If you were hooked by the Sims 4 base game and are ready to enhance your playthrough, there are a slew of DLCs that offer a richer experience. After its rough initial debut, Sims 4 has since stepped up with free updates and content that appease longtime fans. However, buying all the packs would easily cost you over $500, and with seven expansion packs, seven game packs, and 14 stuff packs, you may be at a loss of where to begin. For those who are overwhelmed by the prospect of which DLC to choose, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite packs. Although we are still bemoaning the absence of popular Sims 3 staples like Supernatural and University, there is no shortage of inspired gameplay in the Sims 4.
Expansion packs offer the most features and are the most expensive, costing $39.99.
This recent release has already proven to be a solid entry. Along with mermaids, this pack has plenty of new gameplay, especially when it comes to new features and traits in create-a-sim. “Child of the Islands” and “Child of the Ocean” both introduce some original new ways to interact within the island of Sulani. Connecting with the culture and tending to the island is rewarding. Players can really see the impact their sims make on the island with cleaner beaches, greener trees, and even more flowers.
Creating a mermaid is a lot of fun, since you can achieve some beautiful designs for your mythical creature. Though their abilities are surface level (the Vampires pack, in comparison, has light RPG mechanics that allow you to learn new magical skills), the aesthetics alone are worth the price of admission since each mermaid looks awesome when swimming around and befriending dolphins. You can also enchant people with your siren’s call, whether your intent is matchmaking or mayhem.
If you love building in the Sims, then this pack is a must-have. The world of Sulani is captivating, with seaside venues and expansive ocean waters. It’s a joy to build a home that allows your sims to wake up in the morning and dive right into the sea from their patio.
In the Sims 4, you can attain success by climbing a career-path ladder to the top, but other sims won’t care about your renowned accomplishments… until you add the Get Famous expansion pack.
When your sims achieve a milestone like landing a lead role in the hottest pirate movie, writing their next great novel, or catching a huge fish, your sims build their fame level. Other sims will want to take their picture and get their autograph. Having other sims gawk and have a fan freak-out over your sim is amusing and gratifying; it feels like a reward for all the hard work you put toward their celebrity status.
The ability to visit movie sets, which are filled with props like pirate ships and saloons, is also a lot of fun. You can put your sim through the hair and makeup departments and make them perform for the cameras. Your success depends on how much you’ve honed your acting skill, your rapport with the rest of the crew, and judgement calls on whether to take risks when performing. Depending on how the director reacts, the performance could be a flop or a total success. Either way, both are amusing to watch.
Seasons should be on everyone’s must-have list. Not only does it bring welcome variations to the weather thanks to changing seasons, but it adds loads of new clothing and building items so your sims can properly prepare for snow days or the sweltering heat. Two new clothing sections are available for summer and winter wear, and there are plenty of new additions in build mode, such as a thermostat to regulate indoor climate and stockings to hang on your fireplace. All this helps accommodate for the weather and holidays.
You can get into a festive mood no matter the occasion, receiving presents from Father Winter (who actually visits your house on Christmas Eve – you can even befriend him), sending out love notes on Love Day, or creating an official holiday of your own. You can assign timeframes and activities for sims to get into the holiday spirit. Treat Yo’Self Day and Purge Day are personal favorites of mine because who doesn’t want to spoil their sims or dedicate a day to duking it out with their noisy neighbors? You can dedicate the day for gift-giving rituals or even encourage sims to engage in a full-on brawl for holidays. It’s up to you.
Though this expansion doesn’t add another world, the wealth of new gameplay makes up for that. Unless you experience an unexpected blizzard or heat wave, outdoor experiences are fun. Without the pack it can be tough to find much to do in your backyard. With Seasons, sims can make snow angels, rake leaves, dance in puddles, and even freeze to death if you’re not careful.
Cats And Dogs
No create-a-sim family feels complete without a little pupper or kitten. The creature creation for your pets is expansive and offers so many opportunities to make your pet as creative and unique as possible, from mixing breeds or adorning them with neon green fur. My most cherished design is a robotic-looking kitten to go with my alien sim.
Along with the new world of Brindleton Bay, there is also the veterinarian career path, so your sim can work to help cure beloved pets as well as perform surgery. The pets go into a machine where your sim vets “operate” on pets from the outside by looking in through an x-ray monitor. Be sure to climb up the new veterinary skill tree so the little ones don’t come out of the machine as plants or decked out in a clown suit.
The pets aren’t just added for aesthetic value, either. Unfortunately, you aren’t able to control pets like you could in The Sims 3, but there are still plenty of interactions. You can train your pets to learn new tricks and navigate through obstacles, or your critters can be lazy and just enjoy cuddling with your sim on the couch. The ability to give your pets traits makes them feel more realistic and they can even develop fears. Pets still have needs, and the “what’s wrong?” interaction can give you a heads up on what your little buddy craves.
Game packs offer a modest amount of content and often come priced at $19.99.
Two of The Sims 4’s game packs offer a vacation destination for your sims, but the one that really stands out is Jungle Adventure. There are so many more adventurous and worldly options for clothing and build mode. You can easily make your sim into a Nathan Drake or Lara Croft type and set them up in a Central/South American-themed home.
Exploring tombs is spooky and exciting. Not only can you bump into skeletons, but you risk having your sims cursed and transformed into skeletons as well. Depending on if the transformation is a curse or blessing, you will either get stuck in skeleton form or be able to change back whenever you want. This will either make you want to laugh or punch a hole through your monitor. There is no in-between.
Scavenging for artifacts will eventually culminate in the formation of a complete relic. Assembling a relic can be fulfilling, especially with the surprise curses or blessings they generate, like the curse of the personal raincloud, the blessing of the skeleton assistant, or even something as brutal as the marked for death relic, where your sim can burst into flames and die.
Interacting with the locals will not only work in your favor to find cures for diseases or curses, but you can also purchase unique items to aid in your trek through the jungle and survive random hazards such as lightning-bug attacks. There are also interactions that highlight local traditions. You can ask the locals about their culture, dance with them in Selvadoradian style, and learn songs to bring back home with you.
It’s never a dull moment when mythical creatures are involved. Unlike the Mermaids in Island Living, Vampires have a skill tree, which adds a lot to the gameplay. As your sims become more proficient in vampire lore, they level up and unlock more powerful abilities, such as teleportation with bat and mist forms. Sure, you can already teleport with cheats, but vampires get to do it in style.
Choosing your vampire sim’s perks and abilities is riveting. You start off as a weak vampire with basic powers, such as detecting other sims’ personalities. As you grow stronger, you can level up their fighting skills so they can vanquish other vampires, max out charm so they’re irresistible to other sims, or even become masters of hallucination so they can feed off of the sims of their choice without the awkward social consequences.
The new world of Forgotten Hollow comes with the Vampires game pack, and it may be small, but the dark theme and design is perfect for the brooding creatures. You can create a vampiric mansion and move in right next to Vladislaus Straud, who resembles Dracula. Don’t be fooled by his outward appearance; he looks old, but he is actually a young adult. He’s also single, so don’t be shy if you want to put the moves on him.
Parenthood is another key addition to the Sims 4, especially for players that want to focus on building a family. While this is a must-have pack, we wish that this was included in the base game, considering the big improvements it brings to one of the core gameplay pillars of The Sims. The base game includes a huge family tree aspiration, but Parenthood expands on this concept so it involves more than just having your sims pump out babies.
Toddlers rarely get any new content or gameplay additions, so the extra clothes and substantial interactions that come with Parenthood are more than welcome. The interplay within families includes giving advice, praising, and disciplining your kids. This is engaging, because the more you interact with them, the more their personalities begin to shift to reflect the communication. Along with growing your parental skills, you can influence your children’s actions and discuss how they should behave as they move forward into adulthood.
Parenting skills can develop for anyone that interacts with toddlers, kids, and teens. With this new bonding gameplay, relationships feel much more meaningful. I have a household where a young woman takes care of her little sister, and due to meager finances, they have to live with two of her friends. When it gets frustrating to deal with her little sister, her friends step in and help. Emergent stories like these evoke emotions for players even during mundane activities like gathering everyone to the living room floor for a school project.
This game pack announcement raised a lot of eyebrows. Story focused elements in the Sims tend to put people off, but this pack actually pulled it off and still offered plenty of other things to do, as well as a detailed world that does not restrict your experience.
The point of the sims is to be whoever you want to be, and this one opens up a whole new desert world with a dedicated story and military career path, which allows you to become a secret agent. The military branch fits in perfectly with sims who are trying to figure out what’s going on in Strangerville, but you can also play through the story without it. Though you cannot go to work with your military sim, you can have them “work from home” if you have the City Living expansion pack. This allows you to be more involved in their career either through training or investigating people around town.
In order to follow the story, you have to select the Strangerville Mystery aspiration. The narrative introduces elements we haven’t seen before in The Sims that are bonkers and a ton of fun thanks to light RPG mechanics and building a resistance to fight off an evil threat. With whispers of a government conspiracy and all your neighbors in Strangerville going nuts, the mystery of the town becomes more and more alluring. Though it’s short, you accrue plenty of rewards such as cupcakes and fan mail when you complete the narrative. The furniture (such as weeds growing in a bathtub or mysterious machinery) also offers plenty of bizarre build ideas, giving you the perfect options for creating a secret laboratory for your sim. The new laptops are a solid addition as well.
Stuff packs are small add-ons that usually only cost $9.99.
Bohemian Stuff or Psychedelic Hippie Stuff could have been a more appropriate name for this pack, considering how colorful and artsy the furniture is. The new clothes and build-mode items are satisfying additions that we can’t imagine playing without.
New wall decorations, couches, coffee tables, and ceiling lights bring so much vibrancy to your builds. They can easily become favorites when designing a home and infusing it with personality. There is even a huge tree draped with lanterns that is a beautiful addition to any backyard.
If you’re looking for more outside-focused gameplay, then Backyard stuff is a top choice. Not only does it offer rural ambiance with objects like wind chimes and bird feeders, but options like lawn waterslides enable fun neighborhood get togethers. You can throw barbeque parties while everyone falls flat on their face trying to slide across.
This is a great pack to spruce up either your front or backyard with more active features. This stuff pack can easily complement Seasons as well for the summer months, such as having your sim drink lemonade while friends and family play on the slide.
If you enjoy landscaping, then this pack will put you over the moon since it helps make your backyard look stunning. Romantic Garden Stuff is especially helpful when designing an outdoor wedding.
Another interesting addition is the wishing well, which isn’t your average backyard feature. You can send your sims on a wishing marathon to see if any wishes come true, but sometimes they get the exact opposite of what they want. Romance, happiness, wealth, long life, youthful vigor, good grades, a promotion, a child, or a specific skill all have various outcomes. The more you bribe the well, the more likely you’ll get what you asked for. Also, if you have trouble keeping your sims alive, the well proves handy in bringing them back to life.
As the name implies, this pack is great for sims who want more variety when building and decorating their kitchens. The new knife rack, cabinets, and spice racks for build mode bring a homey aesthetic and a touch of realism. But the ice cream is where this pack gets really fun.
There are 30 flavors, with toppings of your choice, that have varying effects on your sims. Depending on your sims’ traits, they will have a favorite. Childish sims love sprinkles and whipped cream, commitment-issue sims love peppermint sticks and nuts, and gloomy sims don’t like any.
Ice cream doesn’t just make your sims happy, however. This is The Sims, after all, and even eating ice-cream can have dire consequences as some flavors can cause a ghost to visit, make your sims lose weight, or even breathe fire that can set other sims aflame. Imagine that being written on your tombstone.
There is still plenty to come with the Sims 4. Choosing from all the content packs out there isn’t easy. Hopefully this list helped you out in finding the best packs to make a well-rounded Sims 4 experience.
Sims 4 has grown immensely from its predecessors, watch our let’s play of Sims 2: Castaway to see for yourself. For more on the Sims, check out Ben Hanson’s exclusive video on Will Wrights’ game design notebooks.
Author: Emma Welch-Murphy
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