The Sims, one of the world’s best-selling video game franchises, will make a return this year with The Sims 4. The upcoming life simulation game follows the lead of its predecessors as players lord over virtual people called “Sims,” dictating their lives from their biggest achievement such as raising a family, to very minor details like going to the bathroom.
Announced last May 6 2013, The Sims 4 promises further improvements upon the already strong foundation laid down by the previous games. If the gameplay trailers (found in the official The Sims YouTube channel) are something to go by, then below are what Simmers should expect come the official release date about two months from now.
There is a more intuitive and interactive Create-a-Sim (CAS) mode. I have spent countless hours in the CAS mode of the previous games trying to sculpt the Sim that I wanted. Though the interface was simple, it was full of tabs and sliders that feel very mechanical. This made Sim creation more of a tedious task rather than a fun and artistic experience.
The revamped CAS window of The Sims 4 throws all that out the window. Instead of sliders, players now mold their Sims by clicking and dragging the body part into the shape they want. Everything from the curves of their eyebrows down to the size of their feet can be modified, allowing players to create Sims that look exactly (or almost exactly) like themselves and their friends. The “Lifetime Wish” from The Sims 3 has been renamed to “Aspirations” which carry with them specific traits. For example, a Sim with the aspiration of being a “Friend to the World” will have a bonus trait that allows them to make friends faster. Lastly, you can customize how your Sims walk and talk, further making your Sim as unique as you. Add these all up and you’ll have Sims with personalities that shine inside and out.
Players can now build houses on the fly. In my experience, building houses in The Sims has always been a hit or a miss. In the previous games, I tried creating houses that looked realistic while being architecturally feasible and beautiful. Often times, I wound up with a room that was too small, a wall that was out of place, or a sofa one feet away from the television. Given my innate lack of ability to create floor plans, I had to settle on building houses shaped like squares. Then I imagined my Sims mocking me for my lack of creativity. Boohoo.
Thankfully, The Sims 4 is looking to be much kinder to us architecturally-challenged players. The Sims 3 introduced “Blueprint Mode” where you can lay down a handful of predesigned floor plans complete with furniture, wallpaper, windows, and doors. The newest game expands on this by allowing players to place rooms which intelligently merge when they overlap. Players can also click and drag walls to expand and diminish a room as they see fit. Furniture automatically move with the walls, saving players the burden of manually rearranging a room. Additional features include three different wall heights, the ability to place house foundations at any time, additional architectural elements, and the automatic placement of windows. Lastly, for the first time in the series, players can pick up and move whole rooms and even entire houses – a feature that will definitely help when expanding your Sims’ dream home.
There will be improved and deeper gameplay. Adding to the already engaging and nonlinear gameplay of The Sims 4 are emotions. Your Sims undergo different emotional states depending on various factors such as their traits, their needs, the presence of other Sims, and even your house’s décor. These emotions affect what your Sims are willing to do, how they look, and how they interact with others. In short, the world affects you and you affect the world.
Lastly, The Sims 4 has been optimized to run better on low-end machines. One of the complaints against The Sims 3 was that even high-end gaming rigs had loading and frame rate problems during gameplay. Hopefully, the newest iteration of The Sims will have lesser loading times to compliment the new graphics and gameplay.
Given that the above are just sneak peeks into The Sims 4, expect that there’s a lot more in store for both Sims newbies and veterans. The official launch date is September 2, 2014 so mark your calendars and prepare your wallets!
Images from The Sims Facebook page.