Oh hey, it’s another Sims post. My twitter poll wanted me to take a look at The Sims 4’s new game pack, Dine Out, so that’s what we’re here for this fine evening.
Dine Out brings back restaurants to the Sims series, something which hasn’t been a presence in the series since The Sims 2’s Open For Business and Nightlife expansion packs. I recall the Sims 3 having a DLC store set that was supposed to allow players to run their own restaurants, but it was borked on arrival and EA apparently never bothered to patch it into working condition. With the new pack, players can now have their sims patronize resturants run by others or run them themselves, much like Open for Business. And that’s pretty much the whole concept.
Attending restaurants as a customer is somewhat neat and they make a cute venue to send sims on dates. Dining is actually pretty involved, a lot more so than the previous incarnations in The Sims and The Sims 2. Sims can get up from their tables at any time without giving them up until they’ve finished up and paid, allowing them to wander around, have a chat, use the loo and or otherwise do whatever. Food and drink can be ordered separately from menus that are completely customization using any foods currently in the game, even if they come from different packs, which is a neat little touch.
But the real focus in this pack seems to be on running one’s own restaurants. It works in much the same way that the retail feature introduced in Get to Work does, although a little smoother. A nice touch is that restaurants, unlike retail stores, can run on their own when your sims are off the lot doing something else, although not optimally and they can’t be left to their own devices for too long. But its still a good idea, not to mention more realistic to be able to let your entrepreneurial sims leave their businesses for a few hours without the whole place burning down.
And, unlike in Open for Business, running restaurants in this pack isn’t… borderline impossible. In fact, I think, like many things in The Sims 4, the difficulty here might be a bit too balanced in the other direction. Staying on a restaurant lot for twenty-four hours left my manager sim with a lot of downtime. He couldn’t act as the chef, host or waiter but he could help clean tables and come around to check on customers, making sure they’re happy and trying to fix things up if they aren’t. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be enough to occupy a even single sim’s time for very long so, when things are going smoothly, it’s hard to find things to do. Maybe this is meant to compliment the whole “not having to be on the business lot at all times” thing, but either way, my biggest complaint about this pack is probably going to have to be its ease.
The CAS stuff is pretty nice, but not very usable in most situations. Hairstyles are hairstyles but most of the clothing options are, predictably, intended for kitchen and wait staff. There’s a pretty cute vest covered in flair for Office Space fans to make jokes about, but other than that I don’t really have a strong like for any of the items included with this pack. I’ll probably use them, but they’re all just kind of… there, and not really standing out.
Build/buy mode is better. Booths make a return, which I’m extremely happy about. There’s an interesting new set of objects that lets players design their own signs by applying wall decals to a base, which is a really interesting idea and something that I like a lot. I’ve spoken before about how I prefer Sims content that passes creativity into the hands of the players, so I’m glad that Maxis has taken the time to design a relatively small little feature that nonetheless allows me just a little more control over my game.
Oh, they’ve also added in a heat lamp, which looks nice and all and gives nearby sims a moodlet, but otherwise seems just a bit out of place in a game with no weather and whose primary settings consist of a desert and a Louisiana-esque swamp.
And that’s it, really. To summarize, I can see myself getting quite a bit more enjoyment out of this $20 of new Sims 4 content if the low difficulty doesn’t bore me to death first. There are quite a few improvements in this pack from the series’s previous implementation of restaurants and I find running them a lot more entertaining than Get to Work’s retail lots.