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The Sims 4 wants and fears: How wants and fears work in The Sims 4

The return of the wants and fears system explained

How do wants and fears work in The Sims 4? Patch 132 for The Sims 4 supports the High School Years expansion, but it also brings some of its biggest features to the base game for all players. Since The Sims 4 launched in 2014, Sims' short-term desires have been governed by "whims" — small optional goals heavily influenced by their immediate context, which grant a handful of reward points upon completion. But High School Years and Patch 132 overhaul and even rename this system: it's now called "wants and fears", harkening back to the equivalent feature as it appeared in The Sims 2.

However, it's not a straightforward remake of The Sims 2's wants and fears system. Instead, this latest version of the feature adapts a few familiar aspects of The Sims 4's Simology into something a little bit new. Confused? Read on below for a full explanation of how wants and fears work in The Sims 4.

How do wants work in The Sims 4?

At first look, wants in The Sims 4 are much the same as the whims they replace. They appear in the same area of the screen, just above a Sim's character portrait in Live Mode, where there are slots for up to three wants to appear at a time. The reward point payout for fulfilling a want is the same as it was for whims, too: about 25 to 100 points. (For context, the most basic bonuses in the rewards store cost 1,000 points.)

However, in the past, the left-hand whim slot was reserved for extremely short-term goals based on a Sim's current emotional state, and the whim cleared as soon as their predominant emotion shifted. This has gone altogether. Instead, each of the want slots now contain a different kind of want:

  • Long-term wants in the left-hand and middle slots. These are goals that will take a little bit of time to achieve, such as levelling up in a skill or getting a promotion at work, and are determined by your Sim's personality. This want can be pinned to stop it from refreshing; but if you leave it unpinned, it will reroll the least often of all three slots. They will usually be worth around 100 reward points.
  • Short-term wants in the left-hand and middle slots. These goals are also based on your Sim's personality but can be achieved within a few in-game hours at most. A Sim might, for example, want to listen to their favourite genre of music, talk to a friend, or perform an action related to one of their traits. Like long-term wants, these can be pinned, but they'll refresh a few times per in-game day if you leave them unpinned. They will usually be worth around 25 or 50 reward points.
  • Reactionary wants in the right-hand slot. These have replaced mood-based whims, but instead of being based on your Sim's current emotion, they're a lot more responsive to context. For example, if there's a festival going on in your Sim's neighbourhood, they might want to buy lunch from a nearby food stall; or, if their Energy need is low, they'll often develop a want to go to bed. These wants can't be pinned, and will disappear once your Sim is no longer in the situation that caused the want to appear.
A Sim display a want to finish reading a book, due to her desire to become an author.

So, what really makes wants and whims different? For one thing, your Sim gets a positive Happy moodlet any time they fulfil a want, no matter how small. What's more, the wants system has also done away with some of the more generic whims that always seemed to pop up with irritating regularity. If you've been a fan of The Sims 4 for a while, you'll probably be familiar with every single one of your Sims randomly deciding they want to buy a bee box just because it's spring, or get deep into occult research just because there's a computer nearby. Wants are far more influenced by a Sim's own personality, so you'll be seeing fewer desires to just buy something random.

The wants system does introduce one additional wrinkle. If you didn't want to work towards a whim, you could always dismiss it by clicking the cross on the corner of the icon, at which point it would usually be replaced with a new one straight away. This option is now gone, meaning that you need to wait for a want to reroll of its own accord if you choose to ignore it. There is a cheap-ish reward store option that allows you to clear all of a Sim's wants as a one-off; but otherwise, the trade-off of the new system is that wants are far more integrated into your Sims' personalities than whims, but are less under your direct control.

How do fears work in The Sims 4?

If you remember The Sims 2, you might recall that in the original version of this feature, fears rolled in the same way as wants. They appeared in the same part of the UI and were basically the inverse of wants: you could lock them, fulfil them (if you wanted your points pool to take a hit), and they rerolled one or twice per in-game day. In The Sims 4, fears work quite differently.

Fears in The Sims 4 are temporary traits that a Sim risks gaining when they have a negative experience, and can be viewed alongside the Sim's other personality traits on their Simology panel. These fears can be a result of anything from witnessing the death of a loved one (which will give them the Fear of Death trait) to not fulfilling any wants for a while (which will give them the Unfulfilled Dreams trait).

In a trailer still for The Sims 4 StrangerVille, a Sim reacts with shock to something she has witnessed off-screen.

A Sim with an active fear in their traits panel will occasionally see a fourth want appear in a new want slot. This want will have a distinctive jagged edge around its icon, and while fulfilling it will be a positive outcome for them, it very much stems from their fear. This extra want might involve confronting the fear directly, or simply asking a loved one for reassurance on the subject they're worried about.

Unfortunately for your Sims, fears don't simply go away on their own like wants eventually do. But they're not stuck with these fear traits for life, either. Fulfilling certain conditions will eventually clear a fear and the trait will disappear. The fourth want they roll as a result of their fears will often be a helpful pointer as to how to deal with it.

Here's a full list of all the fears we've seen so far, their causes, and how to overcome them:

Fear Trait Caused by... Resolved by...
Being Cheated On Not interacting with a romantic partner for a while, or getting a bad moodlet after WooHoo "Talk about Relationship Fears" with partner
Being Judged Being on the receiving end of Mean social interactions "Figure Out Differences" with the disliked Sim(s)
Cowplant Being swallowed by a Cowplant Milk a Cowplant while in a Confident mood
Crowded Places Being on a lot heavily populated with NPCs Perform Funny social interactions in a large group
The Dark Encountering a supernatural Sim at night (especially if it's a negative interaction) Be outside at night while in a Confident mood
Dead End Job Not having been promoted recently Use the "Regain Passion" self-interaction before going to work
Death Witnessing the death of a loved one Successfully use the "Discuss Fear of Death" social interaction on another Sim, or give a Death Flower to the Grim Reaper
Failure Having poor work or school performance, or making a low-quality craftable Use the "Ask for a Performance Review" work-day interaction, or Show Off something you've crafted
Fire Witnessing a fire Extinguish a fire
Ghosts Encountering a ghost (especially if it's a negative interaction) Use the "Fight" Mean social interaction on a ghost
Swimming Get a negative moodlet while swimming (triggers randomly) Swim for an hour while in a Confident mood
Unfulfilled Dreams Not having fulfilled a want promoted recently Fulfil a want and/or "Discuss Fears" with other Sims

For all the cheats you can use to help you gain ultimate control over your game, have a look at our list of The Sims 4 cheats. And for a list of every piece of DLC, how much it all costs, and which are worth buying, be sure to check out our guide to the best expansions for The Sims 4.

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About the Author
Rebecca Jones avatar

Rebecca Jones


Rebecca is now geeking out about multi-platform games on VG247, but rumour has it that if you chant "Indiescovery podcast" three times in front of your PC monitor, she'll reappear in the RPS comments section.

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