The Sims 4
The Sims 4 is the fourth game in The Sims series, not counting the spinoffs. The Sims games are about virtual pixel people who live in a game in your computer, going about their mostly-ordinary lives. There is no criteria to "win" the game, except those that are set by the players for themselves.
In the Sims 4, Sims actually have (gasp) emotions! Their emotions and need for social interaction lead them to seek other intelligent life in the universe, and they build a rocket similar to the ones we built in the 1960's, which is somehow capable of intergalaxy space travel. But their undertaking of space travel has a price: all toddlers have disappeared from their world, and their time travel technology and robotic technology is all moved into outer space to fulfill this quest. They seek to find an advanced race that can restore their toddlers, or else a primitive race that they can enslave. They intend to enslave primitive races with their emotion-changing paint, and a Trojan that enslaves the mind of gamers. Their building methods are advanced beyond ours, including insulation inside their drywall as part of the drywall itself, and built-in electrical circuits and plumbing inside each piece of drywall, and plumbing and heating/cooling systems inside the flooring. They have even achieved world peace on their planet, and use teleportation instead of moving vehicles. It turns out however, that world peace has a price, and that price is utter boredom. To relieve that boredom, they plan to infiltrate planet Earth to enslave vulnerable gamers.
Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat
Even aliens with oddly sculpted hair like to go camping and read up on their native flora and fauna. On their planet, bears talk, and make great friends, if you don't mind friends who help themselves to the contents of your food cooler without asking first and have lots of hair. Sims have even been known to romance their bears on occasion. Just don't ask me how that works. Since the wildlife talks (with the exception of the mutated squirrels), there is no need for archery, and alien gun control laws are so strict that guns are not even allowed in the woods.
The Sims 4: Get to Work
To implement their plan of achieving economic slavery of the earth, the Sims have set up retail shops. The goods in these retail shops are irresistable to consumers, who never leave the shop when ringing up their order takes too long, but instead stand around talking to other customers. Due to insidious alien chemicals in the air, the longer the customers stand and talk to other customers, the more confident they become in their purchase, and the more determined they are to wait around and buy what they were going to purchase. The Sims have also set up a system of universal health care where one intern does all the checking in of new patients, one medical assistant does all the diagnosing of new patients, and one doctor does all the treatment of new patients. If there are other staff around, they sit around doing nothing, as allowed by their union rules. Sim scientists have developed a Sim-ray to achieve mind control of Earth's masses. It can do things like freeze objects, set objects on fire, and transform objects as well. They have also developed pharmaceutical potions that influence emotions. The scientists have also allied themselves with other aliens from the planet Sixam, in order to learn how to blend in with Earth's society seamlessly. They still have not yet figured out, however, how to get rid of the plumbob above their heads.
New vs. Missing features
The Sims 4 was introduced to rabid Sims fans in September 2014, at a price of $60 to $80 US dollars. The enthusiastic fans who purchased the game on release were repaid by the game breaking their hearts. Angry fans quickly posted lists of "missing" content that they felt should have been in the game from the start, had been in other Sims games from the start, and speculated that EA/Maxis were deliberately holding this content back from the game in order to make them pay more money for it later. The three most notable features that were missing at release were pools, toddlers, and color wheel customization. Loading screens between lots were also reintroduced in Sims 4 after having been absent from Sims 3...a step backwards in the series.
New features that were introduced with Sims 4 were things like walk styles, a new emotion system, hidden/unlockable areas , and multitasking. But players complained that the game just didn't have enough to it for these features to maintain their interest, and compared Sims 4 to a casual game. At launch, the tutorial was also lengthy, and there was no way for experienced players to skip the tutorial until the game was patched at a later time. Sims 4 players also complained that some objects, like the microscope, observatory, and cupcake machine were much too large.
After about a year had gone by, the price was reduced permanently to about $40 US, to give players an incentive to buy both the base game and expansion packs. Some of the features on fans lists were patched in for free, such as ghosts, pools, handymen, gardeners, family tree, nannies, and dishwashers. Others, like butlers, the basketball hoop/court, and hot tub, were included in stuff packs, game packs or expansion packs, with the exception of a decorated hot tub patched in free for the 20th anniversary of the first The Sims game (about 5 years in). After about 3 years, toddlers were finally patched in due to the outcry from the community at leaving them out. It would take 4 years to patch in a terrain editing tool, and 6 years to patch in a water tool.
Comparison to other games in the series
Sims 1 vs. Sims 4
At launch in 2000, The Sims was a revolutionary new game, the likes of which nobody had ever seen before. There was one neighborhood (these would be referred to later in the series as worlds) with nine lots. Sims heads and bodies and even personality could be customized when creating a Sim household, but once the player was done creating the household, it could not be customized again except with third party programs, until a later expansion pack was released allowing limited customization with new full-body outfits. All the furniture was interactable by Sims except the decorations. There were three ages of Sims: infants, children and adults, and there was no way to age up Sims at launch.
But Sims 1 had certain objects at launch that the Sims 4 did not have: a basketball hoop, a hot tub, a dishwasher, and a garbage compactor. The Sims also had a terrain editor that allowed terrain to be smoothed, raised, or lowered. In later expansion packs, more lots per neighborhood and more features were added, including community lots, a water tool, maid service, pizza delivery service, an evil genie, an all-purpose robot (Servo), BoneHilda the skeleton maid, a chemistry set, a public bathroom stall, the Grim Reaper, a dance floor and DJ booth, a downtown, restaurants, a Superstardom town, butler service, a Vacation island with 9 lots and 3 different climates, aliens, magic tricks, magic spells, new cooking recipes,
wine nectar making, a hookah bubble blower/oxygen bar, and pets that were not controllable by the players. Instead, Sims 4 had draggable walls that could be moved and resized once placed, better Sim avatar options (known as Create-A-Sim), the ability to edit households at any time, and walk styles. Instead of "personality points", Sims 4 had "traits". Where Sims 1 had Room score, nice decorations in Sims 4 made Sims happy. A little too happy, as a matter of fact. Early in Sims 4, Sims didn't even mind if someone close to them died as long as the area was decorated with expensive decorations.
Four years after initial release, Sims 4 and its expansions to date still did not have genies, drink vending machines, a fame system, magic tricks/wands/dueling, a recipe book, a spell book, a baking oven, an indoor sky diving area, a sea diving area, a popcorn machine, a cotton candy machine, or an upright piano. To be fair, it has a grand piano instead of an upright piano, and a cupcake machine and a chef station, half walls, and active careers that let you follow your Sim to work.
Six years into the Sims 4, bubble blowers were added, pets were finally added, wands and spell books were added, recipes were added, vending machines were officially added, sliding doors were added, and mermaids were added.
However, with expansion packs, Sims 4 compares somewhat more favorably to Sims 1. The Sims released in 2000 had only 3 kinds of food: generic salad, some kind of meat and beans dish, and cans of beans or soda. The Sims 4 added a whole restaurant expansion pack, with 30 dishes each allowed in drinks, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Plus there were even food trucks. Instead of an agent and studios to go to, Sims 4 had clubs. Instead of 9 Vacation lots, there were three expansion packs with vacation lots: one for outdoor camping, one for snow mountain hiking and snow activities, and one for Star Wars (which, just coincidentally happened to come out at the same time as one of their Star Wars AAA titles).
Sims 2 vs. Sims 4
It seemed impossible for the success of The Sims to be surpassed, but The Sims 2 did it.
The Sims 2 introduced pregnancy, aging, wants, fears, aspirations, aspiration rewards, hidden skills, cut-scenes, ghosts, and 3 neighborhoods (worlds) at launch. New ages introduced were teen and elder. Later expansions added young adults, an influence system, an attraction system, a reputation system, aliens, drivable cars, pets, hobbies, bowling, weather, a University, vending machines, the Sim-eating cowplant, restaurants, a downtown area, a shopping district, ownable businesses, skill badges, vacation areas, hotel lots, secret hobby lots, apartments, supernatural life states like zombies, bigfoot, werewolves, vampires, and PlantSims. The Sims 2 had some Sims 1 EP features like community lots at launch, and a dresser that allowed Sims 2 Sims to change outfits. The Sims official site also offered new objects for separate purchase from the Sims 2 store like a toddler stroller. To date, the Sims 4 does not have cut-scenes, aspiration rewards, werewolves, home businesses, hotel lots,
controllable Servo robots, drivable cars, working garage doors, drink vending machines, universities, private schools, multi-family housing with reservable doors, or an attraction system, or influence system. The Sims 4 also does not have a separate DLC store, other than packs and kits officially released for the game. Instead of skill badges, they have a Scouting system for child Sims only. Instead of hotel rooms with room service, they have rental lots (the whole lot or nothing). Instead of secret hobby lots, the Sims 4 has secret skill lots. Instead of a Social bunny, Sims simply become sad. Instead of a Repo man, Sims 4 sims find their utilities shut off. Instead of burglars or a Charlatan, Sims have to worry about klepto Sims, who return things more often than not.
Sims 3 vs. Sims 4
Most fans that complain about the current state of The Sims 4 compare it to either The Sims 2 or The Sims 3, and most often to Sims 3. Sims 3 included 2 worlds at launch, one of which you had to register to get. Sims 3 also introduced a store on the website that allowed players to purchase individual pieces of DLC content, as well as additional worlds and premade venues with special objects. Free content was also released through this store. Some features that Sims 3 introduced new at launch that are confirmed as impossible to add to Sims 4 are: open world and create a pattern. But Sims 2 players disliked the "rabbitholes" in Sims 3, and some complained bitterly about them. These "rabbitholes" were locations where you could not see what your Sim was doing, could not interact with Sims in them, and could not see any objects in the location. Other features that were brand new to the series that were introduced to Sims 3 were: color wheel, a traits personality system that let the player choose up to 5 traits, and increased personalization options in Sim creation and editing tools. The Sims 3 also had drivable vehicles, a Sims 2 expansion pack feature, in the game at launch. All of the Sim life stages from the Sims 2 including young adult were included in Sims 3 at launch.
Later Sims 3 expansion packs added vacation destinations, puzzles or mazes for Sims (or rather you the player) to solve to get through adventure locations/tombs, mummies, vampires, genies, mermaids, werewolves, buildable robots, a celebrity system, active fame careers, pets, weather, magic stage tricks, witches, fairies, seasonal festivals, University, houseboats, boating, diving, hidden island areas, beach resorts, a usable jetpack, and time travel.
Sims 4 exchanged "rabbitholes" for loading screens. Other features that have not made a return from Sims 3 to Sims 4 yet: Drivable cars and scooters, color wheel (except in pet customization), mummies, genies, werewolves, buildable robots, fairies, a beach vacation destination, beach resorts, houseboats, magic stage tricks, time travel, Universities/colleges/dorms, and hotels.
Toddlers were re-introduced to Sims 4 in a patch, but fans, especially legacy players, were enraged that this feature took so long (3 years!) to add. Get Famous introduced a celebrity system (this time optional) and fame career features to Sims 4. In Summer 2019, EA redesigned the packaging and the loading screens for Sims 4. Apparently they forgot the problems with the original loading screen, which had an all-white background, and triggered migraine headaches in some players. The redesign featured the Sims 4 wording in all white, which once again, triggered migraine headaches for some players.
Follow the Money
Many players complain that Sims 2 and Sims 3 had more and better content. But by this time in their lifespan, each of them had at least one branded pack, and extra content available in an online store, sold separately from the official packs. Sims fans complain about how greedy Electronic Arts is, but even unofficial Sims content creators are asking for money, either through Patreon, PayPal, or Ad.fly or similar service. The problem is, everyone has to make a living to get the basic necessities of life, like rent/mortgage, food, clothing, utilities, internet service, smartphones, and entertainment. And game companies are often located in areas where the rent and cost of living is high, so they need to pay their employees and contractors accordingly. Sims fans create content for their own entertainment, and sometimes for their own education, in their spare time, but game company employees often work far past the point where they find their work entertaining, with a lot of repetition in their work. Most fans who do not understand this have not graduated from high school. The Sims 4 has to date, not maintained an online DLC store with microtransactions.
Sims 4 vs. Sims 5
Some disappointed fans have cast their hopes forward to the next sequel in "The Sims" series. Some have speculated that open world will be brought back, but without rabbitholes, or at least with fewer of them, this time. Others have speculated that Sims 5 will have virtual reality enhanced capabilities. Most agree that Sims 5 will have color wheel design like Sims 3 did, allow Sims to travel between worlds without moving there, and more lots per world on average than Sims 4 did, and the number of loading screens will be reduced, preferably to zero or one startup loading screen that will not freak Sims gamers into thinking their game has crashed or will not load at all. Certainly, any loading screens that Sims 5 has will not have an excessive amount of white in them, thus avoiding migraine triggers. Some fans insist that The Sims 4 was crippled by making it available to "low end computers", including most laptop computers not specifically designed for gaming. These same people who don't want Sims 5 available to low-end computers also promise to abandon the series if Sims 5 can only be played on virtual reality headsets. Then there are the fans who want any pattern to be transferrable onto any piece of clothing or furniture that a Sim has without using an external tool. The fans do not want to be required to go online to play their game, nor do they want microtransactions or blatant advertisements in their game. Most fans agree that two years should be enough development time to create all of this with a price tag of less than $75 US Dollars per game.
In late 2022, the official team revealed that they were working on an unnamed game that they could not disclose for unknown reasons. The Sims Community in unison screamed, "SIMS 5!!!!!" And promptly set the bar somewhere above the clouds.
A few of the developers were actually Sims fans themselves. So they spent their own time developing features related to the Sims. Terrain tools (the ability to edit the ground level of the outside land by moving it up or down in 3D) and first person view (which enabled players to see the inside of Sims heads and turn their Sims heads 360 degrees) were both pet projects of this nature. A third pet project was a new Alexa skill related to the Sims. Now, you can tell Alexa to play music from the Sims series, and to play a Sims-related trivia game for up to four players. The studio at EA was so thrilled about the new Alexa skill that they spent a full half an hour broadcasting the last two sentences before this one and playing the trivia game. They claim no money was received from Amazon related to this feature. Soon after, a smart speaker was added to the game, but without branding on it. This smart speaker even let Sims develop relationships with it by playing trivia with it, asking it for jokes, ordering services with it, and asking it to play music.
Worlds vs. Neighborhoods
- Get to Work re-introduced active careers to Sims 4. Active careers were available previously in Sims 3:Showtime. Unlike Showtime however, these active careers had 3 randomly selected goals for Sims to meet every day they were at work, regardless of whether they fit with the player's story for the Sim. Players cannot turn off these daily goals in Sims 4, and ignoring them results in reduced work performance. Fortunately, you can still just send your Sim to work without you like you did before, and watch an empty Sim house while time goes by. Watching empty houses is so exciting!
- Get Together re-introduced dance floors and DJ booths to Sims 4. It also added the clubs feature to Sims 4. In the cooking club, Sims can get kicked out of the leader's house for "acting inappropriately" when they cook meals as part of the club's activities.
- City Living re-introduced apartments and karaoke to Sims 4. Now players have to listen to their Sims with low singing skill singing badly, everywhere except the shower. Singing in the shower always sounds ok. At least entrance to all events and even the art museum is free for all Sims. But that is a good thing, because somebody stole the only ATM machine in San Myshuno.
- Cats & Dogs re-introduced pets to Sims 4. Only this time, there were no horses, birds, or small animals. Maybe the cats ate the birds. Rumor has it the old woman swallowed the horse. At least you can watch the pets while the house is empty...but you cannot feed or interact with them if there is no Sim there. Now you know who is behind the security camera. Oh wait, Sims 4 HAS no home security cameras.
- Seasons re-introduced rainy and snowy weather to Sims 4, and added the new requirement that Sims install thermostats in every home and community lot to prevent freezing to death in winter or overheating in summer.
- Electronics, of course, don't work in the rain, and nobody thought to put any canopy tents up for the Geek Festival in San Myshuno. As a result, the city gaming tournament was cancelled in favor of the "rocket project". The object of the rocket project was to build a rocket and launch it in such a way that it did not explode on countdown, blow up mid-air, nor take out any of the taller buildings on its way to outer space like a balloon that was blown up but never tied.
- Get Famous re-introduced a celebrity system to Sims 4. It also re-introduced a reputation system, and a secret path to starting up higher on the criminal career. Universally hated celebrities, it turns out, make great white collar criminals and charismatic mob bosses.
- Island Living re-introduced mermaids and beaches, and allowed snorkeling, ocean swimming, and building over the water in one world only. It also introduced two new careers: Conservationist and Diver, and a part-time lifeguard job. Two new traits were also included, both tied to the island world of Sulani. Unfortunately, the snorkel masks manage to hide all the fish and sights underneath the ocean surface. To many fans' disappointment, the diving career is not an active career.
- Discover University allowed players to relive college life in yet another game. This time, instead of 3 cliques, there were several more. Plus a secret society returned, but with the counterfeiting machine they had in Sims 2 confiscated by the authorities. At least they still have the broken ATM they stole. Too bad they did not know it was empty when they stole it. Due to all the crowding outside classroom buildings in Sims 3, only registered students are permitted to attend. Then again, since Sims 3 sims never went to high school, they never knew how to make single-file lines.
- The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle - At last, carbon footprints are a thing in Sims 4, as are homeowner's associations. The HOA rules are posted on community bulletin boards weekly. Now your Sims can be blamed for their neighbors' energy wasting appliances, as well as their refusal to reuse and recycle. Trash can actually pile up now if there is enough of it, rather than entering a bottomless pit somewhere at the bottom of the trashcan. The trash collectors there must be on strike. But at least the low income and/or sloppy Sims can go dumpster diving now.
- The Sims 4 Snowy Escape - Set in the Japanese Alps, your Sims can now enjoy snow and skiing resorts with hot springs all year long. These do not have room service, but they do have vending machines for a late night snack. Plus they don't have to worry about communicating with the locals since they all speak Simlish. There is a lot of local charm, with beautiful shoji style homes and special festivals. The Japanese folk music is excellent for skiing and snowboarding to.
- The Sims 4 Cottage Living Tired of processed foods and canned foods? Cook with fresh ingredients and make your own homemade canned jams, jellies, and sauces. But you will have to grow them all yourself. Who milks the cow now? How now, brown....Sim. Your Sim also needs to groom the cow, clean up after the cow, and feed the cow. Yes, you can even have eggs, but you must raise the chickens to get those eggs...or have an egg to get a chicken... and maybe even solve the question of which came first. How do you know you have solved it? By winning a prize in the local fair, of course. For the best chicken...or egg...or chicken...or egg...
- The Sims 4 High School Years: Now you can torture your teenage Sims with acne, rejection, teen mood swings, and then send them to the principals office for a stern lecture when they misbehave. Players who were rejected in high school themselves can vicariously experience for the first time things like joining the football team, becoming a cheerleader, winning a chess club match, joining the computer club, getting a trophy, and going to prom.
- The Sims 4 Growing Together
- The Sims 4 Ranch - Horses finally made a return from Sims 3, but this time they brought the whole ranch with them. Rumor has it a few unicorns also followed them, leaving bright, shiny, rainbowy manure to scoop up. More work for the farmhands: Thanks, unicorns.
- Some sheep also followed behind, along with some lemmings, but the lemmings did not know how to climb fences, while the sheep jumped over the fence. When they tried to find a way around, they realized too late that they could not swim. Fortunately, a wizard threw them some 8-pixel life preservers that transported them back in time.
- Outdoor Retreat
- Spa Day
- Dine Out
- Jungle Adventure
- Realm of Magic re-introduced magic and spell-casting to Sims 4. No fairies, wizards or witches this time though, or at least they aren't called that, due to political correctness at HQ. This pack also brought out the lunatic fringe of the fans screaming about pretend magic being pagan and anti-Christian, including the part about literally flying on broomsticks and mops and having spellcasting duels that look like fireworks displays.
- Journey to Batuu
- Dream Home Decorator
- My Wedding Stories
- The Sims 4 Werewolves
- Holiday stuff - This was the first stuff pack released for Sims 4, for free.
- Luxury Party stuff
- Perfect Patio stuff re-introduced hot tubs and outdoor umbrella tables to Sims 4.
- Cool Kitchen stuff fattened up your Sims with the ice-cream machine. Sims love to sneak ice cream when the player isn't watching.
- In 2019, the Moschino stuff pack, the first branded content pack for Sims 4 was released. Sadly, this branded pack which raised fan expectations in terms of clothing and hair options for their Sims, had a bare minimum in the way of fashion options, with just one pair of shoes included with the pack. However, it did introduce a new photographer career, more in-game camera options, and several new furnishings for Sim residences and community lots.
- Tiny Living Stuff
- Nifty Knitting
Watching the Modders and custom content makers create all this content for free, or even with subscriptions and/or Patreon, EA wanted in on the action. They started creating the equivalent of Fan-made stuff packs, only with less "stuff" in it. Only a few of the kits actually made any real changes to gameplay: most were just fancy furniture and/or fancy outfits. Unlike the Sims 3 store, if you bought a full bundle or set, Sims 4 kits did NOT include a "premium item" that added a new functional object to the game with every kit. The first kit was just to get Simmers used to the idea of kits, and actually included a functional vacuum cleaner, dust bunnies, and some game play around dust bunnies. Once they saw that kits actually would sell, they quickly decided to dispose of the gameplay and just make more stuff to throw at players at about a buck ($1 US dollar)each.
Modders to the Rescue
The Sims community has had an active modding community since the early days when the first "The Sims" game came out. There are also almost as many custom content creators as there are players. When The Sims lacked curtains and reservable doors, modders added them. When The Sims lacked teenagers, modders added them. When the Sims did not have enough variety in the walls, floors, plants, furnishings, decorations, faces, hair and clothing of their Sims, modders and custom content creators stepped up to the job and created things like green flamingos, elevators, non-moving escalator stairs, toilet bushes, litter box bushes, crystal ball televisions, and candles with an actual "light" and "extinguish" function instead of a switch on/off. When community lot objects were not available on residential lots and vice versa, they were cloned and modified. Modded objects were created for those who wanted less challenge in their game - such as a painting that makes friends for you at random. When the official game did not include things that players wanted, such as religious objects/clothing or super-sexy clothing, jail cells and jail clothing, dancing poles, weapons, or medieval torture devices, it got added. One mod even included an evil clown toy that set everything on fire. The mature content was generally locked behind a paywall, of course. As server costs increased exponentially, everyone who hosted a lot of content started charging for subscriptions, then threatening anyone who shared their subscription content without permission. The actual copyright to all of this, of course, was held by Maxis/EA.
In the Sims 2, after curtains, more food, aging, and the ability to sort walls and floors by type were added to the base game at launch, modders still added more variety to everything, more colors, more shapes, more clothes, more decorations, better food, better makeup, vampiric and werewolf body sprays, and even sometimes altered gameplay. When the game had no typewriter, one got added. When colors did not match, custom content creator made stuff that DID match. When some players wanted even MORE types of foods, those were added too. When the in-game clothing and furnishing options got boring, custom content creators made more. And once again, limited lot type objects were cloned and enabled for other lot types.
- The Sims 2 had something like this introduced with hobbies actually