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Should I be excited about… The Sims 4

Charlotte Brewster has flipped and flopped. Have you?

EA is a company that is Marmite. You either love it or hate it. Everyone has their reasons for feeling one way or the other but there has been a noticeable outcry against EA within online communities and forums due to the upcoming release of their latest installment of The Sims™ franchise. The Sims 4™ releases on September the 2nd(US), September 4th(EU/AUS) and September 5th (UK) of this year. With only a few weeks to go until launch tensions in both the long-term and new-found fans are high.

Rumours, both confirmed and unconfirmed, have got Simmers’ panties in a bunch. I know I’ve personally flipped and flopped on my feelings towards this next stage of The Sims™ journey and no doubt you have too. So let us try to clear up the indecisiveness and try to help you decide whether you should or should not be excited for The Sims 4™.

Before I begin to list the negative points, I just want to clarify that I have included only things I have been able to confirm through official Sims Information channels. If you’ve heard of anything that should be missing from the base game that I haven’t listed; it is most likely that I couldn’t find definitive evidence to show that it is truly gone from The Sims 4™.

With that small disclaimer taken care of, let us begin. So we shall start by ripping off that pesky plaster from your boo-boo and show you just what has been confirmed that you’ll be losing in this base game rendition of the franchise that were present in the past Sims experiences you’ve had.

ts4_build_gamescom_4CASt -The Sims 3 introduced the Create-A-Style tool which allowed players to completely and utterly customise their sims, homes and the worlds their beloved characters lived in. This will no longer be present in The Sims 4™.

Pools/Hot Tubs – These were around back in the polygon days of old but Simmers won’t be able to have their Sims canoodling in the water this time around. There is also no swimming in fountains or lakes either despite their existence. It explains why the Create-A-Sim Demo had no swimwear category. Goodbye easy and fun athletic skill points.

Open Worlds (sort of) – Rather than having the one single full world at your fingertips; Maxis have re-added loading screens (à la Sims 2™) between different neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood will only have between two to five lots within. There will be multiple neighbourhoods per world to create a total of twenty-five or less lots per world in comparison to one hundred and twenty-five lots or less in The Sims 3™. This also means that some buildings that you can spy in the background are quite literally only a backdrop. There can also only be one active lot at any given time.

Terrain Tools – Just like a good pancake, the lots in Sims 4™ are flat.. You cannot have alternating terrain levels on your Sims lots. No longer will you be able to dig a lovely moat around your future castle. Although that doesn’t really matter anyway because you can only have a maximum of three (above ground) floors per house. There are also no more basements so your future castle just lost its underground dungeon too. Who would want a moat for such a puny castle anyway?! Good job those tools are gone.

ts4_e3_rocketStory Progression – To put it bluntly, if you want the NPC families in your world to do more than age and die? You gotta play them. When they die a new family will move in and take their place. Whether this family will have kids or not will be random. There will be no babies or weddings or new jobs on the horizon for the poor NPCs unless you take control of them. Oh except when you get one of them pregnant with your active Sim; then they will pop that pudding out the oven all on their own.

Toddlers – They’re completely gone due to the new systems and technology that have been used to give players the new content for Sims 4™. Babies are also just like they were back in The Sims 1™. Interactable object where you hold the baby above the crib to feed/change/smoosh its little cheeks. No more leaving babies lying around on floors irresponsibly!

Lot Placing – You cannot place empty lots by yourself. There are pre-designated empty lots in various neighbourhoods for each of the two core worlds. The largest lots are also slightly smaller going from 64×64 to 50×50.

ts4_e3_andrescopeRabbit Holes – These are the hospitals, schools, workplaces and so on. They are no longer going to be around and whenever your sims go to school or work they go off-screen old school style. Feels just like The Sims 1 and 2™ all over again with this particular loss.

Long Standing NPCs and Town Buildings – Let us start with the NPCs. There will no longer be; repomen, social bunny, burglars, gardeners, repairmen, tragic clown, newspaper delivery, babysitters, aliens, bartenders or ghosts. There are only a couple of town buildings that I could confirm that will be missing and they are cemeteries, bookstores and grocery stores.

This next list will show what smaller simulation additions from previous games players will be missing out on with The Sims 4™ (in alphabetical order).

Acne (Sims 2™)
Animated hair (Sims 3™)
Aspiration failures (Sims 2™)
Body Hair for Males (Sims 3™ Generations)
Certain Careers – Law Enforcement, Athletic, Business, Education, Medicine, Military, Politics and Science.
Cleaning Skill (Sims 2™)
Colour Wheel/Bar for hair/make-up/eye/skin colours (Sims 3™)
Costume Make-up (Sims 2/3™)
Customisation of secondary hair colour (Sims 3™)
Curfew (Sims 3™)
Diseases/Illnesses (All previous games)
Dreams (Sims 3™ Into the Future Expansion Pack [EP])
Eyelash length slider (Sims 3™)
Family Tree (Sims 2/3™)
Favourites – Food, music and colour (Sims 3™)
Fears (Sims 2™)
Heights – All teens, young adults, adults and elders are the same height in The Sims 4™.
Opacity Slider for Make-up (Sims 3™)
Pool Tables (All previous Sims games)
“Random” Deaths – Meteors, Satellite Crashes etc are gone. (All previous games)
Zodiac Signs (Sims 2/3™)

Now this list may seem quite long but if you look closely, you’ll notice some of the items have been missing since The Sims 2™ and some of them added nothing to the game experience at all. I will personally miss the colour wheel, random deaths, basic careers and family trees. I understand why the colour wheel is gone and can live with that. Now the loss of story progression, basic careers, family trees and random deaths have really hit me hard.

Story progression being removed will be a horror for some fans and a blessing for others. The positive of progression were the times where you’d see your neighbours walking around with new babies, children and pets as well as seeing them getting married or moving to a new town together. Then there was the negative where the Sim you’d been painstakingly chasing was already sleeping around with four or five other Sims and you were suddenly labelled a home wrecker. That was never fun.

It is unclear why the basic career branches have been removed from The Sims 4™ but they can always be added by EP or game patches if Maxis change their mind further down the line.

ts4_cas_gamescom_4As for the family trees, there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason as to why they aren’t included but I’m sure Maxis have their reasons for not including it in base game. I have hunted online for these reasons, as of yet it still eludes me despite my vigorous research. I think it may have something to do with the aspiration of “Successful Lineage”. Not everyone in the real world knows their family tree so perhaps Maxis wanted to add the realism of only certain families knowing their lineage? Perhaps they may have just overlooked the importance of this small system that some players absolutely loved and will include it in an EP or future patch? We can only wait and hope.

One small additional note on the height issue is that the teens will have leaner figures and more ‘pudge’ on their faces in comparison to the young adults and adults. Elders will retain their wrinkles and greying hair.

Time to move on from the negativity and look at what there is to be excited for! The new systems and technology that Maxis are using have revolutionised the way that the Sims move and act. The creation processes are also much sleeker and faster than ever before, helping to create a more fluid and engaging experience.

Emotions – This is the big one. Before, Sims were lucky to feel three solid state “emotions” in The Sims 2™ and The Sims 3™ due to the level of their aspiration/needs meter. In The Sims 4™ players will be able to have their Sims experiencing fifteen different emotional states which all play an aspect into how your Sims move, talk, act and create things in-game. There are also unique emotions for each life stage as well as for pregnant sims.

ts4_build_gamescom_3New Build Tools – Rather than just building the shell of the home first and filling it in with the available objects after, in The Sims 4™ you will be able to build that dream home on a room by room basis. You can even move your rooms one by one to new areas without compromising the work that you have already put in. No more deleting and re-building here! There are a few more additional new tools to be found that will make the creation process much easier than before. Wall heights, window placements, cantilevered rooms and curved fences to name but a few. There is also a new time of day included in-game. Day, dusk and night are now available in build mode to show how things will look at the different stages of sunlight or lack thereof.

The build tools from previous versions will be still be available for more experienced players but these new tools create a wonderfully easy, quick and fun way for new and old players to build their Sim’s domain. The blueprints from The Sims 3™ are still around but have been much improved to help make the creation from blueprints less irksome than before. There are a few more fun items too but we’ll talk about these later.

Magazine Mode – This is what they have re-named Buy Mode to. This has allowed Maxis to include direct styles to be copied straight into your Sims home. They have also included, what I like to call, the ‘Trade Up’ feature. Got an old stinky couch and your Sim has just earned enough simoleons to buy a new one? Just place the new couch you want over the old and voila! Your old couch is sold and your new one is sitting pretty.

There is also much less limitations on where items can be placed on walls. No more having to sit shelves side by side in the next available square, now they can overlap (so long as they are at different heights) and make it look much nicer and more realistic. There is also a filter function for those that like to have a colour scheme in their rooms or home.

Open Worlds – I hear you all yelling at me. ‘But you said they wouldn’t be in this game!’ I said ‘sort of’, thank you very much. In The Sims 3™ you had the entire world open to you but if you moved from that world to another you lost all your relationships and basically had to start from square one again. This is no longer an issue in Sims 4™. You can live in Oasis Springs and be friends with Sims in Willow Creek. Relationships last between the worlds and this seems to be partly in thanks to the load screens between neighbourhoods. This is amazing news for players as it allows the more in-depth gameplay experience that past games have been lacking.

Multi-tasking – Ever get sick of your Sims not being able to talk, eat and watch TV at the same time? Well now they can. If a Sim is able to do two tasks at once, then they will. If logically they can’t multi-task, they will simply continue on with whatever task you have set them. It is pretty ingenious and even though it is a small change, it is one I am very excited to see.

ts4_live_gamescom_1Memories – These are now influenced by the emotional states that your Sim is in when making the memory. No more simply good or bad memories; they will be much more interactive and allow the players to select exciting or mundane things to become memories for their Sims; be it reaching a milestone in life-like a new baby or a milestone in their day like making an amazing pancake for breakfast. Memories are much more individual for each Sim.

Animations – No matter how your Sims feel, you will now be able to simply look at them and decipher their needs without checking their stats. The animation systems Maxis have implemented into The Sims 4™ now prevent the bottleneck effect happening with Sims at doorways and other enclosed spaces. Sims now have the mobility to shift and sway around obstacles in a more realistic manner. There is also the chance your Sim can now be left-handed! Right… this is not that big of a deal to most, but it is phenomenal news to me so just let me have this one, okay?

Socialisation – This doesn’t sound new but believe me it is. There are two new relationship bars for your Sims; one is for friendship and the other is for romance. This allows for fleeting romantic encounters without the emotional baggage weighing them down like before. The multi-tasking animations also allow Sims to be able to socialise much more fluidly whilst performing other tasks unlike in previous games. The group conversations still exist but they now no longer solely rely on your active Sim to keep them going. Do you want to leave? Just leave and don’t worry about interrupting the flow of conversation because the new systems allow for a more captivating simulation.

Social Events – These are now more intuitive than previous parties and social gatherings in previous games due to the fact that not every event is available to every Sim. Certain parties are limited to certain career paths; the best example is a culinary chef throwing a dinner party with their boss. I’d also like to believe there could be book parties for aspiring authors to give their books more publicity but I have not seen any evidence for that one yet. Fingers crossed though.

Whims – These are basically the wants and wishes from previous versions of the games but they now show up in thought bubbles above your Sims head while they are living their life around town. These still give you Lifetime Happiness points to spend on rewards. Aspirations are still around too, however, there is a large difference in this version. Do you recall succeeding in reaching your Sims aspiration and then it turning into a solid plaque with no way to change it after the fact? Well now your Sims can reach their aspiration and then choose another to strive for afterwards.

Unlockable Traits/Items – There will be specific traits and items which will be able to be unlocked within game by various means. Have you reached the top of your career track? There will be an exclusive item waiting just for your Sim to purchase. Reached your life long aspiration? Have a relative aspiration trait in return. There will also be chances to unlock more than just traits. You can perhaps unlock certain objects, traits and clothing through achievements as well. (More on this later.)

ts4_live_gamescom_5Sounds and Music – There are no recycled music or voice acting for The Sims 4™. The composer has been confirmed to be none other than Ilan Eshkeri whom some of you will know as the composer for Kick-Ass, Layer Cake, Stardust and The Young Victoria to name but a few of his wonderful pieces of work. Music now plays a much vaster part in the life of the Sims. Certain songs can actually cause your Sims to turn grey and break down into tears or to see red and begin to rage. The immersiveness of the music seems to be making it more than just background noise this time around.

The voice actor team has been tripled in size to nine actors. Our beloved Simlish has also been upgraded to account for emotions and generational ‘slang’ in Simlish. Crazy, right? It just adds to the captivation that the little details can really bring.

Achievements – There are still going to be achievements in The Sims 4™ but allegedly they will be better. They are now in-game achievements for offline players in comparison to previous games having only online exclusive achievements. The achievements are on a per-player level, not per-Sim level. I mentioned earlier about the chance of achievements unlocking new objects, traits and clothing. There is no confirmations on this just yet that I can find but it could happen. Oh boy do we hope it will happen.

These achievements will add another flavour to the game that has been lacking from previous renditions. It actually makes it feel more like a game rather than just another simulation. It’s good to have goals, isn’t it?

ts4_e3_pianoOnline and Offline – You will not need to be connected online to play The Sims 4™. Great news for those that were not happy with the way that SimCity™ turned out with it having to be constantly connected. That isn’t to say there will not be any additional bonuses for those that do play online. There will also be a Premium Membership which gives additional items to those that pay the extra money. Whether this membership is a one-off cost or monthly rolling cost is yet to be confirmed.

Player Exchange – There is going to be a player exchange area again like there was in The Sims 3™ but there has been no confirmation as to whether it will cost you real money to buy items from other players or if it will be completely free for sharing.

Mod Support – From day one, Maxis will be supporting mods and custom content created by the players. There is a specific ‘Mods Directory’ that will allow players to easily access their custom content rather than digging for the gold deep within the caverns of old. They will not be pre-screening this content but they will be creating guides on their basic file structures and how to decode them as well. There will also be a forum to discuss with fellow Simmers and the Studio team about some of your ideas.

Careers – There are new careers confirmed in The Sims 4™ despite the loss of the classic/normal careers, these new paths sound quite exciting. Stand-up comedy, painter, author, mixologist, criminal, chef and astronaut are only a few that have been confirmed. There will be more whether they come from patches or EPs is anyones guess.

Skills – There are new skills to be found in The Sims 4™ which can be affected by those wonderful emotions mentioned previously. There is a confirmed list of nineteen skills but that isn’t to say there will not be more. In previous games some skills were added with new content from EPs. These following skills are all available with the base game for The Sims 4™.

Gourmet Cooking
Rocket Science
Video Gaming

There are more additional and continuing features that could show up in The Sims 4™. Here are a few of my personal favourites;

Smoother camera movements.
Work/School away actions for Sims.
Change feet size.
Unique emotions for pregnant Sims.
Each age stage will have a unique emotion only felt in that stage of life.
Sims will now follow footpaths to front doors instead of the shortest possible route.
Foundations for buildings no longer count as a floor level and have adjustable heights.
Columns now automatically connect to fences without use of cheats.
Window height is adjustable along with wall heights.
There are architectural details like spandrels, roof trims & edgings.
There is still the option to place things off grid exactly like The Sims 3™.
Landscaping is still here with bushes, plants, trees and rocks to be used. Some bushes will have a “swaying” effect.
Cantilevered rooms now means no unsightly random rooms or columns will be needed in order to hold the stretched out rooms upright.
Roofs are now much more customisable with shape, size and colours being interchangeable and no longer need to match over the entirety of the building.

Honestly I could go on and on about what there is that I am excited for but I’ll contain myself for now until the game is released officially.

ts4_e3_hipsters_alt_pres_heroI want you to be perfectly honest with yourself about whether or not you are excited for The Sims 4™. I downloaded the Create-A-Sim demo and was more excited than a kid on Christmas because it was so fun and exciting. But then I discovered all of the core aspects that were going to be missing from The Sims 4™ that seemed integral to The Sims 3™ and my heart dropped into the pit of my stomach and wallowed in angry despair. I claimed that I wouldn’t even pay five bucks for this game. I declared that I would even go so far as to torrent it. I was highly unamused.

Now I hear you wondering where I’m going with this. What changed to make me so excited once more? Well, let me tell you a story, a story so boring that it could put you to sleep almost as surely as warm milk and cookies. I did my research. It truly was as simple as that. Sure, I’ll miss the pools and scantily clad Sims frolicking in the water. I’ll miss the expansive customisation of CASt. I’ll miss… actually I can barely even remember all the things I will miss. All I can think of right this very moment in time is how much fun I’m going to have playing with my new toy once I get my grubby little hands on it. Not everyone is going to love all the new features without having all their beloved experience from The Sims 3™ ported directly into it with the improvements of these new features.

Just because a few people are stuck in the past and expect a business to give them everything instantly for practically nothing; it doesn’t mean you should lose your hope and excitement for this game if you are looking forward to playing it. There are things that are missing now that can easily be re-worked to be compatible with the new systems and animations in the future. These things aren’t necessarily going to be gone forever. Patience is a virtue that every Simmer should have but it seems not everyone does. I know I’m excited. Are you?

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