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Sims 4: Island Living Review: Dive Into The Most Detailed Expansion To Date

Island Living is the seventh expansion for The Sims 4, and it may be the most in-depth we’ve seen to date. It allows your sims to not just visit a tropical paradise, but to live there as well. This expansion offers new careers, lot traits, social interactions, and a huge variety of new ways to play. It even adds a new life state: mermaids. Island Living will take you to the beautiful island of Sulani and allow you to truly immerse yourself in a completely new way of life.

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The first thing to be said is that this review won’t do the pack justice. There’s so much more to discover and explore than time has allowed thus far, it feels like I have only just scratched the surface! With that said, I’ve been playing solidly for a few days, and the planning, design, and execution of this pack is beyond anything Sims fans have seen before in the history of the franchise.

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Settling Into The Neighborhood

When you move to Sulani, you’ll notice that there are a few starter home lots to choose from, one in each neighborhood. Each area has its own quirks and features.

Mua Pel’Am is the natural island. This is the area which conservationists are working to restore. It includes some off-the-grid lots, an active volcano, and plenty of secrets.

Ohan’Ali Town is the hub of the island. It has a beach, bar, and a huge festival square. This area is often busy with plenty of people to talk to and pop-up events taking place across the area.

Lani St. Taz is a mix of the other two areas. It has more waterfront lots than the town and is also slightly less crowded. This area offers a great place to get close to the ocean.

Building Your Dream Island Home

The build-buy catalog for Island Living is a fantastic example of quality over quantity. While objects aren’t as numerous as the last two expansions, they are far more useful and each one is beautifully designed.

The only issue is that the new kitchen counters do not have a matching island or wall cabinets, although there are some new wall shelves that do match.

The island vibe and Polynesian influences are evident in all of the new items. They also include some things we don’t get often such as a wedding arch, roof textures, and roof trim.

Builders may also be interested in the new lot traits, volcanic activity (location dependent), island spirits, and off-the-grid.

The off-the-grid trait disconnects your lot from electricity and water. You can check build-buy descriptions to find out which limited items will work. One gripe with this is that it feels like some of the items are mislabeled, for example, some candle-based ceiling lights don’t work. However, this is the type of issue that could be patched, so it's not too worrisome.

Overall the new items will help you create a colorful home with real island vibes. You can even filter by style and use the island category to find other complementary objects.

Dressing For The Occasion

The new Create-a-Sim items are heavily focused on warm weather. They include several new swimming options and light dresses, t-shirts, and shorts.

Alongside light summer dresses, players can also find a range of colorful tropical shirts and a few new hairstyles.

Again, the focus here is on quality, with items perfectly complimenting the tropical feel of the pack. As always, toddlers don’t have too many new things, but they do have floaties, which are adorable.  All ages benefit from a reasonable range of warm weather options.

Then there are mermaids. Players can truly customize their new mermaid with a good range of tops, tails, and customization options. The level of detail is comparable to vampires, with the two-form system being utilized in the same way. Mermaids also have a few quirks around conches and some special commands, which they can do while in the ocean.

Getting Involved In Island Life

When you first move to the island, the most overwhelming thing is the sheer number of new things to do. There is a new active career, entirely new ways to earn a living, frequent events to get involved in, and a friendly neighborhood vibe we’ve never seen before.

The new careers alone offer enough to keep Sims busy for a long time. Not only can adults now take on part-time jobs, but there are also more of them. Some part-time jobs even allow you to choose your shifts, so you could take two at once.

Alongside these are odd jobs, which are one-off job events. Any odd jobs with an ASAP deadline are rabbit hole tasks, while those with a date will require Sims to do the allocated task before the deadline.

There is also a new career, conservationist. This is the best route into making permanent changes to the island. While you can improve your environment just by collecting trash, the conservationist career offers extra options which will have a much more drastic effect.

Alongside new careers or odd jobs are plenty of other things to get involved in. The island has pop-up events taking place almost every day. Just look for the brightly colored balloons. These social events range from art festivals in the town square to informal beach gatherings.

If players want to bring the party to them, they can throw a Kava Party. Not only will guests come over, but they’ll bring half the island with them. Sulani residents never pass up a party, and players will find visitors, in general, are more frequent.

For those who prefer life to be more solitary, sailing, exploring on an aqua zip, swimming, diving, and snorkeling, as well as building sand sculptures or simply sunbathing on the beach or deck are great options. Sims can even make friends with dolphins.

Is It Worth It?

Sulani has enough going on that you’ll still be finding things to do for days, if not weeks and months to come.

This expansion is, without a doubt, the most well thought out, beautiful, and in-depth Sims content I have ever played. It adds a few nice touches to the wider world, including sunbathing, pool loungers, and new job options. However, it is when you move Sims to the island that you truly see the heart of the pack.

The gameplay is rich and detailed, adding new skills, quirks, and social interactions. These little touches are numerous and something which we’ve not really seen on this level before. Every single one helps the game feel more varied and immersive than ever before.

5 out of 5 Stars

A review copy of the game was provided to TheGamer. Sims 4: Island Living is now available for PC and Mac. It will be released for PS4 and Xbox One on July 16th.

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