The Sims 4 Island Living Review
All About the Gameplay Features in The Latest Expansion Pack
Sulani is beautiful. Much of what is here is well-made, though not deep enough for my taste. In my review focused on gameplay, I'll explain how I came to feel this way.
First I will state I did get a copy of this game free from EA thanks to its Game Changers program. I don't normally review DLC, but let's talk about the latest Expansion. First, realize this is coming from someone who values gameplay above all else. I enjoy exploring new things and I'm never turned on by clothing or decorations. The Sims 4 Island Living has some things going for it, but in a big area it has a flaw and I feel I'm not the only one noticing this. Gameplay, it needed more gameplay - a larger amount of it, and deeper for what's there. I mean skills, activities that are not just fun, and things of that nature. Not transportation, not random things that give moodlets. Good old fashioned gameplay that keeps people returning and doing different things.
The problem is present in many packs but it's pretty damning here. If you start a Sim, make a mermaid - which requires only 500 satisfaction - and play in the Conservationist career while fishing on the side, you've completely done this pack in one sitting.
Everything else that exists in the pack is scenery, they did fantastic with world building and some neighborly Sim behaviors. What's here is not bad per se, it just needed more work to truly become what it could've become.
There are 3 kinds of Dolphin in Island Living, but they're not particularly interesting and you get done with them quickly. They cannot impact your gameplay, it's like Bertie's Bee Box with the interactions and stationary nature.
More time invested into making a fleshed out mermaid system is a big one. Players like to level up in new things in Sims and unlock abilities, gradually grow more powerful. With mermaid, you're given everything up front and there are only a couple of interesting abilities depending who you are. Yes, I didn't say this in my upcoming mermaids guides but it is important to me that if someone seeks a guide they get a guide and don't have to read or hear my opinion for 5 minutes.
Another thing is the water transportation. Changing clothes all the time is annoying, but my big gripe is that without gameplay, the transportation doesn't exist for a reason. It's literally taking me nowhere. Transportation in a game should take me to more gameplay. Sims 4 has had a problem in that there isn't much reason to go anywhere so a bigger neighborhood like we have doesn't NEED explored. We need outdoor activities that make sense to use, to get us to check. I guess the collections are too bland or there aren't enough uses of them, but I see no reason to head to the islands in Sulani.
The world really can be stunning, but the world needs to be your primary point of excitement.
It's hard to be critical of a team you respect and a franchise you love, while also knowing some fans will feel I'm criticizing on something they love. Truly I don't want to do that, I just feel some responsibility to be completely silent and it's a status quo I'd like to see change. I wish that whatever caused me to feel this way wasn't this way. It just feels like tough decisions were made or something, because it comes across as rushed and I'd never put that on the average developer. If they needed more time to realize the vision that is what they should've had. I know they want us fans to be happy with what we're given.
That said the team did some things in good faith this week like releasing improvements to the lackluster RNG fishing skill and giving us the ability to better tailor our catches with bait, and they made sure you can fish off the canoes in Island Living. One of the Mermaid's more interesting abilities can also boost this.
The Ecology of one island changes, but it changes fairly quickly and there's not a big impact, just scenery.
Sims is best when things work together and they've managed that on many packs, making sure things like clubs from Get Together always work with new features, and it must be a lot to manage. The fact you can make a Conservation club is awesome. How about we could fix the Ecosystem on all three islands? Why only 1 - time of course.
The only real gripe about Island Living is so much of its content will only make sense when used in that world. A mermaid should not be walking around Oasis Springs. The content is super self contained this time, but there's not much reason to stick around in Sulani, so it's a side attraction - a vacation world you can't actually vacation in. I know some of you return to places but lemme guess how many have returned to granite falls in the last 6 months. Yet, you can at least say a lot of the content there can be used for things in other worlds.
Jet Skis and boats exist to get from A to B, but there's not much reason to ever go to B.
You could get excited for scuba as a few of us did, until we realized it's a rabbit hole. The only major cosmetic failure is purely technical - I wish I could go underwater and snorkel or scuba dive with my Sims. I say let players take pictures of exotic fish and feel like they're exploring this world. One more way to get us to leave the home lot.
Anyway if I'm going to share an opinion I promise to keep it contained rather than complain extensively in other places. I put my gripes in my text and video fairly often but never do deter the focus and it should stay that way. I'd love to see Sims 4 be upgraded to have deeper and more interesting gameplay rather than always adding more and more stuff. We're drowning in options but interesting choices are not being made. Give me good reasons to go to different places, add some depth to things like traits, and make sure new skills, traits, aspirations and things to do that take more than a few hours are always included in the big packs.
Butterflies will appear on the one island that changes, once you've cleaned it up. However, when you've done that you've exhausted most of the gameplay from IL. If you feel the atmosphere is a must-have, you're probably going to be on the happier end of the list of people who've purchased it.
Perhaps to some extent, players who demand deeper gameplay have already gone and their opinion is no longer heard as there's no reason to follow a game that you can't get into. Otherwise I feel voices crying for deeper gameplay would be more prevalent. We are four years in, after all.
The Sims 4 really could be fantastic even without an Open World. Others were, they relied more on their gameplay. I shared with a couple friends an idea I had - I'd love to have to pay for clothes. Other things like traits not being deep enough really annoy me - I'd like more behaviors centered around them, abilities that do things, and maybe hidden bonuses. In order for one Sims to be extremely different from another on any level but a cosmetic one.
Our next gameplay pack is centered around magic, and I really hope I don't see +2 inspired, flirty, or happy for 4 hours spread out on 6 spells with 14 spells total. I'd like to see interesting spells that do things nothing else in the game does. Give me a reason to pick up magic when I'm playing and make sure I can be a powerful vampire wizard who moonlights as a line cook.
That's all I really have to say, this just doesn't add up to $40 of gameplay. The eye candy and world building is right in this pack, there's just not much to do with it. I won't assign it an arbitrary number - most of this is my opinion and each person should decide how much my complaints matter to them.
Other Island Living Guides
The Sims 4 Island Living Expansion Pack
Mermaids in Island Living New
Mermaids Video New
Island Living Gameplay Review
Island Living Cheats
Features to Know About in The Sims 4 Island Living
Features in Island Living (Video Format) NEW
Conservationist Career Guide
Conservationist Video Guide
Cleaning Up The Island - How it Works and What's Best
Child of the Islands Trait New
Child of the Ocean Trait New
Using New Foundations, Clear Floors, and Other Build Mode Items
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I am that player, who almost dropped sims4 because there is no gameplay. I was disappointed when i bought vanilla game. But I hoped for Expansion Pack. In sims3 World of Adventures were must have. But the only one ep I ever bought is aliens (not Get to Work, professions there were much more boring that in Ambitions, but aliens were beautiful). Sometimes I install game. Install a ton of mods. Play for a week. And uninstall it. Still I keep monitoring news, but with small hope on changes.
I liked that StrangerVille added a mission to play and I thought Island living was going to be similar but so far there are no real clues or nothing obvious, other than the treasure chest I found behind a wall down in shipwreck cove. There is no access to the room it’s in (no door) which makes me wonder if there is a mission somewhere that I’m missing? But so far I’m rather disappointed with sims 4 all together
Thank you for such an honest review. People respect your opinion, and I felt like I must be overly picky before I read this. However, I don't think this pack justified the $40 price tag in the slightest. I also hoped for more gameplay, especially with diving, and was very disappointed. I look forward to reading your review of the next pack BEFORE I purchase it.
I have to agree in unfortunately. I was able to play sims 3 for days and days with just gameplay. Now I get on sims 4 to download a new pack, build a house and try to find some game play and get disappointed every time. I go months and months without touching it before I decide to give it another try.
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- The Sims 4 Island Living Expansion Pack
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