The Sims 4 Neighborhood Stories Update Makes Me Want The Sims 5 More Than Ever

The Sims 4: Neighborhood Stories adds even more depth to the Sims experience, but its rollout has me craving The Sims 5 more than ever.

Neighborhood Stories offer a kind of immersion never before seen in The Sims 4. With the free update, neighboring Sims (i.e. NPCs outside of your active household) now have free will and no longer remain frozen in a perpetual state of right, in a way, existing. Now Sims in your neighborhood can make life-changing decisions like getting pregnant, adopting a cat or dog, or quitting their job. It’s the kind of depth that Simmers have been asking for since The Sims 4 released in 2014.

And that’s what makes it so strange. Neighborhood Stories is a great addition to a game that’s getting ever closer to the decade. The stews want The Sims 5 and even more immersive features like open-world exploration, driving, and more free babies. And while EA and Maxis are constantly improving The Sims 4, it’s often a stark reminder of just how much can potentially be done with a sequel.

In the neighborhood

The Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

Don’t get me wrong – Neighborhood Stories is a great new feature. It’s so seamlessly integrated into the existing gameplay that I don’t realize it’s there for the first few games after the update. When my Sim receives a phone call from his neighbor asking if he should get to know another Sim, I am able to gently push him towards a decision. And since I’m a messy you-know-what, I tell him to go, knowing full well that Sim is married. It wasn’t until I got a follow-up message from them a few days later, thanking me for my suggestion because it had a “spectacular time”, that I realized it was part of the new update.

Before Neighborhood Stories, there were only a few examples of this kind of immersion introduced in expansion packs like Get Together and Eco Lifestyle. If you had these packs, you might receive phone calls from a neighbor asking for advice on accepting a marriage proposal, or be lucky enough to trick a neighbor into leaving their partner. But now, thanks to Neighborhood Stories, every Simmer can enjoy these interactions and more as part of the base game, which is a nice nod to the community – proving that EA is really listening. their concerns and take steps to make improvements.

A recent update to Neighborhood Stories adds even more depth to the feature set, giving your neighbors even more agency which helps the game world feel much more alive and vibrant. Now, Sims in your surrounding households can adopt pets, retire, move in and out of lots, and of course, die in various grisly accidents. And what’s even better than the idea of ​​Agnes Crumplebottom freezing to death on the slopes of Mount Komorebi is that you have the ability to turn all of these things on and off.

New game controls allow players to turn certain aspects of the Neighborhood Stories systems on and off. If you want your neighbors to stay frozen in a perpetual state of similarity, you can disable all features. If you want Nancy Landgraab to consider leaving Geoffrey but don’t want their son Malcom to adopt a puppy (cruel bastard), you can customize the neighborhood story components that are available to your NPC Sims. Ultimately, this all leads to a more immersive and expansive experience, which players expect from a life sim.

Too little, too late?

The Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

Adding free features like Neighborhood Stories can certainly be seen as a good faith gesture from EA to the Sims community, but that’s not how every Simmer sees it – for some it’s too little too late. . The Sims 3 had a similar feature in Story Progression, a feature that, if enabled, would allow uncontrolled Sims’ lives to progress. They would have babies, move house, get promotions, and more, all without player input. This feature was sadly unpredictable, but players could turn it off if things got a little too out of control. Players have been asking The Sims 4 for years to include a feature similar to Story Progression and have created custom content to work around its absence.

The MC Command Center is a mod that adds NPC story progression options and allows players to give NPCs limited commands as if they were Sims in their active household. Responses to the Neighborhood Stories announcement in The Sims 4 Reddit include numerous references to the MCCC and players’ desire to disable the new feature in favor of letting MCCC continue to control NPC lives. Conversely, console gamers seem excited about the base game update, as it adds a layer of immersion that they can’t add without access to PC mods.

This has been the state of The Sims 4 for years: the PC community has been working on mods and custom content that fills in the gaps left by developer Maxis while console players have to take what they can get when they can. get it. Updates like Neighborhood Stories show both types of players that there’s still more life to extract from The Sims 4, though the kinds of features that can stepping into the current game only works to underscore just how powerful a fully-fledged new entry in the series could be.

EA has yet to confirm The Sims 5 is in active production, but it’s releases like Neighborhood Stories that give us an idea of ​​where Maxis wants to take The Sims next: an even more immersive playground with a increased emphasis on social connection and shared experiences, where your Sims feel like they are part of a world that lives and breathes with them rather than because of them.

The question, of course, is whether The Sims 4 will really achieve this. Maxis and EA had always thought of The Sims 4 as a game that would grow and evolve over time, but as it prepares to celebrate its ninth anniversary, you have to wonder if it’s missing a road and if a new path needs to be found. plotted for The Sims 5 instead.

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