Emotions and Intelligence in The Sims 4
When The Sims 4 was originally announced back in May of 2013, emphasis was put on the Sims themselves – they’re emotional, intelligent and have a soul. Those catchphrases have been repeated over and over again throughout the past year, and after the luckluster personalities of The Sims 3’s little people that left us unamused, it was hard to believe that this attempt would be drastically different. However – it is!
Before we jump into the details of the gameplay experience, let’s go over one specific Create A Sim section – traits. At first glance, there are a lot less traits in The Sims 4 compared to its predecessor. Despite the initial feeling of lacking traits, you’ll soon discover how in-depth they actually are. Traits play a major role in the way you play the game, whereas in The Sims 3 traits barely influenced your Sims day-to-day life.
When you first move in your family into a new home, you’ll notice that very soon there will be numerous Sims walking around your lot in what’s called “public space” (parks, streets, paths etc.). Game tends to let you know at all times that world around you is alive. Inactive Sims live – they interact with each other, they argue, fight and above all – they have emotions. Though it might seem like an irrelevant factor, considering an average Sims player focuses on his/her active household, Sims you don’t control will also influence the way your Sims feel. You bump into an angry person? Maybe he’ll insult you, mock you and cause you to feel angry or sad, therefore influencing others in that Sim’s surroundings. This chain reaction is extremely interesting and can bring you new level of dynamic gameplay into your game.
But let’s stick with our active household. I’ll present you brother and sister from my Edge household – Monica and Kostas. Pay no attention to Monica’s facial expression – she just ran out from the fire that started in their family home. Even at this stage you can see how Sims have improved intelligence-wise. Sims won’t just stand by the first and shout. They will initially, but then they’ll rapidly run out of the house and seek a safe place. Unfortunately, there are no firefighters in the game, so any fire must be put out by you, or fire prevention system. One of the producers must be laughing at our Sims’ misery every time a fire starts. And fire is quite dangerous, so be careful!
Monica and Kostas went to visit a local bar in Oasis Springs in order to meet some of their neighbors and fellow residents. In the matter of a minute, the game filled the whole bar and made a real bar-like atmosphere. As soon as you load up a location, you’ll see several Sims already present, but soon even more Sims will arrive.
The way you interact with other Sims is incredible thanks to the new multitasking system. Your Sim can order a drink, sit at the bar and talk with the person next to him/her. Most interactions have been enabled for sitting position, though some still require a standing position due to their animations. In pie menu (menu where you choose interactions), interactions which require you to stand up are marked with a footprint symbol.
Monica soon started a conversation with a guy named Greg. Even though both were in a flirty mood, Greg is married and turned down each of Monica’s attempts at making a romantic move, which drove her into a state of embarrassment. Due to continuous failures in flirting, Monica was ashamed and had to give up. Emotions play a big role in the game. Due to her emotional state, Monica felt worse and worse, which had numerous consequences – in extreme cases, it can even result in death. Unhappy Sims will make more mistakes in conversations, whereas happy Sims will find success and therefore achieve higher states of positive emotional states.
The next day, Kostas visited the local gym. While introducing himself to a townie, it was noticable that game sometimes chooses strange positions for interactions. Instead of facing each other, Kostas and his new friend were talking side by sad in a rather strange position. Though it might seem weird at times, it’s definitely far better than your Sim refusing to talk to a Sim in front of him just because that Sim is standing near a couch, as it was the case in The Sims 3.
Kostas was energized and in great mood for exercizing due to his “Active” trait. As he was working out on the treadmill, he introduced himself to two people who were exercizing near him, therefore working out and having a fun conversation that filled his social and fun need bars.
In one of the upcoming days, Kostas returned from work in the emotional state “Tense”. Every career (including primary and high school for children and teens), there is a chance you’ll be prompted with a “Chance card”. This is a text adventure similar to ones from The Sims 2 and some adventures from The Sims 3 where you have a description of a problem and possible actions your Sim is supposed to take. These can benefit your career, have no effect on it or lower your career performance. In order to get Kostas back into a fine state, I had him work out for a bit and push him into having positive moodlets from his Active trait.
Let’s go back to Monica for a bit, because she had a rather interesting day herself. When she visited Magnolia Blossom park in Willow Creek, she met a townie I added straight from The Gallery. His name is Nick and soon enough they developed a romantic connection. Relationships between Sims in The Sims 4 are separated into two categories – romance and friendship. Your Sims can be just friends, or they can be just lovers – or they can be both. There are certain limits in which romantic interactions you can perform based on the state of friendship bar. If you are just lovers, you won’t be able to propose to a Sim before becoming friends.
Monica and Nick went on a date to a local Oasis Springs lounge and due to my success in performing needed actions as a player, they reached a gold status for their date, receiving a reward – decorational object in form of a champagne bottle in a bucket of ice. This item has an emotional aura which can be enabled or disabled. Upon viewing this decor (“View” as in interaction, not just walking into a room with it), Sims become flirty, so it’s great for your bedroom or setting up a date.
Hopefully this preview gives you a relatively detailed look into what you can expect from the game. Please note that this review is based on just a few days of gameplay and only what two out of four Sims in my household experienced. There are careers, different locations, skills, hidden lots and much more to explore.
The Sims 4 is a major step forward for the life simulation genre. And even though The Sims 3 remains dominant in terms of customization thanks to Create a Style, terrain modification and build/buy cheats, The Sims 4 takes the lead when it comes to actual gameplay experience thanks to its focus on Sims, which has been hugely missed in The Sims community since The Sims 2.