Eurogamer Expo 2013: Why Customisation in The Sims 4 Isn't Big News

The new level and ease of customisation is impressive, but we'd rather have gotten experience of actual gameplay.

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?

Grab Dat Ass!

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.

Details, Schmetails.

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.

Gameplay First, Customisation Later

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.

Featured Columnist

Bearded British game-bear. Likes his JRPGs accompanied with a G&T. Lives in London, UK. Also writes a lot about theatre and film. *jazz hands*

Published Oct. 9th 2013
  • Jaline_3813
    I agree with Orangeplumbob 100%. I have also played since the beginning of the original Sims. Ever since pre-orders first became available, I have done so with every EP and SP of each iteration of the series. This is the first time I won't be pre-ordering and may possibly not order at all.

    When I first came across The Sims, I was in a large computer software store looking for a program that would enable me to build 3-D houses. It has always been a passion for me to design houses and 'imagine' designing them as I laid them out on graph paper. I was ready to go a step further with computers.

    The salesgirl told me they didn't have anything like what I described - but - they did have a brand-new game that just came out and that you could actually build houses with it. I admit my nose went up in the air a bit - a game? Puh-leeeze.

    However, I deigned to lower myself to try it out and see if it measured up for house building. What a hook! I was addicted from that moment back in 2000 and remain so today.

    The "why" is easy: the customization continued to get better and better with more and more flexibility so I could build things I hadn't even dreamed of being able to build before. I could also furnish the houses, decorate with wallpapers and other wall surfaces and textures, furnish them in many different styles, and even landscape them.

    Yes, of course I got hooked on the little pixel people eventually, too. How else was I going to determine if those houses were actually liveable and suit particular "people"?

    With The Sims 3 came Create-A-Style and it was the only thing that broke me away from the great experience of The Sims 2. I started off excited about The Sims 4 because I thought, "What fantastic new building/decorating tool will they add for this new series?" When I found out that not only were they not adding anything that appealed to me in the building department, but they were also scrapping Create-A-Style, I was crushed.

    Ultimately, although I do enjoy the gameplay of The Sims because it has always been complementary to what I love best - the building and decorating, and especially the customization - it is the latter that I care about far more than the former.

    I know others feel differently, but for me the gameplay must serve and prove the building and customization, not the other way around.
  • Orangeplumbob
    I completely disagree about customization. I DO care. I've spent more hours playing Sims 3 than any other game. I've rarely had problems and I've given my sims personalities and it shows in game. The one thing I absolutely love about playing is when I log into a family where Ive spent days customizing the house the way I want it. The right shades of blues and greens that are appealing to the eye and matches the personality of my sim. Customization means the world to me in that respect. It's why I maybe spent two days tops on sims 2 and more days downloading every shade of couches ad furniture to match. I'm not preordering and this will probably be the first sims game ever that I won't get. I've been playing sims since the first installment released. And unless there's more customization other than giving more junk in the trunk it's a game not for me and not for many people I know.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    I am fairly excited for this because I've been playing these games since the original Sims, but was (and continue to be) deeply disappointed by 3. The Sims 2 was just better in every way, sans being able to breed with imaginary friends with hilarious results.

    I really hope 4 will be a step in the right direction, Maxis really needs to step it up.
  • Destrolyn.Bechgeddig
    Featured Columnist
    There are certain aspects of both 2 and 3 that I like and dislike, so it's a shame that Sims 3 didn't better 2 in all aspects. But I actually prefer 3 a little better than 2, but miss many things about 2 that aren't in 3. So, I too, am hoping that 4 will bring these good points together, but also explore new gameplay.

    I'm excited about The Sims 4, but after getting burned with the disaster that was Sim City, I'm waiting until it's been out at least a month before I purchase it. Especially as not all Sims games have been a success. Remember The Sims Online? Thought not :P

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