The Sims 4 High School Years review: The fashion rules

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The Sims 4 High School Years review: The fashion rules

Do I Do you want to go back in high school? Absolutely not. But, do I want to throw my Sims in a gauntlet with social hierarchy, education and puberty. Sure! The Sims 4’s High School YearsThe expansion adds a feature that is highly sought-after: a high school for teens Sims, as well as all the other accouterments that go with it.

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High School YearsThe game, which was released in late-July, focuses primarily on teen Sims. Most of its gameplay is only for them. Set in Copperdale, the new city, teen Sims have one major lifestyle change — you can follow them to school now. Previously, teen Sims didn’t go to school. High School YearsIt comes with a high school that has been pre-built, but it can be modified and rebuilt as you wish.

The experience for teen Sims is largely what you’d expect from high school. Sims go to school, socialize in their lockers, and sometimes serve detention. There are many after-school activities like cheerleading and chess club, as well new side hustles that teens can engage in such as video game streaming or selling clothes on a thrift store. If you, like me, aren’t a Sims 4player who is often involved in making or playing with teens and their families. High School YearsIt may seem like a small thing. However, for players who are deeply involved in family life, it can be a significant advantage. High School Years fundamentally changes the day-to-day gameplay, and that’s huge. It’s one of those expansion packs that, for some players, will touch most families and game sessions, but for others, like me, it doesn’t feel as impactful as, say, Cottage Living, Cats & DogsOr Seasons.

Image: Maxis/Electronic Arts

All that being said, I still think High School Years is an expansion that’s worth it for most players. Though I’m less interested in the dynamics of high school life, like getting my Sims to ask other Sims to prom or navigate socially awkward situations by the lockers, High School YearsIt has tons of extra content that I love. Namely, the Create-a-Sim additions and furniture options in the expansion pack are incredible — some of the best I’ve seen added with an expansion.

Even though the Sims are made for teens, the clothes, hairstyles and accessories can be used by adults. (Kids, on the other hand, don’t get very many additions, aside from a few new hairstyles. The teen/adult clothes don’t work on kids, but some hairstyles do.) The new clothes span a whole bunch of different styles — we’ve got a goth anime T-shirt, dark academia-inspired school wear, sweet preppy looks, and cool streetwear options. The new gameplay features include a collaboration with online thrift store Depop. Sims can sell and buy clothes via an in-game app called Trendi, or through a thrift shop/boba shop called ThiftTea. It makes sense that fashion should be so varied because this is part of the teenage experience: trying out new things, trying them out, and finding your own style.

This extends to furniture and other build options. High School Years, too. The focus is, of course, on teens — which means a lot of the new options were designed specifically with teen bedrooms in mind. That makes sense; it’s one of the few spaces in a home where a teen can truly have ownership and express their personal style. It’s clear that The Sims 4This was the goal of the team when they created the new collection. There are a bunch of new bed options, plus lots of decorations and little details, like clutter and LED lights, to spread around a Sim’s bedroom.

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teen sims in formal wearing slow dancing at prom

Image: Maxis/Electronic Arts

A lot of new features have been added to the site. The Sims 4’s base game as a free update, regardless of whether the High School YearsAn expansion has been purchased. These are some of the most exciting additions, even though they’re small details, because that’s often what matters most with The Sims 4. Body hair, sexual orientation, wants and fears, and curved walls add more depth to a game that’s already pretty dang deep. The wants and fears features are now obsolete “whims,”These were a few goals Sims had that were related to emotions and traits. These whims could be fulfilled by earning satisfaction points that can be used in-game. In particular, wants work in a similar way to whims. Fears are generated from things that happen in-game, such as rejection or fire. It’s a feature that makes the overall system feel more tailored to individual Sims — but if you’re not interested, it can be turned off entirely. I haven’t noticed a huge difference, especially, between wants and whims, but I do think it’s neat that fears are something that Sims can now experience and overcome.

It is all a bit sad. The Sims 4’s new expansion and base game update launched with a bunch of bugs — some of them particularly problematic. One of the major bugs caused Sims to rapidly age, which resulted in some Sims being prematurely killed. Another bug added unintentional wants such as the desire for family members to date, and other bugs. These didn’t necessarily make the game unplayable for everybody, but EA did recommend that players stay away from save files that might be impacted negatively.

Electronics Arts has said an updateThese and other bugs will be fixed by the end of the week. It’s certainly not an ideal rollout for a highly anticipated expansion pack like High School YearsThe expansion is worth a look once the fix is in place.

The Sims 4’sHigh School Years On July 28, expansion was released Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X. Electronic Arts provided a download code for the game. Vox Media has affiliate relationships. These partnerships do NOT influence editorial content. Vox Media can earn commissions for products bought via affiliate links. You can find out additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.


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