The Sims 4: Growing Together
By Chad Sapieha,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Expansion pack focuses on kids, their families, and growth.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players are likely to learn a little about what it takes to manage a home, family, and finances, including the time and money required to raise children and have a successful career. They will also see the cause and effect relationship between their communities and the local environment, and see how friendship and romance dynamics work in a general but more or less realistic way.
Adding to the base game, which has wide ranging themes that include life, death, friendship, environmentalism, materialism, and other subjects common in modern human life, this expansion focuses on family and children, examining their diverse traits, how they play and socialize, the relationships they have with friends, parents, and grandparents, and how all of this affects them as they mature into adults.
Positive Role Models
Sims come with a range of behaviors and many do their own thing, but players can control their own Sims, choosing whether they are friendly or rude, helpful or cruel, constructive or critical. They are what players make of them.
Sim characters have an extraordinary range of appearance options. You can create Sims that are male, female, or non-binary, selecting or creating your own pronouns and dressing in masculine, feminine, or androgynous clothing regardless of gender identity. Clothing choices include ethnic garb such as kimonos, saris, and hijabs, and players can fine tune skin tones and facial features to represent any race or ethnicity. Sexual orientation is up to the player, and family units are not limited by gender.
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Ease of Play
Returning players will likely find the new features, which are introduced via tutorials at appropriate times in the game, fairly intuitive. But new players may be a little overwhelmed by the game's deep, multifaceted systems. That said, there are plenty of explainers that players can access from the menu to learn more, and play is fairly forgiving of errors.
Violence & Scariness
Sims can get into scuffles, but the violence is blocked by clouds of dust with fists and faces poking out. They can also be injured in various ways, such as getting burned, and may even die from causes such as starvation, but this is unlikely, with players typically needing to actively neglect or purposefully work towards such grisly ends to see them happen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sims may wear suggestive clothing, including lacy underwear and sexy, revealing outfits, such as swim trunks without tops and low-cut dresses. Sims are naked for showers and baths, but their bodies are hidden behind privacy screens. Social interaction options include flirtation, hugging, and kissing. Romantically inclined Sims can make "woohoo" or "try for a baby," but the act of sex takes place under covers with hearts floating above sheets.
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Products & Purchases
This is an expansion pack, and players must own the base game in order to play. Players are also shown dozens of other expansions and add-ons that they can purchase to enhance the experience. There are also strong themes of materialism running through the game that encourage players to earn more money to buy better homes, clothes, furniture, and gadgets.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
While there are no drugs or alcohol in the game, players can tend bars and improve their mixology abilities, creating strange beverages that can make Sims "dazed."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know The Sims 4: Growing Together is a paid expansion pack for The Sims 4, a life simulation game for Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The base game provides a platform for players to create and control avatars that live familiar lives as they make friends, get jobs, improve their homes, and experiment with hobbies. This expansion adds to the simulation by focusing on families -- specifically, the growth and development of children and their interactions with others. As with most Sims games, it can be surprisingly edifying at times, showing players the stress and struggles as well as the fun and satisfaction of raising children. It also gives players an idea of the roles other people play and the influences they have in kids' lives. Since it's an expansion, everything that applies to the base game applies to this one. Parents should be aware that adult Sims can dress in sexy clothes and make "woohoo" or "try for a baby" under the covers of their bed. They can also be rude or kind to other Sims, get in fights with one another, and even die in a variety of ways, such as starvation. A remarkable level of diversity is represented via Sims' gender identities, sexual orientations, family compositions, and racial and etnicity identifiers. Just be aware that there's also some consumerism here, both in the form of extensive paid add-ons as well as themes of materialism within the game, as Sims often crave the latest gadgets, clothes, and home renovations.
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The Sims 4: Growing Together
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What’s It About?
THE SIMS 4: GROWING TOGETHER adds to the popular life simulator's extensive collection of paid add-ons that cater to players' specific interests by providing extensive upgrades to the way the game handles child Sims. You can start by creating an avatar and buying a home in this DLC's (downloadable content) brand new town of San Sequoia, a laid back coastal village with a trio of neighborhoods, a beautiful park, a quaint movie theater, and lots of amenities designed for kids, including a splash pad, library, and fishing spot. As your Sim gets set up with a career and begins meeting other Sims, you'll encounter some of the expansion's new features and obstacles, from family moving in to bumps along the road in your job. But the biggest additions revolve around social compatibility, kids, and family dynamics. Infants and toddlers will reach various milestones in their development that will make you proud to see them grow, and they'll begin to exhibit natural quirks that you'll need to contend with, from being a little bit gassy to a snuggly sleeper. Returning players will notice several kinds of fresh interactions as family members settle into their roles, with older members tending to spoil and impart life lessons to kids the way grandparents always do, while parents tire themselves dealing with crying fits and dirty diapers. All Sims, regardless of age, will need to contend with new social compatibility features designed to enhance the idea that some people just naturally get along while others don't. The idea here is that no one is beloved by all or loves everyone, and working out ways to coexist is key. It's largely the same game on the surface, but these fresh family dynamics and social polarities are meant to make for a more complex and realistic simulation.
Is It Any Good?
If families and kids are what interest you most about the Sims, this is the expansion pack for you. The Sims 4: Growing Together dives into the details of what family life is all about, centering it on the thing that tends to unify and drive families forward: Kids. Kids have long been a part of the Sims experience, but with this add-on they feel more realistic than ever, developing personality traits and quirks that make them feel like real children. They now have their own dreams and aspirations, such as becoming a playtime captain or creative genius, and their relationships with siblings, parents, and friends are more nuanced. Parents and caregiving Sims need to be mindful of infants' and toddlers' happiness and confidence, walking that fine line that lies between gentle scolding to teach valuable life lessons and being so authoritarian that you stamp out their independence and keep them from reaching their full potential as children and, later, adults. It's a tough job, made all the tougher as your Sims try to juggle career obligations, try to successfully socialize (a task made more challenging by the new social compatibility features), and deal with other family members exerting their own influence. But there's also loads of fun to be had with the little ones as you play with them in new ways as they learn to ride bikes, play in treehouses, get carried around in backpacks, and have slumber parties.
And there's a whole new world to explore, too. San Sequoia is a beautiful little burg, clearly modeled after coastal California towns. Exploring its neighborhoods is apt to make players a little envious of this idyllic setting, which is eco-minded and has loads of ways to enjoy nature, from jogging and playing in the park to socializing and doing puzzles at the local rec center. Even if you've put countless hours into The Sims 4 already, starting afresh in this new town and trying the new family-oriented features feels like a delightful next act in which past mistakes are washed away, giving you a chance to start over. The Sims 4: Growing Together fleshes out the game's family functionality, making EA's popular life simulator feel more authentic -- and more wholesome -- than ever before.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about advertising in games. The Sims 4: Growing Together is just one of several expansions players are encouraged to buy for The Sims 4, so how do you decide whether or not an expansion is worth buying and whether it will meaningfully improve your game experience?
Families come in all shapes, colors, and compositions, so how do you define what your family is and who is a part of it?
- Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Pricing structure: Paid ($39.99)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Release date: March 16, 2023
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Cooking and Baking, Friendship, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Sexual Themes, Crude Humor
- Last updated: March 27, 2023
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