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Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle Review

The Sims is a popular video game franchise that was conceived from the brilliance of Will Wright modeled from his experience of losing a home in the Oakland firestorm in the year 1991. In the year 2000, the developers at Maxis released the first entry of the series titled The Sims which garnered strong positive reception from both players and critics. Its success was lauded by the general populace and drove the publishers at Electronic Arts to release a series of expansion packs.

The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle
Image: EA Games

In the year 2008, I have my introduction to the world of Simulation Games through my father’s old Nokia 6500. I remember playing Gameloft’s New York Nights 2 which finds my avatar (an actor) trekking the busy streets of New York with series of quests that would end in me choosing between my career or the relationships. At the time, I found this game revolutionary albeit its closed sandbox format. This contrasted with another life simulation game I have gotten the chance to play shortly after wherein the possibilities were limitless and the goal was more open-ended – The Sims 3.

14 years later, Electronic Arts released The Sims 4 after its continued success with The Sims 2 and The Sims 3. The game distinguished itself from previous entries with the emotion system that influence their interaction with fellow sims, a much-optimized graphics and aesthetic, and an intuitive CAS (Create-a-sim) system and build-and-buy system. Despite its improvements, the game was criticized for its lack of gameplay depth, lack of traits and aspirations, and limited features that came with its base game.

6 years running, the lack of features was rectified by free updates and expensive game packs, stuff packs, and expansion packs. At present, developers at Electronic Arts released a more significant free update which updated the lot's description and reintroduced ladders, firemen, and repo-men to coincide with the release of the ninth expansion pack, Eco-Lifestyle expansion pack. The question now is whether its component was sufficient to improve the mechanics of the game?

Alas, the release of the trailer was littered with heavy criticism despite the timeliness of its subjects. To the majority of players, it was seen as a cash-grab to a lesser extent it was viewed more suited as a game pack where it fits thematically with the Realm of Magic and StrangerVille. Its predicament was worsened by the fake leak of a much-clamored expansion pack that focused on country-living/farming earlier that day.

However, the release of the gameplay trailer and Livestream of the expansion silenced its more vocal critics. The expansion pack featured 2 new aspirations and 4 traits for CAS, a new Civil Designer career, and 5 new lot traits plus an updated off the grid lot trait to fit the eco-lifestyle bill. The coastal world of Evergreen Harbor was more lively compared to previous worlds with poor aesthetic choices and bland design such as Newcrest and Magnolia Promenade. Despite having only 15 playable lots, the world seemed bigger with its industrial motif and better architectural scheme.

This worked to enrich the brand-new feature of the game that comes with the pack, the eco-footprint. The eco-footprint determines the state of pollution in each neighborhood. A neighborhood may either be green, neutral, or industrial depending on how you dictate the lifestyle of your sim. That said, the objects you place in the game affect the amount of eco-footprint. The new solar panels, wind turbines, dew collectors should help reduce the eco-footprint while the household power generators and atmospheric water generators would increase the eco-footprint toward industrial. Previous items from the game also dictate the eco-footprint.

The Sims 4 Eco Lifestyle
Image: Narcity
Every week, each sim in the neighborhood is given the chance to enact a Neighborhood Action Plan (N.A.P) through a community voting board or a mailbox. This surprisingly added depth to the game by introducing a community dynamic accomplished by interacting with and influencing other sims in the neighborhood to vote. The most votes would win, and the changes would gradually occur afterward. This feature much like seasons is accessible to other worlds but the effect is shallow.

Other gameplay features include the Fabrication skill in making dyes and rugs, recycling which include dumpster diving to search for recyclables, and fizzy juice crafting that unlocks the juice fizzing skill. A sim would be able to sell surplus water and electricity which would reduce the household bill and increase profit. A new acid rain weather type is also available, and the dumpster is accessible for woohoo. A sim may now die through beetles or swarming of flies.

To answer whether its component was sufficient to improve the mechanics of the game? The short answer would be YES. The gameplay is surely invigorating and exciting with features that adds layers to the game and would be enough to keep players engaged until the next community stuff pack called Nifty Knitting later this year. As a millennial simulator, the game works with flying colors but as a family simulator, there are still aspects left to be desired. For the time-being, the game pursuit of timeliness and diversity is remarkable.


Written by Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books
Greetings fellow book and pop-culture enthusiast!  I am your average young adult that loves to read science fiction (SF), general fiction and occasionally, young adult novels and children’s literature. At my spare time you may find me watching Star Trek and Doctor Who or updating my library with the latest shows from streaming giants such as Netflix and Hulu. I devote most of my time in learning, critiquing, and researching. If you want to know more, go check out my reviews!

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