Earlier I discussed some of the features that I still hope EA/Maxis will add to The Sims 4. I’ve spent the time since my last post pouring over preview videos and I am absolutely floored by the gameplay. What I see is the game that I’d hoped The Sims 3, a completely lackluster experience, would be. The Sims 4 seems to be a reincarnation of The Sims 2, with simplified controls and improved graphics—exactly what I so desperately wanted.
Though as much as I lionize The Sims 2, the game isn’t without its faults. What is absent from The Sims 2 is an adequate level of customization. Players of The Sims 2 may scoff upon reading this, but the customization that we enjoy has been granted to us by the modding community, not game developers. I had to seek out darker player skins created by fans in order to have any hope of creating a reasonable facsimile of the actual neighborhood I once lived in. Later, I downloaded SimPe, a program that would allow me to alter character files, in order to make ten percent of the NPCs in my neighborhood gay and add new NPCs with bronze and ebony skin tones.
What I want from The Sims 4 is greater control over the appearance of my neighborhood. I want greater control over my neighborhood’s “story.” Allowing players to create NPCs in the CAS (Create A Sim) would be a huge step forward in achieving this. Let players make a grumpy nanny or flirtatious maid—or an entire neighborhood of green-skinned shopkeepers! Personally, I’d like the ability to prevent supernatural characters from appearing entirely. We shouldn’t have to depend on mods to remove them.
I hope that players will be able to alter not only a NPC’s personality and appearance, but her history as well. I loved the fact that the NPCs featured in the custom neighborhoods of The Sims 2 had existing relationships. In fact, I used SimPe to provide NPCs with family and friends. In my Pleasantview, the town thief was the husband of the maid and would prey upon her wealthy clients. The staff members of a popular bistro were all members of the same family. These stories existed apart from the tales I wove for my playable characters. I enjoyed creating them.