Three years after The Sims 4 debuted on PC, EA's latest life simulation game finally arrived on Xbox One. The Sims 4 for Xbox is the most feature-complete home version yet, with boundless depth and potential – but it doesn't always feel like a great fit for the living room.
The Sims 4 for consoles is a direct port of the PC game, with less of the optimization and downscaling of previous ports. This has the advantage of offering more robust gameplay, but it also means the console game is more complicated to learn than The Sims 3.
Naturally, the game includes numerous tutorials to ease players in. The first thing you do is create a character, so the tutorial begins there. But some big issues stand out with these instructions.
First, the text is super tiny and difficult to read at a distance. The tutorial UI is often confusing as well. The confirm button sometimes advances to the next tutorial dialog but often times it does not, forcing players to puzzle over how to reach the next dialog.
Also, there are way too many tutorials to wade through. You'll just be starting out on the tutorial for one feature when the game asks whether you'd like to learn about another one. The whole process of teaching gamers how to play should be far more streamlined and linear.
Create a Sim
The Sims 4 features a very robust character creator, though you're of course limited to clothing and other items found in the base game, unless you buy some expansions. Still, creating a close likeness to someone you know isn't hard ... once you get used to the UI and controls.
Certain actions like adjusting cheek size and other body proportions are harder than they should be, with players having to awkwardly select the body part using a mouse-style cursor and then dragging the part while holding a button. You can adjust to it, but it's never going to feel natural.
Personality traits have been greatly expanded, with players selecting three primary traits during creation and a bonus trait associated with that Sim's personal aspiration. Your Sim can have traits like being materialistic, jealous, and alluring.
The overall goal is to control the daily life of your Sim or Sims. Each Sim needs a job in order to make money. You have several careers to choose from, though deeper career options will be offered in an upcoming expansion. How far your Sim climbs the career ladder is up to you, as you'll have to develop associated skills and make choices whenever work-related events pop up.
Homes and neighborhoods
Your Sim also needs a place to live, which is where Build mode comes in. After buying a lot in one of the starting neighborhoods, you'll need to build a house piece-by-piece. Sims 4 gives players the option of buying furnished rooms if they'd rather not start from scratch, but I wish some predesigned building layouts were available. The complexity of the controls will likely frustrate players who just want to design Sims and see them get on with their lives.
To create a proper living space for your Sim, you'll need to buy all the essential rooms, like a living room, restroom, kitchen, and bedroom. This also involves making sure doors line up properly, which is harder than it needs to be because rooms are transparent while placing them.
Rotating rooms and objects involves the left and right bumper buttons, which is fairly intuitive. Adjusting size and shape requires a bit of uncomfortable clicking and dragging, though. Throughout the building process, you're likely to accidentally exit a menu or two. But stick with it, and you'll eventually complete the starter house where your Sims will live their lives.
The Sims 4 takes place in smaller neighborhoods rather than the larger city environment of The Sims 3. This is a step back in some ways, as you lose the large open-world environments and public meeting areas of the last game. Your Sims get to move between different parts of the town, but they'll do so by traveling from map to map while waiting through loading screens.
These individual neighborhoods don't truly feel like they add up to a complete town. Some of the businesses and venues you'd see in The Sims 3, such as grocery stores, don't exist in The Sims 4.
The Sims 4 on consoles doesn't include any of the PC version's downloadable content by default, though it has toddlers, pools, and other features that were added to the base game over time. Several DLC packs are available to purchase, with three included in a $49.99 bundle as well.
The following DLC packs are already available:
- City Living: $39.99, the only full-scale expansion pack available at launch.
- Vampires: $19.99.
- Vintage Glamour Stuff: $9.99.
- Perfect Patio Stuff: $9.99.
While it's tempting to react cynically to launch day DLC, The Sims has always offered numerous expansions on PC. This might be the first time that all of the PC's expansions will actually make their way to consoles.
Overall impression of The Sims 4 for Xbox One
For the first time, EA has brought a full Sims experience to console, with all of its features intact – even cheats. The Sims 4 doesn't always feel at home on Xbox, though, with clunky menus, confusing controls, tiny text, and a mess of tutorials. But if you prefer to game on console rather than PC, The Sims 4 is still worth the time and effort. The character creation, building, and social interactions are engaging enough to keep simulation-minded players busy for years.
- The full Sims PC experience on consoles!
- Create a family of Sims and help or hinder their lives.
- Deep character creation and building modes.
- Tutorials are messy and complex.
- Controls and menus are confusing on consoles.
- Some Xbox players lost their save files at launch.
The Sims 4 costs $59.99 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.