Parents' Guide to

The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Green-themed expansion encourages ecological thinking.

Game Mac , Windows 2020
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age 11+

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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.

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