A cynical person would look at the latest addition to The Sims 4 universe and think EA was exploiting the emotional needs of a generation of gamers raised on Harry Potter. A cynical person who, clearly, has never had the joy of shaking a wand to clean their kitchen floor while your raven familiar flaps around your head. Slap my butt with a broomstick and call me a mudblood, because The Sims 4: Realm of Magic has cast a spell on me.
All that glimmers
The new location is Glimmerbrook, which at first seems a bit of a letdown. Just one bar and some perfectly decorated houses? Make your way through one of the magical portals though, or use a magical stone, and you're transported to the magical realm. Straightaway you're surrounded by distractingly attractive witches and warlocks on brooms, dueling, practicing spells, and shopping for crystals. To access the same powers for yourself you need to start the Realm of Magic questline, which is easily done. Find a spellcaster, ask them to tell you about magic, do a quick fetch quest to find some magical motes and boom, you're free to practice spell casting, potion making and get yourself a familiar.
Demonic winged rabbits
That's right, magical sims get to choose a familiar that will follow them around. I'm a chubby goth at heart so to start with I went for a raven, but later you can get demonic butterfly bunnies, voodoo dolls, or set your cat or dog as your magical companion. That alone is worth the $20 price of the expansion.
Speaking of simoleons, one of the perks of the magical realm is a brand new shopping location, Casters Alley. Basically Diagon Alley for sims, it's packed with brooms and wands and potion ingredients, and the stock changes all the time. It's also a great social hub for romancing or looking for someone to duel, depending on your primal needs.
Phenomenal cosmic powers
Becoming a magical sim isn't just about getting to fly around on a broom, it opens up a whole new skill tree, with ever more powerful spells and potions at your disposal. The spellcasting tree breaks down into Practical Magic (like cleaning spells), Untamed Magic (like elemental spells) and Mischief Magic (like love spells) and Alchemy, which is potions for everything from good fortune to immortality. You build your magical XP by practicing, asking for training from other sims, experimenting with you cauldron, basically anything that Harry Potter would be set as homework.
The more you play with magic, the more useful it gets. Early on I experimented and learned to brew a potion that instantly filled all my need gauges, making it easy to spend less time cooking eggs on toast and more time practicing my new witchy ways. If you like your Sims miserable, then having a super-powerful badass Sim, no longer troubled by mortal needs like bladder control, might mess up your usual adventure. As someone not averse to the old motherlode money cheat, I just found it fun.
Like Seasons, this is one of those The Sims 4 additions that really makes the game feel fresh and new again, and can change every aspect of your sim's daily life. The minute I loaded it up I felt the urge to burn my old family up in a totally unplanned stove fire and start fresh to make the most of the new sim and decor options, then got hooked on making my own all-powerful witch with a taste for romance and a healthy disregard for basic self-care. If you're still deep into The Sims 4 this is a perfect addition, and if you've been away from it a while it's the temptation you need to sacrifice social life and posture and head back in.
The Sims 4: Realm of Magic is out now on PC and Mac and will arrive on PS4 and Xbox One on October 15, 2019. If you need to get things in order before going full witch, check out our The Sims 4 cheats.