It took me 17 years to finally sit down and play Maxis’ long-running The Sims franchise, a delay caused not from a lack of interest, but an absence of having a computer I felt could run it properly. When I splurged on a high-end MacBook Pro last year, I decided maybe it was finally time to give the series a shot, so I picked up The Sims 3 along with three expansion packs: Generations, Pets, and Seasons.
After a week and a half I’d already put 100-plus hours into the game, at which point I decided maybe I consider moving up to the more modern The Sims 4. (The Sims 3 had come out way back in 2009, versus The Sims 4’s 2014 release.)
The problem I had going into The Sims 4 was that I simply didn’t know a world without pets and weather and other features that had come in the post-launch expansions I’d purchased. Suddenly, I couldn’t have a cat, and the world outside my home felt like it existed in some weird kind of seasonal stasis.
It’s funny, then, that two of the biggest holes in my The Sims-loving heart have been filled one after another. Coming on the heels of The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs last November, EA and Maxis have now delivered The Sims 4 Seasons, which—at its core—could be reduced to one word: weather.
The thing is, you forget how much of an impact weather has on you until it’s gone. As a native Nebraskan now living in Los Angeles, it really hit me a few years in just how bizarre life felt without a proper changing of seasons. Seasons give us a sense of a passage of time, a direct connection to which part of the year we’re in, time-stamped memories of that summer day at the amusement park that was swelteringly hot or that winter night when you were outside playing in the heavy snowfall descending from bright grey skies.
As I loaded up my various The Sims 4 worlds now running Seasons, it didn’t take long to remember just how much the game had been missing. In one, the world outside came alive in autumnal colors, as leaves piled up under trees becoming bare. In another, rain poured down during a summertime storm, with my Sims showing a bit of fright at the lightning and thunder crashing outside. My biggest joy, unsurprisingly, came once I hit winter, as the snow piled up and a quiet peace blanketed the world.
It’s hard to really explain the importance of such things to those who might not appreciate what weather brings either real or virtual worlds, but for those who do, I can’t say enough about how much better of an experience The Sims 4 now is. Before any of the other things Seasons adds to the game, its titular feature alone would sell me on this expansion. It is completely frustrating, however, that it would take nearly four years for us to finally reach this point. To me, having something as basic as weather is a requirement for a “life simulation” from the start, and yet it’s once again been used a carrot to dangle in front of players to try to keep them waiting and wanting.
The Sims 4 Seasons is more than just weather and the effects it has on the world, of course. Right away, you’ll see some small yet major changes to the overall interface, with new icons that reveal the weather and general temperature, time of year, and a handy calendar filled with things like birthday reminders, work/school schedules, and new holidays. Well, new to The Sims 4at least, because you’ll recognize obvious takes on holidays such as Christmas or Halloween, even when their more generic names aren’t familiar.
Holidays, like many things in The Sims, will only give you as much as you put into them. Seasons adds a ton of new items for getting your Sims (and their homes) into a festive mood for all sorts of holidays, so those willing to spend the time (and money) to decorate piece-by-piece can end up with some fantastically over-the-top results. Some things do provide for easier decorating: there’s a box of decorations you can use to dress up the outside of your home in just a few clicks, and tasks like decking out the not-Christmas-but-totally-is tree is also fully menu-driven. You can also help make your party a hit with the new grand meals, dishes of bigger proportional sizes—think things like Thanksgiving turkeys—perfect for feeding a family or group of guests.
If there’s a particular holiday missing, or you just want to be a little more creative with your festivities, you can even make your own holidays. The interface is pretty simple and easy to understand, as you pick when you want the event to occur, the overall theme of the holiday, and its traditions—such as barbecuing, drinking, attending a ceremony, or even the airing of grievances for those of you who observe Festivus. If there’s a pre-created holiday that you don’t like or want to tweak, you can even use that same interface to change them to your liking. A holiday will be considered successful depending on how many of its traditions each Sim partakes in, but the bigger take-away from each will be how things play out depending on your own personal hopes and planning. For example, in one of my worlds, New Year’s Eve ended with my main character drunkenly making out with another girl in front of her boyfriend—and I’d sure call that a success.
The Sims 4 Seasons brings in a number of other additions beyond the expected. Gardening is offered up as a new career path, younger Sims can now become scouts and participate in a slate of new activities, and you can now even win the lottery—should you want to receive big bucks the honest way (versus just cheating like the rest of us). Then there’s the usual assortment of customization content—from seasonal items like kiddie pools to some really great new clothing and hairstyles (at least for the women)—and new activities, such as playing in leaf piles or making snowpals. A lot of what’s been added is, of course, based around seasonal activities and/or needs, but there’s also some other fun things tucked away for players to find.
The Sims 4 Seasons feels like an expansion that really does justify its existence, but it’s also not one without some weird issues or questionable decisions. One of the new elements to the game is the ability to create outfits specifically for warm and cold weather, and I always love having more specialized choices such as this. The problem is, the cold weather option doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be at times. By default, it’s easy to assume that it’s “outside wear”—similar to the style choice we had in The Sims 3 Seasons—but it’s also kind of not. In my first experience of a The Sims 4 winter, my Sims continually complained about how cold they were when they were indoors, and I couldn’t figure out why. Their solution to this problem? Put on their cold weather clothes, which meant I had characters walking around their homes in coats, snow boots, and so on. I finally realized that The Sims 4 Seasons brought with it a major new item: thermostats. Once placed in a home, you can now set how warm or cool you want to keep your domicile (which comes with a monetary cost), and I think that’s a fantastic addition to the game. But—unlike warm weather outfits, where the same outfit can usually be worn both inside and out—cold weather clothing doesn’t work that way. I wish that there was some way to set where an outfit is appropriate to put on, together with a fix for how the game sometimes doesn’t switch to and from cold weather wear when it’s supposed to (such as when going outside or coming back in).
We’ve also lost some seasonal things we used to have that were nice little features, such as the way snow builds up more dynamically or how Sims can get sunburns. At the same time, though, other seasonal effects are much nicer now—such as environmental elements like trees swaying in the wind or the visual effects of heat on particularly hot days—so it’s kind of a toss-up. On that, Seasons does a nice job of changing how things like weather work depending on which region you’re living in, the most obvious example being that Oasis Springs will primarily get rain, not snow. Speaking of those regions, however, there are no new additions here for those looking for a new spot to call home—a disappointment given the potential the team had to create an area perfect for showing off the changing seasons. Another loss is the ability to specify how long each season should be individually, as now it’s one setting that make all of them range from a minimum of 7 days to a maximum of 28 days across the board. Sure, it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but the individual tweaking was nice for those wanting to replicate more specific regional situations.
I think out of every expansion The Sims 4 has or will receive, Seasons is by far the most necessary one. Seasons and weather are something that should be in the game by default, and their long-awaiting addition really does completely change how even the most boring of days in the Sims world feel. Even though I’ve only been around as a player for a few years and two major releases, I can totally understand the fatigue The Sims players can feel at the constant stream of expansions—especially given we live in a world that’s seen recent additions like Get Together, Jungle Adventure, and the utter nonsense that is Vampires. (Vampires were added to the game a year before weather was—seriously, let that sink in for a moment.) That said, if there’s one The Sims 4 expansion you’ll get, it should be this one—and if you still play the game with any regularity, I consider Seasons to be nothing less than a must-own.
While it’s taken far too long for it to arrive, The Sims 4 Seasons is one of the most necessary expansions that exists for the game, as the addition of weather alone adds so much to the overall experience. It’s not everything it could have been, and it’s definitely got some quirks here and there, but dedicated The Sims 4 players should consider this one a must-own.
T – Teen
|The Sims 4 Seasons is available on PC and Mac. Primary version reviewed was for Mac. Review code was provided by EA for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of one to five stars.|
Mollie got her start in games media via the crazy world of gaming fanzines, and now works at EGM with the goal of covering all of the weird Japanese and niche releases that nobody else on staff cares about. She’s active in the gaming community on a personal level, and an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming, consumer rights, and good UI.