The Sims 4 First Impressions – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Since I received a The Sims 4 review copy the day of release, I wasn’t able to post a verdict before launch day. However, I have spent more than six hours in the game, and feel I have a solid grasp of the basics.
In this article I will briefly share what I consider to be the good, bad, and ugly points of my experience thus far.
- Since the world has been broke up into zones, there is no travel time anymore. Ultimately, I feel the change was a good thing. Instead of spending 15%~ of each day watching my Sim get taxi’d around the city—The Sims 3‘s Bridgeport was notorious for wasted time—The Sims 4 emphasizes gameplay. I’ve been able to focus on interactions and activities, rather than losing valuable time due to travel.
- The single best thing about The Sims 4 is its multitasking feature. Unlike previous games, you can perform more than one task at once. So, you can sit down and eat with a friend, play chess, and more while dictating the conversation. You can read a book while on the john, and even call someone while on the couch watching television. It’s something The Sims has needed for a long time.
- The Sims finally has intuitive controls! I went back and played The Sims 3 a couple months back, and let me tell you, the difference is like night and day. In The Sims 4 you can drag the camera around very smoothly using right-click, and interfacing with characters is no longer a chore. This is a game that feels great in the hands.
- The Gallery is not to be understated. With it, The Sims 4 has a sense of community, as well as giving you a ton of options for how you build up your world—without having to leave the game. After a couple hours of play I decided to spice up my world by adding Mr. Bean and Robert Downey Jr. The thing is that I didn’t make them, other people did. I was happy with their looks and traits so I favorited them in the Gallery and left positive comment. I’m sure the creators were happy about that.
- On the topic of creating characters, Create-A-Sim is excellent. You can very easily sculpt your Sim’s body and face to look however you want. And yes, I can confirm there are some ugly monstrosities in the Gallery already, as well as some impossibly beautiful human beings.
- This is a stunning game. I’d go as far as to say that it has the perfect graphics for the franchise. It is a pleasure to zoom in and watch Sims interact. I love that when I speed up time, particularly when my Sim is at work, I can actually see the shadows move as the time passes. The beauty extends to the user interface, which looks equally as good as it is functional.
- The new Build Mode is absolutely incredible. Not only does it have tons of features, including the ability to precisely define shapes and even raise or lower the foundation of your home, but it’s very easy to work with. I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend a lot of time working on my homes in The Sims 3, but I’ve already spent at least an hour in Build Mode on The Sims 4. Made better, you can actually share your content, so there’s some incentive to putting hard work into your creations.
- The audio is fantastic. Sims communicate their emotion through their tone, and there are some great tracks to listen to as well. I can neither confirm or deny that I danced a little bit when I first turned on the Electronic music.
Related: The Sims 4 Full Review
- It seems that most if not all objects can have their color customized. With this, it’s easy to color coordinate a home.
- Taking care of the needs of a Sim is made extremely easy by the integration of auto-solve. Basically, if your Sim has any need, whether it be hunger or fun, you can just tap the button on the needs panel and your Sim will find a way to take care of it.
- Events are fantastic! Setting them up is much improved, and has several options in a nice interface, but actually attending them is even better. Last night I went on a date and the game essentially turned the Night Club into a quest hub. I was given tasks to complete, and after doing a good job I was rewarded with a gold medal, which came with an excellent item to put in my home. Weddings are infinitely better than in The Sims 3, too.
- In my case, I feel the game is greatly optimized. I am running it on the High defaults at 1080p with an i5 Ivy Bridge, 8GB RAM, and GTX 570 with a very smooth framerate. I’m very happy with the performance, although your experience may be different.
- There are great moments to be had. Maxis has gone out of its way to make sure Sims are dynamic and unpredictable. I have seen Sims take photos of their food, have wild outbursts, and more that make for a good chuckle.
- Loading times are everywhere. If you want to go across the street, you’re going to have to load. There is very little exploration, and instead the game is broken up into one zone per location (i.e. home, gym, lounge. etc.). Granted, the loading times are below five seconds each on my PC, which has a Solid State Drive. This plays into one of the good qualities mentioned above, and could be a reason for the much-improved performance, but I still feel it’s important to mention that loading screens are prevalent in The Sims 4.
- Careers are very shallow. Maxis has re-introduced the “warp” style of the original The Sims, where instead of going to a work location or having any interaction at all, your character disappears after entering a car, only to reappear once work is over. There are some tasks to be done, such as making friends and improving skills, in order to get promotions, but that’s it. If you enjoyed the Ambitions expansion of The Sims 3, you may be sorely disappointed with The Sims 4.
- Glitches. I’ve run into a couple, and heard of dozens. While I haven’t heard of any that break the game, they can easily take you out of the experience. I’ve seen disfigured babies, and some pathing issues that result in odd situations. In one case, I went over to Emma Watson’s house—don’t judge—and we were sitting down for some coffee. Out of the blue, we both got up, exchanged seats, and continued the conversation. Yeah, that was 10 minutes into my game experience.
- The tutorial is actually quite annoying. I admire that it tries very hard to teach you, but there doesn’t appear to be way to disable it or at least skip steps without hitting the ‘next’ button over and over again.
- No dishwashers. For god’s sake, I LOVE DISHWASHERS! Dishwasher expansion incoming?
- Although I didn’t particularly care for it in The Sims 3, some fans will be unhappy with the fact that there is no Create-A-Style in The Sims 4. Previously, this allowed you to make your own patterns to decorate furniture.
- There aren’t a whole lot of activities to do, or places to go for that matter. I would have really liked to see a proper restaurant, a location to play sports, and an event arena. What is here is very basic, meaning you’ll have to derive a lot of your entertainment from Sim interactions rather than activities.
- No toddlers, pets, schools, or pools. I didn’t think this would bother me as much as it does. In the case of each of these, they would have done a lot to mix the gameplay up. Toddlers and pets weren’t perfect systems in The Sims 3, but they added content to the game. Schools and pools would have particularly helped with the lack of activities.
- The game is definitely designed for DLC. If you aren’t a fan of how previous installments of the franchise had tons of expansions and post-release content with a price tag attached, you’ll be sad to hear that nothing is changing. This game is very clearly lacking in content, and I’d be extremely surprised if Maxis isn’t already working on expansion content, which, let’s face it, will probably cost at least $40.
I must say, I am pleasantly surprised by The Sims 4. My experience so far has been great. Of all the negatives, the only one that has particularly bothered me is the lack of activities, and while it’s one that could make the game repetitive in the short-term, I feel that the bold improvements made by Maxis are much more substantial. In my opinion, this is a great game that is undeserving of the hate I’ve been seeing. To each his own, I guess.
Our review will be available before the weekend, so stay tuned for the final verdict!
Sad Keanu image courtesy of crash1337 on Reddit.