Don't graduate, just mess around. While not exactly good advice, this phrase might well hold a special place in the hearts of those who have attended university. This is because, and we say it with a hint of nostalgia, our years at university - even more so than those in high school - were the most fun and carefree of our lives, divided as they were between regular study and preparing for exams, and parties and nights out with all of our friends. And it's this cheerful, nostalgic feeling that breathes life into The Sims 4. In its newest expansion, we are thrown into the old school halls of a prestigious university as we attempt to forge a new path through life by exploring various ambitious disciplines.
The Sims series is certainly not new to academia-themed content, but Discover University undoubtedly brings fresh ideas to a game that had started to run out of things to do. The latest expansion is also one of the best so far for The Sims 4 as it provides a decisive change to the classic experience with many activities that really motivate you to return to the game.
Let's start with the basics and find out what The Sims 4: Discover University has to offer. First of all, the expansion introduces a new area, called Britechester, in which our avatars can opt to attend one of two prestigious universities. There's the historic one in the city, the University of Britechester, or the more modern one called the Foxbury Institute. Therein, the player has the opportunity to undertake different learning programs (including new paths in engineering, education and law - although it's still possible to cultivate other paths such as communication, fine art, biology and so on) as they begin their life as a university student, with all the pros and cons that come with it.
To start your journey, your Sim must apply to either of the two universities (although there are two more that can only be accessed after having developed some specific skills). Then you must choose at least one mandatory course (you can choose more than one, depending on your economic standing) based on the learning programs of your specific faculty, as well as any additional courses that you choose to attend, all of which are absolutely optional. Each course has its own price tag, which the player can choose to pay immediately when they start their career, or they can take advantage of a loan and pay it back a little at a time. There's also the opportunity to access scholarships to make the student's life a bit easier and to ensure that he/she doesn't lose sight of their goal. Finally, it's possible to decide to live in the dorms at the university or to continue living at home (the latter option is completely free).
In our first run, we overdid it and we paid a heavy price for that. Naively, we decided to enrol on three university courses plus one optional course, as we tried to kickstart our career in engineering. Since we started from scratch, we didn't have a family that could support us in our university activities, and so we decided to pursue a freelance career in addition to our educational pursuits. It's too bad that coordinating work and study soon turned out to be a disaster. In fact, to get good grades, it's not enough to attend mandatory lessons; you also have to study, write essays and attend lectures so that your performance is positively affected. However, by trying to juggle freelance jobs with our work at uni, we soon lost control of our main priorities and, due to our bad grades, we were suspended. Harsh. When that happens, apart from negatively influencing the mood of our Sim, we need to wait about a week before applying again. Now that we had learned our lesson, we became a model student, balancing study and work, while also putting time aside to have fun (another important factor in uni life).
Attending university is not just about work and study, and there are late-night parties and busy social lives filled with activities and get-togethers. This is fundamental in terms of building new relationships with the other Sims around the university, with whom you can enjoy a nice bike ride, play some football, and maybe you'll even find your soulmate. Discover University comes to life thanks to the multiple activities that our Sims can get involved with.
Alongside the features introduced with this expansion - which include new outfits and university-themed items, starting with the amazing vintage bicycle that you can ride around campus - there's another new addition to the Create a Sim mode. Players can choose between the classic Create a Sim mode or they can start a more personal story, which the player creates by answering questions about the kind of life they want for their Sim. Based on your answers, the game will give you traits, skills, careers and aspirations. It's a feature that undoubtedly adds depth to the experience, as it lets you create a unique Sim based on what you want for them. That said, if you don't like the story that gets made, you can always start over.
The Sims 4: Discover University is, alongside Get Famous, the best expansion released in the last five years of the game's existence. Despite some choices that we find a little frustrating compared to previous chapter The Sims 3 (such as the inability to walk freely around the game map, as well as the fact that we can't follow our Sim during certain activities, for example, during the lessons), this a very good addition to an already rich and well-rounded offering. And so, if you would like to relive some of the most carefree years of your life, we recommend you Discover University - we think you'll be surprised by some of the memories it brings back.
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