A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle is a paid expansion to The Sims 4 core game on Windows PCs, which is required in order to play. This expansion has a positive green theme, encouraging and rewarding players for making their Sims live ecologically sustainable lives. Players can engage in recycling activities, install green energy production equipment such as solar panels and wind turbines, and vote for neighborhood action plans that alter how their communities look and function. Note that these additions are designed to enhance the existing experience, and that Sims can still engage in all of the social, career, and personal activities found in the base game. That means there's still opportunity for Sims to be romantic and make "woohoo," be socially disrespectful to other Sims, and even get into fights. Negative behavior isn't really encouraged, though, since it can have a detrimental impact on your Sims' lives.
What's it about?
THE SIMS 4: ECO LIFESTYLE is a paid expansion to The Sims 4 (required to play) that gives the game a positive green theme. Players begin by moving to Evergreen Harbor, an ecologically conscientious community filled with Sims interested in improving their neighborhoods in environmentally sustainable ways. It adds several new features to the core Sims 4 experience, such as the ability to recycle old items into new things and tend to community spaces, including gardens and marketplaces. Sims can also vote on and enact neighborhood action plans that can alter the look and feel of neighborhoods, creating benefits such as green spaces that can improve Sims' health and moods. As part of their eco efforts, players can also purchase and install new objects such as wind turbines, solar panels, and dew collectors capable of producing water and power. As usual for Sims expansions, Eco Lifestyle also includes a host of new clothing options, hairstyles, and build mode items, many of which play on the eco theme with a distinctly "upcycled" style.
Is it any good?
This meaty expansion provides plenty of reasons for eco-conscious Sims fans to get excited. The quickest way to get a sense of what The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle is all about is to use a recycler to turn anything in your inventory for which you no longer have use into a new currency called Bits and Pieces. You can then use a fabricator to transform your Bits and Pieces into new customizable stuff, avoiding the environmental impact of buying an object made and shipped from somewhere else that was manufactured with raw resources. You can even go rummaging through dumpsters for junk objects to recycle if you want to take your recycling efforts to the next level. And that's just the start. Living off the grid by producing your own utilities -- water and power -- via green sources is the next step for any eco-friendly Sim. Developer Maxis, always striving for maximum simulation authenticity, also allows players to either store excess power and water or sell it back to the utility company, meaning you could actually begin turning a profit by going green -- something many eco-conscious people do in the real world.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the expansion, though, is the ability to affect change through neighborhood action plans. You can rally Sims to vote for dozens of different community initiatives such as gardening, energy and water conservation, and self-sufficiency, which, when ratified, impact not only your Sims' lives (it can affect their mood and the influence they wield over other Sims) but also how your neighborhood develops and grows, potentially transforming Evergreen Harbor into a truly green and ecologically minded place to live. This new feature, more than any other, could have an influence on players' real lives by clearly illustrating how a little activism can go a long way toward creating meaningful change. The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle is unlikely to convert anyone who has never previously been enamored of Maxis' life simulator -- it still has plenty of pacing and micromanagement issues that will turn off many players -- but franchise fans with an interest in sustainable living are in for a treat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing and materialism. The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle isn't as focused on materialism as other Sims expansions, but players are still encouraged to have their Sims make money used to buy things they may not need, so how do you determine what you need versus what you want?
What does it mean to be green? How can you tell whether you're having a positive, negative, or neutral effect on the environment based on your daily activities?
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