Eurogamer Expo 2013: Why Customisation in The Sims 4 Isn't Big News
Will Wright's The Sims is a cultural phenomenon. It is has been the biggest selling franchise of all time, with only Grand Theft Auto looking to challenge that status quo. The ability to create a bright and irreverent take on life has always been one of its main pulls. But as the series drew on, more and more levels of player customisation were introduced, which has also been seen as one of the other reasons why the franchise has been so successful.
The Sims 4, unsurprisingly, is set to take customisation not only to another level, but also make it more accessible. But is it what the game needs?
At Eurogamer Expo 2013, we had the opportunity to get some playtime with The Sims 4: Create-A-Sim. In the past, creating a sim has been a labour of love and tenacity. The sliders were fiddly and less than intuitive, despite being powerful.
In The Sims 4 you're given a literal "hands on" experience. You can physically drag aspects of your avatar to how you want them. Want a big booty? Grab dat ass! Then drag out them shoulders, and stretch those ears! Creating an accurate version of you or your dream Sim has never been easier. Maxis and Electronic Arts not only stepped-up the level of detail once more, but have made these power tools easier than ever.
The intuitive nature of The Sims 4: Create-A-Sim on show at Eurogamer was really interesting, but we and other fans were desperate to actually experience how different the actual gameplay will be, not just how droopy you can make a Sim's boobies.
"...we and other fans [are] desperate to actually experience how different the actual gameplay will be, not just how droopy you can make a Sim's boobies."
It's this exciting and radical difference of the power of emotions in this fourth installment that sets it apart from the others, adding more narrative scope and gameplay possibilities. Rather than just the five basic states like before - neutral, happy, very happy, sad, and very sad - the game will boast 15 different emotions, each of which have varying degrees of intensity which unlock or block certain actions.
And after the colossal failure that was Sim City's rehash, all eyes are on Maxis and Electronic Arts to get Wright's legacy back on track with this gameplay mechanic. It's a bold punt in that it's a big leap in gameplay from before, and this is what people are wanting to see more than anything else.
Whether this upcoming installment of the game will out do the others, or have the game fall flat on its face, will essentially boil down this new emotions system, not the amount of detail you can put in or leave out of your Sims and their world and how easy it is to do so. Who cares if you can get that perfect shade of green for your couch, or suddenly have the ability to make your ceilings a little higher than before?
Trawling through umpteen menus, options, and comparing hundreds of variations on a theme isn't exactly anything new and doesn't make for an exciting game. It's far easier to just choose one of the pre-made items or patterns or just hit the randomise button, and get back to zany things like putting out the couch the genie has set on fire, or shooing a mime from your party.
However, that's not to poo-poo customisation. If the gameplay works, than all of the above will propel the vibrant creative community that The Sims has nurtured from its inception. Maxis have always given players a choice about how particular they can be with making their game unique. Just because powerful customisation tools doesn't interest some, and bears no real relevance to it being a good or bad game, doesn't mean that the game shouldn't have them or that they should be overlooked.
"Until we have proof about how the well the game plays, customisation isn't something that's going to get too many gamers excited or interested, let alone pre-ordering."
If you don't want to spend so much time yourself, there are others who do and are happy to share their efforts. There's My Sim Realty, who has done a spectacular job of creating unique worlds, often doing a better job than Maxis, and TheCurtisParadisShow, who does things like build homes from television shows like The Simpsons, to download for your game.
Until we have proof about how the well the game plays, customisation isn't something that's going to get too many gamers excited or interested, let alone pre-ordering.
The Sims 4 is now available to pre-order on Origin. For more information, please visit Origin.