The Sims 4 for starters

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Two drawings of humanoids with green diamonds floating above their heads walk past each other on a beige background overlaid with darker beige circles. One humanoid, walking towards the left of the photo and in the middle ground, has chin length blue hair and is wearing a green long-sleeved shirt, grey shoes, and brown pants. The other humanoid, walking towards the right of the photo and in the foreground, has shoulder-length burgundy hair and is wearing a dusty pink T-shirt and blue pants.
In-depth character creation, my beloved. lee lim

If you’ve never played it, here’s what you should know 

The Sims 4 was released in September 2014, and with nearly 10 years of The Sims 4, there’s a lot to know for beginners. 

First of all, the three game modes. Create-a-Sim is where you make the character, or characters, you’ll play in-game. Unlike previous games which used sliders to change facial features, The Sims 4 has a detail mode to change small facial details. You can do that, or choose from one of the many pre-made options. You can dress your sim for different occasions, choosing clothes, hair, makeup, accessories, pretty much everything.  

You also decide their traits, which will influence gameplay, while most clothing options don’t. Traits make up who your Sim is and what they like doing, which can affect their job or their relationships. You pick their lifetime aspiration, which is the big goal your Sim is working towards. You pick their voice, and even the way they walk. With newer updates, you can pick your Sim’s pronouns, their gender identity, and their sexual orientations.  

Build mode lets you create houses or other lots, like businesses or parks. The Sims comes with pre-made houses and lots within every world (of which there are 24, including two vacation-only worlds) as well as empty lots where you can build. The build mode catalog comes with everything you need to build whatever you want.  

Live mode takes what you did in Create-a-Sim and what you did in build mode and lets you explore with it. You play as your character, or characters, and you start at the home that you made, or decorated, or just moved into. You can choose their job, start working on their skills, and start building relationships with other sims.  

Currently, The Sims 4 is free on Steam and the EA Play app. Expansion packs are $50 CAD, game packs are $30 CAD, stuff packs are $15 CAD, and kits are $7 CAD. There are 14 expansion packs, 12 game packs, 19 stuff packs, and 25 kits.  

One of the biggest questions is always, “What pack do I get?” and you’ll get mixed answers, depending on who you’re talking to and what your gaming style is.  

If you like family gameplay, the two expansion packs you should get are “Growing Together,” a family-based pack, and “High School Years,” which lets you explore teen gameplay in a deeper manner. The “Parenthood” game pack is a complete necessity for family gameplay. “Toddler Stuff,” “Kids Room,” “Backyard Stuff,” and “Laundry Day” are all stuff packs that add just a little oomph to family gameplay. It adds more interactable items for kids, and one of the joys of adulting for parents: laundry.  

If you just like building, I recommend “City Living” for the new apartments, “Eco Lifestyle” for build/buy objects, and “Cottage Living” for more dynamic landscapes. The game pack “Dream Home Decorator” is a builder’s best friend because of its vast amount of different options for the same item, which allows for more customizable builds. “Tiny Living” is the must-have stuff pack. The items are smaller and more compact which allow for a greater variety of builds. “Paranormal” and “Home Chef Hustle” both come with some really nice-looking build/buy items.  

If you like to play with occult sims, servos AKA robots are from “Discover University,” aliens are from “Get to Work,” spellcasters are from “Realm of Magic,” mermaids are from “Island Living,” vampires are from “Vampires,” and werewolves are from “Werewolves.” If you play on PC and you like to use occult sims in your gameplay, get the “Stand Still in Create-a-Sim” mod. You’ll thank me later, because it gets really frustrating when they do the same motion every two seconds and you can’t actually make the Sims. In my opinion, the most developed occults are vampires, werewolves, and spellcasters, providing a lot more gameplay options.  

If you like gameplay, but not one specific style, you should start off with “Seasons” for the variety of the weather, “Cats and Dogs” to add another element to your sims’ lives, “Discover University” for higher level career paths, and “Get Together” for the club gameplay. You can try the game packs “Outdoor Retreat” and “Jungle Adventure” for vacation gameplay.  

Now that it’s mostly fixed, “My Wedding Stories” is a great option for fun wedding gameplay. “Home Chef Hustle” is a great stuff pack because your Sims are going to spend more time in the kitchen than you expect. “Movie Hangout” is a great stuff pack to have fun events for your Sims, if you can manage to get them to all sit down. “Tiny Living” is fantastic, especially for single starter Sims because of the bonuses available from living in tiny homes.  

The best worlds to live in are Chestnut Ridge from “Horse Ranch,” Henford-on-Bagley from “Cottage Living,” Windenburg from “Get Together,” Brindleton Bay from “Cats and Dogs,” San Myshuno from “City Living,” San Sequoia from “Growing Together,” and Moonwood Mill from “Werewolves.” 

Recommending kits is difficult because they each feel so niche to one person’s style. If you like to build, you should get some clutter kits, like “Bathroom Clutter” and “Everyday Clutter.” If you want something for your kid sims, there’s options like “First Fits” and “Little Campers.” If you want an actual impact on your gameplay, get “Bust the Dust” for vacuuming (and one of the best ways to earn quick cash in the game – dust bunnies).  

Packs to avoid: number one is “Dine Out.” It’s a great game pack, except it’s broken. It takes forever to get your food, forever to eat, and forever to leave. Number two is “Journey to Batuu,” the Star Wars pack. Odds are, you’ll go to Batuu once and never again, but someone is going to tell you to go to Batuu every time you make a new save. Number three, “Luxury Party” stuff pack. It’s not all that bad, it was just the first one and doesn’t hold up against the newer packs. Finally, there’s “My First Pet Stuff.” To use this pack, you need to have “Cats and Dogs.” It’s downloadable content (DLC) for DLC. It’s just not worth $65 CAD total.  

Before you start going crazy buying Sims packs, remember your computer needs to be able to run it. At minimum, you need an Intel Core i3-3220 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor; NVIDIA GeForce 6600, ATI Radeon X1300, Intel GMA X4500 graphics card, or better if you have one; 4GB of RAM; 25 GB for the base game; and Windows 10. A regular laptop might not be enough to run the game, and it’s certainly not if you load your game full of mods like I do. Make sure your computer has what it needs to run The Sims 4 before spending money on DLCs.  

Once you have your computer, the base game, and your desired DLC, you’re ready to start Simming!  

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