Almost twenty years ago Maxis developed a simulation game that allowed you to control little versions of humans. From there, an unhealthy guilty pleasure began to bloom. It all began in 2001 with good ole Mortimer and the discovery of the removal of free will. As you can guess my life has all been just downhill from there. Now I’m just biding my time thinking about the fifth iteration of The Sims and everything that I want from it. Imagine with me now if you will what features we’d like to see in The Sims 5.
Bring Back Open-World Exploration
One of the best things about The Sims 3 is that it feels like your household is part of a bigger neighbourhood. One that you can freely explore without seeing a loading screen. You can nip over to your neighbours’ house, rummage through their bins, borrow a cup of sugar or just say hello just by walking there. Or you can head for the shops, discover strange plants in the suburbs. Or just catch up with a buddy as they walk along the streets. Everything flows together and feels like a real town.
For some reason, The Sims 4 ditches all of that. Instead of being able to freely wander your Sims neighbourhood, you have to click on a menu to travel to a different location, watching a loading screen for any quick jaunt. Heck to even leave your lot, you’ve got to watch a loading screen. Yes, you can warp between different neighbourhoods, but it still makes the world feel very fragmented – and slow-moving. The Sims 5 needs to blend the open-world elements of The Sims 3 with the variety of landscapes of The Sims 4.
Better Neighbourhood Creation Tools
There was a time in early Sims games that you could not only build houses from scratch but the entire plots too. You can pick the terrain style, make it more or less hilly and even add in environmental items like electricity pylons, trees and the like in The Sims 2.
The Sims 4’s neighbours, plot sizes, and worlds are all locked in and pre-set. So you’re limited to the tools you have at your disposal. The same is sort-of-true of The Sims 3, although you can add in custom lot sizes to existing free spaces in neighbourhoods. The Sims 5 needs a little more of the freedom of the earlier games.
Food Choices Should Matter
Do you remember Grand Theft Auto 4? When you made your character eat too much he’d get too fat? Well, I think it would be pretty immersive to control your Sims diet as well. If your sims keep eating unhealthy food, like hamburgers every day, or too many sugary meals, they should get fat faster than sims following a healthy diet. In addition, sims trying to lose weight who are following a healthy diet should get thinner faster. This would make cooking more relevant, and give you a reason to think about what you tell your sims to cook instead of randomly choosing any recipe.
Why Don’t My Friends Recognise Me?
I hate that my sims walk around the neighbourhood and pass by other sims they know. Like their best friend or a close relative, and they simply ignore each other. I don’t want them to stop doing whatever they were doing (like jogging or going to someplace) to talk to that other sim, but a simple wave would be enough to feel some humanity in them.
The same thing happens with sims living in the same household. When you wake up in the morning you say “Good morning” to the people you cross, or when you get home after work, you say hi! So at least they should nod or do something that says “Hey, I acknowledge your presence”.
A Dynamic Weather System
It is surprising that all of The Sims games (apart from Castaway Stories) did not have weather changes to start off with. Weather can completely change gameplay circumstance in interesting ways. There are different outfits to change into, new furniture to buy and new events to participate in. The Sims 5’s engine could allow for a dynamic weather system akin to something like The Witcher III or something more simplistic like fellow simulator Civilization. Sims could react realistically to different patterns. A Sim could hold a newspaper over their head when the rain starts pouring down or even get sick if they stay in the rain for too long.
The disaster weather patterns found in SimCity could also make their way into the fifth entry. Cataclysmic events like meteor strikes and hurricanes could be available for the more twisted Simmers out there. They could also be very rare mishaps when using the weather machine; something The Sims 2 did with rare fire rain. It would be cool to see small details like wind blowing a hanging sign back or clothes being drenched by rain.
A Story Mode… Maybe
Okay, I’m still on the fence about this so I’m just leaving it here. On the one hand, the story isn’t really what I play The Sims for but on the other hand, it’s nice to have that option. Have you ever played The Sims game Bustin’ Out? It had a unique campaign aptly called Bust Out Mode. In this mode, you escaped your mom’s house to live a life of your own. It was whacky and immersive, giving more context to your daily Sim life. While most will prefer the open-ended mode, some Simmers want some sort of story to exist alongside their Sim’s shenanigans. Maybe having separate modes or DLCs with additional stories would appeal to a wider market audience.