Let us address the elephant in the room immediately, The Sims 4 is better suited on the PC. Much like games such as Divinity Original Sin, you just cant beat mouse and keyboard. In fact many games that are ported from the PC to console have this as a forefront criticism, which is why I frankly find it bonkers that Microsoft haven’t implemented keyboard and mouse support for the Xbox One sooner. The argument that online play will be unbalanced is notable, but for games (such as The Sims 4) that are offline experiences, there’s no defending the lack of support. It’s to no fault of Maxis that this isn’t in place, and hopefully when support does eventually arrive devs will add the support in a post launch patch, but for now we have to deal with the controller-only. The Sims 4 is a solid experience nevertheless, but it’s undoubtedly better and more accessible on the PC. Elephant, now you can leave…
It’s no secret that The Sims 4 suffered a somewhat questionable launch on the PC a number of years back, simply due to the lack of features such as toddlers, pools, and so on and so forth. Fast forward a handful of years and here we sit with the console counterpart, and for the most part we have no delay to contend with regarding the aforementioned content. That’s not to say that The Sims 4 on console is inline with The Sims 4 on PC, far from it. There’s much more content on the PC version than there is here, and it will be a long while yet before we catch up, but there’s still plenty of content in this base version to get to grips with, with DLC set to be added in due course later down the line. In essence, if you have a capable PC then I would certainly advise sticking with that version. If however you’re new to the series or haven’t picked up The Sims 4 on PC as of now but spend more time on your console, you’re not going to be disappointed if you choose to invest on these platforms.
The Sims 4 allows you to create life and look after it in a wide range of different ways. You’ll be able to start a family and dictate how their lives play out. You can even build houses, parks and other structures till your heart is content, with nearly no limits bar the confines of your own imagination. It’s a massive amount of fun to lead your Sims to success, following a branch of careers that you can cater for. Alternatively you can indeed toy around with life and hinder a Sims life by throwing in challenges and struggles. In short, you’re God and the Sims are sat on your proverbial ant-hill at the mercy of your magnifying glass. Their lives are quite literally yours to play with however you see fit. Want to create a family based on your own? You can. Want to create a family or living arrangements that reflect a TV show or hobby you enjoy? You can. Want to start from scratch and create a family based purely on your imagination? You can do that too. The possibilities are limitless, and the customisation options are equally as such.
Breaking away from other installations in the franchise, The Sims 4 has more emphasis on emotions and moods than any other title in the brand. Your Sims will react differently to certain situations based on their personality traits, which can range from angelic, snobby, evil and more. The choice to make an ‘apple pie’ traditional trouble free family is yours for the taking, or you can tailor make some of the most sadistic families known to Sim-kind. There’s a wonderful level of freedom that you have at your disposal to create and care for any family of your choosing, it really is an endearing and entertaining experience however you decide to play. Starting out with a blank canvas, you’re free to bring to life as many characters as you want. You’ll name your character, style your character, set their personality up and plug-in their life ambitions. Then from this moment on, once you have your world ready and set, you’ll observe and manipulate the structure of their lives for hours and hours on end. If there’s any game that will swallow your social life, it’s The Sims.
You can indeed enable cheats to take the quicker route to success, but in doing so you’ll lock out the ability to unlock Achievements, which likely isn’t something that many will want to sacrifice. The Sims 4 will have you losing yourself in the immersion that the series is known for as you go about your daily routines. Once you have the primary creation aspects of the game out of the way, you’ll be juggling all forms of every day life and the pros and cons that come with. Striving towards a successful career path, looking for love, having children and raising them, getting hitched, and the rest. There’s an achievement in place for making it through a staggering 26 generations, which may indeed take some time to obtain as you’ll need to watch your children grow into adults and then manage their life affairs in order, to then do the same for them and their children. Thankfully The Sims 4 is addictive enough to entice many to keep coming back for repeat sessions, so although this may seem like an impossible Achievement to pick up, you’ll be surprised by how much time you put in before long.
It’s also fun to see how your family reacts and lives their life, being that some will accidentally set the house on fire or urinate themselves. These are but a couple of the hundreds of possibilities and memorable moments that will play out as you either raise a single person, a single family or an entire village. The Sims 4 allows you to take on as much as you feel comfortable with, without throwing too much on your lap. That being said it can indeed become a mammoth task to look after so many lives, and if you start to neglect your Sims, you’ll know about it before too long at all. This is where emotions come into play. It’s vital to ensure that you handle your Sim’s emotions well enough to ensure that they have the life that’s intended by your vision. Sad Sims will not actively engage with interests as well as happy or confident Sims will, but in retrospect, two sad Sims may hit it off and surprise you as you oversee their affairs. It’s interesting to observe and certainly proves to be satisfying when you watch several Sims with several different personality traits actively engaging with one another to achieve different, often unpredictable results.
Mercifully the smaller tasks that you had to contend with in previous instalments is not as dominant in The Sims 4, take for example the need to feed your Sim whenever he / she feels hungry. Now they’re more than capable of grabbing a snack of their own accord to resolve these smaller issues. You can’t rely on this auto-function all of the time, but it’s nice to have some of the weight lifted, especially when you’re flipping from household to household at the drop of a hat. Core needs on the other hand is something you need to focus on strenuously, which is broken down into several aspects that’s seen via bars on the screen – Energy, Social, Fun, Hygiene and more. Each Sim will respond in different ways depending on their needs, and it’s here where you will need to engage and intervene. Sims that need to use the toilet wont be able to sit still, Sims that are tired will frequently start falling down or nodding off, and well, you get the idea. There’s no shortage of warning signs to gift you with a firm knowledge of who wants what, giving you complete insight over the life you’re caring after.
Another feature that’s implemented is ‘aspirations’, which is a dialled down version of the career path for each Sim. Aspirations come to Sims once they reach a pre-adult age, and the options here seem to be as limitless as the rest of the game. You may find that your Sim wants to become a chef or a vampire, which is a goal that you’re able to follow through. You can also satisfy your Sims by completing ‘whims’, which will periodically enter your Sims imagination at regular points throughout the game. Completing these whims will gift you with points that can be spent on traits or items to further bolster your Sims life and style. If I haven’t made it clear enough already, there’s so many different ways that you can play The Sims 4, and the amount of choice and freedom at your disposal is quite literally outstanding. Despite the fact that the content doesn’t have as much range as the PC version, there’s still so much that can be achieved in this base version, with hours and days worth of content to soak up and enjoy.
Unfortunately, The Sims 4 doesn’t come without problems, which is where we draw back to the mouse and keyboard support. The UI hasn’t been altered too much from the PC version, but it’s clear that Maxis have put in the effort to make sure that the game remains as accessible as possible, despite being tethered to a controller. You manoeuvre the cursor around screen via the analog, which provides enough speed to prevent it from feeling slow and tedious. The problem however is when you’re selecting options with the cursor you’re thrown to a screen that has you selecting the highlighted commands, without the cursor. This can be somewhat irritating because there doesn’t seem to be much consistency between the menus. Backing out of the menus without the cursor will indeed throw you back, but this system often had me frequently pressing the wrong commands and confusing menu layouts with other menu layouts.
It’s a stark reminder that you’re playing a PC port, and only goes on to highlight how better the game would manage with keyboard and mouse. Build-mode on the other hand (I felt) was handled exceptionally well, giving you a simplistic grid-based system to utilise the construction of your designs. Visually the game is just as solid as the gameplay itself, pitching up colourful environments that’s heavy with detail. The animations of the Sims are also just as comical as they have ever been, with the unique Simlish language bringing in the iconic personality that we all know and love. It’s just a shame the pesky menu functions impede the fun at times. Still, the minor issues with the poor controls and the menu designs are not collectively enough to drag this game down. The Sims 4 on console is almost every bit as engaging as the PC version and now that EA has established a console base, we’re sure that we’ll be seeing plenty of post-launch support in the months and years to come. This is undoubtedly a game that both newcomers and returning fans alike will thoroughly enjoy for great lengths of time, and then some.
The Sims 4 once again proves that a good PC game that’s primarily designed for keyboard and mouse, simply doesn’t suit the controller. It’s but one of the many reasons that Microsoft needs to pull their fingers out and enable keyboard and mouse support for the Xbox One, not only will it help the transition of games like this and Divinity Original Sin, but it will add more appeal too. The UI within can at times be tedious to manoeuvre but I feel as though Maxis have done as good a job as they can do with the tools and restraints in place. With that being said a problem is still a problem regardless of its point of origin, meaning that this is a game that’s certainly better played on the PC. If however you’re a newcomer and you game on the console first and foremost, The Sims 4 will not let you down. It’s a gorgeous and endearing experience that boasts heaps of choice, freedom and diversity to do exactly what you want with your creations. There’s easily tens and tens of hours worth of play, and with post launch support and the prospect of more DLC, I have no doubt whatsoever that The Sims 4 will stand the tests of time. This is a well rounded and massively addictive title that will claim every spare minute of your life if you let it. With so much to work towards and so much to do, I have to ask, why the hell hasn’t this arrived on console sooner? Kiss goodbye to your family, friends and hobbies…
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.