For every Sims (turn, turn, turn), there is a season (turn, turn, turn).
That’s especially true of “The Sims 4.” Four years after the game’s 2014 launch, publisher EA announced in May that it will finally get an expansion pack bringing seasons to the simulated world.
The idea of seasons in a Sims game is not new. Both “The Sims 2” and “The Sims 3” had a similar expansion pack that allowed for hot summer days, and snowy winter nights. But with this one EA aims to enhance storytelling inherent in the game with the ability to create your own seasonal holidays and plan a calendar for your digital family.
“Seasons has always been a fan favorite,” Grant Rodiek, senior producer on “The Sims 4,” said. “It has such a monumental impact to the game and it changes every day. It helps tell stories through the visions, the moments, through the holidays you would expect. Personally it’s my favorite pack.”
“The Sims 4: Season” expansion won’t just come with weather changes, it will also bring a variety of new activities and ways to extend the skills your Sims have already developed. The expansion will bring holidays like Halloween to New Years’ Eve for your Sims to enjoy, as well as seasonal-specific activities like water balloon fights and ice skating.
During EA Play, the giant company’s spin-off from the usual E3 festivities, I got to take the new Seasons expansion for a spin and saw how the turning of time affected “The Sims 4.”
With the help of a new, in-game weather machine (and a pre-built family), I explored all of the new seasons and some of the many, many new possibilities.
My Sims began in the winter, where I initiated a snowball fight, making the dad pretty grumpy. Then I let them go ice skating and open presents for a holiday called Winter Fest. It’s a very non-denominational celebration which may summon the likes of Father Winter who looks exactly like you’d expect.
My Sims were either disappointed or overjoyed by their present, but grew closer as a family. It was easy to see the impact that such events, which are totally customizable, can bring to the game. In fact, Rodiek said the addition of holidays was one of the big evolutions that “The Sims 4: Seasons” expansion has over its “The Sims 3” counterpart.
“To me really it’s about the holidays and the calendar,” Rodiek said. “The two pillars are the impactful weather, and the second is looking forward to the future, looking forward to time and really anticipating those moments. With the calendar, you can see your whole year planned out. It’s really playful and silly, and creative.”
There are analogs for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, and even Seinfeld’s Festivus.
Moving on to spring and summer opened up more wide variety of options including playing in sprinklers, getting lemonade, and a little kiddie pool for the youngsters. Fall offered plenty of decorative options, and lovely autumnal landscapes.
The expansion, just like the others, doesn’t adjust any of the classic Sims gameplay, merely it provides players with options. On top of all of the interactive weather activities, Seasons comes with many new outfits, building options, shops, decor, and surprises.
Rodiek said plenty of hidden silliness exists in the expansion. Scarecrows that come to life, bees that do your bidding, and “weird gnomes” are just a few of the elements lurking throughout the year. While my scarecrow didn’t come to life, I still was able to hold long conversations with it about birds and the weather.
“Seasons,” available June 22, comes four years after the launch of “The Sims 4.” It took so long because of how much an expansion like this impacts every aspect of the game’s systems.
“As a dev, the challenges are very interesting,” Rodiek said. “You have to figure out what ‘good’ looks like.”
And even with years of consideration, it remains impossible to please everyone. With the announcement of “The Sims 4: Seasons,” fans were quick to complain about the lack of deep snow. It was something that Rodiek knew would cause consternation, but he stood by the decision.
“We knew deep snow is going to be really controversial if we don’t do it,” he said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, we did not think it was going to look good enough, we did not think it was going to meet our quality standards and we decided to take that time and focus it elsewhere.”
“Seasons” amps up the silliness of “The Sims” with the same benefits and consequences as other expansion packs. I unwisely had a Sim playing in a sprinkler in the cold, during a thunderstorm. And it turns out they can now freeze to death, die from heat stroke, and, yes, die from lightning. RIP.
Additionally, “Seasons” comes with a revamped gardening skill. It brings green houses, beekeeping, and flower arranging to the already deep bench of skills and modifications.
“For this pack we had to update every bush, tree, every blade of grass we’ve ever made,” Rodiek said. “Once people play this, once they get it in their hands, they’re going to think it’s a great pack and they’re going to think they got their $40 worth.”
Though EA hasn’t announced any further expansion for the four-year-old game, it appears as if “The Sims 4” will continue to have a long tale. Though he wouldn’t go into specifics, Rodiek said he was already in meetings discussing the next three years of content for the current title.
“‘Seasons’ is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
“The Sims 4: Seasons” will release on June 22 for Mac and PC.