When The Sims 4 was released last year, it was met with some rather cold disappointment from fans who saw it as a step back for the series. The general complaints all centred on the game being stripped of the complexity and seamless open-world of its immediate predecessor, that it was nothing but a watered-down The Sims 3 that went back to the basics of the earliest entries in the series.
In the year and a bit since its initial launch, the base game’s content has been extended with several packs and two major expansions. The first of these expansions was Get To Work, which allowed players to follow their Sims through a typical workday at the hospital/police station/bookshop/etc., depending on what profession you chose for them. The second expansion, The Sims 4: Get Together, has just been released and once again adds a whole other mechanic to the gameplay: the ability to join and form clubs.
Right from the start, the most noticeable inclusion that comes with Get Together is the brand new world of Windenburg, the prettiest and most vibrant town to come along yet. It has a charming, historic European vibe with rustic buildings and plenty of picturesque countryside surrounding every location. It’s a pleasant, relaxing place to have your Sims kick back and socialize in and is one of the most welcoming things about the expansion.
Its old-timey feel is emphasized through some of the new archaic lots that have come along with it, particularly the ancient ruins and the grand Von Haunt Estate, which is, unsurprisingly, haunted by the spectres of Sims who have passed on. This ghostly abode has the most character out of any of the new locations, featuring a magnificent hedge maze on its grounds. It is frequently visited by the ‘Knights Of The Hedge’ club, an eccentric group of middle-age nuts whose dress code requires members to dress in a full suit of armour (one of the expansion’s added outfits).
The introduction of the clubs brings a feeling of camaraderie that has never really been experienced in the series before—a much stronger sense of community in social circles. You can join one of the game’s pre-existing clubs or form one of your own, choosing up to five activities to partake in while at the same time deciding which ones (if any) are forbidden. The amount of customization available to you when creating a club is quite impressive. Pretty much any recreational action available to the Sims—reading, dancing, playing chess, computer hacking—can be put on the itinerary for club meetings. You can create a comedy troupe who perform stand-up at bars, a group of rebel pranksters who make it their business to be mean to others and vandalize objects, or a team of dancers who are intent on hitting every nightclub in town and showing off their moves.
When starting up your own club, you get to decide who out of your virtual acquaintances can join your new gang and if they need to meet certain entry requirements, whether it’s holding a particular skill or being of a certain financial or marital status. If you want to create a further sense of uniformity, there is the option to select club outfits. You can also determine a venue, a decision where, again, you have a lot of freedom. Any non-residential lot can play host to a club meet, regardless of how well suited it is to your activities. Sims can also meet at a club member’s house for a quieter night in. There is also the opportunity to set up a rivalry between another club, making it your aim to pick on them with mean remarks and pranks.
At the club gatherings themselves, you have the ability to earn points based on how much you fulfil the core activities of the group. The points are awarded quite liberally, so it isn’t that hard to build them up by simply repeating the same actions over and over again. The option to edit the club’s approved activities is always open, meaning that you can always just change them to match whatever is available in the location you’re in. The points can then be used to unlock perks, which act as modifiers to how fast your Sim’s skills level up, their success in socializing, and the overall mood of the members. They can also be used to unlock secret handshakes and expand the club’s capacity.
Many hours can be spent attending the shindigs of a various clubs, forming new relationships with fresh faces and maxing out your skill levels. Even though a Sim can only be part of three clubs at once, they are free to resign from any one of them whenever they please, giving them the opportunity to refresh their friends should they find their current company to be a bit stale. As for the activities themselves, synchronizing all of your Sims to carry out the same activity at once has been made brilliantly easy with the ‘together’ command, which moves the club as a unit, meaning that there is no need to click on each group member to make them all hit the pool or order drinks at the same time.
Get Together also adds two new skills: Dancing and DJ, both of which bring with them a few new items such as multiple DJ booths and dance floors. With dancing, you can challenge another clubber to a dance battle or show off how cool your new posse is with a group dance. Acquiring a high DJ skill will allow you to take control of a rave, blasting out a variety of music genres while boosting your fellow partygoers’ happiness and earning a few tips in the process.
These parties aren’t just limited to the nightclubs either, as you will get invites to gatherings at the ancient ruins and the haunted estate as well. In addition to the new DJ gear, other new items include bar games, including a foosball table and the Jenga-inspired board game ‘Don’t Wake The Llama’, as well as new diving platforms for pools. The animations that go along with all of these new objects and skills are greatly amusing, with each individual’s personality shining through their movement.
All in all, The Sims 4: Get Together‘s main attraction, the club mechanic, is undoubtedly fun, providing existing players with new ways to equip their characters with a wider range of skills and allowing them to connect and interact with other Sims in ways the series has never seen before. However, I’m not sure that the new features are game-changing enough to turn the heads of players who are still unsure as to whether the experience is worth the price. There are still some major glitches and the numerous loading screens that turned people off this instalment in the first place are still present. That being said, if you are already having a good time with The Sims 4, then Get Together will surely give you many more hours of mingling, messing around, and dancing the night away.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which we were provided with.
The vast amount of options that are available with The Sims 4: Get Together's new club mechanic will add plenty more hours of fun for existing fans of the base game, but I don't think it's quite enough to entice dissatisfied players back to the series.