Most people aren’t able to travel right now, but fans of The Sims 4 can go on a virtual vacation to Mount Komorebi for extreme winter sports and relaxing mindfulness. The Sims 4: Snowy Escape is the latest Expansion Pack for the game and introduces players to a new, gorgeous world inspired by Japanese geography and culture.
Players can choose to live or vacation in Mount Komorebi, a vibrant new world sectioned into three distinct neighborhoods: Senbamachi, Yukimatsu, and Wakaba. Senbamachi is the more traditional Japanese mountain village, complete with hiking trails and traditional-style Japanese architecture. Yukimatsu is the mountain where Sims can climb, ski, sled, and snowboard. Wakaba is the newest part of town and has a young, urban Japanese feel to it.
As expected, the Expansion adds new Sims content, including items, activities, and a Sentiments and Lifestyles system to breathe new life into Sims and impact their autonomous behaviors and interactions with one another. The new items are hit-and-miss, and there are fewer Create A Sim items than players may expect from an expansion of this size and price point. The activities give Sims new things to do, offering new venues and opportunities for Sims at various life stages to leave the house, get together with friends or loved ones, and make memories. Unfortunately, the game is riddled with bugs and glitches that may prevent Sims and players from having the exhilarating and relaxing vacation they had hoped to take.
When players first take a vacation to Mount Komorebi, they will need to select a rental property and purchase supplies. If they are traveling with a Toddler, they are likely going to need to make sure they have a Toddler bed, or pet equipment if they bring their furry friends, as players will not have access to Build/Buy mode on a rental lot. In base game, players will be able to change any lot in any Residential world to a rental lot and take a vacation to any of the worlds they own in Sims 4.
Players should choose their lodging carefully. In three separate games and three separate rental lots, Sims experienced a near-deadly fire at the fireplace, a constant need to swim laps in the pool, and a desire but inability to use the computer, even to order supplies like climbing equipment for the mountain. While this is par for the zany Sims course, to have so many lots bugged and Sims unable to move freely or complete tasks safely might be a turn-off to players.
Sims can head to the mountain and try to hit the slopes, but it is more than likely they’ll be sent quickly fleeing back indoors; in three separate games, the first few days of vacation on the mountain were marred by massive blizzards that nearly froze Sims to death. If a Sim was unfortunate enough to get caught outside in the poor weather conditions, players who have Get to Work installed may notice these Sims wake up the following day with a raging illness that further cuts into their enjoyable vacation experience.
During days of bad weather, players can change tracks and take their Sims into either of the other neighborhoods instead, where weather patterns will differ slightly. They can swim in the river of Wakaba or go for a hike to a temple or cave in Senbamachi. They’ll need to be careful, however. No matter what, Sims hiking together will stop and get attacked by a Giant Centipede, Giant Hornets, or other stinging and biting bugs. This appears to break Sims from the rest of the group, which will travel forward without the unfortunate Sim unless they too are attacked by a critter. Trying to meet back up to continue the hike doesn’t appear to work, and players may need to get all their Sims gathered back at the start of the trail again to continue the hike. This will make them vulnerable to another attack, however.
When Sims do finally make it up the mountain, they may find they cannot travel as a group. Despite using the “Ride to the Top With…” interaction, Sims will continuously wander off, either to purchase food from the vending machines, use the bathroom, play games on their phone, or take a selfie with the town mascot Yamachan. It’s more likely they will need to ride and participate separately. The only sport this does not seem to affect is sledding, and having a family or couple hopping into a sled together and flying down a bunny slope is predictably adorable.
Sims will need to build up their skills in Skiing and Snowboarding to be able to tackle more difficult slopes. With time and practice, they will try more difficult moves. The animations as Sims travel down the slopes do change, meaning a Sim might take a different path down the mountain and possibly take a tumble. This variety does make the experience feel more realistic, though there are only so many times a player can watch their Sim slide down a mountain by themselves before it becomes a bore. Players also have no control over the kinds of tricks, if any, a Sim will do.
After a day of fun and excitement, Sims can relax at the traditional Bathhouse hot spring, or they can enjoy a drink at one of the local bars and clubs in Wakaba and Senbamachi. Otherwise, they can return to their lodging and cook a hot pot meal. While the food is cooking, the group will gather and chat together, something that has been notoriously tricky to have happen in other Sims games. This may also lead to Sentiments, and family members, friends, or couples may experience new feelings of closeness and shared memories with each other.
The real star of this Expansion is this Sentiments system, which will be added to the Sims 4 base game in a free patch. This system allows Sims to make memories with one another and experience those memories differently. It will also strengthen the bond between Sims and create a sort of AI empathy, where Sims who are close to one another feel the other’s sadness, joy, or pain. This system is fantastic, and it should be expanded and deepened in future patches. The Lifestyles system is exclusive to Snowy Escape and would have been an excellent addition as well. Unfortunately, despite spending nearly a week in game time traversing Mount Komorebi and forming habits, no Lifestyles appeared to unlock.
The Platform tool in Build mode and many of the Build and Buy items will likely impress, especially for Sims fans who enjoy crafting houses and lots. There are some great new objects and options for creating the perfect home or venue, both in Mount Komorebi and any other neighborhood in the game. Platforms are versatile and modular, adding a new dimension to architecture within the game.
The Sims 4: Snowy Escape could definitely use a few patches before it can be called a real Winter Wonderland. For now, players will need to pack their patience for this vacation, which features some interesting elements but too many hiccups or setbacks to let them shine through the whiteout conditions of its failings.
Next: The Sims 4 Snowy Escape Expansion Pack Preview: Thrill and Chill
The Sims 4: Snowy Escape is available today, November 13 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. A PC code was provided to Screen Rant for review purposes.
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