On gamescom, in accordance with Twitter announcements, we saw a trailer showing a new expansion for The Sims 4 Star Wars: Journey to Batuu. Stormtroopers speaking in simlish is the highlight of that day. But what else do we have here? This question is best answered by EA itself.
In a galaxy far, far away, deep into the Outer Rim, the world of Batuu spins under its three suns, host to both the brave Resistance and nefarious First Order, with roguish scoundrels taking advantage of the chaos. How things unfold, though, is up to your Sims.
The tension between the factions on Batuu is evident. Stormtroopers patrol the streets, searching for evidence of the hidden Resistance, and rebels carry out secret plans from their mysterious bunker. Even the smugglers operate a lucrative business, staying neutral to take advantage of both the Resistance and the First Order. So, which will your Sim join?
As your Sims reputation grows, it also affects the way locals react to them. A Sim highly regarded by the First Order will find it difficult to chat with Resistance supporters. Climbing the chain of command by completing missions also begins to introduce new faction contacts. Depending on the choice your Sim makes, they might encounter Vi Moradi running a mission, Rey practicing with her lightsaber, Kylo Ren losing his temper, or Hondo Ohnaka cheating at a game of sabacc.
If you haven't seen this trailer yet, it's really worth it:
Impact on the world? Get used to it
- Well, Star Wars!
- The Sims are likely going to be a poster boy, and we will bear the price.
- Moderately neutral content.
- Limitations of earlier add-ons.
- Possibly a short lifespan.
- Increasingly: EA's approach to the community.
The developers promise more influence on the plot and the world via important choices sure, not everyone is playing The Sims for the narrative experience, but I'm still quite happy about it! EA clearly liked this new, more engaging format a world to influence, correct and fix in Island Living, Eco Lifestyle or the story-driven StrangerVille.
It's also clear that the creators would like us to pay more attention to the stories, not just dressing, building, furniture and maxing out skills. The emotional bond with the created character, the house we've built, or the neighborhood we've will keep us playing for longer. After all, The Sims is a game for us we have to feel good in the game world to be ourselves and realize everything we want!
When a website called DOTsim informed about the leak of an icon for the new pack in early August, not many people seemed (simed, hehe) to notice. The community wasn't particularly stirred either maybe only slightly agitated. Because, actually, is there anything to get excited about? EA, in announcing their new reality show Spark'd, showed the world a screen with The Sims 4 launch screen, owned by someone from the company and featuring a symbol of the new, to-be-announced expansion. This could have been just about anything.
Literally. Everything. A few hours later, the Internet concluded the flat logo must be related to the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge theme park, inspired by... the planet Batuu with three moons, of course. Everything fits. And everyone kind of accepted it; with a hint of doubt, but still. Are we happy now, after seeing Journey to Batuupresented at gamescom? Hard to say. What we do know is that a portion of the community has already made their minds up almost a month ago as to whether they like the expansion or not. I, for one, have mixed feelings.
When the name The Sims came out of the mouth Geoff Keighley and The X-wing flew on to the screen, everything was already certain and it looked as exciting as never so much new stuff, so many possibilities! Lightsabers, accurate representation of the world and characters, and the beloved R2D2! As usual when seeing the first trailer, I was sure: it would be the best addition of them all! But then: reality check.
Me and EA are both in crisis right now, okay?
For the longest time, I used to accept everything Maxis did without any skepticism. Ever since that ended, and my, slightly unhealthy, relationship with The Sims was exposed, I've been trying to understand what's it all about. Do I even approve of this business model? Is it good or bad? Is it harmful or is it innocent? Does a few good products justify the price of this game-service as a whole? The answer to that question may be obvious to you, but it's not quite for me my relationship with The Sims goes further back than most of my friendships.
There's a lot going on in the simulator field these days, and the attitude of the community seems pretty clear.
And the community wants realism they want representation, the ability to recreate their dreams in the alternate reality of the game. The community wants more skin tones, more natural and realistic babies, an open school, a farm. Any paranormal additives, and anything else non-conforming to this trend is at the very bottom of the pyramid of needs of the most experienced simmers.
ALL RIGHT, BUT WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE COMMUNITY?
In terms of attracting new people (e.g. the huge Star Wars fanbase) to the franchise, I'm sure this thing will work, at least to some extent. However, this is a double-edged sword. Fans of both the game and SW will buy the expansion anyway. Fans of SW may buy this expansion, but this likely be the only one they purchase. The fanatics of the game, on the other hand, have many reasons not to buy this DLC primarily because they feel disregarded. How will this end for EA? We'll wait and see. I bet all my donuts that this expansion will not change a thing for them. There will be no image crisis nor a boycott by fans. There will be, however, an increase of the publisher's revenue if not from sales, then from Disney.
How do developers address these needs? Well, it seems we're getting an expansion that's quite revolutionary in terms of form, looks great, and will provide at least three branches of the plot, more content, characters, skills, stories, and inventory.
But what about any more realism? Is it going to be a pack worth returning to? Will new outfits and furniture go well with other accessories? Will the plot be more ambitious than in Jungle Adventure, where all the highlights of the title "adventure" were reduced to a box of text and a choice between three scenarios? Will I be able to fly the Millenium Falcon? Or will it work like the brooms in Realm of Magic?
Let's face it, the generally enthusiastic reaction to seeing Baby Yoda, or the stellar-themed outfits for the sims (which I used only once), aren't necessarily reason enough to pay for the expansion.
Reality is brutal
Star Wars had a strong presence at this years' gamescom. And that shouldn't surprise anyone SW is a brand that can sell anything with its logo, including a new, not-necessarily-expected expansion for a life simulator. But I can't help feeling that it was EA who sold the advertising space in The Sims to Disney.
Journey to Batuu looks like an expansion made primarily for profit, not the players. It's content promoting a completely different franchise, taking advantage of the huge community (30 million!) for corporate interests. And hence, the purpose of that content is not to keep players entertained for the months to come I feel that after trying it out just once, we won't be coming back to it it's just not neutral enough.
But of course, I could be wrong, as the band Public Image Limited sang. I wish I was wrong. The expansion promises to be great on its own terms. I will definitely play it if it's not disappointing, I will totally take every word back. Let's all hope that Disney paid enough to create an expansion that breaks the limitations of earlier DLCs with an engaging storyline, hallmark humor and content that dispels any and all moral concerns.
Or at least introduce some interesting new death electrocution by a droid? Anything!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm quite critical of The Sims, but I'll buy the DLC anyway. If The Sims 5 is ever released (and it won't be anytime soon, I guess) I'll pay, too. That's the way it is with long-term relationships. You don't break up, but rather try to understand, come to terms with certain things and together try to improve. I can't change The Sims. I can't really change for them. But I believe it will get better in the end. "Love is patient."
Last update: 2020-09-03
Julia Dragovic | Gamepressure.com