The Sims 4 hit the shelves in 2014 with high expectations from the fan base of its predecessor, The Sims 3 after a five-year reign as one of Electronic Arts’ (EA) most beloved games. However, the majority of the fan base was bitterly disappointed following The Sims 4’s release, me included. Let’s take a deep dive into the world of The Sims 4: where did it succeed, and how did it fail?
I’ll admit, The Sims 3’s legacy is pretty big shoes to fill, and the Sims community were adamant on their demands for the successor. While most of these demands were met, they came at a cost.
- No Open World
One of The Sims 3’s critiques was that the game kept crashing and needed a high CPU to run basic functions like graphics. EA proudly boasted that Sims 4 would run well on a mid-range CPU. What they did not mention is that the open world that made The Sims 3 so exciting would be removed. Although the game now has fewer crashes and loading screens go away quickly, it took away one of the fundamental features and reverted to Sims 2. Now, you can only play the game in your house and everything else is just loading screens.
Visiting public venues used to be a seamless process, but the game now runs in an almost staccato-like fashion with loading screens interrupting movement from your house. Additionally, if your two Sims are in separate locations, you cannot control them both at the same time. Worlds are incredibly small and have few customizable abilities, making the game feel impersonal.
- Fewer Features and Functions
The lack of the open world was not the only critique thrown at The Sims 4. It received a lot of heat when it became apparent that several basic features from the previous game were not present at the launch, including cars, many career paths, ghosts, and swimming pools. It even lacks an entire age group – toddlers. Toddlers are arguably the least favourable stage - they are incredibly stressful to manage, and it is the fundamental stage of a Sim’s life. However, it was always rewarding to see traits instilled into a Sim that you worked hard on during their toddler years. It was one of the many small challenges that made the game enjoyable and rewarding.
It begged the question of whether or not EA wanted these features to be paid for along with the exorbitant price for an already disappointing game. At the time of writing this article, EA has made many of those missing features accessible for free. Though it has more design functions such as the ability to resize certain items, it took away some of the options to customize a colour palette.
- 'New' Emotions
Another point that EA emphasised was that Sims now had emotional states. How you manage your Sim will influence their emotions and, in turn, the emotions affect the actions available to you. For example, if a Sim is sad, they will be unable to tell jokes until they are in a better mood. Seems pretty realistic, right?
Only, it is not. The lifespan of emotions is completely ridiculous and out of proportion. A Sim could go to bed elated and wake up from the neighbour’s noise in a blinding rage – an occurrence too frequent on its own. It’s not that fun when you are constantly doing damage control to prevent your Sim from spiralling, it’s exhausting and makes the game less manageable.
This selling point also errored in assuming its originality when The Sims 3 also had emotions in the form of “moodlets”. They served a similar function to The Sims 4 but were more manageable, realistic, and lifelike than The Sims 4.
- Expectations vs Reality
The new emotions were not the only benefit blown out of proportion. Another feature advertised was that Sims were now more capable than ever and could multitask! This of course was very exciting for me, given something as simple as getting breakfast and watching TV used to be two separate tasks that took a long time on their its own. But you don’t save that much time and it’s difficult to manage. Though a nice addition, it does not live up to the hype.
The multitasking and newly added physical characteristics in Create-A-Sim hardly make up for the fact that instead of having the option to choose five traits for your Sim you could now only pick three, and your aspiration would allow for an additional trait. I hardly care about the way my Sim is going to walk if I cannot determine the way they will act.
Moreover, in an attempt to appeal to a younger age demographic, The Sims 4 is entirely too animated and whimsical for my taste. Each time you select an action, it would make a little sound or chime. While it seems cute, the entire gameplay just seems to mimic that of a cartoon.Expectations vs Reality
With that being said, it is not to say the game is without virtue, it’s just not everyone’s cup of tea. Hopefully, we will have better luck with the next release.