On Mar. 14 Electronics Arts (EA) released a patch update for the Sims 4 which introduced infants, making them the youngest playable life stage in any Sims game so far. Along with this patch, EA also released a new expansion pack featuring a world modeled after the Bay Area, CA.
This new update was highly anticipated by fans of the Sims franchise as it introduced a concept that hadn’t been seen in any of the Sims games over the past twenty years: playable babies. Up until now, babies in the Sims games were no more than objects that players could interact with and even then these interactions were limited. Not only were they limited in interactions but, before this update, baby sims could only come in three skin tones and were confined to their cribs.
In games like the Sims 2 and 3, players were able to satisfy their baby-fever with toddlers; however, for the Sims 4, toddlers weren’t added to the game until 2017 – nearly three years after its release. Before this, newborn Sims would immediately age into children, skipping a vital life stage and taking away the opportunity for them to bond with other Sims in that aspect.
The “Growing Together” expansion pack combats this issue by adding the concept of milestones to the game, allowing Sims to remember and be influenced by the good and bad moments that have happened to them throughout their lives. Sims can now reminisce about their first time riding a back or losing a tooth, a feature that is similar to the “memories” in the Sims 2 which helped provide a basic form of storytelling for the players.
San Sequoia, the new world that came with the “Growing Together” expansion pack for the Sims 4, is just one of many in-game worlds based on places in real life. Worlds like Del Sol Valley from their “Get Famous” pack and Sulani from the “Island Living” expansion pack are based on Los Angeles and Hawaii, respectively. Regarding San Sequoia the developers drew inspiration from Silicon Valley specifically, adding in NPCs with jobs as app developers and start-up employees.
This new world mirrors the Bay Area in terms of diversity, as well, by adding the games first canonically transgender and non-binary Sims, Celeste Michaelson and Jay Robles. The NPCs can talk about their gender-identity with players through certain social interactions if they have a high enough relationship level.
While a lot of members of the Sims 4 community were initially excited about the new pack, a month after its release, it received mixed reviews – with a lot of those being on whether or not the content in the pack should’ve been released for free.
Youtuber Catkin commented that this was the first pack they felt that nearly everything included should’ve been included in the base game, stating: “The milestones, relationships and quirks are all quite important and would have been a huge quality of life update.”
Among these complaints, there was also the argument that this pack was only focused on familial interaction and didn’t offer anything for players that are not interested in that playstyle. Reddit user Nicky Q says that the pack is useless to them since they don’t play with families. They say: “I play Sims to live my best childfree life with a bunch of pets. I’m happy for everyone else, but if I ever end up buying this pack it would just be for the build items.”