The Sims 4 is certainly shaking things up for Maxis, with plenty of big changes improving upon the previous generation. For starters, neighborhoods seem to now be split into different ‘zones’ which are loaded separately and marked by dotted lines, something likely left over from the days when it was still under consideration to be an online title. Recently, it was revealed that The Sims 4 was losing two longstanding features, and this caused some confusion amongst fans – but Maxis was quick to put out an explanation.
Last week, Maxis explained that they were removing both the toddler age span and pools from the game, a move which wasn’t exactly met with fanfare from players. Babies will now transition directly into children ready for school, and pools have moved on to the same metaphorical suburban graveyard that hot tubs initially went to when The Sims 3 first came out. Alarmingly, hot tubs first came out as DLC item purchases before being included in later expansion packs.
Rachel Franklin, an employee of Maxis, went out of her way to offer an in-depth explanation of why these two features were removed from The Sims 4. The answer isn’t because it was hard to implement or largely a design philosophy, it was essentially so that Maxis could just focus on other features instead:
“So, rather than include toddlers, we chose to go deeper on the features that make Sims come alive: meaningful and often amusing emotions; more believable motion and interactions; more tools in Create A Sim, and more realistic Sim behavior.”
Likewise, pools were shoved aside to focus in different Build Mode features, like direct manipulation and being able to instantly swap out one room for another pre-prepared room. Admittingly, these don’t sound like steadfast reasons, especially since they’re not mutually exclusive – perhaps gamers will see the return of pools in a future expansion pack. Fountains were cut from The Sims 3 and included in a free update later, so chances are a similar fate might away pools – especially since so many gamers use them. This sounds more like release date driven omission.
There’s no doubt about the new game engine looking good, but it’s certainly worrying that such large staples of the game are being dropped. Toddlers were a great way to prepare a Sims’ skill set and behavioral patterns before they become a child, and pools were great for sadistically removing the exits while Sims were in them (and swimming was a good feature too, we guess). Maxis also announced that a 15-minute clip of in-game footage would be on the way within two weeks, which should give potential players on-the-fence about The Sims 4 more to judge for themselves.
What do you think about the explanation, Ranters? Was focusing on AI and build features a good reason to forego toddlers and pools, or would you rather see those features remain?
The Sims 4 is slated for release September 2, 2014 for both PC and Mac.
Follow John Jacques on Twitter @Makelevi.