The Sims 4: High School Years Preview

The Sims 4 brings new depth to the teenage stage of life with High School Years, introducing interactive teen school days, teen relationship drama, multiple after-school clubs, and new hangouts . A collaboration with Depop also features thrift stores, style trends and the in-game fashion app Trendi. It’s a comprehensive offering that’s much desired after last year’s sporadic releases, but does it live up to expectations?

Interactive school days are at the heart of High School Years, with all the other features built around them. Copperdale High School acts as a focal point for your teenage Sims to explore relationships, find their style, and figure out who they are. This is emphasized by senior game designer Jessica Croft who says, “The high school experience is the backbone of the pack, while the drama, discovery, and excitement of being a teenager is the soul.”


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As always, this expansion includes building and purchasing items, clothing, and gameplay elements. All of these are teen-focused and blend well to create a cohesive yet unique aesthetic. Build and Buy focuses on school items as well as bedroom furniture, as a teenager’s bedroom is often how they express themselves. Personality is also found in teen wardrobes, which are tackled with a wide range of different items, many of which mix and match well, allowing your Sims to find their own unique style.

For builders, the first thing you’ll notice is that Copperdale High School was designed to be renovated. The default main building has three floors and includes a range of basic facilities, while the auditorium has multiple states, including being decorated for prom, graduation, and a job fair. You can freely modify both bundles from the world menu, without the need for cheats. This means that your teenagers can attend any type of school you want, whether it’s a school with state-of-the-art facilities or something much more run down. It’s a huge bonus for anyone who wants to personalize the school experience, or even just change around those uneven cafeteria chairs.

The range of items is solid, with a good number of swatches available and a handful of distinct styles that not only suit teenagers, but older Sims as well. For those with Discover University, the items are perfectly complemented by dorm items that you can find in this expansion, meaning you can build a fairly large school. Customization options for teen bedrooms are also a big plus for those who hate building but love decorating. Themes are flexible and include bulky items and wall decor, which you can place almost anywhere to add instant personality to a room.

The main thing missing is the ballroom decor. The trailer and initial hype seemed to involve a lot more customization than we actually see. There are a few decorations, including curtains, banners, and balloons, but they’re pretty neutral. If you want a more specific theme than a general color scheme, you’ll have to venture into other packs.

When we move on to Create A Sim, things get more varied, especially as the additions include a collaboration with Depop. Steve Dool, brand director of the fashion company, says: “Increasingly, there’s so little distance between how people express themselves in real life and virtually, so it’s a really interesting place for us to appear.” Depop’s contribution focuses on the new Thrift Store, which allows Sims to search for different outfits every day. Many of them were designed by Depop sellers, including Selena Williams, who says, “I feel like I can bring the thrift store experience to users’ fingertips… It makes things so much easier, especially when you don’t have many. time or even know where to start.

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Fashion is of obvious importance in this pack and encompasses several styles. Sims can also become Simfluencers and set their own trends, selling outfits on Trendi and inspiring others to dress like them. “Fashion is one of the primary ways your teens can begin to represent the identity they are beginning to form during those critical teen years,” says George Pigula, the pack’s lead producer. “We knew fashion would be key to supporting that self-discovery and creating lots of fun gameplay.”

While your Sims look great and can visit stunning locations, it’s the gameplay that really needed to be perfect in this pack, but unfortunately it didn’t go as hoped. High School Years isn’t broken to a level that makes it unplayable, but some weird bugs can make high school life even harder. Some things, like the main that encourages a fight, also make storytelling a challenge.

Going to school works like an active career. You can send single Sims or specify teen Sims you want to be able to control during the school day. Once at school, Sims have chores to do and the difficulty here is that the day seems very rushed and Sims don’t always do what you ask. I found that, especially when it came to exams, my Sim liked to get up from the desk and walk around the place, making sure he failed and lost his grade. I tried another Sim, but got the same results. Putting these notes together can also be a difficult task and take several days.

Classes are short, but there are no interactions available during them, so you can’t choose to work harder, pass grades, or other typical school behavior, unless you receive a rare random popup notification. You can, however, get in trouble for being late to class – which is easy to do as it can take up to a Sim hour for your Sim to get to class, depending on the size of the school. Sims caught pranking lockers can also face detention or even death if their prank goes wrong. The second death in the pack is for those with a high mischief skill who play with urban legends.

Between morning and afternoon classes, you can have lunch and socialize with your peers. Socializing can also be done through messages and DMs on Social Bunny, a new app on your phone. If you choose to join an after-school club, these take the form of rabbit hole career events that take place a few times a week. The combination can make a Sim’s school life quite chaotic. This is reinforced by the fact that there is a prom every week, or at least there is supposed to be. Some other events seem to cancel it, making the ball less predictable than expected. You also can’t cancel the ball, although you can just ignore it. Graduation does not occur until your Sim is of age and can no longer attend school.

The new world of Copperdale also includes unique locations. The ThrifTea store allows Sims to shop for new clothes while drinking bubble tea and is a favorite hangout for teenagers. Alternatively, the town has a library, a park, and an unmodifiable pier that includes a Ferris wheel, a love tunnel, and a haunted house. Young adult Sims or older can enjoy a risky little woohoo on the rides, but beware. If you get caught, you can be banned from the area!

All in all, there’s a lot to do in this pack, but the school day feels both rushed and slightly boring. Some different ways of engaging with the courses would have helped with that, as would a longer term. Length is tied to short lifespans, but there is little flexibility. Teenagers definitely feel fleshed out now, and the new clothes, along with the addition of acne and body hair, help give them a more distinct style and look than adults. If you like this stage of life, there’s plenty more to do, but some gameplay elements definitely feel lackluster. A hotfix has resolved the most problematic issues, including incestuous and inappropriate desires, but there is still work to be done.

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