Review – The Sims 4: Parenthood

PC (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, Mac

 

Developer: Maxis

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Genre: Simulation

Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Rating: Teen

Price: $39.99

The Sims 4: Parenthood is the 5th game pack for The Sims 4. It adds gameplay and depth to familial relationships, allowing parents to discipline and develop their children. Kids are now so much more than little Sims you watch grow up, instead becoming either tantrum-throwing messes or loved and overpowered angels.

The pop-up when you install Parenthood highlights some of the new content.

Content Guide

  • Sexual Content: The Sims has sex called “woohoo” in it. You never see anything, only some making out and hearts floating around, but it’s suggested. Cats & Dogs adds pet woohoo (puppies and kitties come from somewhere) but there’s nothing explicit involved. Just some hearts floating around and the pets howling or meowing as one.
  • Parenthood forces parents to be more engaged with their kids, dealing with mood swings, class projects, and squabbling siblings.

Review

With almost 400 hours sunk into The Sims series, I’ve yet to go a single playthrough without creating and growing a family. Families, like in real life, are one of the core elements of the Sims games which makes a game pack like Parenthood seem like a given. If you raise kids in The Sims 4, then Parenthood has something on offer for you.

Similar to the Generations expansion pack of The Sims 3, Parenthood fleshes out the parent to child relationship, giving each phase of pre-adulthood new content. No longer are toddlers, children, and teenagers simply mini-Sims with less abilities- now everything that you do (or don’t) during their childhood matters. Parenthood and childhood are more important than ever before, leaving both the parent and child with lifelong benefits- or scars. 

You can start parenting as young as toddlers by teaching kids to say please and thank you, forgive others, or say they’re sorry.

The biggest parts of this pack are the new characteristics for kids and the parenting skill for adults. Kids, starting as toddlers, now have character trait bars in their personality tab. The new traits on offer are: conflict resolution, empathy, responsibility, manners, and emotional control. Depending on how you parent, a kid can have all, some, or none of these bonuses in their adult lives. And if you royally mess it up, they can even get the negative versions of these traits.

These new character trait bars make almost every interaction meaningful. Their toddler tantrums hurt their emotional control, doing their homework raises their responsibility, making a mess damages their manners, and solving the issues of their friends helps their conflict resolution- and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you work the system, buy the perfect toys, run through all the flashcards, and discipline their every behavior- you can truly parent the perfect, overpowered child. But, if you let them run wild (or just stop by the local park), you can watch as their trait bars go all over the place. 

Parents can be as engaged or distant as they want, helping with things like school projects or not caring at all.

Successfully getting in range for these traits is quite a challenge though- which is helpful when trying to avoid the negative, but a little tedious when trying to get the positive. These traits do help your kids Sims in adult life though, making them more socially gifted, emotionally controlled, relationally skilled, and high performing at work. But here in lies part of the struggle of Parenthood- it can be a lot of work, just like real parenting. Never before has having fewer children and a stay-at-home parent made as much sense in the Sims 4- and honestly, it gets borderline overwhelming if you’re trying to crank out an army of prodigies.

But this really does add more nuance to families and parenting in The Sims 4 which didn’t exist before. The pros and cons of big families with chaos, messy floors, and occasionally calm family dinners are a lot more real now, as well as having only one kid who’s a little anti-social but gets all the attention. 

New activities like writing in a diary, setting the table, and volunteering help increase a child’s character traits.

And the new flavors of families don’t stop there as you can now pick your parenting style. You can be calm, firm, and strict in your discipline tactics- learning more ways to get the kids to chill as you master the parenting skill. Even beyond discipline, there’s bunches of new interactions between adults and children that allows you to be their best friend or their worst enemy. All this really allows for a lot more character and depth to families as both kids and parents have their own dynamics and personalities.

However, I will say that some of this pack is inaccessible unless you’re a little heartless or you’re set on raising the black sheep of the family. Despite a few messes, tantrums, and mood swings- I found my kids (and I’ve had many) really weren’t that misbehaved. I’ve never had to ground, punish, or really scold anybody beyond a “Hey, don’t play in the toilet, that’s gross”.

You can totally raise a complete rebel that gets in trouble hourly- but that just doesn’t happen naturally. I also found that even though my sims could have somewhat different parenting styles, most sims weren’t naturally super strict or harsh. So if you really want to be a terrible parent or child, go for it, but it’s up to you to make them that way. 

You can buy toys like the Doctor set to help children become more empathetic.

Sims 4: Parenthood is a game pack that adds alot without actually adding that much. With only a few new additions to gameplay, like reward traits and the parenting skill, families in The Sims 4 become far more interesting and engaging.

Every stage of life matters in some way and, unlike those stupid childhood skills that mean nothing (still touchy about it), the character traits let parents have a lifelong impression on their kids. It also makes each life phase distinctive, instead of just a waiting game until they finally grow up and get a job, date, and maybe have kids of their own. All the added possibilities and benefits of raising a family also make multi-generational playthroughs far more engaging, encouraging you to follow your kids as they become parents and so on.

Teens, kids, and toddlers now have unique interactions that can be praised and disciplined.

I highly recommend this game pack if you often play with or invest in families in The Sims 4. Even if you never raise the perfect child, it still adds to the whole experience of parenting, kids, and family life in meaningful, natural ways. It adds much-needed variety to a previously cut and dry part of the Simming experience. If family life isn’t your style, it may not be your cup of tea, but I’d still argue that it’s a good pack to get during the next Sims 4 sale just to add some more interest to your Sims’ lives.

The Bottom Line

 

If you raise families in The Sims 4, then Parenthood is a must-have.

 

9.0

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Sydney Stoddard

In love with people, words, and justice, Sydney Stoddard is a jack-of-all-trades writer out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Sydney is an English major at UNLV, studying literature, writing, and storytelling. In her spare time, you can find her meeting friends, writing about anything and everything, managing websites and advocating for anti-trafficking organizations. You can check out more of her writing at: http://sydneystoddard.com

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