With all those lives to manage, wondering how to get started in The Sims 4 is a genuine question. All that endless potential and countless opportunities can be daunting without a little help. So many options and settings at your disposal and some big changes from The Sims 3 - the open world setting has gone, for example, along with other key features, creating more streamlined take on the game.
This time around the focus is on the sims - their ambitions, emotions, relationships, and the nuances it all brings to their lives. As a result all the customization previously seen has taken a back seat in The Sims 4. But, whether you're a returning fan trying to process all the changes, or a new player learning for the first time, some help is always handy so read on.
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Creating your Sim's physical appearance
This is usually the most time-consuming portion at the outset of any game in which you're given free reign over how your character should look, but the process is made slightly easier if you plan for your household to be comprised of people you know, popular characters from an 80's John Carpenter film perhaps, or maybe even staff members from online gaming publications.
The panel in the top left lets you choose the name, sex, age group, gait, the pitch and tone of your Sim's voice and the nature of their relationship to the other Sims in the same household. The avatar you'll be presented with is randomised so to start tweaking its appearance to match the visage of your dreams, just click on whatever part of the body you want to start altering to bring up the next menu.
All of the features have a number of pre-sets to choose from that can be further altered by clicking and dragging on the desired body part after selection to amend the size. The clicking and dragging method also applies to larger body parts in general like legs, arms, etc. In fact, after extensive grabbing, pushing and pulling, it seems that the only area of the body that this doesn't apply to is the crotch, so yanking away at the thing is fruitless.
You can also prepare the outfits for your Sim for 5 difference occasions detailed at the top of the right panel which they'll helpfully change themselves into at the appropriate time. There'll be no giant hotdog outfits at those formal affairs unless you decree it, which is highly recommended.
Creating your Sim's personality
Our next port of call is to fill up our chosen vessels with a hodge-podge of character traits that will imbue them with a sense of personal identity that can then be deliberately at odds with other household members for a bit of excitement or compliment them perfectly to avoid any conflict. You'll just have to rely on appliances blowing up and rogue flames from an open fire to create the drama for you.
The mysterious collection of hexagons plastered with equally mysterious question marks is of course where we begin. The large one on the left is your Sim's Aspiration and will serve as their lifelong goal. It can be changed later on so don't give yourself a hernia deliberating over it.
There are 10 categories to choose from but you'll need to narrow it down from the subsets within them. Once you pick an Aspiration, you'll be granted a bonus trait associated with that category. In this example the Love Aspiration grants the Alluring bonus trait, making the Sim more successful in romantic scenarios than those without the trait.
Each adult Sim can choose 3 traits from 4 categories. There are 9 Emotional traits, 6 in the Hobby category, 11 under Lifestyle and 9 Social. These choices will govern the behavior and desires of your Sim and will dictate their compatibility with others. Throwing a good Sim and an Evil Sim into the same household will most likely result in domestic drama, as would making a neat Sim share a house with a messy Sim.
It's also worth noting that Sims are affected by their environment and what's going on around them. A neat Sim will be unhappy if there's a mess lying around. A slob Sim actually makes things dirtier faster than a Sim without the slob trait so the dynamic between 2 Sims with those traits would differ to any other combination. Think of it as a domino effect between what upsets a Sim and what makes it happy and you should be able to engineer all sorts of interesting scenarios just by pairing up the right personality types together.
Buying and building a house in The Sims 4
Once you've satisfactorily dolled up your Sim, it's time to move them into a house so that they can get a job, meet people, or be entombed in a box room with a fridge full of orange juice, no toilet, windows on every available vertical surface and no door.
You can choose to move them into Willow Creek or Oasis Springs, into a vacant house (furnished or unfurnished) or onto an empty plot of land where you can create your own vision of home. It's also possible to evict existing residents from their houses and move in on their turf if you have the cash and a mean streak.
Each neighbourhood has a number of vacant houses, empty plots and places for your Sim to mingle and you can visit residents or establishments in a different neighbourhood from the World Select screen.
Building from scratch is pretty easy with preset 'styled' rooms available if you're running out of design ideas. The top icon is build mode which lets you view exterior items just by clicking on the corresponding area on the house i.e. walls, doors, roofs etc. Scrolling through furniture options is just as simple so you shouldn't get too bogged down in this mode.
Inevitably, at some point, you'll want to split or merge your household. Select Manage Worlds in the menu to access the world screen, where you can switch between the 2 neighbourhoods, view the available options for the lots or choose the Household Management tab from top right panel to make any changes to your current household. A newly wed couple can strike out on their own, sworn enemies can sulk in their very own neighbourhood or you can simply spread out your Sims like a virus, and take over the entire world.
The Sims 4 Secrets
Each neighbourhood harbours a secret area, accessible through a certain series of actions followed by a 'choose your own adventure' style set of questions. If you negotiate the perilous text boxes correctly, you'll be rewarded with verdant, pink forests and crystalline-illuminated mines where you can sit around and catch frogs. And maybe some fish to sell.
Forgotten Grotto in Oasis Springs
Travel to Desert Bloom park and when your Sim spawns in, move the camera straight up and to the left of the picnic area to find an abandoned mine entrance. You'll need to have your Sim's Handiness skill maxed out (level 10) to break down the boards on the entrance. You can do this by having them buy and read books on handiness and by repairing things around the house.
Once your Sim is a DIY god, send them in to the mine and choose the answers as follows:
- Take the wide path
- Climb the ladder
- Step onto the ledge
Sylvan Glades in Willow Creek
Travel to Crick Cabana in Willow Creek then head over to the gnarly looking tree on the right and select view. Repeat this process until a door appears in the trunk. When it does, head inside and choose the following answers:
- Follow the sound
- Follow downstream
- Enter the mist
Just make sure they've had a trip to the loo before they embark on these little adventures.