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Life By You early access release date, gameplay and more

All the latest details on the upcoming rival to The Sims

When is Life By You going to be released? Speaking as a fan, I'm the first person to acknowledge that it's super weird how there's never been a major competitor to The Sims, the blockbuster life simulation franchise that's closing in on its quarter-century of dominating the genre. That's all starting to change, though, thanks in no small part to the recent announcement of Life By You: a Sims-inspired sandbox from the studio behind Cities: Skylines.

As RPS' in-house life sim fanatic, it is my pleasure to bring you all the latest news on this game as soon as I learn it. So read on below for everything we know right now about Life By You, including the release date, system specs, gameplay and development details, and more.

Life By You release date

Life By You will be released into early access on June 4th, 2024, which is nine months later than originally planned. Early access for The Sims rival was initially meant to launch in September 2023, before getting delayed to March 2024 and then delayed again to June.

Following the latest delay, pre-orders have been suspended and refunds will be offered to those that have already paid money for Life By You on the Epic Game Store. The Life Begins and Nightlife Vibes DLC packs will also be offered as an extra apology during early access. When it does come out, it'll be available via Steam and the Epic Games Store. If you're thinking of getting it on Steam, just bear in mind that it hasn't been optimised or tested for the Steam Deck yet.

Given the scope and ambition of the game, it seems likely that early access will be a lengthy process, and I wouldn't expect Version 1.0 of Life By You for a good while yet. Especially given games like this are basically works-in-progress for their entire active lifespan thanks to a regular combination of paid DLC and free updates. The game's official FAQ page does note though that Life By You will be in early access for "at least 12 months". So a release date for V1.0 won't happen until 2025 at the earliest.

Life By You developers

Life By You is being developed by Paradox Tectonic, a team helmed by Rod Humble, best known among life sim fans for his work on The Sims 2, The Sims 3, and Second Life. The publishers are Paradox Interactive, known for previously knocking off EA's crown when their lauded 2015 city builder Cities: Skylines put 2013's SimCity reboot to absolute shame.

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Life By You system requirements

Life By You is expected to carry the following system requirements on PC:

Minimum Recommended
Operating System Windows 10 (64 bit) Windows 10/11 (64 bit)
Processor Intel Core i5-8600 / AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Intel Core i5-10400F / AMD Ryzen 5 5600
Memory 16 GB RAM 16 GB RAM
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 4GB / AMD Radeon R9 380 4GB NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB / AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
DirectX Version 11 Version 11
Storage 25 GB available space 25 GB available space

These requirements are a hefty ask, and mark one of the major differences between Life By You and The Sims series, the latter of which has emphasised accessibility to players on lower-spec systems throughout The Sims 4 generation, and seems set to continue doing so with The Sims 5. Life By You is taking a different path, and it's no secret that you'll need a pretty darn good gaming PC in order to take part in the fun.

However, one definite saving grace is the confirmation that Life By You won't require a constant internet connection in order to play.

Life By You gameplay

It's immediately obvious to anyone who's played The Sims 3 that Life By You is cut from the same cloth: a broadly photorealistic, open-world life simulation that aims to be a seamless experience (read: no loading screens once you're in the game proper). The boast of being able to switch instantly to any NPC and control them is a one-up on the basic premise offered by the most recent games in The Sims series too, with the rest of the simulation continuing on under the command of each character's AI until you elect to swap once more. So yes, that does mean that your favourites will make choices you might not like if left to their own devices for too long. Choose wisely, I suppose.

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The big boast of Life By You is that every aspect of the game's script will be customisable and moddable, with the central draw of the game being complete freedom for the player to create the world they want on any scale — from designing full public amenities to choosing the colour swatches on individual items — and to tell the parts of any given character's story they find the most compelling without resorting to cheats. The trailer also showed even things like character skills and traits will be freely adjustable by the player, with Paradox going into further detail in a later video.

A bedroom scene with colour preset menus in Life By You
The object editor menu for a trash can in Life By You

In the lead-up to the game's early access launch, the official YouTube channel for Life By You has taken a deep dive into different aspects of the game, like Build Mode, Crafting, Relationships and Quests.

You can watch a selection of these videos below:

Watch on YouTube
Watch on YouTube
Watch on YouTube
Watch on YouTube

Katharine observed following her interview with Rod Humble that this level of freedom seems to come at the expense of goal-oriented play for those who like their life simulation with a bit of challenge, since the promise of a sandbox without restrictions does by necessity remove some of the requirements for lateral thinking and careful planning that management-oriented Sims players thrive on. Humble seems confident, however, that test players have responded very positively to the game's flexibility, often choosing to set their own boundaries to tell stories in their own preferred way.

How does it compare to The Sims?

While it feels unfair to lean too hard on the Sims comparison, it's not like Life By You is going out of its way to hide its biggest influence, with a lot of emphasis being put on the places where Life By You will differ from The Sims.

While in The Sims your characters progress through "life stages", with a varying number of in-game days representing a whole chunk of the human lifespan, Life By You aims for more realistic ageing. An "agent" (the work-in-progress name for the game's simulated characters) will display their age in years lived, much like a real human. Although it's not yet clear quite how long each in-game year will last in terms of gameplay time, it does seem that impatient players will be given some freedom to skip forward (but not back) through a character's life span if they don't feel like waiting around for the next lifetime milestone.

The conversation mod menu in Life By You

Another big departure will be the inclusion of real conversations. Instead of pleasant babble in a made-up language with just enough variation to keep its repetitiveness from hitting the ear, Life By You aims to present dialogue between its characters in the player's language (albeit seemingly in text boxes rather than recorded speech).

The character attributes menu showing different family backgrounds  in Life By You
Two women converse in a colourful office scene in Life By You

Characters will respond to various contextual factors like pre-existing relationships, the location in which the conversation is taking place, and the personalities of the interlocutors to result in what the developers hope will be a unique exchange every time. You'll also be able to edit dialogue options from within a conversation, as seen in the video below:

Watch on YouTube

You'll also be able to switch from a pulled-back view to an over-the-shoulder camera while you control your little simulated people in third-person, a feature which hasn't been seen in The Sims series since they stopped making console-only spin-offs. Have a look at how switching between direct and indirect control of characters will work in the video below:

Watch on YouTube

You'll be able to pick up to 10 traits for your character, and one trait category will be "Family Background". This looks to let you establish what sort of childhood your adult characters had and how it affected them, which is certainly something new! Screenshots of a conversation between two characters working in an office seem to suggest that you'll be able to accompany your agents to work, a feature that has been available throughout The Sims series but only sporadically (and never for anything as prosaic as an office job).

That's all we know about Life By You right now, but we look forward to bringing you more details as they emerge! For more on the upcoming Sims rival, find out why it's one of our most anticipated PC games in 2024. Check out also why we found some of the game's NPCs a little bit creepy in a demo we saw at Gamescom last year. If you love life sims, you might also be interested in our everything we know about The Sims 5 page, so you can compare and contrast it with Life By You and see how the competition's shaping up.

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