Five things you need to know about Sims 4

The Sims is one of the most beloved franchises in gaming. Each game offers up an endlessly fascinating virtual dollhouse; a window into a charming, idiosyncratic world where stories of love, loss, friendship, jealousy, life and death are played out.

With The Sims 4, this world will be more nuanced than ever before and players will have greater control in shaping it. If you loved previous versions of The Sims, here are the five things you need to know about The Sims 4.

1. These sims are driven by emotion

Your sims will have a much broader range of emotional states this time around. They can be bored, stressed, inspired, focused, energised, cranky, playful, dazed or confident, alongside several more.

A sim’s mood influences the options they have when interacting with other sims and the world around them. A cranky sim’s not going to be in the mood for flirting, for instance, while an inspired sim is in the perfect frame of mind to work on a painting.

Even ‘negative’ emotional states can be used to positive effect. An angry sim may go harder than normal on the punching bag, levelling up his or her physical ability more quickly.

The idea is that these newfound emotional states are reflective of the things that are happening in your sims’ lives. Their feelings should be intuitive to understand, ultimately make them more human than ever.

2. Traits and emotions go hand in hand

The Sims 3 allowed players to choose five traits for each of their sims that greatly shaped their personality. It was an excellent idea, with a huge range to choose from. Want a sim that’s an absent-minded, insane, brooding genius slob? You could do it. How about a sleazy, charismatic, flirty kleptomaniac with a good sense of humour? Again, no problem.

Traits return in The Sims 4 and are the perfect complement to the new, more emotionally-rich sims. Traits shape the emotions sims are likely to feel, so a hot-headed sim is more likely to be angry than a calm sim, but on the flipside, emotions are also powerful enough that they can override traits. Even an optimistic sim, for instance, can have a bad day and become cranky or upset. It’s all designed to add more shades to each sim’s behaviour.

3. Three is in no way a crowd

Parties have been a staple part of The Sims since the beginning, but they’ve always felt disconnected. Why? Because sims weren’t able to socialise in a group. Your sim could be surrounded by other people, but only able to talk to one of them at a time. No more.

A party can now be one big, connected group, while a family can sit down at the dinner table and have a group conversation. It may not sound like a big deal, but it really is.

Alongside this change, sims can now multi-task. Instead of only being able to do one thing at a time, a sim can now do multiple things: chatting while cooking, or eating while watching TV. This is another game changer and makes the lives your sims are leading feel that much more realistic.

4. Create the perfect sim

The Sims isn’t just a window into another world – it can be a window into your own. Sims players often recreate their friends and family, and using traits effectively is a great way to try and capture specific character types and quirks. Of course, you also want your sims to look the part and that’s where The Sims 4’s revamped create-a-sim tool comes into play.

The interface is simple but powerful. From a variety of starter body types, skin colours and haircuts, you can simply grab and pull different parts of a sim’s body or face to adjust their features. Players can even choose a signature walk for the sim to add a baseline personality to their movements.

5. Live the Australian Dream

Building and decorating your own house has always been a core component of the Sims experience, but these tools have also been completely reinvented for The Sims 4.

Rooms can be created with a simple click and drag of the mouse, and moved anywhere on the lot. Ceiling heights can be adjusted, as can foundations, and windows can be automatically placed if you so choose. The tools even make putting a striking roof atop your new home a simple matter, whether you’re going for an A frame or a series of curved panels

Players less concerned with interior design can even fully furnish their rooms with the press of a button, while budding home decorators can – as in previous games – choose from the catalogue or drop elements from pre-fab rooms into their own.

With each iteration The Sims comes closer to capturing the social complexities of life and The Sims 4 is well on the way do raising the bar once again. It’s coming to PC and Mac in 2014.