Of all the packs the Sims community was hoping for next, judging by the general reactions, I’m fairly certain that a Star Wars pack was not high on many people’s lists. Nevertheless, here we are. Journey to Batuu was certainly a surprise for Star Wars fans and non-fans alike.
This is not the first Star Wars-themed content we’ve had in The Sims 4, with some costumes and baby Yoda making their way into the game over the past six years. However, this is the first paid pack centring around Star Wars content. It also costs a bit more than previous game packs in some countries (including South Africa), though it’s not clear if this is a general price increase or if it’s limited to Journey to Batuu.
At this point, you might be thinking, “I’m a Star Wars fan, but I’ve never heard of Batuu!” As a Star Wars fan myself, I can tell you that neither had I. But I had heard of Vi Moradi, one of the characters featured in this pack. She was the main character in Delilah S. Dawson’s book Phasma (well worth a read if you liked the look of Phasma in the movies but wanted to know more about her), as well as Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire. The latter is a tie-in with the Galaxy’s Edge areas of Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida.
Welcome to Batuu
The Journey to Batuu game pack brings a rather faithful rendition of Galaxy’s Edge to life in The Sims 4. Looking at some photos of the theme park, it’s clear the Sims team worked hard to capture the look of the park. And visually, this pack is impressive. As a fan, I feel Batuu looks ‘Star Warsy’ enough to feel familiar, without trying to recreate a location from the films.
Batuu is a vacation world that your Sims can visit. There are no fees and no normal lots. There aren’t even Simoleans. Your Sims will earn and spend credits while visiting Batuu. Your ‘hotel’ is a rabbit hole where your Sims can sleep and ‘freshen up’. There are three main areas to visit, a central one, a Resistance base in the forest, and a First Order-controlled section of the city. There are several more rabbit holes you can send Sims to, plus the faction bases and the cantina.
These locations have been created in fine detail, with a mix of usable objects that you can use on normal lots in other neighbourhoods, and plenty of ‘set dressing’ to make up the world. Still, it looks really good and I’m sure Simmers will come up with some really cool builds using the new items.
In Create-a-Sim, you can dress your Sim up in a range of Batuu attire. While these items can simply be used for your ‘Batuu outfit’ while visiting, most of the clothing and hairstyles don’t look overtly Star Warsy. I think they could be worn in other neighbourhoods without looking out of place. Of course, you can also unlock stormtrooper outfits and that sort of thing, which would work for a costume party I suppose!
It wouldn’t be a Star Wars game without some aliens, and there are several species available in Journey to Batuu. They’re not true aliens, however. They’re simply human Sims with fancy hats. Granted, the ‘hats’ can change your Sims’ skin colour to match the alien race, but they don’t get any special abilities. I suppose this is pretty accurate for the average alien race in the Star Wars galaxy, but it’s still a little disappointing.
This is where Journey to Batuu falls a bit flat for me. Because there’s nowhere to build or live on Batuu, your Sims are unable to do many of their day to day activities. So all that’s left is to do is interact with rabbit holes and local residents, plus the Batuu missions.
Unfortunately, said missions are not that exciting. You can take on missions for the Resistance, the First Order, and/or the Scoundrels, gaining or losing favour with these factions and unlocking various rewards in the form of outfits and collectibles. Missions generally require you to talk to various Sims, fly a ship, or hack into various control panels. Choices and consequences are shown through various pop up cards. You’ll find yourself going back and forth between the three Batuu areas with brief load screens in between.
The missions themselves are not difficult, but locating the ‘communications tower’ or the correct tiny control panel is a challenge as they are not labelled or highlighted in any way. Even with my pretty good Star Wars knowledge, I was still guessing for some missions. I can only imagine someone who didn’t know anything about Star Wars trying to figure some of these things out. Plus there were a few bugs that prevented me from being able to complete missions (or I was attempting to do them completely wrong… I have no way of knowing!)
Some of the other elements are a bit odd. Sims can attempt to hack into First Order equipment right under the noses of Stormtroopers, and the only consequence is the occasional ID check, or interrogation. Having my own droid is cute, but I was surprised by the lack of colour options (also, no orange to make my own BB-8?) Plus, I managed to build my own lightsaber after two or three introductory missions, and I was immediately proficient with it too. Heck, I even duelled Rey with no problems. So much for it being a dangerous weapon that only those with Force powers can wield safely. Getting Force powers would have been really cool, actually.
Why the Sims team or EA felt it was a good idea to recreate a Star Wars theme park that very few people are likely to get to visit is a bit of mystery. As a big Star Wars fan, I had hoped this pack would draw me in, but it felt like lovely set dressing with rather hollow gameplay.