Sims expansion packs tend to fall on a spectrum. On one end there are packs like Vampires and Get Famous that add giant, world-changing features that are distant dreams to the regular person, like becoming a werewolf or journeying to the Star Wars universe. And on the other end are packs that hone in on nitty-gritty real-life elements, like Parenthood and Seasons.
The upcoming expansion pack Growing Together, which launches on March 16, falls fully on this latter end. The pack offers substantial expansions to early life stages, including babies and toddlers, as well as the elder life stage, which is the last one in a Sim’s lifespan, and also one sorely neglected by previous packs. From a gameplay preview, it’s clear that this is a pack that drills down on the reality of the Sims, and the day-to-day interactions and minute details that are appealing for a specific subtype of players drawn to realism. (It’s me, hi, I’m the specific subtype of players).
In a way, Growing Together seems to be a rebuff of the Parenthood pack. The latter focused mostly on parents, children, and teens. But Growing Together will add much-needed special features like milestones, and relationship compatibility, along with smaller details like new aspirations for children, new quirks for toddlers and infants, and new interactions for elders. Though the expansion is separate from the March 14 base game update that introduces the infant life stage, this pack expands on what that life stage has to offer.
Some of the new quirks are silly and charming, adding detail to a young Sim’s growth across their early years: An infant Sim can be a Messy Eater, but toddler Sims get a little more sass with Picky Eater and Hates Bedtime. Children finally have new aspirations, including Playtime Captain and Slumber Party Animal, which shows how much this pack is going to dive into their downtime. As for elders, at long last they get some new specific interactions, like Giving Life Lessons or picking a favorite grandchild (which totally tracks IRL).
One of the biggest additions in the new pack is the introduction of milestones, which mark important events throughout a Sim’s entire life and track a Sim’s growth. They appear to be triggered by gameplay, and can range from big life events, like getting promoted and having a midlife crisis, to smaller ones, like a Sim accidentally wetting themself (something we got to see during the Sims presentation). Milestones are reminiscent of the memories feature in The Sims 2 and Sims 3, which automatically tracked big moments in Sims’ lives. There actually is a memory feature present in The Sims 4 too, but it’s not prompted by the game; instead players have to manually go into the screenshot manager to create memories, so not many people know it exists.
Growing Together also overhauls relationship compatibility features. All relationships — not just familial ones — will get an update with the introduction of social compatibility. Players will be able to toggle what sort of personality traits that their Sims like or dislike. Depending on how interactions go, the game might prompt you to decide if a Sim likes or dislikes a certain trait in other Sims. When it comes to family members, these compatibility features will spark more complex relationship labels, like competitive siblings or close ones. Some degree of social compatibility has been present in previous Sims games, like the romantic chemistry feature in The Sims 2, and many popular mods try to replicate it (like the infamous Wicked Whims), so it’s cool to see it added in the game, especially in a way that’s not just romantic in nature.
Speaking of romance, though, there is one big question that many Sims players have on their mind when a new pack is introduced: Is there a new place my Sims can WooHoo? The answer to that is: yes, yes there is. Growing Together introduces a treehouse object, which not only allows Sims to build a treehouse and play with it, but to also get… very intimate. However, if your young Sim does NOT want grown-ups canoodling in their playhouse, they can bar adults from entering.
The treehouse is also just one of a handful of new items and activities a young Sim can take part in. There are also bikes, slumber parties, and friendship bracelets, all of which will liven up your young Sim’s life in the sleepy suburbs of the new world of San Sequoia. And if those activities aren’t enough, Sims can enjoy the town’s amenities — like a kids’ library or a community center — spread across the Gilbert Gardens, Anchorpoint Wharf, and Hopewell Hills neighborhoods.
Growing Together looks like it’s going to be the kind of pack that appeals to a specific type of Sims player. For those who might want big, flashy features and supernatural hijinks, the more minute details and interactions that come with Growing Together might not be enough to justify the cost of a full expansion pack. But if you want to flesh out your Sims’ inner lives — not just via familial relationships, but with markers for their own growth — then Growing Together seems like it’s going to do just that. It’s a more subdued expansion pack, but one that promises a lot of depth.
The Sims 4: Growing Together will be available on March 16 for Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.