A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Sims 4: Cottage Living is an expansion pack for The Sims 4, a life simulation game for Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. This is the latest chapter in the Sims franchise. It drops players' fully customizable avatars into an idyllic rural community where they can raise chickens, cows, and llamas, farm a variety of fruits and vegetables, befriend wild animals in the forest, and visit a small town where they can do things like participate in local fairs to show off their hard work. Sims can live off the land by selling their eggs and eating food they've grown, negating the need for a traditional job. That said, there's a clear consumerism element, with parts of the game focused on coveting and buying better and better stuff, from thatched roofs for your cottage to more sheds for your cows and llamas. As usual for this series, Sim behavior is entirely up to the player. They can act safely, responsibly, and socially, or they can get up to dangerous activities and be rude to other Sims around them. Some interactions will result in cartoonish violence, such as an old lady beating an avatar with her purse if you flirt with her, or a chicken killing a Sim it does not like. Parents should also be aware that Sims can have sexual relations (with sex implied but never shown) and that Sims will gather at a quaint local tavern to socialize.
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What's it about?
THE SIMS 4: COTTAGE LIVING is an expansion to The Sims 4, which is required to play. It provides an entirely new residential world -- Henford-on-Bagley -- for players to move to and explore. This particular expansion is focused on country living. After moving into a small cottage, players' Sims will be able to begin living a farm-style life. Sims will plant and tend to multiple garden plots to grow herbs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers, and enter them in the town fair to be judged. They will also care for animals, including llamas, cows, and chickens, all of which they can socialize with to improve their mood and production. Forest animals such as rabbits can be befriended as well, though some -- foxes -- could pose a risk to your farming activities. A pair of new lot challenges -- Wild Foxes and Simple Living -- force players to focus on these new chores by protecting their animals and harvesting everything needed for cooking from their plot of land. Once you head into town, you'll find new and familiar non-player characters in Henford-on-Bagley. They may provide optional activities for players to take up while simultaneously offering a little information about the area. All of these elements are added to existing Sims systems and features, such as embarking on a career, running businesses, socializing with and dating other Sims, and taking up hobbies such as gaming and programming.
Is it any good?
It's nice to play an expansion that focuses less on celebrity, socializing, and consumerism and more on a simple life where you can work the land and be a good environmental steward. The Sims 4: Cottage Living may still work in some consumerism elements -- your little cottage and shed can always be improved, and wouldn't it be nice to have a comfy bed for a better night's sleep after a hard day's work? -- but the goals here, by and large, are to care for plants and animals and then have them care for you in turn with their eggs, milk, fruit, and vegetables. And just like any good farmer, you'll have the chance to show off your hard work to your fellow country dwellers -- especially if you manage to grow some oversized produce worthy of entering in the local fair.
There's real satisfaction in all of this. Hatching eggs and watching the chicks grow into hens, researching and experimenting in the garden to create bigger and better crops, and taking good care of your livestock and having them reciprocate affection -- it makes all the hard work seem worthwhile somehow, much like these activities tend to do in the real world. When an animal leaves or a plant dies because you couldn't look after it properly, there's a sense of guilt and sadness. And if you should happen to tire of your solitary existence in your cottage, there's always plenty of traditional Sims activities to fall back on, from transforming your modest home into a rural mansion to becoming a socialite. You can even combine the country vibe with a more modern lifestyle by, say, becoming a famous gardening blogger. The Sims 4: Cottage Living is a bit more than a standard Sims expansion -- it's an invitation to try an entirely new way of living.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. The Sims 4: Cottage Living, like all Sims gams, just keeps on progressing, day after day, making it tough to know when to switch off. Have you considered using the game's specific goals and challenges as markers to remind you to take a break?
What does sustainable living mean to you? Is it something that can only be done on a farm in the country, or can it be done in urban settings, too?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release date: July 22, 2021
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Cooking and Baking, Friendship, Horses and Farm Animals, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: T for Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Violence
- Last updated: August 6, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.