The ninth expansion pack for The Sims 4 is here, and it’s all about living that eco-friendly lifestyle. With over 30 packs now available for the game, you may be wondering what is left for the devs to add. Still, even the most sceptical Simmers may be pleasantly surprised by Eco Lifestyle.
Like most expansion packs, Eco Lifestyle includes a hefty selection of new clothing and hairstyles. While these are skewed towards feminine Sims in the hairstyle department, masculine Sims get a respectable range of clothing items, including a rather impressive number of new pants options. New hairstyles are one of my favourite additions in each pack, and this one does not disappoint. There are even some for children, and a few clothing options for both children and toddlers, categories that often feel neglected.
Most of the new clothing looks pretty comfortable, and as always, comes in a range of colour swatches, offering a wide range of choices, from crazy colours to more neutral options. There are also several new eco-themed traits and aspirations for Sims who really want to delve into the new content.
Build and Buy
As we’ve come to expect, this expansion pack features an array of new furniture options, as well as plenty for builders. There’s a range of items to fit the industrial, eco-friendly, and recycling themes of this pack. We can even build container homes now. And let us not forget ladders, added in the recent free patch, with a new variant in this pack. Perfect for those container homes and great for the Tiny Living pack as well.
Fans of green things will be pleased to see an impressive array of new pot plants in this pack, in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There’s also the vertical planter and much more. I look forward to seeing some amazing builds from the community.
In addition to the cool windows, doors and furniture, there are the new gameplay objects as well. These include a recycling machine, fizzing and candle-making stations, and the fabricator. Finally, there’s some new items that can directly affect your eco-footprint and ability to generate your own water and electricity, in the form of solar panels, dew collectors, generators, and more.
A Whole New World
Welcome to Evergreen Harbour, a world at odds with itself. As you can see in this new eco-footprint view, some neighbourhoods have residents who are supporting green initiatives, while other neighbourhoods are actively industry-focused. This view is actually available on all existing worlds as well, but it’s only in Evergreen Harbour that you’ll see significant changes at ground level.
While the setup of all the lots in each neighbourhood seems to affect its eco-footprint , since we can only play with one Sim family at a time, we can use Neighbourhood Action Plans (NAPs) to affect changes across the neighbourhood. From green initiatives to power conservation to promoting the creative arts to ensuring everyone starts drinking fizzy juice, there’s a lot of action plans to choose from, and four can be active at once.
Your Sims will be encouraged to vote weekly for the NAPs that will take effect in the next week. Many of these will affect which skills and actions will earn your Sims more influence points – which they can then spend on voting… as many times as they like. While you can turn off NPC voting in the settings, outgoing Sims can easily sway the voting in their favour by spending lots of influence points. It’s also possible to try convince other Sims to support your chosen cause.
Some of the NAPs have more significant effects. Power conservation actually turns off the power for one day a week. Great for Sims who are producing their own power, more challenging for others! Green initiatives started turning some of the empty or uglier spaces in my neighbourhood into flower gardens. A few led to inspectors visiting my home to ensure my Sims were managing their waste appropriately or using eco-friendly appliances. Unfortunately, they got fined after many of these inspections as it’s not always clear what you’re expected to do. I’m still not sure what constitutes an eco-friendly appliance, though I suspect it’s related to the new eco-rating most items now have.
Another new neighbourhood addition are Community Spaces. The content of these lots can also be voted on with influence points, turning them into a maker space, community garden or marketplace for the next week. Each of these variations has different activities and will attract Sims to enjoy the new facilities, as well as expert NPC Sims who can help your Sims out with fabricating or recycling or other activities.
As with most of the lots in this new world, the pre-built lots leave much to be desired. Fortunately, you can edit community spaces much like other lots, and download better options from the gallery. Either way, the maker space is a great place to build up your skills, while the marketplace offers you somewhere to sell your homemade goods. The community garden was a weird one for me, as you can plant seeds and such, but if the space is changed the following week, you won’t have access to your new plants.
There are two new careers and two new skills in Eco Lifestyle. The civil designer is a full work-from-home career, where your Sim can disappear off to work without you, or complete tasks from home. The career centres around the theme of Eco Lifestyle, allowing your Sim to create plans for new inventions to better the environment, and rally support for various Neighbourhood Action Plans. This career will also reward your Sim with a unique trait once they reach the top.
The other new career is the freelance crafter, which joins the other freelance careers already in the game. You can take commissions for candles, fizzed juices, and fabricated items. Unfortunately, my Sim ended up crafting the same three candles and one kid’s bed for most of his lifetime. There’s a couple of cool rewards but I would have liked to see a bit more variety in the available jobs.
The fabrication station works something like a combination replicator and 3D printer. Sims put in bits and pieces, the new ‘currency’ they get for recycling stuff, and can create a range of furniture items and inventions. The furniture items look pretty cool and if you use dyes while creating them, come in a range of colours. Candle-making, is similar and also uses the fabrication skill. Sims can create moulded candles or even mood-altering ones using wax they buy or harvest from the new soy plants. These candles can be sold or placed in a Sim’s house where’ll they’ll eventually burn down to a lump of wax.
The other new skill is creating fizzy juice, which reminds me of nectar making from The Sims 3. Load up some fruits and vegetables and wait while the machine does its work, and hopefully enjoy a refreshing fizzy drink when it’s done! There’s a few other new features as well, like the return of prank calls, which is a nice touch.
Eco Lifestyle is a pack that builds significantly on the world-altering effects that we first experienced in Island Living. I loved seeing real changes in the world around my Sims’ home as they focused on living greener. Seeing an aurora borealis appear in the night sky in what had originally been a smog-filled neighbourhood was quite something. I did feel it was perhaps a bit too easy to push a smoggy area towards green, especially when I hadn’t done many ‘green’ actions.
Generating your own power and water makes the off-the-grid lifestyle a real option with this pack, opening up more gameplay and story options for Simmers. I mentioned earlier that the pre-build lots were a disappointment, as they have been for the last several packs. Fortunately, these can easily be replaced with builds from the gallery, which is perhaps why less attention is being given to these.
I’ve said before that I appreciate packs that give me more options for my Sims’ day-to-day lives, and Eco Lifestyle offers that in eco-friendly spades. There’s a lot to do with this pack, even if you don’t end up living in the new world. There’s definitely some bugs that need to be ironed out, but I suppose it wouldn’t be a Sims pack without them. If eco-living is a theme that appeals to you, you can’t go wrong with Eco Lifestyle.