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The House Always Wins: The Sims 4

The house that Maxis built

I like The Sims. Quite what that says about me I don't know but there it is. Actually, I can be more specific - I like the idea of The Sims far more than I like what the series has become. The third game seemed to be going in the right direction, simulating the lives of neighbours, workmates and friends, but without extensive modding those lives were empty. As is no doubt increasingly obvious to anyone who reads my wittering in a regular basis, I'm fascinated by the things that a game simulates while I'm not looking. I want those trees to make a sound even if I'm not there to hear it. I sense that The Sims 4 will be a step back from its prequel in that regard but the new 'Build' trailer is handsome.

It's entirely possible that the in-game store will be even more prominent than in The Sims 3 (I reinstalled recently and links to the store have surely become much more prevalent since launch?) and that there'll be a price to pay for every nifty set of designs. Thankfully, whatever else might go wrong, the game will have an offline mode, unless one of the things that goes wrong is a sudden retraction of the promise that the game will have an offline mode.

Sims will now have emotional states, triggered by relationships and surroundings, and the interface seems friendlier than ever. We haven't seen anything regarding the wider simulation yet so I may be wrong in thinking that there'll be a return to the single family at a time model of the first two games, which sees every other living thing in stasis when they're not in the vicinity of the currently controlled sims. Peculiar and not particularly conducive to the sort of emergent storytelling that the style of game could create. I doubt we'll have AI sims that build and decorate their own homes anytime soon (although the modular furnished rooms shown here suggest it might be more viable than I'd previously imagined) but it'll be shame if the illusion of life beyond the family's four walls is lacking.

I guess what I really want is The Sims: Behind Closed Doors, in which rumours and gossip are rife, and every home has its own secret existence.

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