The Sims 4 community has been hard at work expanding the simulation experience with mods since its 2014 release, helping to extend the game's shelf life and diversify its content. But The Sims 4 Farmland mod is something very different – it's the first time a large-scale mod has dropped within weeks of an identically themed, official expansion pack: The Sims 4 Cottage Living. This creates a unique situation for both the modder (a Frenchman named Arnie, who previously worked in the film industry) and EA, as the culmination of months of hard work now face off in a battle of free versus paid content.
The Sims 4 Farmland mod is a free download for PC players available on Arnie's Patreon (opens in new tab), while The Sims 4 Cottage Living expansion pack costs $40/£34.99 for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, and PS5. After The Sims 4 Kits controversy shed light on just how expensive Sims expansions can be, the Farmland release seems especially poignant. Deciding between the two is entirely dependent upon your financial situation, preferred gaming platform, and your favorite way to play The Sims 4. You may determine that having both is the best way to go, or pick one bit of content over the other. I'm just here to help you make an informed decision.
Note: You will need both The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs and The Sims 4 Seasons for the Farmland mod to work.
A semi-open farmland
For many Simmers, the lack of an open world breaks the immersion of The Sims 4, as there's nothing quite as jarring as going to visit your next door neighbor just to immediately get a loading screen. In Arnie's popular Brookheights open world mod, there was a mix of Open Venues your Sim could explore without a loading screen and rabbit holes, which are areas in which your Sim disappears to complete a task. Farmland is a bit different, as it mixes open world areas with traditional Sims 4 gameplay features.
Farmland takes the semi-open world concept and runs with it to the bank (which you can actually visit with this mod). Eden Hills replaces the Sable Square neighborhood in Brindleton Bay, which comes with The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs expansion). You'll encounter an initial loading screen to travel to Eden Hills, but once you're there, you can freely visit five huge lots that have multiple, massive open areas within each of them. The farms and fields area alone is bigger than five of the largest Sims 4 lots combined, and is divided up into pieces of land you can purchase in order to get your farm on. If you need to get a loan for said farm, you can walk into the bank and procure one, or head to city hall to get the proper permits – again, without loading screens. "I missed the Sims 3 open worlds so much that I decided to try and do something similar, that would make the worlds feel a bit more alive in-game," explains Arnie.
Eden Hills is impressive and expansive, but the best part about it is that many of the decor buildings are functional in some way, which is a far cry from The Sims 4 base game. A hut by the horse ranch can be used for storage, and a gorgeous church called the Love Temple can be used as a wedding venue. There's even a supermarket that lets you buy fresh veggies, seeds, and toys or sell your own produce to other Eden Hills residents.
Farmland versus Cottage Living
The Sims 4 Farmland mod has a ton of content stretched out across a massive space – it's more than 40 64x64 lots (the largest lots in the game) combined. Meanwhile, the official Cottage Living expansion offers a new world, Henford-on-Bagley, which has three neighborhoods containing four lots each – and only one 64x64 lot.
Farmland offers several more farm animal options than Cottage Living, including pigs, sheep, and horses that require very little maintenance. You can collect the clay that clumps on your pigs' rotund little bodies and use it to make sculptures, or shear your sheep for some high-quality wool to make a Weasley sweater.
Cottage Living has similar gameplay functions that tie-in with the new available animals: you can collect chicken eggs, milk cows, and shear llamas. But the inclusion of even more animals in Farmland may be a major draw for Simmers – especially those who want a chance to take their horse to Old Town Road. Keep in mind, however, that the horses aren't exactly the smoothest mode of transportation, and actually move quite slowly in comparison to going places by foot.
The Sims 4 Cottage Living also requires a lot of work in order to get your crops going, including regular weeding, watering, bug spraying and fertilizing. Several times during my Sims 4 Cottage Living preview, I was chastised for filling my Sims' queue with farming tasks as I tried to make sure she tended to all her crops. The Farmland mod can automate some of the farming tasks, with self-watering setups, greenhouses to protect out-of-season plants, and the tractor which is meant to help spread seeds. It doesn't always work, but when it does it's a helluva lot easier than doing it all manually.
And like Arnie's last major mod, Brookheights, there's a beautiful story at the center of Farmland that you can choose to follow along if you so desire. While Cottage Living has some lovely lore, Farmland goes a bit deeper when it comes to tying gameplay to a cohesive story.
In my preview, I said Cottage Living is proof EA is listening to players – and I meant it. The expansion has both breadth and depth, a far cry from fiiller-heavy packs like Star Wars Journey to Batuu. But for many long-time Sims players, Cottage Living may feel like too little, too late, a feeling only exacerbated by the recent release of similarly themed custom content that doesn't cost anything to play.
The Farmland mod is wildly easy to find, download, and play. As someone who has never used the best Sims 4 mods in the past, I had no trouble accessing the necessary files, booting up my base game, and jumping into Eden Hills – just keep in mind that this is a mod and it does have bugs, as it's not officially supported by EA or extensively QA-tested by a team of devs. But, for Simmers who don't have the money to buy another expansion pack, the Farmland mod may simply be the only possible way to enjoy farming gameplay. After all, owning all the Sims 4 content would cost you more than $800, and that's untenable for a majority of the community.
"I remember that during the first few years of The Sims 4, I couldn’t afford any DLC and would spend hours online trying to find new content, and I was in such awe, admiring creators for doing this," Arnie tells GamesRadar. "It is also part of what made me want to start creating mods for the Sims… Having free content made by players, for players is essential, that makes people grateful – and they let you know that they are!"
If you're someone who can afford to buy Cottage Living, I'd suggest dabbling in a bit of both. Farmland's semi-open world is a great way to enjoy The Sims 4 as it gives you a chance to experience a more lived-in universe without waiting for a loading screen. And the handful of new animals that aren't in Cottage Living will only add to the expansion's experience (even if the horseback riding is a bit wonky). I'm mostly curious to see how the new extra-large crops of Cottage Living will fare with Farmland's automatic watering devices, or how the different animals will exist side-by-side. That's something the modder is interested in exploring in the future.
"I can see wonderful things happening this summer between the two of them," Arnie says when asked how Farmland and Cottage Living may work together in the future. "Once I get my hands on Cottage Living, I will try to make a version of my mod that would mix the features together. I have been saying this several times but let’s say it again and again: Simmers have been waiting for farming content for ages, I tried to introduce this through a mod, and now the official game releases a DLC, so the players have been really served if I may! Plus, they have different animals, gameplay, worlds, and overall feeling! This means more content for players, more hours of creativity, more storytelling, more smiles… and this makes me really happy!"
Farmland and Cottage Living releasing almost simultaneously shows that EA has come to better understand what Sims players want in the last year or so. Whether that understanding will translate into The Sims 5 and/or include some of the features Simmers like Arnie are adding via mods remains to be seen.