There's something special about The Sims series. Since I was a child I have (in spurts, every now and then) created my ideal Sims and built their careers, maximised their skills, taught them responsibility, and made new friends along the way. This started many moons ago and playing The Sims was almost always the main reason why I'd stay up until 3 am in the morning, glued to the screen because one Sim was about to get promoted or another Sim was about to have a baby - it was always "just five more minutes".
When I started up The Sims 4 to play the Eco Lifestyle expansion, I hadn't played the game in a few years and while I realised why I stopped playing the game early on during my session (I don't like the confinement of the fourth instalment - if I want to go fishing, I want to be able to walk over to the water and whip out my fishing rod, not take a cutscene trip to Fishingville), I was also delighted by the changes that the expansion has brought to the game.
Eco Lifestyle is one of the more interesting The Sims expansions I've tried across all iterations of the game, and it puts a lot more pressure on the player since the consequences of not trying are visible and directly affect the Sims in town - whichever town one chooses to live in, whether it's the new neighbourhood Evergreen Harbor or a pre-existing one. The expansion brings a lot of fun 'hipster' cosmetics - locally sourced, ethically made, refurbished and upcycled. There's actually a ton of fun hairstyles, outfits, furnishings and build materials included with the expansion but that's not the best bit. You see, Eco Lifestyle brings with it a new mechanic, namely the eco-footprint, and if you don't manage it at least to some degree, you'll quickly turn your environment into a pigsty, or rather, a dump.
Sure enough, you'll find your Sims coughing due to thick smog, your outdoorsy Sims will constantly be uncomfortable if there's too much pollution, and you'll have a harder time getting things to grow, should you want that to happen. However, if you make sure to recycle your trash (don't forget to separate your compostables from your recyclables, people), grow your own food, make your own furniture, and vote for 'go-green' plans that are put up on the neighbourhood Action Plans bulletin board, you'll have a grand time, especially if you're looking to become a master gardener.
I voted for 'go-green initiatives' each time I could but before I started pushing my eco-friendly way of life on other Sims (many of whom disagreed with my plans), I got voted down because it seemed like all of my neighbours, except for the eco-master of the town, voted for stuff like 'get all Sims juiced' - although juice is cool and all, should it be elevated above cleaning up the town?
Here I was, living off the grid in three shipping containers stacked together. For example, I was taking quick showers that would honestly not even get me clean, so as to not deplete my makeshift water solution, which consisted of an umbrella leading to water tanks. I'd also keep cooking at a minimum, so as not to deplete the power provided by my solar panels, and all the while my Sim wouldn't shut up about wanting to play video games (I feel you, Sim, but you're on a mission here). Still, despite my efforts, I had to resort to door-knocking my neighbours to make them realise that the air was essentially unbreathable and that my crops were being killed by their resource consumption and eco-recklessness. Fortunately, my hard work paid off in the end, but I will say, it wasn't an easy task and my goal wasn't achieved quickly. Eco Lifestyle is a true commitment but to me, it also brings exactly what I want to the game. I'd take Eco Lifestyle and its challenges over an exotic island for my Sims to have mimosas on any day.
In fact, the expansion has sent me into a thought spiral of pretty wacky proportions. There's something special about The Sims and, for me at least, it's all about living a dream, having full control and complete independence to achieve your goals, and that's clearer today than when I played as a youngster. Now, as I'm pushing 30, The Sims has almost become a way to wind down after a day of real-life hardships. I want to achieve my goals and I want to have an avenue in which everything is possible, and The Sims is that avenue. If I can help save the world and reset eco-deterioration somewhere, I want to do that, even if it's in a simulation. In the end, going from struggling eco-warrior living off the grid in three dumpsters stacked together to becoming a mansion-owning astronaut was a trip, and I'd take it again anytime.
Loading next content