A bungalow I've designed.

Sims 4 is Free, but I STILL LOVE Sims 2

EA announced The Sims 5, and there is an upcoming rival to our beloved life sim. With the most recent entry slowly signing off, how does The Sims 4 fare?

Base game is free-to-play

The Sims 4 is free-to-play (since October 18). It was released in 2014 and used to be $4.99 during sales. The base game is permanently free now. It’s obvious that EA is pushing players to buy the expansion packs, game packs, stuff packs, and kits fast. That has always been The Sims model which is unpopular to some players. But realistically speaking, Sims and new content go hand-in-hand. It’s the way to fund the game. But adding Sims 4 to your digital shelf is a no-brainer since the base game has gone a long way with numerous free content. For example, the build mode and adding a pool. However, buying the enormous library of paid content is another topic.

New Expansion: Sims 4 Growing Together

A woman with a hearing aid carrying her baby, a group of children birdwatching, and other people in enjoying their time in the park.

The Sims 4 Growing Together focuses on the basic building block of society (and Dom’s most important thing in the world) – which is Family. The latest expansion will feature character growth, social dynamics, and family ties. Players will also be able to settle down on a new town.

The expansion reminds me of The Sims 3 Generations which is still one of the best Sims trailers out there – if not THE best trailer; and also one of the best expansion packs of Sims 3 – if not THE best Sims 3 expansion. But it makes me wonder why adding this content on focusing on the family comes in very late.

Then the Kits

A gallery of the Sims 4 kits.

Kits are bite sized paid content introduced in The Sims 4. That is they’re smaller than stuff packs. And I’m not real sure what to think about this business model with my favorite life-sim. It feels like I’m not investing enough on the game if I don’t have them all. But at the same time, it feels like it’s not worth investing my time in the game too.

I feel like I’m playing a hodgepodge of content so I have to choose a specific theme instead. At the same time, I feel like I’m limiting myself that way too. Look at the Grunge Revival – it doesn’t look grunge. I feel a disconnect of the contemporary design. Basement Treasures and Greenhouse Haven are worth having on the base game too. Frankly all of these should be on the base game. But here’s an idea, how about adding a paid content about the 60s, 70s, 80s era?


Paralives screenshot of a studio type home with windows on the roof with the sunset rays lighting down the bedroom.

Paralives is an upcoming life simulation game for PC and Mac. Players will build homes for Parafolks, so that they can live and work (similar to The Sims’ initial pitch of “Build. Buy. Live.”) But there are TWO things that hooked me in Paralives: First, The Sims 5 tech and play demo looks similar to Paralives. Second, Paralives’ first gameplay demo reminds me of The Sims 2 tutorial level. That tutorial was the start of my Sims career. In Paralives, players can build curved walls, place custom wallpapers, and create detailed Parafolks. In addition, the colorful cell-shaded art style of the game looks pleasantly appealing. The overall feel is nice and relaxing.

Life By You

Life By You screenshot showing a grid and the building tool.

Life By You is a new IP and upcoming life-simulation game where you can create your character, their home, and the town that they’ll live in. Rod Humble is involved in Life By You’s creative direction, and he’s made significant works on Sims 2 and 3. Life By You will certainly give Sims 5 a run for their money.

If this game delivers what it promises, we will see the what could have been the ultimate successor akin to Sims 3. Life By You will feature an open-ended world and procedural developments to the town as part of its core gameplay. The game is currently single-player. But Humble explained that NPCs will be subjected to the same game principles; for example, the vans driving around the town will not only be backdrops but they’re deliveries for NPCs for ordering food or items.

The Sims 4 experience?

Honestly, I did not feel any significant connection with The Sims 4. However, I prefer it over Sims 3 on a few things: its overall graphics, user-interface experience, and available content. I cannot ignore The Sims 3’s ground breaking real-time and open world mechanic. Although I found the animation in Sims 3 clunky and buggy. The UI on Sims 3 also turned me off when some of the items won’t show up immediately – similarly to a website loading images using a slow browser. Plus I prefer Sims 4 character design.

Now here are some of my problems it:

I can’t plan the long term on The Sims 4. It feels like playing a dollhouse. You only manage the daily needs and I can’t daydream on what to do with my Sim in the long future. The romantic feeling of nurturing your Sim is gone. And it feels like I’m playing a character manager instead. I get stumped on what to do next and I end up exiting the game.

It also feels like a glorified mobile game. And maybe I should start playing it on a handheld. I’m all for new content, but it’s paid content that drags on. I want a complete game. Or a complete all-bases covered expansion pack instead. Now you have three categories of paid content. Lastly the storytelling could have been better. I find the lack of new celebrity Sims but I am grateful to find the Pleasants, Calientes, and Don Lothario.

How do I score The Sims 4?

I remember my day one with Sims 4. If I were to rank my play experience between Sims 1 through 4, and arrange the best play experience, I would rank them this way:

  1. Top spot goes to The Sims 2.
  2. The Sims 4 (would sit either in number 2 or 3). The compromise on exploration is fine. Clothing and gameplay can be better. But I prefer the gameplay on Sims 4.
  3. The open world is revolutionary, but the optimization was a problem for me in The Sims 3. I didn’t like the character design.
  4. The Sims comes at last place but certainly not the least.

Sims 5 concept of the new neighborhood showing the apartment complex.

Sims 5 is coming. But we’re still very far from it. Now we’re seeing a nod to having the multiplayer aspect too. Even the fringe Vivaland has multiplayer in mind. Is this the next iteration? For the meantime, I’m fine with staying with Sims 4. But it won’t hurt to try the other game.

Admin / Author
A portmanteau for someone. Aspiring novelist, university graduate in Business Administration, Applied Computer Science, and an avid gamer. He currently works as an Adaptive Technology and Exams Coordinator, and as an indie game-developer on itch.io.

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