I don't tend to be biased towards games just because they're new, so I feel it carries some weight when I say that The Sims 4 Werewolves Game Pack has immediately become one of my favourite add-ons for The Sims 4. Having been a fan of the Vampires and Realm Of Magic (a.k.a. wizards, basically) game packs since their respective releases, I can safely say that Werewolves has done an excellent job iterating and expanding on what worked from those previous supernatural outings.
In fact, the biggest downside I got from playing Werewolves is that the monsters in question feel more fleshed-out than the perhaps less niche occult types in the game. Players are already calling for Vampires, ROM, and even the mermaids added in Island Living to receive a refresh along Werewolves' lines, and honestly, I'm kind of on the fandom's side here.
Like many Sims 4 players, I've had werewolves high up on my new features wishlist for a while. A good 75% of my time in The Sims is spent re-creating characters from other media I enjoy, and since much other media I enjoy has some heavy supernatural themes going on, you can imagine my ongoing distress at the lack of lycanthropes. My Monster Prom Sims have all been looking amazing lately, except for poor sweet Scott Howl, who was stuck as a vanilla human with as much facial hair as I could give him (not much, sadly).
So naturally, as soon as I got my hands on the preview for Werewolves, I set about recreating Scott from the ground up. (A brief required disclaimer here: my screenshots for this article were taken from the preview build, and so might not align completely with the released version.)
I have been known to lose entire days to my efforts in Create-A-Sim, but on this occasion I'll admit to being a tiny bit impatient to jump into Live Mode. That said, I made sure to have a proper poke around at all the new features, and my fellow CAS fans are in for quite a treat. Werewolves, like many other occult life states in The Sims 4, have two parallel forms for you to edit: their normal human appearance and their transformed appearance (known, in werewolves' case, as Beast Form).
Most interestingly, Beast Form editing allows you to fully mould your werewolf's appearance using a suite of unique options, some of which have clearly taken notes from the Cats & Dogs expansion. A stand-out feature, for example, is the option to fully customise your werewolf's pelt, with three layers of coat colours allowing you to combine as many hair colour swatches, as well as the option to simply airbrush over their coat with a series of pre-set stencils or even by drawing freehand. In other words, werewolves are now the most deeply customisable humanoids in The Sims 4. Which is, to coin a phrase, wild.
Now, I know that the werewolf designs in this game weren't universally well-received, but I really love the cartoonish art style the Sims team have gone with this time around. It makes werewolves in The Sims 4 visually distinct from their counterparts in the second and third games, and leans more heavily into actual animal transformation as opposed to the (dare I say it) slightly generic beastman vibes given off in the older games. And if they look like attendees at a furry convention, so what? No need to yuck anyone's yum.
Now that Sim!Scott was all dressed up and ready to go, it was time to take him for a spin in Live Mode. For research purposes, naturally I moved him into the new world added with the pack, which is called Moonwood Mill.
Moonwood Mill is on the smaller side, with just one neighbourhood containing five buildable lots. Still, the out-of-bounds areas of the town are quite well fleshed-out compared to worlds of a similar size added in older add-ons, particularly the other supernatural packs. Amenities include a werewolf sparring ground, a swimmable lake, a hill summit, two werewolf clubhouses, and a network of tunnels werewolves can explore for a spot of text-based choose-your-own-adventuring.
I got the impression that the dev team had built on the ideas behind the worlds in those previous game packs, drawing lessons from what worked and what didn't without changing the overall scope of what an occult-themed world offers. Moonwood Mill may not have more actual lots than Forgotten Hollow or Glimmerbrook, but there's less empty space in the world surrounding them. As in Realm Of Magic, ambient NPCs introduce unique interactions, and there's a bit more to do and see than just harvest collectables, even if there's nothing entirely original to this pack in those spaces between.
I got much the same impression of iteration and improvement from the core werewolf gameplay. Like vampires and spellcasters, werewolves have their own unique abilities tree with various lupine perks and behaviours they can unlock as they earn XP. Realm Of Magic had already added a few additional complications to the basic system introduced in Vampires, but Werewolves is definitely the deepest yet. In addition to the XP-based perk progression, there are also passive werewolf skills earned by performing specific gameplay feats, and every time your werewolf Sim levels up they'll gain a new behavioural complication that will affect how quickly their Fury gauge rises (more on that below).
The Sims 4 isn't a game that gives up all its secrets at once. Maybe it's the impatient millennial in me coming to the fore, but I swear older Sims games were more inclined to let you play with all the toys in the box as soon as you booted up a new expansion. I suppose, if so, it's a natural progression of the way games are nowadays that newer Sims titles want you to uncover their content bit-by-bit.
After creating Scott and moving him into Moonwood Mill, I was surprised not to be able to force a transformation into beast form straightaway. Instead, Scott spent most of his first day in his new home inadvertently pissing off his neighbours and highly advertently pissing on his own lawn. This interaction, properly called "marking [his] territory", was one of the entry-level werewolf perks I was able to unlock with Scott's starting perk points; and, somewhat regrettably, it does come with a new dog-squat animation I think I'd maybe rather not have seen a human adopt, pixellated or not.
It turns out that you're waiting for one of a couple of factors to kick in before you can unleash the beast. The first is the werewolf Sim's Fury gauge, indicated by a special orb icon in their needs panel. The gauge is constantly filling, but the rate at which it fills increases when they perform werewolf-specific actions (like the aforementioned territorial marking, for example). The second is the Lunar Cycle, a new weather-type feature added with this game pack. Over the course of eight in-game days, the moon goes through eight different phases, each of which conveys a unique status effect on werewolf Sims. No prizes for guessing what happens when the moon is full.
Werewolves introduces some lovely new animations, namely for characters transforming between their beast and human forms. That said, it's amusing when one of these polished special animations plays for a few seconds, only for the afflicted Sim to immediately return to idling once they're back on their feet. That's not at all a fault with this pack in particular or even The Sims 4; these slightly jarring moments, when cinematic effects give way to the core social simulation loop underneath, are a staple of the series. It just struck me as funny to see poor Scott overtaken with uncontrollable beastly rage for the first time, and then just sort of… stand there waiting for me to tell him what to do.
Of course, the question on everyone's lips when a new Sims DLC comes out is: how janky is it? With the (to put it generously) troubled launch of My Wedding Stories still quite fresh in peoples' minds, it's certainly a fair question. Werewolves has been out for a few days now, so you've probably seen that the press preview build of The Sims 4 Werewolves had an amusing bug which caused it to be missing its, well, werewolves. The cat's out of the bag on that one, I feel; or should I say that the dog's out of the game?
I am pleased to relay, though, that against all odds this problem was resolved in time for the released version. Furthermore, and to my surprise, Werewolves ended up being one of the most stable new Sims releases I've played in a while. The worst glitch I've encountered so far saw Scott's arms briefly going a bit weird while he was running on all fours; but even then, it wasn't a broken animation, since said limbs caught up with the rest of him quite soon thereafter and it didn't happen any other time. Other than that, it's been smooth sailing to an almost surreal degree.
One of my biggest issues with The Sims 4 until recently was the lack of interactivity between add-ons, so it was lovely to see that Scott not only recognised other supernatural Sims by their scent, but had a unique moodlet documenting his reaction to each one. Getting his groceries delivered by a vampire made him immensely angry, while meeting a mermaid at the local bar rendered him dazed. (I think the slightly disturbing implication there was that they smelled rather overpoweringly tasty to Scott, who frequently eats fish straight after catching them from the nearby river.)
Werewolves seems to avert the usual Sims 4 issue of drawing its NPC spawns from a weirdly small pool, leading to a situation where you see the same faces everywhere you go and often in inappropriate contexts. In Moonwood Mill, most of the townies I encountered were occult types, which gave Scott ample opportunity to show off his superior sense of smell. So far I haven't seen any deeper long-term complications to this feature, beyond the fact that a vampire and a werewolf will start their acquaintance with a significantly negative mutual relationship score. But the fact that Scott can recognise and acknowledge other occults represents a significant step forward for this generation of the game, and at the very least makes for a nice touch.
After over two decades, it should be no surprise that Sims fandom is a huge, unwieldy, many-headed beast. One of the bitterest ongoing debates is over fantastical vs realistic gameplay. It can sometimes seem like any time a new add-on pack is announced, half of the fanbase is up in arms that the other half is having their preferred playstyle catered to. And, while I make it a rule to stay out of anything even remotely resembling "fandom discourse", it's probably pretty obvious by this point where I stand in terms of my personal preference.
While my fellow lovers of supernatural storytelling and occult life simulation will get a huge kick out of playing with Werewolves, I doubt it's going to do much to convert those who would rather see The Sims as a slice of life. Fundamentally, this pack doesn't change anything about how occult life states behave in The Sims 4, and they're still going to feel intrusive if you'd rather not have them in your game. But if you are a fan of the weirder side of Sim life, then I have a feeling Werewolves is going to be an essential add-on.