The Sims FreePlay was a very big game when it arrived on Windows Phone 8 in September. So big that we published a two installment Achievement guide and an In-App Purchase guide on top of our usual review. But even then, our version lacked some content from the iOS version, including all social features. The iOS and Android games received a new update on October 11, pushing even farther ahead of our version.
Only one month after its initial release, The Sims FreePlay has just received a massive update. Windows Phone players now have access to the Mysterious Island area, teenage Sims, a whole new quest system, tons of new items, and much more. However, the update also makes a few Achievements much more difficult and time consuming. Head past the break for detailed descriptions and screenshots of the many changes!
The largest change to how the game itself works is the revamped quest system. Prior to the update, players could only work on one quest at a time. If the quest required you to complete it at a certain time or you didn’t have the necessary building, it could take days or weeks before you could make any progress.
After the update, players can have up to three active quests at once. Each quest is now part of a quest chain. Complete one and you’ll move on to the next quest in the series. Finish all of the quests in a series and you’ll earn a reward. However, quest chains are time sensitive, so you won’t get the full reward unless you finish before the time runs out.
The good news is this system makes completing goals for ‘1000 GOALS!’ Achievement a fair bit easier. The bad news is that Goals are now far less likely to provide Life Points as rewards. You’ll still get them every now and then, but for the most part goals just pay out in Simoleons and XP now. This doesn’t stop players from earning Life Points via other methods, but it does slow the earning a bit.
The basic quest chain (comprised of random quests) provides a new item as a completion reward: the Mystery Box key. You can only earn one key per week, though the chain continues to produce quests even after completion.
To visit the Mystery Boxes Store, collect at least one key, select the weekly quest chain, and touch the Mystery Box icon. Mystery Boxes cost 1-10 keys, with the more expensive ones providing better rewards. Their contents are random, but at least you can judge the reward rarity by the cost of the Box.
Money Grows on Trees (unlocks at level 13)
Story-based quest chains contain a series of non-random quests and tell a little story as part of each goal’s description. They also pay out unique rewards for completing the chain.
The first story chain you’ll work on is called ‘Money Grows on Trees?’ It consists of the following goals:
- Ponder in a Lounge Chair
- Grow Potatoes
- Make a Double Shot of Coffee
- Grow Watermelon
- Make a Hot Snack in the microwave
- Catch some Zs on a Couch
- Buy a Seed From the Supermarket
- Have a Quick Dip in the Bath
- Negotiate with a Sim-Eating Plant
- Bake Donuts
- Grow a Simoleon Sprout in the Garden
The Simoleon Sprout is a new plant for your Sims to grow. Planting one instantly launches a slot-machine minigame in which all of the payouts are in Simoleons. You can plant a Simoleon Sprout for free every four hours. Planting them sooner costs 5 Life Points. Probably not a great investment.
The Mysterious Island (unlocks at level 15)
After completing the Simoleon Sprout quest chain, you’ll gain access to the Mysterious Island quest series. It contains the following goals:
- Watch the News on TV
- Go for a drive
- Wash hands
- Build bridge on the town map
- Visit the Mysterious Island
- Tap the Monument icon
- Read Encyclopedia
- Call a Friend
- Catch a Ghost
- Grill 'em all on a BBQ
- Bake Pancakes
- Bake Cookies
- Read the Big Book of Stuff
- Browse Internet
- Have a Deep Sleep
- Rest Eyes on a Couch
- Grow Onions
- Rich Lather in the Shower
- Find Another Resource
- Upgrade 'The Riches of Terra' to Level 1
- Garden, Bake, or Work until you get a Simoleon bonus
- Upgrade 'The Riches of Terra' to Level 2
The Mysterious Island itself is a new map that you can travel to after building The Mysterious Island Bridge. It contains a series of monuments for players to build. Each monument provides a chance to earn Simoleon or Life Point bonuses from completing tasks.
Instead of Simoleons or Life Points, monuments cost resources – a new class of item. Players will randomly earn resources by completing tasks such as gardening, hobbies, etc. The resource earned is random as well, with certain ones being much rarer than others. After you’ve upgraded the first monument, you can choose to substitute Life Points for resources at a cost of 3 Life Points per missing unit of resource.
Coming of Age (level 23), Higher Education (level 24), and the Road to Fame (level 25)
The update introduces a new NPC character: Osiris the alien. Windows Phone players will first meet him at the beginning of the ‘Coming of Age’ quest series. Once you’ve unlocked Osiris, you can go to him or call him just like other Sims - from the SimTracker.
The ‘Coming of Age’ consists of:
- Meet Osiris
- Be Nice To Osiris
- Bake Donuts
- Be Nice To Osiris
- Read The Big Book Of Stuff
- Watch A Movie Marathon
- Bake Chocolate Pudding
- Talk To Trees
- Grow Potatoes
- Be Inconspicuous On A Park Bench
- Bake Birthday Cake
After completing ‘Coming of Age,’ you’ll be able to advance Preteen Sims to full Teen status! The ‘Higher Education’ series then allows you to build the High School for teens to attend.
The ‘Road to Fame’ quest allows teens to become Teen Idols. Idols can play new instruments, sign autographs, and more. You’ll also be able to build one more new building: the SimTown Sign. It gives a chance to get extra revenue when collecting Simoleons from the town map. Unlike other buildings on the main town map, building the SimTown Sign requires unique resources instead of Simoleons.
The new quests and content have all been good news, but here’s where we get to negative territory. Prior to the update, hobbies were the best way to increase your Town value. Completing a set of ghosts via ghost hunting or crafting all of the woodworking designs more than once would net players 500,000 Town Value each time.
Sadly, the update removes the 500,000 Town value bonus from all hobby collections. Completing collections now just gets you 3 Life Points. As such, hobbies remain the best way to earn Life Points. But the change makes the Town Value Achievements so much harder. In fact, it would take the rest of your life, much of your firstborn child’s life, and an extra month for good measure to actually reach 30,000,000 Town value now. So if you haven’t updated yet, don’t do it until you get that Achievement!
Ghost Hunting and Halloween Event
Even without the allure of Town value bonuses, Ghost hunting has long been a popular method of grinding for Simoleons and Life Points. EA knows this and so they made ghost hunting a little harder. Haunted items now lose their hauntedness for 20-30 minutes after use.
If you want to continuously hunt for ghosts, you’ll need several haunted items in the same house (a good idea anyway). And if you want multiple Sims hunting for ghosts, you’ll have to buy a boatload of extra haunted goods in order to ensure they always have a haunted object to investigate.
Downer, right? On the plus side, the ghost hunting hobby can now level up to 8 instead of six. There are six new ghosts to find, which also bumps up the reward for subsequent ghost collection completions to 5 Life Points instead of 3. More exciting, each tier of ghosts offers brand new haunted items to unlock as rewards. These are all part of the special Halloween event that EA runs every year.
Complete the expanded collection of ghosts by November 1st and you’ll unlock the Petrifying Putting Green item! It will only be available until then and never again. You’ll find it in the Outdoor Furniture section of the Home Store.
It's great to see a time-based event included in an Xbox Windows Phone game. We've missed out on similar features in past games like Ice Age Village. Maybe EA will keep The Sims Freeplay up to date right alongside the other versions.
Just as ghost hunting got harder, so did leveling up careers. Before, the fastest way to level up a job was to use its related hobby item for one hour at a time. The update has changed the hobby item time to three hours, reducing the items’ effectiveness. Jobs are not as critical as hobbies in this game, but this change does make the ‘Mad Scientist’ Achievement take longer.
Limited edition Progressive items
Here’s a mostly good thing. From time to time, EA adds sponsored items to the game. Windows Phone already has Toyota cars and guitars, and the iOS game has Febreze spray. This update throws Progressive Insurance cars and TVs into the mix.
The TV is rated at 2-stars and gives players the option to watch that annoying Flo lady that I want to slap. Both the TV and car are free, so we can’t complain too much about the commercialization aspect. The Achievement for driving ‘100 miles’ just got easier, though you do still have to build the Car Dealership in order to pick up your free car.
New In-App Purchases
Naturally a giant content update like this has to add some new ways for players to spend real money. These are the ones I’ve encountered so far:
- Adopt a Preteen – $4.99
Use a phone and choose this option to instantly add a preteen to your roster. Saves the trouble of having a baby and baking birthday cakes.
- Adopt a Teen –$4.99
This option appears after you complete the ‘Coming of Age’ quests. “Why make a teen the old fashioned way when you can just buy them?” someone asks.
- Life Point Lotus – $.99
Works like the Simoleon Sprout but with Life Points, and it always costs money. I won 50 Life Points when I tried it. This seems like a good deal no matter how much you win.
- Dolphin Pool Pack – $3.99
Add a splash of dolphin-themed awesomeness to your pool area with our all-new Dolphin Pack! Contains dolphin float, pool slide, and beach towels. Found in the Specials section of the Online Store.
We’ll update our In-App Purchase Guide soon.
- Item prices are now displayed in the Online Store. Sweet!
- The camera can now be zoomed out much farther.
- The game now displays what type of fish you caught after your Sim gets swallowed by a giant fish.
- A DJ can no longer join in with dancing Sims if no one else is DJing.
This update revamped the user interface displayed at the bottom of the screen, including buttons. These changes are mostly for the better, but the Sims' needs meters are more scrunched up and harder to read than before.
Bigger, mostly better
Thanks to the Sims FreePlay version 1.1 update, Windows Phone now has all of the iOS content except for the social features. Sadly, the Party Boat, the ability to visit friends’ towns, and items that cost Social Points are still nowhere to be found. It looks like EA won’t be giving us those features in the future, but you never know.
Still, they did add tons of new quests and items to complete. The new quest system actually makes the game way more varied and interesting. The time-based quests series even instill a sense of urgency that wasn’t there before. Players who enjoy decorating and accessorizing their Sims will love the new items. Margaritas all around!
The only people who should NOT download this update are players who haven’t reached 30,000,000 Town Value yet. If that includes you, I suggest you max out your woodworking skill, purchase work benches for all your Sims, and put them to work until you get the Achievement. Woodworking is a faster completion than ghost hunting. After the Achievement unlocks, Town Value doesn’t matter anymore and you can enjoy the update without worry.
- The Sims FreePlay – Windows Phone 8 (1 GB of RAM) – 504 MB – Free – Store Link
Thanks to Dr. David Baptista da Silva for the tip!