GameInformer Preview July 2014
The Sims 4: Creating more realistic lives with plenty of refinement
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The Sims 4:
Creating more realistic lives with plenty of refinement
After five years since The Sims 3’s release and several expansions later, the franchise is ready for new lifeblood. In my recent hands-on session, I discovered that while The Sims 4 is maintaining the series’ comfortable gameplay, it’s also providing the most accessible and realistic interactions to date.
Creating sims is easier than ever. Gone are sliders to make minor modifications to appearances. Now with a click of the button, you can grab any feature on your sim and adjust it, akin to sculpting them like clay. The change allows players to add in specific touches, like having a smaller upper lip, adjusting pupil size, or changing their posture. You can even select the way they walk, giving them swagger. The selections for appearance and clothing have been improved greatly. “We’re going to be shipping The Sims 4 base game with the most content ever when it comes to objects and clothing for your sims to wear,” says producer Ryan Vaughan.
Photo Caption: The Sims 4 is focusing more on socialization than managing your needs bar.
Besides crafting more realistic looking sims, Maxis also strove to make them feel more natural; if a conversation is going poorly, expect their body language and facial expressions to reflect it. “Hundreds of new facial expressions are tied to your sims’ emotional states,” Vaughan says. “You’re going to know how they’re feeling just by looking at them and the idols that’s also represented in the U.I.”
Moods even extend to the gameplay. Depending on how your sim is feeling, extra interactions become available. For example, if your sim is in a flirty mood, they might be bold enough to strike a seductive pose. “Your sim’s emotional state allows you to do other interactions that you couldn’t do in the other emotional state,” Vaughan says.
You have some control over emotional states; socializations, object interactions, and environment can influence mood. Some fans expressed worry this might be a frustrating obstacle, and Maxis is working to make it a fun and balanced part of the gameplay. “This is meant to expand your game and not give you another chore to do,” Vaughan says. “We’re making sure your sims aren’t bouncing around from emotion states too quickly. Depending on how you play, you only see one, two, or three throughout the day.”
The mood shifts felt natural. I was alerted whether discussions were pleasant, awkward, or sour. The game also had options to try to change the course of conversation if it’s going downhill. Sims also converse freely in groups. You no longer need to select an option to get a group together, as they automatically engage in group conversations and activities when in proximity.
Two new relationship bars now exist; one indicating your friendship state and another showcasing your romance level. Unlike past games, you can now be enemies with someone, but also be romantically involved. Conversations are also are much more focused on a sim’s personality. If your sim likes writing, expect to have the option to discuss favorite writers.
Photo Caption: Your sim is no longer attached to one neighborhood; you can work in one and live in another.
New careers have also been added with more branching paths, unlocking items as you advance. “If you’re an astronaut, you’re going to play through that career and be able to unlock a really hi-tech desk or broken satellites and use them in your house,” Vaughan says. “You can decorate and interact with them. It’s all about really surfacing that sim’s personality and making who they are really real to you as a player.”
Every sim has his or her own main aspiration, like becoming a master painter. A system called whims generates short-term goals, which function similarly to The Sims 3’s wish system. “Some are easy and some are more difficult,” Vaughan says. “[They’re] really dependent on your sim’s personality and characteristics based on your emotional state.”
Maxis is also working on improving its A.I. in several ways. Not only do sims walk in natural paths and can go up the stairs more than one at a time, but they also remember interactions. When I played, I chatted someone up at the bar. The next day he stopped by my house to continue what we started. “[We] finally got our sims to a place where they’re feeling natural and you’re not having to babysit them and they feel more fluid,” Vaughan says.
Additionally, Build Mode has been refined, making building smoother overall. For The Sims 4, Maxis has a motto “the builder always wins.” If you want to expand a room, the game automatically adjusts the furniture in the other rooms to accommodate the change. If you choose to add windows, the game shows you the best placement for them. You can even move entire rooms with a click of a button, keeping all the furniture. You don’t have to build every room from scratch either. Not only can you choose different room shapes, but you have an option to use stylized rooms already built with furniture in place. Previously, I never got into building because it was so time-consuming, but I found myself more willing to experiment due to the accessible tools.
The Sims 4 definitely plays more smoothly, fixing a lot of the series’ needless obstacles and flaws. “It just feels like The Sims should have always been [this] way,” Vaughan says. Time will tell how the more complex emotion system fares, but right now it looks like it’s adding a splash more personality than we’ve seen in previous iterations.
A Better Way To Share Your Creations
Maxis realized not enough people used their online sharing system due to it being outside of the game via their website, so for the Sims 4 it is introducing The Gallery – a way for players to share their creations straight from the game. “We know that there were over 500 million downloads on The Sims 3, and that’s actually done by a real small percentage of our players,” says producer Ryan Vaughan. Vaughan thinks the easier process will invite more players to share and download. “We’re hoping that having this gallery experience integrated directly into the game is going to open up the creativity and open up the ability for our players to share with each other in a really easy way,” he says. Just imagine all the celebrity looka-likes and famous landmarks just waiting to be created and shared. —Kimberley Wallace, GameInformer
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