After almost a year of speculation and hype, Electronic Arts finally released the new Sims expansion pack Sims 4: Cats and Dogs on Nov. 10.
Pet expansion packs have always been adored by Sims fans, especially during the years of Sims 3 where a huge variety of pets, including reptiles and horses, were available. EA made a unique decision for Sims 4, however, by adding only cats, dogs, raccoons, and foxes.
The three core game features of the new expansion are creating cats and dogs, building unique bonds with your pets, and joining the new veterinarian career branch where you get to run your own clinic.
As far as creating cats and dogs go, EA did an amazing job with the new “Create a Pet” tool. Players can now pick specific breeds of dogs and cats or even create mixed breeds of their choosing. There’s also special paint brushes where players can create unique fur patterns. Have you ever wanted a rainbow dog? A purple zebra-patterned cat? Now you can have all of those.
There are also new personality traits for animals that are far more in-depth than any previous pets expansion before. Dogs can be super vocal and howl with songs sims play on the piano. Cats can be lazy and never want to do anything besides sleep.
Beyond the traits players can pick for their animals, there are also hidden traits each animal can get, which are only discoverable by paying attention to how your pets react to things. My sim’s dog, Magnolia, is obsessed with the fridge. She naps by it, stares at it obsessively whenever she’s in the kitchen, and even barks at it. Sometimes she’ll look at it and a little thought bubble will appear over her head with hearts in it. Does this mean she’s in love with the fridge? I don’t really want to think about it. At the same time, she’s terrified of the oven. As soon as my sim opens the oven to cook something, the poor dog will sprint out of the room. I think this is a really nice touch, because it means that there’s always going to be a surprise with each new animal your sims adopt.
“First and foremost, we wanted the cats and dogs to feel like cats and dogs,” said Grant Rodiek, a Producer with Electronic Arts, in the official Sims blog. “We wanted them to act like animals, ignore social norms, and surprise you. One of the phrases we’d toss around is that they needed to be “Sims for your Sims,” and have that quality to them that is clearly dog-like or cat-like.
“We told stories to each other of our pets and this guided our efforts. Things like how our cats always hide on the fridge to avoid the dog. Or how my dog always sleeps upside down on the sofa, or how your cat is a side sleeper on the floor,” Rodiek said.
As far as building bonds with your pets, I think this is one of the best parts of this expansion. There’s nothing more heart-warming than having my sim come home from a hard day of work at the local hospital just to be lovingly greeted by his puppy. There are so many new interactions with pets that sometimes I feel like the friendship your sims build with animals is more realistic that the friendships they build with other sims.
The final main feature, the veterinarian career, is probably the weakest part of the game in my opinion. In theory, it sounds like a really fun idea. You get to own your own clinic and treat the ailments that bother the poor pets in your town. However, the execution of this is glitchy and, frankly, boring. I found a lot of the diagnosing of pets to be tedious, much like diagnosing sims in the doctor career branch.
So is the expansion pack worth it? At the price of $40, I’d argue yes, but only if you absolutely crave having animals in your game. If the game had more content, or at least ran more smoothly, I’d say that the price would make more sense. As of right now, I think there will be a lot of people waiting for the expansion to go on sale before buying it.
If you are interested in learning more about Sims 4: Cats and Dogs, check out their website here: http://bit.ly/2zg7GHz