The Sims 4 Neighborhood Stories: How the prototype story progression feature works in The Sims 4

How do Neighborhood Stories work in The Sims 4? Patch 121 for The Sims 4 base game introduced a new core mechanic, called Neighborhood Stories. Hailed by some players as the long-awaited story progression feature that will allow NPCs some autonomy, this feature is actually a kind of prototype. With the patch installed, some non-player characters will experience major life events that aren’t directly tied to the active household, but full story progression in the style we enjoyed back in the days of The Sims 3 is ongoing.

Read on to find out exactly how Neighborhood Stories work in The Sims 4, and more importantly, how it will affect your existing and new saves.


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How do Neighborhood Stories work in The Sims 4?

Unlike story progression in The Sims 3 – which was an all-or-nothing affair with a simple on/off toggle in the options menu – Sims 4 neighborhood stories start out on a smaller scale. Simply, only unplayed Sims who interact with members of your active Household will be affected by Neighborhood Stories.

Neighborhood Stories allow you to influence the lives of Sims outside of your current household in two main ways.


Method 1: Phone calls

The first way to access Neighborhood Stories is through randomly generated phone calls from Sims your active character has a relationship with. (It’s not clear how strong this relationship must be – some people report only getting these calls from their Sims’ friends, while others say they are bombarded by them from every passing acquaintance – but if we find out, we’ll let you know more!) The caller will ask your Sim’s opinion on one of the following lifestyle choices:

  • Whether trying to have a baby with their partner
  • Whether to accept a marriage proposal
  • Whether to seek promotion in their current career

A pop-up dialog will give you three options to respond. The exact wording will vary, but the bottom line is always that you can either tell them a firm yes, an equally firm no, or encourage them to decide for themselves. The first two options allow you, as a player, to take direct control of the decision, while the third puts it in the hands of the RNG.

Method 2: Direct dialogue

The second way to exercise control over other characters is directly through dialogue options. When conversing with a Sim outside your household that you have crossed the required relationship threshold with, you will be presented with the following social options in the interaction menus:

  • Under Friendly, you can encourage the Sim to leave their current career and pursue their dream job. This requires you to know their current career before it unlocks. The dream job in question seems to have been chosen at random.
  • Under Friendlyyou can also encourage the Sim to expand their family by having a child.
  • Under Friendly Where Meanyou can use the interactions found in the Other Sims sub-menu to encourage the Sim to form a relationship with a third character… or diminish their relationship by bashing them.
  • Under Friendly Where Meanyou can also (in appropriate contexts) use the interactions found in the Other Sims submenu to break up a romantic couple or encourage two Sims with a growing friendship to start dating.

The main difference here is that while the phone calls happen randomly, these dialogue interactions are player driven. And unlike phone calls, in these conversations the Sim in question won’t always take your advice and may politely decline your suggestion. It’s unclear at this point if their relationship value or the emotional context of the conversation has an impact on this, or if it’s purely random.

It’s also worth noting that these options will never be available to perform on another member of your active household, even if you meet the relationship requirements to use them on NPCs.


What Can Go Wrong: Neighborhood Stories Known Issues

The Neighborhood Stories update generally works quite well, but there are a few known issues that you should be aware of. None of them are remotely close to breaking the game and it remains to be seen if they will be fixed later, but keep them in mind before meddling in the lives of your simulated neighbors.

Most of the quirks seem to be related to the options that allow you to encourage Sims from other households to start a family:

  • If you visit a neighbor who has become pregnant through Neighborhood Stories, the pregnancy may deteriorate such that the Sim is no longer pregnant and the baby never arrives. This seems to happen mostly if you visit their home ground, but it could be related to in-person interactions during the pregnancy phase.
  • Couples who cannot get pregnant in the regular game (i.e. due to age or gender restrictions) can always call for advice on trying to get pregnant. If the player responds positively, they will have what I can only describe as a miracle baby. This definitely applies to female Sims in the Elder lifestage with male partners, but may also override some gender customization options.
  • If a neighbor is romantically involved with a member of your active household and calls asking for advice on the possibility of having a baby, responding positively will result in an automatic pregnancy for any potentially pregnant partner, even if WooHoo does not did not happen. This can be especially shocking if this is your active Sim.

What are the new aspirations of neighborhood stories?

To help you get used to neighborhood stories and give you fun ways to play with them, the update also adds two new aspirations: Neighborhood Confidante (Popularity Aspiration) and Villainous Valentine (Deviance Aspiration). You can set these aspirations in CAS or using the Simology panel.

You don’t need to use either of these Aspirations to start the Neighborhood Stories. They happen regardless, and these new aspects of Simology are just one more way to incorporate them into your gameplay if you wish.


Neighborhood Confidant

Funnily, Neighborhood Confidante puts your Sim in the role of a typical Sims player. The goal is to be an inquisitive but benevolent micro-manager who, instead of working on his own future, meddles in the lives of his neighbors, but ultimately has their best interests at heart. Of course, you have plenty of freedom to decide what those “best interests” are, so we hope you use your powers wisely.

There is only one stage in the Confidant Neighborhood Aspiration, and completing all of its goals will net you the Confidant Reward Trait, which makes it easier for the character to get to know other Sims and avoid negative emotional buffs. like Boring during a conversation.

To complete this aspiration, you must:

  • Reach level 7 Charisma skill.
  • Have 5 good friends.
  • Successfully give life advice to Sims outside the playable household 20 times.

Three Sims in a beer garden talk to each other, represented by thumbs down icons.

naughty valentine

Villainous Valentine is sort of an inversion of the serial romantic aspiration that has been available in the game since launch. The main difference is that a Sim with this aspiration thinks breaking up is the best part of any relationship and wants to prove it by starting several serious romances just to crush them. Not only that, but they also aim to rekindle the love life of everyone around them.

There is only one milestone in the Villainous Valentine aspiration, and completing all of her goals will earn you the Twisted Heart reward trait. This trait allows your Sim to wallow in the misery of others much more effectively through increased social need gain from mean or mischievous interactions, and reduced durations for sad and embarrassed emotional buffs.

To complete this aspiration, you must:

  • Get caught cheating 10 times.
  • Have 5 Ex.
  • Break up 10 couples outside the playable household using the Medium > Other Sims > Break up interaction.

How do I enable or disable Neighborhood Stories?

For now, neighborhood stories are just part of the game, with no option to turn them on or off in your gameplay. Every save file in your game, whether new or existing, now has neighborhood stories embedded in its core mechanics.

There are pros and cons to this arrangement. On the plus side, Neighborhood Stories isn’t a fully self-contained story progression like we saw in The Sims 3, a game that loved doing thrilling stunts like moving your seventh-generation family out of town ( and remove them from your game forever) because you moved to another household for five minutes. You are much more free to organize your Neighborhood Stories experience, since you always have the option of making the decision yourself.

However, a downside for many players will be the fact that it’s not really NPC autonomy: your Sims’ neighbors will now come to them for advice on matters such as marriage, parenthood and career prospects in perpetuity. If your Sim is popular, that might mean dealing with lots of pop-ups as friends and neighbors line up figuratively around the block asking you what they should do next. Additionally, the world isn’t truly alive yet, as Households that your active Sims don’t know about will continue as before, with no major events occurring within them.

The Sims team said there are plans to add neighborhood stories settings to the game options at some point. Featured features include the ability to choose the type of choices your unplayed Sims can make autonomously, and toggle neighborhood stories by save file (allowing each unplayed Sim in the save to act autonomously) ) or even by household (allowing you, for example, to empower only those households you never actively play). So far, however, we haven’t found anything in the gameplay settings menu that lets you change the feature.


For more on the latest free base game updates in The Sims 4, check out our guide to playing with newly added Sims 4 scenarios. We’ve also put together what we think are the best DLCs for The Sims 4 in a comprehensive buying guide to help you grow your game without emptying your wallet. Finally, we have an entire page dedicated to The Sims 4 cheats and codes that you simply shouldn’t miss if you really want to tweak the game to your liking.

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