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E3 2014: The Sims 4's Slow Descent Into Madness

Let's get weird.


The Sims 4 is an odd one. With a focus on character quirks and deep psychological eccentricities, the development team at Maxis has embraced the unpredictable side of virtual human management. In fact, the official tagline for the game is "Smarter sims, weirder stories."

All of which explains the state of my notebook after sitting down for a half-hour demo of The Sims 4 here at E3 2014. It's a bizarre, occasionally incoherent series of observations based on a playthrough best described as absurd. So let's do something a little different. Let's see if my notes can capture the sheer oddity of it all. Below you'll find a few quotes pulled straight from my notebook, and a bit of context thrown in for good measure.

art-loving bro who hates children, outgoing foodie who is also insane, etc.

Context: When you create your Sim, you can select an overall life aspiration and then drill down even further by assigning three specific personality traits. These affect how Sims interact with the world around them and how they process their own emotions. To quote the developers, "We're making our Sims 3D...on the inside."

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the man is very angry. he is now doing rage sit-ups

Context: When a Sim enters a particular emotional state, he or she can now trigger emotion-specific actions. So when the exercise-loving male Sim in this demo got into an altercation earlier in the day and let the rage fester inside him to the point of boiling over, it culminated in a very angry workout routine.

the lady is happy. she is hanging with the bros.

Context: The other Sim starring in this demo, a female who also happened to share the bro trait with the aforementioned man, was perfectly happy at the start of the demo. That's because she was enjoying the benefits of the "hanging with the bros" emotional state.

there is a creepy old man playing with small children

Context: The demo started out in a very large park occupied by many Sims engaged in various social activities. One of them was a creepy old man playing with small children.

they go to the gym. is that chuck norris???

Context: The two bro Sims decided that working out in the park wasn't enough. They needed to travel to the gym and do some reps on proper exercise equipment. Naturally, a Sim version of Chuck Norris was there.

chuck norris why are you working out in jeans and cowboy boots

Context: It just seemed like a bad thing to wear while exercising.

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time to party with walker texas ranger and the creepy dude

Context: After working off their anger issues, the two Sims decided to celebrate by throwing a party back at their house. A social event creation menu lets them invite Sims they've recently met, including Chuck Norris and that creepy old man back in the park. Party time!

foundation slider to prevent temporary hobo life

Context: Before the guests came over, the two Sims decided to spruce up their house with a bit of light home renovation. This included a new feature where you can download pre-decorated rooms from an online gallery of player-created rooms, then plop it directly into your house wherever you want. It also included a look at the ability to raise and lower the foundation of a house without having to demolish the whole thing and start over as in previous games.

party going fine

Context: The party was going fine.

craigslist roommate shows up. it's kim jong-un

Context: After the party had been going on for a little while, the two Sims' third roommate showed up. And of course it was the leader of North Korea. According to the developers, he was a Craigslist roommate who neither of the Sims especially liked. Poor guy.

they distract him with cupcakes

Context: The two Sims know that one of Kim Jong-Un's personality traits is how much he loves baking, so they asked him to bake them some cupcakes for the party as a way of hiding him away from the guests. It worked...temporarily.

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Context: Let's just say ol' Kim Jong-Un bungled the job. More specifically, he set the kitchen on fire. A great big blaze of botched cupcakes was enough to send Chuck Norris running out the door like a little baby.

the two bros are laughing. they are literally laughing themselves to death.

Context: Because the two stars of the demo were bros, they weren't worried about the fire--they found the destruction absolutely hysterical. So hysterical, in fact, that they stood there laughing up a storm right up until the moment the fire consumed them.

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