Electronic Arts showcased the latest installment of Sims at E3 earlier this year, showing off the fancy new emotions system for the game… and then quietly revealing with much less fanfare a slew of dropped features. That’s not to say that EA won’t be adding these features in a future expansion pack, but don’t expect to see anything listed below when The Sims 4 ships in September.
- No toddlers
Honestly, I’m really not too choked up about this loss since I found having them around a huge pain. My sims can’t even take care of themselves, so here I am yelling at a pile of dumb pixels to stop playing hackey-sack with the mailman and feed their starving toddler before social services took them away. But now sims jump right from the baby life stage to the child stage, skipping about five years in between, which just doesn’t seem right. As much as I disliked having to deal with toddler sims, unless babies are the new toddler state, it’s not really much of a life simulation sim if you skip the stage where you learned to walk, talk, and how to use a toilet.
- No pools
This actually hits me harder than the removal of of toddlers. Pools have been in every single version of The Sims until now, and to take them out isn’t just wrong – it’s practically a sin, dishonoring the memory millions of sims who died in ladderless pools. How can I complete a mansion without a oversized swimming pool in the backyard or properly finish my castle fortress without a moat? In addition, swimwear for sims are gone from the game as well. Screenshots of Create-a-Sim show no familiar swimsuit icon in the clothes category and developers later confirmed their removal on Twitter, which would mean that hot tubs, playing in the sprinklers, or anything that requires a sim to get wet aren’t making it to the game. But I’m sure EA already has The Sims 4: Wet ‘n Wild expansion in the pipeline.
- No story progression
The Sims 3 introduced story progression to the series – the idea that the sims in the neighborhood would live out their own lives in the background while you focused on your main family. They’d switch jobs, they’d get married or split up, they’d have kids, and then quietly die. There were issues, sure, and to be honest I play using a player-created story progression mod since I find EA’s lacking. But they’re taking it out of the game in The Sims 4, with sims only aging and being replaced when they die. If you want your in-game neighbors to get married, you’re going to have to load them up and play them yourselves for that to happen.
- No Create-a-Style
The Sims 3 also introduced a powerful customization tool that, surprise surprise, isn’t making it to The Sims 4. Create-a-Style was mindblowing when it was introduced just because of what you do with it. The ability to choose exactly how you wanted furniture and clothes to look without needing to mod the game is something I’m going to miss. Not to mention being able to pick the exact hue and color for a sim’s hair or eyes – did you want a dark-haired madam with silver streaks revealing her age as the family matron? It’s easy to create her in The Sims 3, but you’re out of luck in The Sims 4. The game does have a color palette for sims and objects, but after the insane amount of customization and control you had in the previous game, it feels like a huge step back.
- No open world
But a even bigger step back is the removal of the open world, one of the biggest changes to the series in The Sims 3 and completely gone in The Sims 4. Worlds are now divided into five neighborhoods with a maximum of five lots in each neighborhood. Of course, like story progression, open world in The Sims 3 didn’t really work the way it did in the trailer. Aside from going to and from work or school, most sims in the neighborhood seemed happy enough to stay at home until someone from my household went out. Then everyone would descend on where they were visiting like some sort of creepy flash mob, lingering around awkwardly; nightclubs and bars would be completely abandoned until one of the sims I controlled showed up, and even then there’d never been a huge frolicking crowd like the one shown in the trailer. The open world of The Sims 3 felt pretty lifeless and flat, but taking it completely out of the game isn’t the answer. Even if it didn’t work as intended, I’m not looking forward to being put back in the box I was taken out of in the previous game. There’s no more school lots, work lots, or shopping lots; if sims need to go to work or school, they simply walk to the edge of the game lot and disappear. Instead of building and improving on what was already there, it really feels like that we’re being taken back to The Sims and The Sims 2 and not in a good way.
And of course, this isn’t even a proper list of cut features. There’s plenty of minor things being left out, such as height differences being removed from teens, adults, and elders, no basements or building foundations, houses limited to being only three stories tall – if it were only one or two of these not making it to the base game, maybe it wouldn’t seem so bad. I’ve come to accept that EA won’t include features like pets, weather, and going to college in the base game since it’s clear time and again that sims players like myself are willing to pay for the same expansion with each new version of the game. But it seems like they’re going a step further this time and stripping content from the base game itself; while the new Create-a-Sim looks amazing along with the new and improved building tools, I’m just a little unsure if the game will have that same amount of polish and fun when I’m done creating and start to play.