I was initially very excited to get my hands on Realm of Magic, and definitely liked the amount of effort they put into ensuring there is a nice catalog of spells and potion recipes. I am grateful for the opportunity to play with it over the weekend thanks to the EA Game Changers program.
The new world is definitely pretty and unique. It always appears to be a bit dark but it presents a nice contrast to all the spell particles you’ll encounter there. It’s pretty small though. There’s a lot of pointless, unused space and it feels like everything could’ve fit into the one large lot at the center. There are portals to help you get around, but once you’ve got a broom (or the Teleport spell) you’ll completely ignore them.
Digging into spells was my priority #1. I was at first really enjoying myself. It felt meaningful to get the first few spells, but that feeling would quickly change as I came to realize how ridiculously easy everything is. Sims has never been hard, per se, but I found that you can simply stand about practicing, talk to the Sages in the Magic Realm, and swiftly collect every single spell in probably a couple days’ time max. We’re talking Sim days here. The only barrier is the level of your caster.
I discovered there is actually very little to do in the Magic Realm, and not a lot going on there. Random Sims like the Goths show up and reveal they, too, are spellcasters. Evidently everyone is one. The same animations repeat endlessly with there being no purpose to the duels. It’s all eye candy with no substance. Yet, it’s not really eye candy at this point because Sims 4 is not designed to take advantage of modern hardware at this point.
At one point I gathered all 3 Sages around my Sim, talked to them and asked for potion and spell recipes repeatedly and knocked off about 10 of the 39 items in just a couple Sim hours. This is the moment that my usual regret for how simple things have become crept up on me and changed my opinion. Fundamental problems with the way the system is designed and feeds you spells rapidly are not likely to be fixed. Even if it is, it’s spoiled the adventure of building up my spellcaster for the first time.
Games give players rewards and players enjoy unlocking new abilities and growing in power. This is the appeal of a Spellcaster system in Sims 4. We already know it’s going to be OP as hell, and we’re not wrong to assume that. It’s quite fine. You should be smoking normies as a Spellcaster. It’s to be expected, right? The problem is I got so stuffed full of spells at such a rapid pace I stopped counting and appreciating those rewards. Everything was handed to me on a silver platter and I maxed out really fast.
If you just want to play the same old Sims with a super-powerful witch wizard spellcaster whatever, you got it. Just don’t expect new types of effects. There are a couple but nearly everything that came with Spellcasting is from some other ability in the game, like resurrecting ghosts or scientists’ freeze ray ability. It’s almost like a greatest hits of special abilities including cloning. Potions include a lot of let-downs for me. I don’t like emotional boosts and I feel there isn’t any reason to make a Sim sad or to have two Sims fight, because there is very little going on with friendships/rivalries in the game. It’s only to satisfy my own cruelty as a player.
The balance here is completely non-existent and in fact destroys much of the game’s loop in caring for your Sims due to what seems to be an oversight. For instance there is a potion that replenishes needs to full. Now, ingredients should gate potions to help balance things out right – you can make a few of these, and take advantage of them at times… but the problem is , the required ingredient for that potion is.. an apple. One. Apples are common and extremely accessible. If you find one apple, successfully brew a potion with it, you not only get the potion.. you get four of them. Four full days of need refills from a single apple. I don’t know how well you play the game, but I am of the opinion you will most certainly pick up another apple within those 4 days.
It was expected to make the game easier to be a Spellcaster. I just didn’t really want it to be this easy. Every other potion but the needs one takes some other form of ingredient that might be harder to come up with. Like, a specific type of element or crystal. RNG will keep you in line on those, but when you can never sleep, never poo, and have no need to eat, it almost doesn’t matter. Once you have acquired a duplication spell those remaining few gates are removed because you’ll have infinite… nearly everything.
RoM turns The Sims 4 into your personal playground. You can bully Sims however you want, just not kill them. No one in your family ever need suffer. RoM is probably worth the $20 when compared to other packs, I just hoped for more unique effects and a pacing that made each new spell unlock feel meaningful. The ability to live in the Magic Realm, or more to do there, would have helped.
Even though Spellcasting isn’t a skill, I’d wager it takes about the same time to max out. This is a trend that has been going on a while now – a more recent example is the decision to offer the player a Mermadic Kelp for 500 satisfaction in the rewards store. No reason to look for it, when it’s available right there. Grafting was destroyed in Summer 2018. You can still do it, but you can buy rare seed packets for $1,000 Simoleons or, as with RoM, get a death flower from one of the shops.
There are only 3 spells that have any kind of requirement to attain, and they’re all exactly the same. Hit the max rank, have a little friendship established with the Sages, and ask them for the final spell. Done. Now just grind each of the practice magic abilities you have by clicking your Sim, and you’ll pick up the remaining spells in those schools. Just as easy as asking for the power to be a Spellcaster in the first place. Even minor hurdles and complexity to this system would’ve been more entertaining than just giving it to you.
Realm of Magic is the ultimate power injection for players of the Sims ,and it’s power that is handed to you rapidly, from the first needs potion you’ll learn all the way to the ability to bring back the dead. Because there is so little to do in the Magic Realm, you will quickly return to the same game, just with no need to do any of the micromanagement and routine stuff that makes Sims.. the Sims. It’s a power fantasy and you are likely to get some kicks out of it, but you will feel no sense of accomplishment along the way.