So let’s review Island Living.
Island Living is more or less a new take on TS3’s Island Paradise. It involves a brand new, tropically themed residential world, mermaids, boats and ocean swimming. Unlike with IP, however, I don’t quite mind almost all of the expansion content being confined to a single EA world as much because of how worlds work in 4 compared to 3. It’s a lot nicer to pick up and move to a new world when doing that won’t destroy the progress you made in your previous world.
The new world, Sulani, is gorgeous. I think I say this every time, but I do take some comfort in that, devoid of a world creation tool of our own, at least EA’s worlds are rather nicely designed. All three neighborhoods are have a unique feel, my favorite being the remote island at the base of a volcano. Speaking of which, the pack also comes with a couple new lot traits, my favorite being ‘Volcanic Activity’, which causes lava rocks to rain from the sky among other things. I wonder what kind of Hell on Earth I could force my sims to endure by combining that with the Quake Zone trait from City Living…
And, with the last two worlds having been deserts, it’s really nice to finally have another world where I actually get to play with Seasons. It’s still a world that doesn’t see snow, obviously, but it rains and storms often, especially in winter.
And as for gameplay, Island Living has introduced a couple thing I’ve wanted for a long time: the ability to make a livable income by working without necessarily having a ‘career’, and the ability to live ‘off the grid’.
Not everyone in the real world has a career with lots of potential for upwards movement, as has been the standard in The Sims since the beginning. Although the prior statement is presented to us as the ideal, it’s also not the reality for a large number of people and there was no way to simulate the experience of merely having a ‘job’, but not necessarily a ‘career’.
The part-time jobs previously only available to teenagers have now been expanded to adults, and adults can work two at the same time. There’s also a new gig system that let’s sims in need of a little extra take on odd jobs through their phones. Some of these are mere rabbit holes, while others ask your sim to do something like gather a certain number of collectibles within a time limit. I suppose it’s much like TS3’s opportunity system, but with less RNG involved.
Off the grid living something I’ve wanted since the idea was a poll option for the stuff pack that would eventually become Laundry Day. And now we finally have a lot trait for that. It was one of the first things I tried when I loaded up the pack, and I was sadly a little disappointed. The trait works as advertised but had a couple of issues: objects that worked with the trait were hard to find in the catalogue (this has since been addressed in a patch) and that there are seemingly no hygiene-increasing objects that work. You can shower under the waterfalls that are part of the Sulani landscape, but that still renders the trait incredibly hard to use in other worlds. I like the added difficulty the trait adds, having to load up a different lot every time my sim needed to bathe feels like a chore. Perhaps it would work better in an open world like TS3’s.
Anyway, I’ll be waiting on a mod or future update that adds some way of raising hygiene without indoor plumbing before starting an off the grid play-through in proper. I have some family members up in rural Canada who don’t have access to mains water, and they use (and maintain) a well for their plumbing. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Mermaids make a return, but they’re closer in gameplay to aliens than vampires: they have a few unique interactions and a special form but not much else. I suppose this is going to be the norm going forward for life states that don’t get their own packs. Their special powers are quite a bit more useful than that of aliens, however. Their hygiene bar is replaced with a ‘Hydration’ bar, which must be refilled in much the same way, but also drains when using their mermaid powers.
Personal boats and jet skis make a return from Island Living, but without an open world to navigate around, they’re almost without point. Kind of like cars in TS2, but without the novelty.
Overall, I enjoyed my time in Sulani, but this pack definitely goes onto the “buy on sale” pile. It’s fun and introduces some ideas I’ve been wanting to see for a while. But even though they work better in 4 than 3, I’m beginning to get tired of gameplay elements that can only really be used in specific worlds. City Living was fun, but, as time has passed, I only get sadder that all the new apartment gameplay that pack brought with it will never be used in another setting. I almost wish that Sulani had been some kind of ‘hybrid’ vacation world: one that both allowed sims to live there permanently, or in a short-term rental.
I like that the pack focuses on both nature and native Pacific Islander culture, rather than the more tourist-oriented Vacation and Bon Voyage beach worlds. Maybe a future patch or pack will let us buy our families second homes or let us build hotels in residential worlds, but that’s just a pipe dream.