At long last, after 3 years since The Sims 4 has released, the most awaited expansion pack is finally here. I mean, what could make one of the best life simulation video game series, The Sims, more realistic and interesting? Pets of course. It’s been a long wait, so let’s see if this new expansion, developed by Maxis and The Sims Studio and published by Electronic Arts, is worth it.
Platform Reviewed: PC
Platforms Available: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 10, 2017
This review is based on a review code provided by Electronic Arts.
The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs is the 4th expansion pack for The Sims 4 released on November 10, 2017 for PC. The thing with new installments is that it will always be compared to its predecessors. I could say that it’s an enhanced version with the current The Sims 4 graphics, but a lot of its gameplay elements are from The Sims 2: Pets, The Sims 3: Pets, and The Sims Unleashed. It has more to offer than The Sims 2: Pets, but not as weird and overwhelming as The Sims 3: Pets. And based on its title, you’d know that you’re not getting horses, gerbils, nor unicorns this time. Nope.
So you will be getting 2 new life states aside from your human Sims: cats and dogs. Unlike The Sims 3: Pets, your cats and/or dogs are non-playable characters. You cannot control your pets, but you can interact with them, give them orders, and train them. It’s not an original concept but I like it better this way, it’s more realistic. You will know how the pets in your household are feeling because like your Sims, they also have the Needs meter, the coloring of the Needs icon changes when a pet’s needs near low, or if they are sick. You also have the interaction option to ask your pets “what’s wrong?” and they can give you clues and cues as to what they want or need if you’re not too busy neglecting them.
The Create-a-Sim tool have been redesigned to allow the addition of pets when creating or editing game content. It now has a new button for Create-a-Pet, you will have tools and options to customize your Sims’ pets. Each pet takes up one slot in the household, so if you have one Sim, that’s a maximum of 7 pets. It would have been better if there were separate slots for the pets since they’re non-playable anyway, it would really be fun to play with a big household, an extended family (mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, a baby, kids, a teenager, and a young adult) with lots of pets too.
When I played the game, there’s more or less 49 cat breeds and 120 dog breeds available to choose from. The best part is that you can also make mixed breeds and name that breed (make a hybrid of a bulldog and shih tzu and call it bullsh*t). Pets, like human Sims also have age ranges or life stages, young (kitten/puppy), adult or elder. You can also further customize the look of your furry companion. Similar to our options in making Sims look how we’d want, pets can be thin or fat, muscular or lean, and you can also dress them up. You’d love how user friendly the Paint tool is. Aside from the set breed patterns, with the paint tool, you can change the base color of the animal coat, add spots or patterns. You can even recreate something like Quimera, the gorgeous cat from Argentina whose unusual features are taking the internet by storm because you have an option to customize the color for each eyeball. Cats with 2 different-colored eyes have a condition called heterochromia. It’s not rare but uncommon, and having it in this expansion pack, well, that’s realistic.
Since every pet is unique, you can select traits for your dog or cat which will influence their behavior. For cats you have: affectionate, aloof, clever, curious, free spirit, friendly, frisky, glutton, lazy, mischievous, playful, prowler, skittish, smart, talkative, and territorial. For dogs you have: active, adventurous, couch potato, friendly, glutton, hairy, hunter, independent, jumpy, loyal, playful, sleuth, smart, stubborn, troublemaker, and vocal. There are also new traits added for your Sims: Cat Lover and Dog Lover. There is pretty much a good balance between the negative and positive traits, but some are redundant, since you’re only able to select 3. And of course there are some traits that will cancel each other out, you can’t have pets with multiple personality disorders or bipolar ones. Randomization is also available if you don’t want to put much effort into thinking and customizing which makes it convenient.
You can also set the relationship of your pets in the Create-a-Pet mode. You can already pre-create their genealogy and make offsprings, or you can make them reproduce in-game, given that you haven’t taken them to the vet to have them neutered, or if you haven’t reached the maximum number of pets and people in your household. What I don’t like about the Create-a-Pet mode are how few choices are for the accessories and clothes for your adult pets, and how they are NOT available for kittens and puppies. I’d have to wait for them to grow up to swag them up.
The expansion has preserved the gameplay, like most of the series, it does not have a defined final goal and is non-linear. I have multiple saves and every day turns out differently for each. I love how Sims 4 took the most realistic approach on this expansion. For instance, Sims may train their pets to do various tricks, and pets can be scolded or praised if there are certain behaviors that you don’t want them to repeat like scratching furniture or untimely waking you up in the middle of the night. Certain tricks are locked depending on the skill level your Sims have to let their pets perform tricks. Sim and pet relationships are also of the essence. It’s easy to get a pet, but keeping them happy and maintaining the relationship therein lies the rub especially if you’re struggling to find the balance between them and your time with other things – career, business and romance. In Sims 4, emotional state plays a huge role in gameplay, every action has effects on social interaction, so you just can’t get rid of pets as easily as you want to. You can sell them or put them up for adoption, but be ready for the negative moodlets that will result from that.
The new expansion also features a new world called Brindleton Bay. It’s a very beautiful addition to the existing ones, featuring a scenic beachfront and bay area where you can chase birds for a mini game. A lot of new items have been added in the Buy Mode, and Build Mode tools have been redesigned allowing more versatility and customizability for the Cats & Dogs theme. They even added a doggie door for your pets. And there’s one curious object, a mouse hole that you can put on the wall (makes me think of Tom & Jerry), and I wonder if there are actual mice ‘coz I’ve never seen one in-game yet. What I find ironic in the Buy Mode though is that there are more new Sim beds than pet beds. There are only 2 pet beds actually (more like rugs where pets can sleep on), a big square one and a small round one, and if not for their color/design varieties, it’s second to none. There are also fewer items for dogs than cats, and I think it’s to compensate the fact that there are more dog breeds than cats. I was also disappointed that there’s still no dog house that you can put outside even for aesthetic purposes.
The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs wouldn’t be complete without a new career and business opportunity. The game now includes skills for a Veterinarian, and to put that into practice, you can buy your own Vet clinic, customize, expand, and manage it the way you like. Just like other businesses, you can hire employees or manage it on your own, buy perks, advertise to attract customers, and gain stars or rating from customer reviews. There are several items available for your veterinary clinic. There’s a tutorial that you can read if you need assistance, but everything is pretty much straightforward, and self-explanatory. My only frustration in this aspect is that I never figured out how to place items in the vendo machine.
Overall, I can say that this expansion pack was passionately crafted and thought of. Another job well-done for the devs and creator of this game. Although I am hoping for more new items for the pets in the future patches and updates, there’s no doubt on the incredible amount of personalization for the existing game. The new expansion brings about a lot of new challenges and limitless future discoveries for players. You just can’t get enough of these adorable cats and dogs. With the expansion pack’s replay value and price of $49.90, it deserves a solid 9/10.
This review is made possible by MSI Gaming’s MSI GTX 1050 Ti GAMING X 4GB.