When The Sims 4 launched in 2014, the world felt empty. In the City Living expansion that dropped yesterday, The Sims 4 finally feels alive. Sims are now everywhere, all the time. Since I’ll be moving to New York soon, what better way to try out City Living than seeing how a sim deals with a new city life?
I’ve spent the last week playing through City Living with a code provided by EA, and I’ve discovered that finding an apartment in fictional San Myshuno is way easier than finding a place to live in New York. The difference is, apartments in the Sims wear all their problems on their sleeve. City Living introduces a new feature called ‘Lot Traits.’ These unique characteristics give houses and apartments special features, such as ‘Chef’s Kitchen,’ which makes it easier to get good at cooking, or ‘Lively Neighbors,’ which is a lot like my last apartment. My sim decided against an apartment with the Lot Trait ‘Needs TLC,’ in the Arts District for a nicer one in the Spice Market. It’s historic, but haunted. Hey, she can handle it.
My second biggest concern moving to a new city in real life is finding friends. While I already know a bunch of people living in New York and love my coworkers there, can I find people to just, you know, hang with? I had my sim join the new ‘Critic,’ career in-game, just to make sure she’d get to know someone. In the base game, you can’t control your sims at work but you can tell them to talk to their coworkers, which grants them new friends and raises your sims ‘Social’ need. The Get To Work expansion would later making following your sims to work an option, but the series of minigames you had to complete there made it hard to ever talk to anyone. In San Myshuno, making friends was as simple as going to the bar.
Karaoke is also new in City Living, as is the singing skill. You can sing anywhere—in the shower, just walking around, or with any of the available instruments. But singing at karaoke machines is the most fun, and the easiest way to get your sims to meet other people. Hearing my sim croak out a country song with her new friends was hilarious, because there’s a strong difference between sims with a low singing skill versus a high one. All the friends my sim made at the karaoke bar were great at singing. At least they weren’t too mean about it.
It isn’t that relationships and socializing have changed much in City Living, but the game has made it easier to accommodate those mechanics. San Myshuno hosts a festival every couple of days in-game, and usually one of your sim’s friends will call them up to ask to hang out there. Before City Living, sims would only call to come over to your house, but after the expansion they call to go out with you and try specific things, like you do in life. In the base game, areas like parks and bars would only populate once your sim got there and required a loading screen to get to, but San Myshuno is more seamless. If friends want to check out a festival in your sim’s district, they can just go outside and see it, and sims will already be hanging out.
While my sim liked attending GeekCon, she really had a blast at the Spice Festival, right outside her apartment. She didn’t do too well at the Curry Eating Challenge, but she and her soon-to-be boyfriend Kengo had fun sampling the international foods and hanging out at the Bubble Blower, which is also new with City Living. Near the end of the night, she got ‘Dazed,’ from blowing bubbles and playing basketball, living out my real life fantasy of recreating this Riff Raff vine.
In the base game, your sim’s friends would have to call every single time they wanted to hang out, which felt like a nuisance after a while. In City Living, your sims can give their friends a key to their apartment, meaning they’ll just show up whenever. In real life, I would hate this, but in the game it’s very convenient, especially because you can now work from home.
When I move to New York I’ll be working in the Gizmodo office, but right now I kinda slide out of bed and drag myself to the computer in the morning. While I haven’t been assigned to watch four hours of television and paint a mural like my sim has in real life, allowing your sims to work from home makes the days more varied. Instead of feeling like your sim is missing out socializing or any of the events going on at the city, she can multitask. Speaking from experience, it’s not all that unlike real life. My sim would occasionally invite Kengo over while she worked to try and get flirty with him, which is a stark difference from real life, I promise.
Apartments are the real gem of City Living. Because your sim will inevitably have to interact with their neighbors, the game finally feels alive. Instead of having to create stories out of thin air, narratives now just happen to my sim instead. Sometimes my sim’s neighbors would be too loud while she was trying to make it happen with Kengo, making them both too angry to flirt. Later on, the woman next door came over to complain that my sim was making too much noise while she finally WooHooed with Kengo, saying she was an inconsiderate and rude neighbor. Sorry lady, she’s finna smash.
In San Myshuno, something is always happening. When I first moved to Chicago from a Connecticut suburb over three years ago, the culture shock of always having something to do was intense. I wanted my sim to check out every festival, but she didn’t have time to—she hasn’t even fully explored every part of the city yet. It feels busy and loud and overwhelming the way that cities do. I just hope my move to New York will be as exciting at my sim’s first few days in San Myshuno.