This needs to be said: The Sims 4 is a massive disappointment. Not only that, but as an avid Sims fan, more often than not it feels like a colossal waste of my money.
Why is that? The answer is simple. EA simply just aren’t trying hard enough, and they aren’t listening to what we want.
I’m sure there are many of you who are shocked by this response to The Sims, especially during this pandemic, where a time-vacuum like that is the most enticing thing ever and we’ll all jump at the excuse to live different lives in a video game rather than worry about deadlines. However, I insist you look at this game closely and you understand that it just isn’t good enough.
Cast your mind back to previous entries in the series. The Sims, The Sims 2, The Sims 3; all of these are games that, despite their flaws, were satisfying. You came away feeling fulfilled, and like the product you were using was complete.
We are eight game packs, 18 stuff packs, and now nine expansion packs (after the announcement of Eco Lifestyle, but we’ll get to that shortly) in, and yet I find myself growing bored of playing in less than an hour. Why is this? Because everything that The Sims 4 produces feels half-baked.
The easiest way to realise this is to, once again, think about the packs and DLCs of past Sims games. Though not to everyone’s tastes, it’s indisputable that each and every pack in older games had a satisfying quantity of content – at the very least with expansion packs, The Sims’ largest DLC in regards to the amount of content. One of The Sims 4’s DLCs, Get Famous, added a new town with a total of two liveable lots. In contrast, The Sims 3’s Showtime has 13. That is a shockingly inadequate difference, especially in a game that is meant to be a successor.
I understand that The Sims 4 is attempting to be a game playable on most, if not all, computers – so as to not isolate its casual community who aren’t avidly fascinated with the wider world of gaming. Though, again, I must reiterate that this quality is insufficient. The Sims 4 severely decreased its scope, removing the open-world features that The Sims 3 had, thus allowing far more room for improvement elsewhere. There really isn’t an excuse for a £40 expansion pack providing me with two places to let my Sims live, especially when one of these lots is completely empty.
And it takes you five seconds to look at some of the lots that The Sims 4 team have created in these expansions and find countless discrepancies. Bathrooms and backdoors completely missing where they should be – this lack of attention to important detail is pitiful.
When it came to The Sims’ 20th birthday on 4 February 2020, marking the day that the franchise began, the fans were let down – as they have been on a regular basis. We were expecting a fun event, reward, or a mixture of both. Instead, we got a rather… eccentric-looking hot tub.
A hot tub, that before that birthday, was paid-for content. So not only was this gift from EA poor, it was disrespectful in the eyes of every player who had spent money on content just to have hot tubs. Basically, no-one won – other than The Sims team.
And that’s what stings. I’m here telling you every single thing that infuriates me about The Sims 4 and its constant failures and mistakes, but I can’t guarantee that I won’t eventually cave and buy The Sims 4 Eco Living, the next expansion, once it’s released. Every time I desperately hope that they’ve listened to us, that this new content is going to demonstrate that they hear us and are giving us content we can enjoy absolutely.
Now, before you offer a rebuttal, I’m aware of the two times The Sims 4 has actively tried to listen to us and act upon our feedback. They have allowed its player base to communally vote on the themes of two stuff packs. Thus, Laundry Day Stuff, and the upcoming Nifty Knitting Stuff were created.
Personally, being able to add laundry and knitting to a video game doesn’t make me feel like I’m having my voice heard. In fact, when I looked at both of these surveys, on both accounts, I wasn’t particularly stirred by the options I was granted.
There shouldn’t be a need for a poll to figure out what your player base wants, especially when the majority of packs from previous games were solid and mostly enjoyable. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” would be apt, but apparently The Sims 4 decided to strip back what made The Sims work so well until all that was left was a hollow, meaningless shell. Toddlers weren’t even in the game before fans complained and they had to be added in. Not only that, but The Sims 4 lacks content for most life-states other than young adult and adult. It’s no longer a family simulator, it’s something far more uninvolved.
I will end this on the subject of Eco Lifestyle, which I’m sure came as a surprise to many. It did to me, and I even naively tried to convince myself that it was a good surprise. Upon watching the trailer, despite what looked promising in the gameplay, I realised I hadn’t even thought about wanting this because I, strangely enough, didn’t want it.
Eco Lifestyle is rehashing a lot of concepts in The Sims 4’s other expansions. The conservationist career and emphasis on the environment from Island Living returns with a new shoddy coat of paint, and a lot of the way it has an emphasis on community bears similarities to what City Living attempted.
I shouldn’t be paying for The Sims 4’s retries, and nor should you. It’s not good enough. Hopefully, I’m proven wrong, and Eco Lifestyle shows that The Sims 4 isn’t a shameful mess in comparison to its predecessors. You may disagree with me, but I am confident that if The Sims, The Sims 2, or The Sims 3 and their respective content were being produced now, there’d be no debate that The Sims 4 was lacking.
The Sims 5 can not come soon enough. Though I still worry that’ll be even worse.