When you think of a video game sequel, you may tend to think along the lines of "bigger", "better", "new 'n' improved". A video game sequel tends to be the perfect opportunity for a game developer to enhance their vision and take that project to new heights with tweaks, additions and fixes. It also gives the community that builds around a game a chance to suggest improvements too; the things that weren't fun can be scrapped for fresh opportunities to develop upon new, much more impressive systems. It is my personal belief in this system that has me rather perplexed at The Sims 4 right now.
When news spread about how The Sims 4 would be missing pools and toddlers, the community was less than thrilled. For EA Games, the swimming pools and toddler phases were of low importance, the team leaning more in favour towards rich emotions and interpersonal Sim development. The swimming pool and toddling toddlers will no doubt return in the form of free content updates, paid DLC packs (previously known as expansions, an age ago...) or even talented community modding. These things are not gone, just on indefinite hold for now. Unfortunately for us though, these 2 features were far from being the only features removed from this new iteration of The Sims.
A list compiled by ts4news displays and sources a large number of features that have been simplified in The Sims 4, or in most cases just flat-out removed. Let me warn you as a Sims fan myself - this list is rather ugly.
Perhaps most puzzling to me is the removal of the Create-A-Style tool. This was an incredibly powerful tool introduced in The Sims 3 that allowed players to mix and match patterns and custom colour schemes across almost all of their Sims clothing and possessions. Before this tool, furnishings would be limited to a few pre-defined colour schemes, and clothing had to be retextured and inserted in the game as separate clothing items. This was incredibly inefficient, but was solvable with the CAS tool... Which is now gone.
Equally baffling is the loss of the large open-world also introduced by The Sims 3. While this could end up being rather processor-intensive, it also has a knock-on affect on story progression. As a consequence, inactive households will hardly change, outside of some basic predefined algorithms. Your Sims will eventually wither away, but Bob Mortimer will continue on indefinitely unable to father a new son, until such a time as you take control of his household yourself and decide to mate him in some nefarious plot.
If you add in the dumbing-down of the build tools (all lots must now be flat and will stay flat,) how every Sim age bracket from young teens to elders are exactly the same height, there will be no 64bit executable at launch, babies cannot be interacted with dynamically as well as the huge assortment of other bullets in the post linked above, things begin to look sort of... Backwards for the Sims, really.
Each new release of the Sims has brought with it new ideas to enjoy. The Sims 2 brought aspirations. The Sims 3 brought near-infinite customisation, moodlets and varying personalities... But it seems that the Sims 4 isn't choosing to bring much to this generation at all. Sure, Sims can now multi-task and build relationships whilst doing other activities, but it still feels like a huge step backwards. It also seems to be one of the only legitimately NEW features that they're adding, and it's arguably not even a new idea in the game anyway - Sims could sit at dinner or watch television together and hold a large conversation as early as The Sims 2.
And don't let me forget that aliens will not feature in The Sims 4 at launch this time around either!! Aliens played a key part in defining the humour and personality of The Sims brand, and now they'll be as absent as ever in our every-day Simlish lives.
It's upsetting to know that as the game stands currently, features such as CAS cannot be implemented again due to some sort of engine incompatibility. The silver lining (and absolute inevitability) of this article though is that my personal opinion may be greatly overshadowed by one very simple fact, and that is that The Sims 4 is a base game. It is a foundation upon which new updates and content can be built, and as such it only needs the most basic functionality in order to keep it a commercial game about Sims and how you will control their lives. What it lacks in initial functionality, it most certainly boasts in future content updates.
So maybe most of these features will return at a point in the future. Before the Sims 3 gained it's plethora of content updates, it too was a very basic game that only thereafter began to grow into the huge monolith of a life sim that it is today. Maybe The Sims 4 will surpass it in every way. It's too early to tell. All I can say for sure is that I'm not at all convinced that the multi-tasking system warrants a pre-order. It probably doesn't even warrant a first-month purchase as it seems to me less like an improvement upon the Sims formula and more like a rushed-to-completion reskin of The Sims 3, sans some of the more defining features.
So... pools are gone, Sims styles will be boring, and people are angry. Someone must be having a blast playing THIS life-sim. After all, we could all just be one big computer simulation.