A lifetime ago, a friend and I were enjoying a summer hike around the local coastal paths, shooting the breeze (as teens used to do more frequently back when parents cared how much time we spent on video games. Just kidding, they didn’t care then either.) We were discussing, video games, ironically. And we both said wouldn’t it be cool if there was a game called “life” where you just lived your life, got married, got a job, had kids. And within a year the Sims was released.
It was an instant smash. Initially we had suggested that a character start as a baby and make decisions right off the bat, but actually, the Sims probably got it right in how they handled controlling a virtual life. The game blew us all away and became one of our favourite time sinks. And then the Sims 2 came and blew us all away with its countless expansions that just kept adding to the game. Fast forward once more and we had the third incarnation. This was strange because on one hand, it was an amazing leap, gone were loading screens. The graphics were overhauled massively. But we also didn’t have all the content from the previous expansions. Instead, we had to re-buy countless expansions, which of course we did and the game we assumed had reached its pinnacle.
And yet EA went to the well once more with the Sims 4 (I bet you didn’t know I was a poet?) Sims4 followed the previous approach of releasing a base game with an eye to shift add-ons to further the experience. The issue was that sims4 didn’t really seem much better than the third. Gone was the open-world approach, gone were toddlers and for some reason, swimming pools were ousted too!
Unsurprisingly this left long-term fans of the series a little disgruntled. I mean yes, the characters had a bit more personality but this was mostly under the hood stuff. The social side of things had improved and sharing was way more viable but it still felt a bit like a con to get us to buy more expansions.
Not a year goes by without a fake Sims 5 trailer appearing. This is met with trepidation rather than excitement by fans of the series. I mean, yeah a new incarnation might be good. Or it might be just enough of an upgrade that we have to shell out literally hundreds of pounds on new expansions.
What it needs to have from the off
Firstly it needs to not be bare bones this time. Most Sims players want hundreds of options. Give us 20 different TVs from the off and then a further 80 in DLC and we will lap it up. Include pets and seasons in the game from the start. Yes, we will still buy the content you release but there are certain things that should just be, to use EA Sports quote, “in the game”.
Bring back an open world. We want to be able to roam around. And introduce cars that you can drive! Look at GTA and what they have accomplished. We are talking about a game with a far smaller scale.
One of the few things the disastrous Sim City got right is their futuristic mod. Sim City could take from this and introduce more futuristic furniture. They do have some additions along these lines but they could really ramp it up. Rather than having a teleporter, have several, with different art styles and the inexpensive ones having an adverse effect on your health. So they get you an extra 15 mins in bed, but unless you shell out there is a drawback too. This risk vs reward is what life is about. Let’s make the Sims 5 about that too.