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The Sims 3 vs The Sims 4 - which is better?

Sims 3 vs Sims 4
(Image credit: EA)

The debate over The Sims 3 vs The Sims 4  and which is better is a tale as old as time… or the last seven years, at least. The Sims 3 launched back in 2009 and The Sims 4 arrived five years later, so you’d think it’d be hands-down that The Sims 4 would take the crown by being the shinier, newer model, right? Nope. The Sims community has a split opinion on which one reigns supreme with some major differences between the two games.

So, we’re lining them up against each other and putting The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 to the ultimate test, battling them out on their differences to see which one is better, or at least creating a list which will help you decide. Sure, The Sims 4 is statistically the best-selling and longest-running of the life sim franchise but with each game has come something a little different and we aim to work through some of those solid points around gameplay, graphics, and features below.

The Sims 3 has a seamless open world but The Sims 4 has faster loading

Sims 3 vs Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

We’ll start here because it is by far the most contentious point of The Sims 3 versus The Sims 4 debate. EA excited players when it introduced the ability to avoid loading screens when travelling around in The Sims 3. The open world mechanic made the game much more seamless than its predecessors by allowing your Sims to move from lot to lot, community to neighbourhood, like it was all one, big connected world. Fancy popping next door without staring at a spinning Plumbob? Sure, The Sims 3 has you sorted. You can even control your Sim when they’re not on a lot. Its successor, The Sims 4, removed it.

Whilst The Sims 3 has that seamless nature of travelling between places, it comes at a cost. When you’re first loading up The Sims 3, you’ve got a lot of time to wait. The Sims 4 overall runs faster and therefore has shorter loading screens anyway. In The Sims 4, you’ll notice that time is reduced between all loads which may help for any impatient gamers out there.

The Sims 3 has Create a Style but The Sims 4 has Create a Sim

sims 4 create a sim

(Image credit: EA)

Next up, The Sims 3 is praised for its Create a Style, aka CAS, that allows for a level of customisation that hadn’t been seen in The Sims franchise before. You can alter almost anything, like your Sims furniture or their clothing, making it exactly how you want. From colors to textures, for the players out there who love making their Sims world their own, this is and always will be a huge hit.

In The Sims 4 though, it’s CAS again, but this time it’s Create a Sim. Whilst The Sims 4 removed the customization of Create a Style seen in The Sims 3, they did upgrade the way you can make your Sim look. Up until this point, Sims only had customization with sliders adjusting different and limited features. In The Sims 4, you can make your Sims far more realistic by simply clicking and dragging points of adjustment from their head to their body. You can even change the way they walk.

The Sims 3 has endless lots but The Sims 4 has smoother gameplay

Sims 3 vs Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

In The Sims 3, you can place all sorts of lot sizes across the world wherever they fit on a flat plot of free space. You can also change the land surface to make it suitable for a lot to pop down onto it. In The Sims 4, the lot placement is specifically allotted and you only have so many free spaces to choose from. Which leads us to The Sims 3’s abundant offering of 170 lots to choose from and fill (if you wish!). In The Sims 4, the biggest world is currently San Myshuno from The Sims 4: City Living with 30 lots. 170 lots will really add weight to the game though depending on how you play.

Thankfully, as you might expect from a newer game, what The Sims 4 lacks in lot space it makes up for in its ability to run more smoothly, and with more stability than its predecessor. Whilst The Sims 3 has the open world, as we’ve previously mentioned, at times that comes with a cost of slower processing and glitches. It’s no surprise really that a game that came out later would have access to a new game engine and it does.

The Sims 3 has story progression but The Sims 4 has SmartSim

Sims 3 vs Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

The Sims 3 introduced the ability for the rest of the families in the neighborhood to continue about their lives when you were playing with your active household. This meant that if you then returned to a family, life had changed since you were last there. They might have got a job or had a child. It’s something that is currently only available as a mod for The Sims 4 which tells you that it’s something the players want. 

The Sims 4 sought instead to focus on enhancing each Sims emotion and personality by introducing SmartSim, the ability for Sims to be affected by their surroundings. For example, the decor you decide to put in a room can have a genuine effect on how your Sim feels. Similar to the mood gameplay feature of previous Sims, emotions allow a Sim to be more easily affected by in-game events and social interactions making for a more realistic gameplay experience.

The Sims 3 has cars but The Sims 3 has streamlined build and buy

Sims 3 vs Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

Cars were introduced in The Sims 2 allowing players to drive and own their own ride so that they could travel around. In The Sims 3 though, it’s argued that it’s the best they’ve integrated cars and other transport into the Sims universe with more to choose from and more ways to interact with them. In The Sims 4, they’re just decorative items you can position outside your home but not get in.

While not directly related, The Sims 4 has introduced a more streamlined, accessible build and buy mode, combining the two modes which were separate before. This allows for more flawless use of both features all in one place. The Sims 4 also includes more dragging and adjusting, rotating and moving of whole rooms, and full integration of the Gallery feature where players upload their family and lot creations for other players to use. In The Sims 3, the Gallery isn’t the easiest to access or search through and in The Sims 4 they’ve added a Gallery button as well as optimizing the search functionality.

The Sims 3 vs. The Sims 4 - which one has better expansion packs?

Sims 3 vs Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

Sims expansion packs are literally game changers. Depending on which ones you’ve chosen to buy will obviously have an effect on the way you experience the game and how you personally decide which one adds more to the game. They’ve both got 11 to choose from with The Sims 4’s latest content release,  The Sims 4: Cottage Living , looking to breathe new life into the game. It’s also worth noting that The Sims 3 arguably had the best initial offering at base level. When The Sims 4 first came out, it lacked fundamental items like pools and the toddler stage of childhood. Both things were later introduced but the Sim fandom never forgets.

So, which is better out of the Sims 3 and Sims 4?

Sims 3 vs Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not a simple one. It’s up to you to decide from our list what aspects of Sim life are more important to you. Both games have their strengths and weaknesses. If you’re looking for a gameplay experience with a plethora of personality choice and customization, then The Sims 3 is for you. If you’re looking for Sim-specific customization, a growth of emotion, and a smoother, faster running game, then The Sims 4 is your go-to. 

Of course, we’re waiting for The Sims 5 to arrive and then we’ll have a whole new debate to address. For now, if you’re interested in looking more into The Sims 5, we’ve put together our ultimate  The Sims 5 wishlist of things we’re hoping to see in the newest installment, when it finally arrives. You may recognise a few from The Sims 3...

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