The Sims 4 Review – In a Nutshell

In our team we started our The Sims 4 review and when we hit 1000s of words just covering Create a Sim, we realised you probably don’t want to read all of that!

In this review we’re doing it short and sweet. Our in depth reviews of each part of The Sims 4, where needed, are coming.

You might also think, this review is so late. We’re happy to say, every body on our team now has a full-time job! Which has the downside of less time for The Sims and the site. However the upside of this is – we got to really think about this review. Things we hated in week 1 of release we’re now OK with and there are some things we didn’t even notice at first.

The Amazing Parts of The Sims 4

Aspirations
A Sim can now have as many Aspirations as they can manage in a lifetime and not only that, each aspiration comes with 4 different levels and 3-4 sub-00goals on each level. As a reward for achieving that aspiration they get an extra trait. These aspirations are super difficult though, one lifetime doesn’t seem to be enough to achieve all of them! #MustCollectThemAll

aspiration
Full Review and Guides are coming soon.

Careers
career2Before it was always easy to get higher up in a career: mood, friendships and skills. Now it comes with goals like washing dishes and doing romantic interactions, a daily task that helps you progress faster if you finish AND a preferred emotion. The formula to succeed in your chosen career is a lot more challenging, a big puzzle, which makes it more fun.

Then progressing in your job gives you rewards too, mostly new objects which you can later on buy more of in buildmode. I’m glad they brought back object rewards from The Sims 2!

I do wish it was possible for Adults to get one of the part-time jobs. Sometimes you need something part-time to pay the bills while focusing on your talents.

Full Review and Guides are coming soon.

Children
Children now have their own set of aspirations (Creativity, Mental, Motor and Social), achieving any of these give them a unique trait they get to keep when they age up. They also have 4 new unique skills (also called Creativity, Mental, Motor and Social), fulfilling any of these allows them to then learn associated ‘adult’ skills. For example creativity skill then allows the child to learn instruments or painting.

For the first time ever, I enjoy playing with Children – they do not feel like a boring inbetween stage to teen/adult but they are their own challenge!
children
Full Review and Guides are coming soon.

Buildmode
To sum up Buildmode: tactile, intuitive and easy. It has a learning curve if you come from any of the previous games, you have to think in boxes instead of single walls. Many Buildmode frustrations from previous The Sims games are gone, you can now move rooms or the entire house 1 tile when needed for example!

buildmode
Full Review and Tutorials are coming soon.

Create a Sim
Being able to push and pull and mold your Sim into any shape you want basically makes me think, why didn’t we have this before! It feels so natural and you can try it yourself right now in The Sims 4 Create a Sim Demo.

CAS
Full Review is coming soon.

Most Skills
Most of the Skills like painting, handiness, culinary and gardening got a great update in The Sims 4. Most of the upgraded skills are more versatile or basically give you many more things to make. Then there are also just new skills, like programming (again why didn’t we have that before?) and rocket science.

The cooking skill is a great example of an upgraded skill, there are so many different recipes you can make now (some recipes only show when your Sim has a certain emotion)! Handiness skill has been upgraded with woodworking, you can create your own furniture with it, so you can have a poor at home Sim and they can still survive! You can even make a violin with this skill.

woodworking

Then Gardening, you can splice plants together, creating one big plant with many different vegetables/fruits on it!

Multi-plant
Full Review and Guides are coming.

Details
detailsEvery incarnation of The Sims stays interesting because Maxis studio sneaks a lot of subtle details into the game and it stays fun discovering those. From freezer bunny in the fridge, scraping food off a plate before washing it, to being amused at the moodlets Sims get after woohoo.

We’re going to make a full list of details we like. Have any you like? Tell us in a comment!

Emotions
Emotions are very easy to forget about as something new in The Sims 4, it feels completely natural that your Sims have emotions. This opens up so many gameplay options that I didn’t even imagine before having The Sims 4, having an angry Sim actually amuses me while in other The Sims games I would always avoid the negative gameplay!

Objects can give emotions too, I like this because certain paintings do inspire me and I can imagine thinking about chess moves makes people focused.

emotions
Full Review and Guides are coming soon.

Stuff can be placed everywhere!
It is not uncommon to find your Sim have placed a bowl in the bookcase, because why not? It is fantastic that bowls, books and other small items CAN be placed everywhere. Makes it very realistic though not sure a human would place a cereal bowl in the bookcase.
stuffanywhere

The Good

Money & bills
2014-10-12_20-48-41Earning money is more difficult in The Sims 4, this is a good thing because in The Sims 3 it was too easy. The amount of money that Sims earn from a job is, especially in the beginning, not a lot and buying new objects is not cheap! Then there are the dreaded bills, these are certainly more expensive than any other The Sims game! All in all, money has become a challenge for at least the first 2 generations.

Multitasking
Just like Emotions, it is very easy to forget Multitasking is a new component in The Sims 4. It feels so natural. It is really great to fill two needs at the same time, for instance social and eating. You can also notice multitasking in the subtle movements, a Sim listens to music and drums to the beat…while eating food.

multitasking

It is not perfect, if you want a Sim to hurry up and finish their meal the multitasking does slow down the interaction.

Vibrant town & Open World
While there is no open world, I don’t seem to miss it as much as I thought I would. The world is incredibly vibrant and alive. Your Sims can easily go outside, find some plants or talk to other Sims and during the day there are always Sims available to talk! You will notice there are many ‘townies’ walking about.

openworld

Sadly you cannot not follow your Sims to work/school. They just disappear off the lot, there is not even a carpool to pick them up. For the last month I’ve tried to accept this fact but I really just do not like it. If a carpool would pick up my Sim and there was a district in the neighborhood with office buildings (even if we couldn’t load it) it would possibly help with this.

The No feelings on it one way or another

Other Skills
There are some skills I just do to achieve the career/aspiration goal, but don’t really like/love them mainly charisma and logic. Even though the logic skill has the cool looking telescope/microscope these items feel too big and I just use the chessboard to progress the skill (there is no chess option on the computer). Charisma at least is easier to progress as it comes with social interactions.

logic

Whims
whimsIn old The Sims games, I would always try to achieve the wants/desires of my Sims. In The Sims 4 I seem to forget about the Whims, they are just there on the left of the screen and only seem needed when you really want to get one of the rewards.

Traits
Traits give your Sims personality (duh) and as far as I can see, it means they prefer to do certain things over others. Foodie likes a good meal, Geek Sims need video games. Mainly it seems to affect the moodlets and whims they get. But I’ve not yet found that I had a Sim that could not do something because he/she missed a certain trait. I will say 300h in a game is nowhere near enough to discover traits fully.

Though really, no random trait generator in the game? What is up with that. Use our Random trait generator to get some unique/quirky Sims instead!

Collecting
I like that we have a collecting journal and it is a challenge to fill it up, I’m not feeling the desire to collect ‘m all as I’ve had in previous games.
collecting

Loading Screens
My main pet peeve originally was loading screens and I still don’t like them now. But they are a necessary evil for fast gameplay! It has to do with memory speed of the drives the game pulls data from. Aka, I got a technical computer presentation at work and I had that ‘lightbulb’ moment, ‘oh loading screens aren’t too bad’.

 loadingscreen

Data is stored on the harddrive which generally is a slow device, it doesn’t feed the data as fast to the rest of the computer compared to RAM. During a loading screen, data from the harddrive is stored into the RAM (which is why The Sims 4 needs 4 Gig of Ram) so it can with great speed give you data of that Lot and Neighborhood. I wish this was explained to me in the past I would have gotten over loading screens much faster.

Someone more technical and familiar with the inner workings hopefully can explain how exactly this works with The Sims 4, my presentation was a general knowledge one that applies in a way to all games.

Social Events
Your Sims can host a parties in The Sims 4, these are called Social Events and are super challenging! You get goals like have 12 social interactions with your guests or more difficult feats like have 3 Sims be playful at the same time.

The Could be Better

Teen
While Children got a major upgrade in The Sims 4, the Teens seem to be pretty much adults with less romantic interactions and they have to go to school. There are no true interactions that I’ve seen that make a teen a teen. Besides that from a distance it is actually hard to see a teen from an adult, they are the same height – while very often true compared to Real Life in a game you want to know if your Sim is attempting to flirt with a teen or adult. In the following picture, guess which is the teen and which is the young adult!
teen

Lifespan
We have 3-4 controls over lifespan, short/normal/long and turning aging off. Normal lifespan feels too short, long feels too long. I wish we had more control like we got (later on) in The Sims 3. Make elder lifespan short, children long, adult normal and teen short. That sort of control was awesome to have, wonder why we didn’t get it in the basegame of The Sims 4.

Find out about age
Your Sim meets a townie, gets romantically involved and he/she moves into your household. Then you find out they are 2 days away from aging to an Elder. This happens very often. A solution would be when my Sim gets to know another Sim, we also get information about the other Sim’s age. 

NPC
Lack of Firemen and Burglar, it just feels odd to have a Sims game without these two. Then the cleaning services seem to skip days (other than the weekend), I also wish if you hired a cleaning service for a single time they would still come on a saturday/sunday, maybe at 1.5x the cost of a normal day.

Though Moza thinks Firemen will be added in an EP: The Sims 4: Hot City Nights. You should ask her on twitter about it 😉

Color matching & CAST
Every basegame seems to have the curse of not matching items/clothes. I got used to no cast but having the green bed not match the green sofa. Or red dress that doesn’t have matching red shoes… matchy matchy is a bad thing but not matching at all is worse! In the following picture, the bedframe doesn’t match the dresser/end table. And the bedding doesn’t really match the sofas. This stuff bothers me!
cast

Though community will fix this I bet 🙂 If you do not mind playing with Custom Content.

Inventory
When I have a collector Sims, they collect a lot. Plants, rocks, MySims statues, everything they can collect they will. But then the inventory becomes one big mess. I wish we had options to show just plants, just rocks, etc.

Mischief skill
There is Mischief and there is being evil, I feel the mischief skill is just too mean. I enjoy that there is a more evil skill but I do not want every single Sim to get it and right now, every Sim gets it. When they have it, their natural instincts seem to be to increase it.

Stats
Easy to miss, but there is a stats button in the game. Neat that we got it, but why so few stats? No stat on how many books my Sim has read, how many paintings painted, how many times passed out? I hope we community members will be given the opportunity to suggest future stats, I want to have more in here!
2014-10-12_20-22-29

Family tree
If you usually just play a few generations in the same home this is something you won’t miss. But if you play many generations like Moza and Deagh do, you want a family tree! When you move a Sim out, you want to know if they get (grand)kids who then later on become friends with your Sims’ grandkids. A family tree could show these unique connections!

Spouse death
Your Sim stays married to their Spouse, even after death. If you want them to move on with a new relationship they have to eventually divorce the original spouse before they can get into a relationship… yeah… that needs to be fixed.

Gallery
2014-10-12_20-27-42Gallery is fantastic but very far from perfect. I love how easy it is to have a new house on my Sims’ lot There are three things that would make the gallery awesome, first is a separate system on a website where we can browse creations without having the game open.

The second thing is better filters. Houses cannot be filtered by # of bed/bathrooms, but the game does have that information!

Finally… you have to be in Build mode to download a house and every time I do this, I seem to be in Live mode… why can’t the gallery say “build mode is required, are you ok with going to build mode”. Game is already paused when you are in the gallery, I don’t see why this is not a possibility already.

Styled Looks
Styled looks are a new option in Create a Sim and it has great potential, you can just select a different look and Makeup/Clothes/Accessoires are all put on your Sim. No effort. There is however no way to create your own look and share these with other people. Great system, could be better.

UI
UI stands for User Interface and the it is the current trend to have the smallest UI as possible.  I’m all for that, The Sims 3’s UI does feel incredibly bulky now. There are two parts that I feel that the UI in The Sims 4 missed the boat on.

I want to be able to see more at the same time… aspirations and skills at the same time for example. I want to have that option somehow, I’m forever going between options to get all the information.

This might seem minor to some and I’m very picky about this as I study a lot of User Interface designs (it is needed for website designs). The the way I play, my left hand is near the WASD keys, my right hand is on the mouse. My mouse cursor is usually somewhere in the center or lower side of the game. To get to 2nd floor of the house or to put a wall up, every single time (I cannot seem to get used to this), I have to search for where that option is on the screen (right top). Most of the options in the game that you use a lot are on the lower side of the screen, it takes effort to go to the right top. Another option is to use page up/down but my right hand is on the mouse, so I would have to let go of the mouse to go there.
ui

Why is that all a problem? A good UI requires the least effort to navigate/use and it also gives you all the information you want while using the least amount of space. There is an art to user interface designs and it really hard, I want to emphasize that – designing a good UI is incredibly hard. The Sims 4 UI feels like it has a few mistakes that could be improved on.

Temporary/Easy solution, give us a menu option to define our own keyboard shortcuts! So I can add different shortcuts for the options that feel take effort to find.

Autosave
Did you know, the game has Autosave. It is very easy to miss because the game doesn’t tell you when it saves it to autosave – it’s actually every time you leave the lot and get the loading screen.

Another reason to easily miss it, you have to actually search for the load button to get to the autosaved game instead of the regular save. When you did find it after your game crashed, every single time for me personally I realized it did not actually give me a useful savegame (one just before my game crash). Most of the time it is the same savegame as when I manually saved it (hours before the crash).
 2014-10-12_20-55-09I applaud the idea of getting autosave into a The Sims game but why not do it right, timed savegames on intervals of our choosing (15min if your game is unstable, 30min normal, 60min if you trust your game). The accepted evil will be then that it will pause your game for a bit but I can accept that. Then it should also not just save each time to the same autosave slot, but to 2-3 different ones. So slot A: 15 min ago, B: 30min ago and C: 45min ago. This is how it works in many other games I’ve played.

No way to disable DLC
I got the digital deluxe edition and I’m not a fan of the animal hats. I wish I could disable the animal hats in some form of launcher or setting in game. Currently it feels like they are just cluttering up my menu options. I hope we get an option that disables DLC even when we did buy it. Right now we have very little DLC but this is The Sims, my collection will go to mega proportions 😉

The Bad

Tutorial
The very first question I got from a friend about The Sims 4, how do I turn off the tutorial? Not even kidding. A good tutorial helps you learn new things but doesn’t obstruct the gameplay. In The Sims 4 some of the popups will not go away unless you actively interact with the popup or do what the game wants you do, like cook a meal.
 2014-10-12_20-57-38

A tutorial shouldn’t force you into a certain gameplay unless you want that, for instance in The Sims 1 you could load Bob & Betty Newbie to learn how to play the game. A tutorial should also not prevent you from clicking an option in Buildmode and getting a popup that completely freezes the game unless you click it away.

I will say, games need tutorials because we do not have manuals any more. But they shouldn’t be annoying.

MOO
MOO is the fun abbreviation for Move Objects On. This cheat allows you to pick up any object or Sim and move them somewhere else. This cheat is not in The Sims 4 like it was in The Sims 1-3. This cheat is not used in every day gameplay but if you are building or taking screenshots it really makes a difference. Builders want to move objects to different spots and screenshot creators want more expressive screenshots and this cheat allowed for both.

The cheat is missed hopefully it comes back.

Conclusion

I think The Sims 4 is a fantastic and beautiful game, most of the screenshots in this review were taken with Medium graphic settings and you cannot even tell! It is not perfect game but it is an incredibly solid base. It feels like many things/gameplay can easily be added to it, what we have now is fun, challenging and I want to play as much as I can. I’m sure with Expansion Packs, Patches and community mods we will get a bigger game than The Sims 3.

You might think the list of ‘dislikes’ is longer than the list of likes/loves but don’t forget, the dislikes get a single paragraph if that but most of the things we love are getting their own review! Topics like Create a Sim and Buildmode are each worthy of their own review.

In our team we’re nearing then 700h all together in this game, if not more. My current goal is to have 1 Sim finish every single aspiration so she has the maximum amount of traits.

Finally, I will leave you with this thought. What is with all the MySims references? Are we getting another MySims game?

Author: sww

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19 Comments

  1. I am most excited about the gardening, and splicing.

    I think I would make my Sims use it to its full potential, making a living off the gardens, and only the gardens. If there is ever an ‘Open For Business’ expansion pack, I would definitely make a greengrocer where my Sims could sell all of their delicious fresh fruits and vegetables!

    Thankyou! 😀

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  2. Like many others I look forward to the overall gameplay in The Sims 4. The fact that you can now multitask is amazing because now your sim can get their social up while doing a task such as cooking a meal. The children can do so much more also and I’m interested in seeing how much they can do. Earning money is harder which makes the game more fun trying to struggle to pay the bills and if you forget to pay them the utilities are shut off like in real life.

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  3. I’m excited about all the build changes! Especially being able to put items down anywhere on a surface/wall. My number one pet peeve in the sims 3 was not being able to put paintings or wall lights exactly where I wanted to but now I can and my sims can live in glorious, meticulously-designed houses after I’ve nit-picked every detail.

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  4. Wow, your article was really informative! Thanks to your great article, I now know a lot more about the features that make the Sims 4 unique. I have watched a lot of “Let’s Plays” but there were certain parts of the game that don’t always make it into those lets plays. But now I am a lot more familiar with how amazing this game is! Thanks, I will share this with my friends who are on the edge of buying the Sims 4.

    I think what interests me the most are the aspirations. I really find it interesting that the player has the ability to freely switch the aspirations. Furthermore, I think it is awesome that you can gain more traits because of this. Initially, I was really upset because we could only have so little traits. However, if I get the game, my first goal will be to make a sim who will try to get all of the traits before they die! It will be a challenge, but that is one thing I love about this game! It is not handing us life on a silver platter; life isn’t easy. And I like how realistic EA makes this!

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  5. I really like the way you organized your review. Showing all the new/different features is extremely interesting, and you’re probably the first website to do that in such details and with quality screenshots (when possible).
    Probably more useful for old Sims players than new players, but still interesting and original.

    Thanks !

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  6. I’m really excited about the new and innovative build mode features! It’s pretty stunning, especially when you compare it with The Sims 3. You can move the whole house, single rooms, you have the ability to create amazing and unique roofs etc. 😀 There’s so much to do and it’s all pretty easy 🙂 Simply perfect.

    I’d love to see a tool for The Sims 4, which allows you to make your own worlds and modify them as you wish! By that, I mean being able to remove loading screens inside a neighborhood or remove them entirely, create bigger worlds, bigger lots and edit the public spaces. That would be absolutely awesome 😀
    I imagine my Sim visiting his best friend, without any interruptions. Then, they go to the modified public spaces in the new swamp world I created. When the end of the day is nigh, they go to a club in downtown and also in the same world with many different areas 😀

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  7. im most excited about aspirations! I’m a big micro manager so having little goals and even being able to switch aspirations at any time is perfect. Also kids aspirations are just adorable

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  8. I’m most excited for the CAS because I will get to be to create loss of different Sims. My Sims will use this because I’m creating them but if I don’t like the way they look I could easily change them.

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  9. I’m looking forward to Create a Sim.
    I can’t wait to see how pretty or odd I can make my sims.

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  10. I love the diversity and the intelligence of the Sims personality,traits and behaviour…Like
    EA said they’re so smart that it’s weird!

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  11. I’m looking forward to the new create a sim. I believe that my sim’s story begins in CAS. With the new features I can make a cool and diverse story that will lead to a long legacy of awesome sims!

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  12. I am really excited for emotions. I love making a story and emotions can add drama in important parts. Now when something good (or bad) happens my sim can have the proper response! I look forward to spicing up my sim’s everyday life.

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  13. I’m most excited about the new CAS and Build Mode! They both seem so simple, but yet so intricate. I can’t wait to be able to actually make unique Sims that will actually look different from each other and be dressed in for once, good, up-to-date, fashions. EA has stepped up their game this time around, and looking at TS4, it needs no Mods or CC to give it new features or things like decent clothes and hairstyles. The build mode looks absolutely amazing and with the absence of terrain tools, the new features like window placement, improved roof placement, and curved porch/roof features makes up for it all. This game looks simply amazing and I literally cannot wait for the time to come where I will get my chance to create and do amazing things within this game.

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  14. I’m most ecited about the new CAS, emotions and build mode.

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  15. Cannot wait to play with children for the first time. The first Sims they were a flat character never developing. The sims 3 I just age them up once i get their grades where they need to be. Spending time at this age helping to develop them as a character will be so much more fun than the past! Yay

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  16. i’m most excited about build mode because unlike previous games, build mode is much more easier and faster than ever . I can literally drag walls whatever I want without thinking too much on the process.

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  17. I will create the characters from desperate housewives in the sims 4. The new build mode feature will help me create Solis house. The other housewives will be living with Grabiel because they lost their money and grabiel is their only hope

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  18. I was wondering what you meant by “Gallery”? Is it something that allows you to choose premade houses? I still only play Sims 3 w/a few expansions, so I wasn’t sure what this was. And I really enjoyed your review as well. But overall I still think I’ll wait a good while before investing in the next generation game.

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    • The gallery is the exchange version for The Sims 4 but more seamless 🙂 very simple to press a download button and immediately the house is placed

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