For every round of Sims action, EA release a similar selection of expansions. We’ve already been given chances for our Sims to visit foreign lands and go on dates, so here comes’ the customary Pets expansion… surprise surprise.
As a long-time Simmer, I never really enjoyed the Pets expansions, purely because I always felt that they only served as a distraction from the core gameplay and never really added any extra level to the games. I know that many loved the addition of furry critters but they just felt so lifeless compared to my actual Sims. However, this latest iteration is much better than I expected.
So what does it add? As usual, you have the option of adding Cats and Dogs to your families in a variety of breeds and sizes, but new to the series are Horses. The amount of customisation options available is staggering, though somewhat un-natural. However, I could never criticise the ability to make a Cat into a Tiger or a Dog into a Demon Hound, and it does allow that extra bit of visual personality to be spray-painted onto critters.
The pet’s themselves can now be directly controlled by the player, which dramatically increases the level of connection with the animals. Whereas in earlier games they felt like lifeless NPCs ruled over by your Sims, this time they actually feel alive. The amount of interactions available is generally expansive for all three races, though I reckon they could have expanded on the inter-animal relationships more. The only real issue I’ve found with the pets are many pathing problems. It’s a bit bewildering that my dog can stand right next to his bone, yet be unable to reach it for some inexplicable reason. Hopefully this will be fixed in a patch, alongside the almost game-breaking glitch in the Hunting skill.
The hunting skill is very useful in helping your Sims to find love, collectables and minor pets whilst allowing Cats and Dogs to explore the town. However, currently it is very buggy. For hours my Sim attempted to train my collie to hunt to no avail. The bar just didn’t fill! Luckily, a third party Mod (Overwatch) has been updated to fix the issue, but realistically, EA should have found the problem before release. It seems to stem from an issue with a piece of premium store content; the Spellbook, but frankly EA should test alongside all DLC to avoid these issues. Although generally the bugs in the game don’t affect enjoyment much, after so many it starts to get tiresome.
Horses are a fresh addition, bringing with them a new career path; Racing! However, this new path is let down by the simple fact that you don’t actually see the horse you’ve bred and trained specifically for racing actually race. Instead your steed and Sim enter the new “Equestrian Centre” rabbit-hole and you control your horse via a leaderboard and options such as “go for broke”. However, often it feels like you have absolutely no control over the outcome of the race, so the whole exercise can feel a bit redundant. It is fun to just ride your horse around town though.
Alongside the three Major pets are a variety of cute and cuddly minor pets including various birds, marsupials, lizards and snakes. The minor pets function similar to butterflies and fish from earlier expansions, with species of varying rarity available in the wild. For me, the large birds are the highlight of the entire expansion. Having a Macaw flapping around your house is brilliant enough, but being able to put it on your shoulder and walk around is a stroke of genius!
The expansion also includes a limited number of new lifetime rewards, goals and traits for your Sims, but obviously they are all pets related, as are most of the new items. There is also a new autumn ranch-themed world complete with clothes to match, which is a nice addition that contextualises the horses a bit.
Overall this is the best, most complete pet’s package for a Sims game yet. The experiences available are varied and really add extra depth to your Sims families. Although the game suffers with a variety of bugs, hopefully they will be fixed in the next patch. Even if you didn’t enjoy previous Pets expansions, give this a go, for it is a different experience completely, although I’m not sure if having pets will continue into my long-term game. It isn’t a perfect expansion, but it is definitely one of the best Sims expansions to date.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.