At Tuesday’s Behind the Sims stream, fans got another look at the hotly-anticipated sequel to popular life simulator The Sims 4, Project Rene, known colloquially as The Sims 5.
The team showed off a number of details they’re working on, though everything still seems to be in early stages. Everything from lighting to Sim animations to hairstyles got a look. Unfortunately, these were incredibly short videos of prototypes, each lasting under a minute.
Still, we’ll break down all the details we got in the Behind the Sims stream.
Hairstyles were a massive point of contention in The Sims 4, especially regarding natural curls and Black styles. Though the game eventually made some improvements, it was only years after the release that substantial progress was seen. During the latest stream, we didn’t quite get details on how Maxis plans to avoid those mistakes, but we did see a possible hair customization feature that could give players more control over hair color with variations for ombré looks and roots. We will point out, however, that color customization existed in The Sims 3 before it was abandoned in 4.
For those more interested in building rather than messing around in Create-a-Sims, lots seem to be getting a lighting upgrade, allowing you to set the mode for whatever story you’re crafting. It’s possible to change the lighting in The Sims 4 to an extent with colored bulbs and dimming, but the prototype shown in the Behind the Sims stream seems far more extensive.
The Project Rene team discussed how Sims themselves will present visually. One example given showed different postures and ways of performing interactions based on moods, but that doesn’t feel too dissimilar to how Sims present themselves in The Sims 4. What was more interesting, however, were the possible changes to how we try to figure out what these virtual buddies are saying and thinking.
“Socialization is fundamental to the experience in The Sims. But you gotta admit, sometimes there’s a lot to follow,” producer Jill noted during the stream. Jill’s right. Between animations, facial expressions, and thought bubbles popping up and disappearing, it can sometimes be a struggle to figure out how a conversation is going, especially with groups of Sims. But it seems that The Sims 5 might pare down the visual clutter.
A bit of simplification might be a welcome change.
We got what seems to be a very rudimentary look at townie Sims walking around a neighborhood—or, we got little blobs meant to represent townie Sims—in a look at Maxis’ work making schedules and routines to follow. Right now, Sims in 4 mostly seem to wander around, usually in their own neighborhoods, so it might be interesting if the townies you’re not playing with seem like they have a bit more purpose going forward.
The Behind the Sims stream further highlighted how Sims will navigate their homes, which has been comically awkward since the original. Think of the meme of Sims being unable to walk forward because of a plate on the ground. Sim traversal has become far less fraught by the series’ fourth installment, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
Unfortunately, we got the vaguest look at this detail. All we know from the latest stream is that the team is working on bringing its vision to life. Listen, are my little Sims still going to wash their dishes in bathroom sinks? I absolutely must know. They said they can’t wait to show us more, and we can’t wait to see more.
Not anytime soon. Let’s wait until Maxis moves away from “Project Rene” and actually calls it The Sims 5 before we start getting out hopes of a nearby release date up.