We need to talk about The Sims 4

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A group of Sims packed way too close together. Clearly social distancing doesn’t exist in The Sims 4 Wikimedia

The latest installment is a buggy mess

The Sims 4 is a game created by the company EA with the idea of having “the power to create and control people in a virtual world where there are no rules” (EA.com). It was released in 2014 and is the fourth installment of the game, with the first game being released in 2000.

I love The Sims 4. I really do. It’s my most played game. As of writing this article, I have logged 9,060 hours in The Sims 4. I have spent so much time dedicated to my small, fictional cyber-families. But the game has a lot of issues.

To start with: the pricing. The base game is $40. The digital deluxe edition is $50. With the digital deluxe edition, you can have some fun animal hats, or you could be a hotdog. The only real change it makes on gameplay is a couple of new party options. There are four types of additional content for The Sims 4: expansion packs, game packs, stuff packs, and kits. These cost $54, $30, $15, and $7, respectively. Altogether, these packs begin to stack up in price. And if you want every single piece of additional content? It’ll cost you $1,250.51.

So, obviously, The Sims 4 loves its downloadable content (DLC). It has DLC for the DLC. “My First Pet Stuff” is a stuff pack that you can only get with the expansion packs “Cats and Dogs.” “My First Pet Stuff” is full of items that should have been in “Cats and Dogs” pack but weren’t. It feels like EA is just taking items that were scrapped in the creation phase of “Cats and Dogs” and selling it again for more money.

Then there’s the world itself. A big draw of The Sims 3 was the open-world concept. You couldn’t move between worlds, but the world you lived in was big. There were a lot of people and a lot of places. The Sims 4 is not open world. You can travel between worlds freely, but they’re much, much smaller. Players have to sit through a loading screen every time they want to leave their lot. The loading screens are not very fast, especially for those who mod their game. It makes you never want to leave your lot, which is fine, but gets boring fast.

The game is buggy. Your sims will stand still for hours while you try and get them to go off to work or to even eat something. When speaking with a friend who’s also an avid Simmer, one of her biggest complaints was how long it takes your sims to do the things you want them to. Her sims would get penalized, demoted, and eventually fired simply because they didn’t go to work when she wanted them to. It’s a stark difference from The Sims 3 where your sims would drop everything to go to school or work.

When The Sims 4 was first released, a lot of the marketing was that your sims would be smarter. They are not smarter. I can’t remember one time in my hundreds of hours of The Sims 3 having any of my adult sims pee themselves. During the week that I’m writing this, my adult sims in The Sims 4 peed themselves three times. Sims in The Sims 4 seasons will constantly freeze to death or burn to death, simply because they refuse to change into their hot or cold weather outfits. And when you’re managing a household with more than a couple of sims, it’s difficult to keep on top of these things.

Another huge piece of marketing for The Sims 4 was that your sims could multitask for the first time. While they can multitask, they can’t multitask well. They can eat while they talk, but it takes twice as long to finish the meal. And worst of all: talking with multiple sims at once. When your sims are out in public trying to have a conversation, random sims will walk up and join the conversation. It’s incredibly frustrating. I have a mod in my own personal game to easily kick strangers out of your own conversation and it’s the most valuable mod I have (Editor’s note: If only this mod existed in real life…).

There are some issues with the mechanics of the “University” pack. It takes three weeks at minimum for your sim to finish university. While your sims are at university, time passes normally. Your sim will spend their entire young adult life at university – as opposed to The Sims 3, where time was stopped while your sim was at university and their lives were put on pause. Sending your sim to university in Sims 4 feels like a waste of time and money on the pack.

Kids in The Sims 4 can’t do anything. It’s difficult to max out the kids’ skills, which they need to do to gain the skills they use as adults. There’s only a handful of activities for kids to do: the science table, the violin, and the art table. With each pack that comes out, all they do is reskin the same three items for kids. The kids can’t cook or do most skills that teenagers can, even when it makes sense for kids to be able to do them.

Another one of the biggest issues players have with the game is story progression. Players want the game to impact the story, but it doesn’t. Simple as that. EA has been trying to fix this lately, but the updates are slow, and players have been asking for years.

One problem that The Sims 4 had for a long time (but is now fixed) was skin tone. The game’s initial release had almost no skin tone range for darker-skinned people. Then, it took four years for the Sims team to add more shades in February of 2018, and even then, it was only 10 total. What they did add was bad. The skin looked discoloured, it was yellow, pink, or gray. The makeup the game added also looked bad and didn’t work well. An update was released in December of 2020 that added hundreds of new skin tone options to the game. In Create-A-Sim, all problems seemed to have been fixed. In gameplay, the old problems still existed. Since then, that problem has also been fixed, but it was frustrating for the community after begging for a fix for so long to have the fix exist with the same old issues.

The Sims 4 has a lot of problems. There’s also been a lot of problems that have since been fixed. So, who knows, maybe all of these issues will be fixed in the future. Maybe, one day, the Sims team will tell us what actually happened to Bella Goth. But, until then, enjoy the game however you want to. The most important part of video games is having fun, and despite all of its issues, The Sims 4 can still be fun.

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