/ gaming

The Sims 4 - First Impressions

I purchased The Sims 4 on Origin last night, having read a lot of conflicting information. It's being criticized as an unfinished cashgrab, missing a lot of features from its predecessors. I figured, thanks to Origin's great 24-hour return policy on EA games, I could try it out for a day and if it was as terrible as people said, I could simply return it. I've only played for one night, so this post will contain my first impressions on the game.

After installing the game, I was greeted by this hilarious error...

Sims 4 Error

I was unsure how to fix this error, since when installing the game, Origin did manually install Microsoft's Visual C++ redistributable much like Steam does. On a whim I decided to download and install the 32-bit 2013 Visual C++ distributable and it worked fine. The Sims 4 is still a 32-bit game... that doesn't bode well. EA really needs to work on Origin's install process. With that out of the way, the game started up.

After starting up the game, I tried to take screenshots of create a sim, because it's amazing. Unfortunately my Print Screen key just got a screen of white, and the in-game capture key didn't work yet. Maybe I'll try to get some screenshots later through Steam's screenshot tool. But seriously, it's so much more flexible and easy to use than previous iterations. I ended up creating a Sim modeled after myself, with my real name and "realistic" traits. The traits I picked for "myself" were Geek, Outgoing, and Foodie, and the Aspiration I picked was Master Mixologist since I like mixing drinks a lot. What's interesting in The Sims 4 is that you can change your Sims' aspiration whenever you want, with no loss to progress on your previous one. That's a nice touch, because as my Sim gets older, I might not want her to go out drinking so much.

After getting into the game with a shit-tier prefurnished house, I decided to test out the new multitasking feature, by sitting my Sim down and have her browse the internet on her phone while watching TV.

So Real!

So realistic! This allows a Sim to fill multiple needs. For instance, you can chat with a friend while watching TV and 'advance' that relationship.

Talking and watching TV

A nice holdover from previous Sim games is you can see how a conversation is going, which was a feature introduced in "Hot Date" back in the day. Originally it was just for dates, but now it's for any conversation. You can also see how good the relationship is. At the top of the screen, you can see the sim that your sim is actively talking to, how the conversation is going, their relationship, and the other sim's mood. Different options for interactions appear depending on the Sims' mood. If a Sim is really stressed or sad, for instance, my Sim has the option to calm them down. If my Sim is feeling flirty, she has the option to ask other Sims about their love life and other "flirty" options. One time my Sim was feeling very playful, and she was able to "impishly pester" other Sims.

In this screenshot you can also see my Sim's moodlets and needs. She's stressed, energized from a shower she recently took, and generally in a good, energetic mood. But she's not having fun. Since she's outgoing and stressed from just getting home from work, she's has fun from talking to other people, and since she's geeky, she also has fun playing video games. Much like the real-life Eris. I like this, a lot. These Sims have a much better AI than Sims in previous installments.

To illustrate how these moodlets work, I also took a screenshot just before Sim Eris went outside looking for fun.

Needs and Moodlets

Boom. You can see she's super tense from just getting home from work, and needs amusement. I decided to give her a brief shower and then head outside to find someone to chat with. Those actions, because she's outgoing, really helped her find amusement.

The thought bubbles around her head are her wishes, like in The Sims 3. She has up to three at a time, and they mostly depend on her mood. Fulfulling her wishes will get her satisfaction points, which you can use to purchase little perks like a happiness potion or new attributes.

Satisfaction Points

A big criticism of The Sims 4 is the fact they've taken out the open world of previous neighborhoods. There are now loading screens when traveling between lots, such as if you want to go to a neighbor's house. However, there are still areas around your lots that you can visit and socialize in without needing to load a new area.

Community Garden

I took this screenshot in a community garden outside my house. I had no loading screen getting to this point, and these Sims were just hanging around the garden tending plants. Another fun thing this illustrates is the new pathing and AI in the game. These Sims are having a conversation across a raised garden, and they're not getting in the way of anybody. When a Sim later wanted to harvest some berries from that bush they're all hanging around, he didn't stand there and wave for 3 hours like he would have in previous games. They just let him in, he got his berries, then joined the conversation. In previous installments, having 5 sims standing around a bush would cause all sorts of traffic jams, and they wouldn't be able to talk across the bush.

Anyway, I wanted money, and while 'rosebud' does still work, I wanted to get it legitimately. So I got my Sim a job in IT. It was pretty hilarious when I read the requirements for promotion...

Play video games for 4 hours

Yes, that's right. To get a promotion, she has to play video games for four hours. Later on, there was a requirement that would increase job performance if I spent an hour on my computer each day. I didn't have a PC at this point, but after several days of work I raised enough money to buy one and had options such as "Practice Programming" and "Hack" different places (and get money from it).

Speaking of work, you don't follow your Sims to work anymore. However, you can change their work ethic.

So that's kind of nice.

Anyway, that's all the screenshots I have. I do find myself missing a few things from The Sims 3. Pools are missing, of course. As are dishwashers. As I previously stated, the Open World is missing, but let me tell you something... This game is fast. Like seriously fast. I have it on a conventional harddrive and can get into the game from the desktop in under 5 minutes. My Sim can leave her house and go to a nightclub and it'll be loaded in under 30 seconds. Loadtimes like that were unheard of since The Sims (1). If leaving out the open world is what is needed for faster load/save times, fuck it. It's worth it. Load times were the number one reason I disliked The Sims 3. Considering I love making new Sims and giving them makeovers, especially, I would start up Create a Sim, go to the bathroom, go make myself some tea, come back up to my computer, and it would just finish loading. Even on my gaming PC.

I mean, it's all standard Sims stuff, except faster. If you liked The Sims, you'll like this. Sure they got rid of terrain modification, pools, toddlers, create a style, etc... But I can't go back to playing The Sims 3, even with several expansions. Load times are too terrible in The Sims 3. They'll implement the missing features (probably not terrain modification) in future expansions, as always. The base game is just that: a base. And it's a much better base than The Sims 3 was. I'm looking forward to seeing what kinds of mods people come up with, and future expansions. I won't be making use of EA's return policy on this one. I'm very impressed.

I'll make a follow-up post after I've played more of the game, including mods, families, etc.