The cartoony life simulator's latest outing
The Sims 4 is a simulation game that gives you total control over... well, almost everything. You can create your own characters and guide them through their lives from start to finish. Their job, their relationships, their house- it's all yours to control.
Whether you choose to play as realistically as possible or decide to take a more mischievous approach, you'll have the tools at your fingertips to live whatever lives you want to.
A polarizing entry to the franchise
Spanning several entries over the last decade, all rich with DLC content, The Sims franchise has garnered a devoted following. Play it and you'll soon see why. The level of depth and customization is addicting, and you may look up to realize you accidentally spent hours immersed in your own virtual world. However, not all fans were enthusiastic about The Sims 4.
The base version of the game presents a more stripped-down version of previous titles, something not all fans were pleased about. Though patches and DLC introduced some of that missing content to the game, many fan-favorite features remain absent. For example, the open-world that many players enjoyed from The Sims 3 is gone, and many of the supernatural character options are still nowhere to be seen.
Though this slimmed-down Sims offering garnered a negative fan response early on, The Sims 4 has matured into what is arguably the best entry in the series.
When addressing fan backlash, the developers of The Sims 4 cited they wanted to cut down on additional content in order to focus more on the characters themselves. This focus on character customization has definitely paid off.
Character animations are richer and more varied. Faces look more realistic and have much deeper customization options. The sliders of previous titles have been done away with in favor of a new point and click system that allows control over the most minute details. You can make a character that feels totally unique to you.
Tons of free content
Though certainly a sparse offering at release, The Sims 4 has more than made up for that with the release of a treasure trove of new content since launch. Additional content is grouped into three categories: Expansion Packs, Game Packs, and Patches.
Expansion Packs are large DLC offerings that include new worlds, game mechanics, and outfits. Downloading the Island Living expansion pack, for example, adds a new island world to the game. You can explore the island, go diving, buy boats, or play as a mermaid.
Game Packs are a little slimmer than Expansion Packs, but still offer plenty of content. Usually Game Packs focus more on items or outfits of a particular theme, such as in the Vampire Game Pack.
Finally, The Sims 4 features plenty of additional content added via regular free updates. Many of the features fans complained were absent at the game's launch have since been added to the game for free via these patches. Despite going on 5 years old, The Sims 4 shows absolutely no sign of slowing down and additional content will keep coming into the future.
A few hiccups
The Sims 4 is an excellent game, but that doesn't mean it isn't without its fair share of flaws. One of the major features that players complained had been cut at launch is the traits feature.
Though it's still present in the game, it's much more streamlined than before, only allowing users to select a handful of traits for a single Sim. Compared to a much deeper trait system in previous games, you're unfortunately not able to delve too deep into the personalities of your Sims.
Although much of the content missing at launch has since been added via DLC and patches, the base version of the game still feels sparse without the additional content. If you're not inclined to download the DLC, you might feel like you're missing out on big pieces of the game experience.
Finally, one of the biggest complaints is the lack of an open world. Though the world of the Sims 4 is still free to roam up to a point, you'll find yourself encountering quite a few loading screens. To say that the loading screens are frequent might be an understatement. You'll find yourself encountering these loading screens even when completing the simplest of tasks, such as entering a house.
The load times themselves aren't particularly long, and it does lend to a more stable experience than previous titles with fewer freezes or crashes. That said, having a loading screen pop up every few minutes can get annoying fast.
The Sims 4 is still a polarizing game despite the strides its made since launch. If you're more inclined to take the title's criticisms to heart, you may want to give Avakin Life a try. Made for mobile platforms, Avakin takes pages from titles like Sims and Second Life. Avakin also offers multiplayer options, something that the single player Sims franchise has yet to include.
IMVU is another mobile alternative with a similar concept. Online play is present in IMVU as well, allowing players to meet and interact with other avatars from around the world.
A strong showing despite a weak start
Despite getting off to an admittedly shaky start at launch, The Sims 4 is perhaps the best Sims game yet. With tons of additional content, smoother gameplay, richer animations, and continued developer support, this could easily be the only Sims title you would ever need to buy.
If you're still worried about a lack of content, you can rest easy. The Sims 4 is still receiving regular free updates and DLC bundles packed with new gameplay, locations, and costumes. The recently released Discover University DLC bundle, for example, has added the world of academia to the game. You can now send your Sims off to college and enjoy all the over-the-top chaos that's sure to follow.