The Sims growth packs was game-changing. Actually. Once I assume again to enjoying the likes of Celebrity, Scorching Date or Makin’ Magic, I keep in mind pouring hours into one growth, by no means changing into bored because of the limitless prospects they offered. Every served as a standalone sport in its personal proper, relatively than merely complementing the bottom sport expertise.
Quick-forward to 2021 and issues are a bit completely different. We’ve seen three The Sims base video games launched since these early days, and numerous expansions throughout all of them – with every growth a considerably extra diluted expertise than the final. The place one growth would cram in a bunch of recent content material, NPCs and options, it now feels as if that one growth has been chopped up; divided up amongst packs, kits and expansions. These packs develop into novelties that rapidly put on off, with little longevity. As a long-time Sims fan it’s been disheartening to see.
However, like each different The Sims fan, I used to be nonetheless excited by the prospect of The Sims four: Cottage Residing. Lastly I may farm outsized crops, befriend the native wildlife, look after my very own livestock and customarily dwell off the land, having fun with the quiet countryside existence that (just about) each metropolis slicker desires of. Nonetheless, whereas the newest The Sims four growth definitely introduces some much-wanted options, the novelty quickly wore off. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I discovered myself cleansing out my rooster coop but once more, as my grizzled poultry clucked round my toes, questioning whether or not or not I ought to merely let my aged rooster, Kentucky, peck me to loss of life to remedy the boredom.
Cottage of desires
I start my enterprise into Cottage Residing by creating the countryside model of me that I may have been in one other life: a beehive hairdo, cherry-clad gown and a few impractical heels – I imply, who doesn’t need to muck out a livestock shed in stilettos? There are many new outfits and hairstyles to mess around with, starting from cosy sweaters and boots to extra of a “royal household at a polo sport” look. My in-game persona kind deems that I’m a lover of animals and cooking, which is true, and will solely serve me effectively in my new farming life.
The growth provides a brand new neighborhood to your sport, referred to as Henford-on-Bagley, which is quintessentially English. After slyly coming into the motherlode cheat to get my Sim some further simoleons – farms aren’t low cost okay? – I select a charmed, weathered-brick cottage with a thatched roof on the outskirts of the village, with a pre-built coop and animal shed, to maneuver my Sim into. It’s a devoted recreation of the kinds of houses you see within the English countryside: homely, loads of picket kitchen surfaces and hidey holes for nick nacks, and roaring open fires. Instantly, I really feel at dwelling. However there’s work to be accomplished.
The cottage is gorgeous, but it surely may do with a spruce up earlier than I get caught as much as my ankles in cow dung. I unceremoniously bulldoze some flower beds and construct one other animal shed, inserting dry stone partitions and a flower-draped gate round it. There are many different cottage constructing choices, every as stereotypically English as you may think: pebbledash partitions, thatched roofs and so forth. When you’ve at all times dreamed of constructing your good cottage, that is the growth for you.
As soon as the cottage is constructed, the onerous work begins. I purchase some chickens for my coop – a few roosters, hens of various colours, and a chick for good measure – and populate my animal sheds with one cow and one llama (you possibly can solely have one animal per shed, and you may solely decide llamas or cows, although colours range).
Taking care of animals is time-consuming however – at the very least initially – cathartic. Every morning my Sim wakes up, and partakes of their day by day routine of consuming and washing earlier than cleansing the coop and sheds, feeding the animals, and accumulating their produce. Within the case of the chickens, you merely gather the eggs from the coop every morning, with some eggs serving as produce and others hatchable in the event you pop them within the incubator throughout the coop – though you possibly can’t have infinite numbers of chickens. As for the llamas, it’s essential shear their wool, although they tend to be uncooperative in the event you haven’t constructed sufficient of a relationship with them. Cows, not surprisingly, want milking, they usually might also refuse to play ball in the event you haven’t wooed them sufficient.
This all sounds pretty fundamental, and most it’s, however by the point I’ve accomplished the rounds of cleansing, accumulating produce, feeding and socializing with the animals – chickens are very needy creatures – the day is finished. Even dressing my chickens in high hats and waistcoats doesn’t actually make the slog any simpler.
I even have some high-maintenance outsized crops that want tending to, with allotments filled with aubergines, pumpkins and extra. I attempt to befriend the native wildlife – birds, rabbits and foxes – so they are going to assist me keep the farm however by the point I befriended one bunny it had disappeared, and a brand new one appeared that was significantly much less useful. And don’t even get me began on the foxes who, between all these actions, try to steal your chickens, except you befriend them and ask them to cease. I dressed one fox as a burglar in order that I may see when he was coming: my new mortal enemy. And there’s me considering rural dwelling is meant to be stress-free.
To be honest, I jumped into the deep finish. I selected to allow two of the brand new lot challenges, one permitting for wild foxes and the opposite letting me dwell off the land – the latter that means that your fridge doesn’t refill, so it’s a must to both order grocery deliveries or dwell off what your animals produce.
That produce additionally goes a good distance in securing village bragging rights. The primary hub of the neighborhood is Finchwich, a quaint village full with a pub, some outlets in which you’ll be able to solely window-shop, and a few stalls promoting farming items and produce – with one stall sometimes manned by the unbearable Agnes Crumplebottom, who loves nothing greater than to beat you together with her purse in the event you dare partake in any sinful flirting in her neighborhood.
Most significantly, the village has a inexperienced that’s the venue for the weekly Finchwich Honest, the place Sims within the neighborhood deliver their finest produce or animals to compete. The honest has a distinct produce class every week, and I’ve determined that I’ll win all of them: the following class is eggs, and I’m certain to be onto a winner there. The very best-laid plans of mice and males.
I enter a chocolate egg lovingly laid by my beloved rooster Mae, and place it for inspection. After being harassed by one other competitor, who’s fortunate she didn’t get a beef wellington within the face, I completed third. Per week of toil for this… all to do it once more subsequent week. And I did it once more within the following weeks too, submitting blueberry pies, prize cows and strawberry milk, however even once I received it felt like numerous work for little reward.
To alleviate my jadedness I start choosing up errands from the village board, which allow you to full numerous duties for the village’s residents in return for rewards – accumulating orders for the grocery store, or making a cross-stitch for Agnes Crumplebottom, or delivering a field for the mayor. These duties provide you with a purpose to work in the direction of, and aren’t at all times simple, however they too finally start to develop into a chore.
Novelty wears out
With every passing day, the novelty of Henford-on-Bagley and my prized animals begins to put on skinny on me. There’s solely a lot cross-stitching I can do in a pub that serves no pints of beer (an English staple), and solely so many rooster jokes I can inform earlier than I start to really feel I’ve outstayed my welcome.
My chickens start to die, and as they do I really feel a way of aid that I’ve one much less to take care of, one much less rooster to entertain within the morning. I even contemplate letting Kentucky, my eldest, peck me to loss of life for a bit of pleasure (that can really occur – I instructed you, chickens are needy).
General, Cottage Residing doesn’t really feel like a complete new sport, it feels prefer it’s there as a short apart to the bottom sport – complementing the bottom sport is probably going what EA Maxis was going for – however I’d have cherished to have at the very least had a brand new profession to progress by way of, or some further parts to farming that didn’t make it really feel so samey every single day. There is numerous new content material right here, and a few pretty little touches that deliver the countryside side to life – however inside a couple of hours I felt like I’d skilled all there was to supply.
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