Seasons-themed expansion packs of The Sims games are always some of the most frequently requested and favorite of fans. It’s true now and it was true 10 years ago when I brought my piggy bank into Best Buy to buy The Sims 2 Seasons. Back then, my dad wondered why the heck I’d want the seasons expansion pack, when I could have a cooler one like the vacation-themed Bon Voyage.
Other expansion packs add action-packed gameplay experiences. A lot of The Sims 3 expansion packs added RPG-style elements like visiting the future and exploring hidden temples. To those just picking up the game or to those who have never played The Sims, these big, obvious gameplay additions seem like they’d be the most exciting. The Seasons packs add … seasons. Why have seasons when you can have World Adventures or Into the Future or Supernatural or any of the other more action-packed expansions?
The Seasons expansions come with more than seasons — The Sims 4 Seasons also introduces a calendar with customizable holidays, a beekeeping hobby and new gardening-related career tracks, among other things. It’s these real-life elements of weather and seasons, and the rest of the wonderful intimate details that make the gameplay experience all the more lifelike. For a life simulation, this is important.
The Sims community has always been the most excited about expansion packs that build upon the daily life experiences of their Sims, instead of ones that attempt to integrate more RPG-style elements into the series. The Sims 3 expansion packs focused on adding bigger, adventure-style elements, which alienated some Sims 2 players who focused more on the life-simulation and storytelling elements.
But The Sims 4, so far, has gone back to what the Sims series does best: amplifying the these small, intimate gameplay details. While more flamboyant game packs like Jungle Adventures exist, it’s the seemingly mundane packs like Laundry Day and Parenthood that celebrate what makes The Sims series special.
What makes The Sims 4 Seasons so wonderful is all the little details. It’s the minutiae that has seasoned fans excited, with Tumblr posts gushing about the sun setting at different times depending on the season and the inclusion of swing sets, but also had them potentially worried.
One of the more pedantic things that Sims fans were concerned about when the first Seasons footages started rolling out was the fact that the snow was just a flat texture. Both The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 had luscious snow, which got deeper as snow accumulated. The Sims 4 snow does not do that. Cue a flurry of complaining tweets and even an aggressively-worded Change.org petition.
Admittedly, that was one of the finicky details that struck my concern, but I am quite happy to report that I quickly got over it when I started playing and noticed all the other carefully crafted details. The snow thing is minor; it’s due to lag time, which I can sacrifice in order to gush over the other smaller details.
The Sims 4 Seasons has no shortage of these intimate gameplay details, which I spent a lot of time carefully looking for and relishing.
Sure, I was excited about Winterfest and creating my own holiday, about starting a beekeeping hobby, and potentially gaining lightning powers. But I also spent a stupid amount of time scrolling through all the different Holiday Card decor and trying to coordinate a Hanukkah and Christmas-themed display for my Sim self and her boyfriend’s little hallway table.
There’s now a fireplace channel on the television. Bodies of water freeze over slowly, starting with chunks of floating ice which you can still fish from to being solidly frozen. The food stalls change depending on season. Sims rummage through a stack of boxes in order to decorate their houses. When you navigate to the desert-themed world in the middle of winter, there is no snow.
I could go on. I haven’t even played through all four seasons yet, but I’m sure that each one will hold a host of lovely, carefully created moments that make the gameplay experience all the more vibrant.
The bigger gameplay changes will draw Sims fans in, but it’s the attention to the specific details that will win them over.
The Sims 4 Seasons will be available on June 22 for PC.