Mark Zuckerberg keeps trying to make the metaverse cool, but despite the groundbreaking addition of legs, he just can’t make it happen. But the metaverse is real, and it’s been thriving since 2014 when The Sims 4 was released. The fourth mainline entry into EA’s ubiquitous simulation series offers players a level of customization and freedom in how they play and who they can be in-game that remains innovative for the industry thanks to numerous meaningful updates from developer Maxis. Since The Sims 4 base game went free-to-play on October 18, there is no better time to explore everything this massive title has to offer.
There was only one computer in my house growing up. It sat in a corner of the living room, reserved mostly for my parents to do adult things like check electronic mails and pay bills on the world wide web. I can’t remember whose desire it was, but we convinced our parents to purchase the original Sims for the home computer.
I wouldn’t call any of my siblings capital “G” gamers. None of them were obsessed with video games enough to devote their lives to talking about it (they were sensible and got real jobs), but something about The Sims cut through that. My sisters loved it and spent many hours watching their little worlds unfold, tweaking and messing with the lives of the digital avatars within. Since The Sims, I don’t believe either of them has played any video games.
This isn’t a unique story. There is something special about The Sims that hooks in just about everyone. People who don’t identify as gamers or have never owned a PlayStation or Xbox in their life love The Sims. For some, it is the only game they play and will ever play.
The appeal of simulation games like PowerWash Simulator or Stardew Valley is that they make mundane chores feel meaningful and interesting. Playing a good sim is like doing meditation; You let everything else drift away and get lost in the calmness of repetition. The Sims takes this all one step further, with no defined objectives or goals the only task is to make people, give them lives, and watch how they unfold.
It is a god simulator, and The Sims 4 perfected this omnipotent gameplay loop.
The Sims 4 has been around for six years with no signs of going away anytime soon. To date, the game has received 12 major expansion packs, 12 “game packs,” 18 “stuff packs,” and 10 “kits.” To put it simply, there is no shortage of content in The Sims 4.
Each major expansion has introduced a wide array of new environments to build homes and sims as well as new items and careers. You can live your cottage-core fantasy, return to high school, or even build the perfect sustainable community. Yet each update to The Sims 4 has also worked to continue the franchise’s history of inclusivity.
With character creation and relationships being integral mechanics in The Sims, Maxis has always sought to make the game better reflect the player base. “It’s in our DNA to really want to be an inclusive franchise,” Design lead Jessica Croft told Inverse. From the franchise’s first entry in 2001, sims have had the ability to form romantic relationships with any other sim regardless of gender.
In the course of The Sims 4’s continuous updates players have gained new customization tools like taking away gender restrictions on clothing, the ability to determine a sim’s pronouns, and a recent update that drastically expanded a player’s ability to determine sims’ sexual orientation. There have also been consistent updates that improved character creation that reflects people of color.
Even with EA acknowledging that early development on the next Sims game, currently known as Project Rene, has begun, The Sims 4 continues to be supported by the developers and a massive community of players. Going free-to-play opens the experience up to players, letting them dip their toes in the water before deciding how deep they want to go.
The Sims 4 is free-to-play on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.