things with as many options as there were before. There's also no longer the option to change hair colours via the colour wheel; you may only choose from a handful of "natural" colours like blonde, brown, black, grey, etc. Goodbye, pink hair with lime green highlights.
Lots of little things are missing, as well. There are no more "normal" careers, like Medical, Law Enforcement, Business, Teaching, etc. There's no story progression, so Sims in your neighborhood don't get married, have kids, get new jobs, etc. without your input (though this could be a good thing for a user who likes to switch back and forth between households). There's no "rabbit hole" lots, like schools or grocery stores- in fact, there are no stores, movie theaters, or even restuarants. There are no more driveable cars (though you will see cars driving down the road as a decoration of sorts). Oddly enough, The Sims 4 doesn't even have dishwashers- so yep, you have to watch your Sim spend 20 in-game minutes washing each and every plate they dirty. Oh joy!
Have You Purchased The Sims 4 Already?
So, Is The Sims 4 Worth Buying?
I think most people who haven't bought the game already are wondering if The Sims 4 is worth buying in comparison to The Sims 3. Hopefully if you're on the fence, you'll have a better idea after reading about the new features and missing ones.
The Sims 4 is a fun and enjoyable game, though of course, it's not as good as The Sims 3. The base games are never as good as the entire series before them, and it's mainly due to the fact that you've just played a game with 12+ expansion and stuff packs, and then moved on to a boring, "vanilla" base game. The Sims 4 is no exception, even will all the new shiny bells and whistles.
Are emotions cool? Heck yes! And so are the worlds and the new aspirations. But I also want the University expansion pack, I want Seasons, and I want a vacation world ala World Adventures. Base games are always a bit boring and I remember feeling exactly the same way when The Sims 3 came out, in comparison to The Sims 2 and all its expansion packs.
One thing The Sims 4 has going for it is that it's infinitely easier to run without crashing. Even the load screens aren't bad, because they don't take very long to load. The developers promised to make the game easy to run on low-end laptops, and they delivered.
Where The Sims 3 took at least 15 minutes to load (and heck, even the base game took 5), The Sims 4 loads in two. The in-game load screens never take more than a minute or two to load, either. Graphics look great no matter how low you run them. I have a budget laptop and am still able to run the game flawlessly, with an 8-Sim household, two story, 9 bedroom home filled with objects, and a Mods folder chock full of CC (custom content). This simply wouldn't have been possible in The Sims 3; if my game ever actually loaded, it definitely would've crashed by the time I reached my massive home.
As far as the missing features go, well, time will tell what we get and what will be gone forever. Maxis and EA have been pretty silent about what to expect in the future, but there at least seems to be the promise of free game updates in the form of patches, and I'm sure there will be plenty of fun expansion packs that will flesh out the game even more.
All in all, The Sims 4 is a good base game and one I would definitely recommend. It may be easier to enjoy if it's your first foray into the Sims series (as you don't have any of the other games to compare it to), but even a hardcore fan like myself can still enjoy it when you appreciate its strenghths and remember that it's just the base game and that it has room for improvement.
UPDATE: Two Years Since Release
As promised, the Sims 4 team has delivered in the form of free patches; since I wrote this article in October '14, there's been more than 40 patches, most of which added new content to the game for free.
The biggest additions have been the ghost life-state, pools, the business and athletic careers, basements, family trees, a new world called Newcrest (which has 15 blank lots for users to build or place anything they'd like), dishwashers, repairmen, nanny, tragic clown and gardender NPCs, the ability to customize your Sim's teeth, and plenty of additional clothing and buy/build mode objects.
In June 2016, a patch changed the Create-A-Sim options so that Sims could wear clothing and hairstyles of either gender, as well as change their frame to masculine or feminine and other gender-related preferences. The "gender neutral" choices were the first in the Sims history and allowed players to truly customize their Sims to their liking.
The biggest patch was the most recent (January 12th) which re-introduced the Toddler life-stage to the series. In addition to adding toddlers to the game, the free patch added a variety of new objects for them to interact with, clothing and CAS customization, and furniture specifically for toddlers. The Toddler patch recieved great feedback from the fans; many praising the depth of the life-stage (toddlers have their own unique traits, skills and interactions) as well as the new animations added for toddlers and those interacting with them.
Expansion Packs, Game Packs, and Stuff Packs
There have also been a plethora of DLC options added to the game since release.
To date, there have been 6 expansion packs:
- Get To Work- Follow your Sims as they work as a Doctor, Scientist or Detective. You can also own a retail store and sell pretty much anything in the game.
- Get Together- Start a club for your Sim and their friends, open a cafe, live in European-inspired Windenburg and party with DJs!
- City Living- Live it up in an apartment or penthouse in San Myshuno, go to festivals, play basketball, sing karaoke, and work in three new careers (Politician, Social Media, or Critic).
- Cats and Dogs- Own a cat or dog, live in the new world, Brindleton Bay, and work as a vet in the open Veterinary career!
- Seasons- winter, spring, summer and fall have finally come to The Sims 4! Dress up in a variety of seasonal clothes, celebrate and plan special holidays, and work in the new Botany career path.
- Get Famous- give your Sims a life of fame and fortune! They can be a famous actor, social media influencer, and more! Escape the paparazzi in a luxury mansion in the new world of Del Sol Valley.
There have been 7 game packs:
- Outdoor Retreat- go camping in the new vacation world, Granite Falls.
- Spa Day- get pampered at a spa, have a massage or give one to others, practice yoga and meditation.
- Dine Out- Own and run a restaurant, or just visit one and eat out with your Sims.
- Vampires- Create a vampire and play in the new world Forgotten Hollow.
- Parenthood- expands upon the toddler, children and teen life stages.
- Jungle Adventure- escape to the jungle for vacation and hunt for relics.
- Strangerville- experience a "Stranger Things" style adventure in the new Strangerville world.
There have also been fourteen "stuff" packs:
- The Sims 4: Luxury Party Stuff
- The Sims 4: Perfect Patio Stuff
- The Sims 4: Cool Kitchen Stuff
- The Sims 4: Spooky Stuff
- The Sims 4: Movie Hangout Stuff
- The Sims 4: Romantic Garden Stuff
- The Sims 4: Kids Room Stuff
- The Sims 4: Backyard Stuff
- The Sims 4: Vintage Glamour Stuff
- The Sims 4: Bowling Stuff
- The Sims 4: Fitness Stuff
- The Sims 4: Toddler Stuff
- The Sims 4: Laundry Day Stuff
- The Sims 4: My First Pet Stuff
In my opinion, the best expansion pack to date has probably been City Living. San Myshuno is beautiful, filled with lots to do- from the new singing skill, to playing basketball, or visiting one of the five festivals that run weekly, the build/buy mode objects are wonderful, the CAS objects are really nice and multicultural, and the new careers are a lot of fun too.
My favourite game pack so far has been Dine Out; the restaurant system is really intricate as far as planning goes (you can customize the look of your restaurant, but you can also customize everything on the menu, the dress code for your diners, and the uniforms for your staff) and adds a lot of fun to the game.
My favourite stuff packs have been Movie Hangout (you can now watch movies on the TVs or on the new projection screens) and Kids Room Stuff (in addition to adding CAS and B/B objects, the pack adds a functional Puppet Theatre for children to put on puppet shows, and also adds in a collectable card game- Voidcritters (sort of like Pokemon) for your child Sims to collect and battle with one another).
Questions & Answers
I plan to buy my first Sims game and I don't know should I buy The Sims 3 or The Sims 4. Which is better?
I'm going to do an article on this soon, but it really depends on what you're after. Keep in mind that Sims 3 is a complete game and has all the expansion packs, stuff packs, DLC, etc. released, whereas Sims 4 is still being developed. Personally, at this point in time, I'd have to say Sims 3; Sims 4 is still lacking a lot of essential gameplay and tends to get boring after a while, where Sims 3 can be played for a LONG time without getting stale. But Sims 3 has very high graphics and you need a good computer to run it. If your don't have a top end graphic card, then Sims 4 might be a better fit!Helpful 7