When The Sims 4 Star Wars: Journey to Batuu was announced, it seemed like the entire GamesRadar+ team simultaneously pinged me - it is, in the purest sense, an amalgamation of two of my greatest loves. I love custom building modern Scandinavian homes and arguing about the democratization of the Force, so you could say I'm the target audience for this game pack.
The opportunity to power up The Sims 4 and head to a galaxy far, far away is certainly an unexpected addition to the franchise, even with the inclusion of some Star Wars apparel and a Baby Yoda statue over the last few years. Plus the format of the Star Wars: Journey to Batuu pack is different from more recent game packs - Batuu is a vacation location that you can only get to from initiating a vacation from your phone (or by answering a call from a neighbor offering to take you on a magical journey). Unlike other vacations, however, you can stay in Batuu for as long as you like, and it doesn't cost you any Simoleons to get there. In short, this is a wholly unique game pack.
Batuu is a near-exact replica of Galaxy's Edge, the Disney-based theme park dedicated to the Star Wars universe, complete with the same layout, shops, and food options. So yes, Journey to Batuu is basically "The gang goes to Disneyland" in The Sims 4 - but is that a bad thing? I got a chance to preview it ahead of its September 8 release, and here's how it stacks up.
The Darth Maul is in the details
It's clear from the moment you enter Black Spire Outpost that the team at EA/Maxis loves Star Wars and wants to do this universe justice. There are tons of little details that will certainly make you smile upon discovering them.
The iconic Sims musical cues are replaced by iconic Star Wars ones, with the chatter of Simlish amongst Batuu dwellers acting as the perfect alien language punctuating the orchestral score. Even the Stormtroopers' Simlish comes out in the same tinny voice you hear in the films. The transition animations are now Star Wars screen wipes, and many of the icons that appear in speech bubbles are memorable Star Wars imagery.
When you arrive at Batuu, you're encouraged to plan your outfit, all of which have the look and feel of the well-worn, wooly clothing of Star Wars background characters. That clothing is also available in Create-A-Sim, as are some of the alien "hat" options (including Dathomirian, Twi'Lek, Weequay, and Bith). Keep in mind, however, that if you go through the trouble of making a hot Twi'Lek in Create-A-Sim like I did, that the "hat" and skin color will be removed in Batuu. This left me with a very bizarre-looking "human" with pale skin, impossibly high cheekbones, and giant black eyes.
Choose your outfit, then head out to explore what is basically a virtual version of Galaxy's Edge. As someone who has wanted to visit the theme park since its grand opening, the initial excitement of running about Black Spire Outpost was not lost on me, but it's soon apparent that this is a pared-down version of the park. You can eat a Ronto Wrap from Ronto's Roasters or buy some random intergalactic items from Dok-Ondar's Den of Antiquities, but you can't go in either of these locations, you just get a menu pop-up like when you order from other food vendors in The Sims 4. At least these are adorned with images of the shop owners and some more audio cues, which are a nice little detail that sets this world apart.
The best part of the visually detailed but somewhat interactively lacking world of Batuu is Oga's Cantina, the only large structure you can enter in Black Spire Outpost. There's music courtesy of DJ R-3X, some light bites, and a bar full of unsavory individuals AKA my home away from home. You can play Sabacc against Hondo Ohnaka, drink Batuu Brew until you piss yourself, and chat about "legitimate" business ventures. It's a Bushwick dive bar in Batuu.
Sim Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Faction
The people of Batuu seek some type of balance between the Resistance, the First Order, and the Scoundrels, and the path you choose to go down will affect that, moving sliders along as you progress. There's a new category in the Aspiration section of Create-A-Sim: Prepared Voyager, which lets you choose to either focus on the political disputes in this universe or pie it all off in favor of personal gain.
If you are super into Hot Angry Emo Kylo Ren, then join the First Order and become a space cop - soon Batuu will be adorned with its red and black tapestries. If you decide space fascism isn't really your thing, then join the Resistance, and soon those First Order tapestries will be covered with Resistance graffiti. If you're more of a "Han Solo in A New Hope" type character, then join the Scoundrels and do some space crime to get some extra credits. Let the big wigs figure out how to run the universe, you're just trying to get by.
Whatever path you choose will require you to chat up leaders of those factions, run some errands for them that include hacking devices or doing a cheeky Kessel Run (which is just a pop-up text bit not unlike travelling to space in the base game), and working your way up the ranks. It isn't the most interesting way to influence a world, but it is reminiscent of most other Sims 4 grinds (including the latest Eco Lifestyle pack). The Scoundrel path seems like the most fun, mainly because you can openly be a dirtbag.
I do believe that these activities are, in some ways, lacking. This is a massive franchise with so many beautiful nooks and crannies to explore, and instead we got a virtual tour of Galaxy's Edge with some faction options. You could have new life states (like vampire or mermaid but instead Sith or Jedi), new traits, even an ability to learn the Force like you learn magic in Realm of Magic. Who doesn't want to Force choke a nasty neighbor? At least with your droid you can shock Stormtroopers, (although mine kept shorting out while attempting that trick).
Oh, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention you can woo-hoo with aliens, which does more for sexuality than the Star Wars franchise has in 40-plus years.
I'm happy to spend hours making another sexy Twi-Lek in Create-A-Sim (there are more objects in this pack than in any other), building my own droid from scrap, and buying lightsabers to bring back to Brindleton Bay so I can fight my ex-lover in the middle of a veterinarian's office. I'm even more excited to use the new building objects to plop a Star Wars-themed home in the middle of Del Sol Valley. However, I do think there could have been more offered with this pack - and that's coming straight from the mouth of a woman who's naming her third cat Snips in honor of Ahsoka Tano.
I'm still gonna buy the pack, though.