The Sims 4 tackles environmentalism and local politics in its newest expansion pack, but all I can focus on are the ugly clothes. Everybody plays The Sims differently. Some people craft unique stories with their virtual creations, giving them career goals and life aspirations to work toward. Some might even say that’s how the game is supposed to be played. Other people spend their time building elaborate, beautiful, and sometimes realistic homes. And then there’s me. I just like to play dress up. I’ll spend hours making the perfect sim with amazing outfits, and never actually play the game. Luckily, The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle has something to offer for just about everyone. Except me.
When I tell you that some of the new clothes are ugly, I mean they are butt-ugly. I get the vibe they’re going for with scrap fabrics sewn together haphazardly in an effort to look more recycled, but there’s some really horrible stuff. One of the worst offenders is the denim skirt and jeans combo. I can’t even look at it. Aside from some awful clothing options, there are actually plenty of really fashionable new hairstyles, and finally some new facial piercings, so it’s not all a loss. There are also some exciting new build items, including grassy roofs, vertical planters, and green power sources like solar panels and wind turbines. It is Eco Lifestyle, after all.
This pack introduces game-changing mechanics in the eco-footprint and Neighborhood Action Plans, or NAPs. Each separate neighborhood in any given world has its own eco-footprint, ranging from green to industrial, with the middle-of-the-road categorized as neutral. The expansion’s new world, Evergreen Harbor, has a neighborhood at each stage of “green-ness,” so I chose to start off in the neutral one to see if I could influence the community to be more green. Surprisingly, this proved harder than I expected! Not only did I have to find a way to be more eco-friendly in an apartment complex — where I couldn’t just plop down a few solar panels on the roof — but I also had to count on my community to vote for and support green policies and initiatives.
When my sim first moved in, she didn’t have much Influence — the points needed to vote on NAPs. So, my community passed a policy that encouraged practicing fitness at all times. I would talk to a sim and out of nowhere, they would drop and give me twenty. While it’s great for the community to stay active, I repealed that one real quick. As time went on, my sim got acquainted with more people in the neighborhood and gained a lot more Influence. From there, I was able to vote on the policies I actually wanted, like a green initiative for my community. I also made sure to vote on NAPs that mandated water and power conservation. I’m honestly impressed that it takes both individual and collective action to make a noticeable change in the world’s eco-footprint. I wasn’t expecting to put in so much effort to make my neighborhood green, but at the end of the day, I had a lot of fun finding ways to do it. Since I couldn’t just use wind turbines in my apartment, my sim had to upgrade all her appliances to be more energy-efficient, and she started to replace her light bulbs with candles. Luckily, she already has a penchant for crafting them.
Eco Lifestyle, like other expansions, brings with it a few new careers, aspirations, and traits for your sims. My sim is a recycle disciple, so she spends her free time rummaging for recycled bits and bobs that she later crafts into items. She’s a maker, so she loves to create furniture seemingly out of thin air with the fabricator, and she’s probably made thousands of candles at this point. She hasn’t gone full hippie yet, but she’s still figuring out the new juice fizzing machine so she can make her own kombucha, of course. So far, I’ve learned not to make fizzy juice out of tomatoes. All these new machines have been fun to play with, and they add some depth to the hobbies sims can spend their time pursuing.
The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle has given me a reason to actually play through the game, rather than just make a cute sim and stop there. While I hate some of the new clothes (I cannot stress that enough), the mechanics introduced in this pack actually shake things up. The world feels lived-in, and there’s a real sense of community where before, I only focused on my sim. Now, I can perform my civic duty and try to influence the world. I will never stop making cute sims and playing dress-up, but moving forward, I actually want to play the game and change the world.
This review is based on the PC version of the game. A copy was provided by Electronic Arts.
The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle brings with it a sense of community I've never felt in The Sims before. Your sim's actions have consequences in the world, both for better or worse, and this new expansion gives players a ton of new ways to play. Eco Lifestyle is refreshing and unique, even if some of its new clothes are horrendously ugly.