The Sims 4: Island Living Review — A Pleasant Tropical Getaway
The Sims 4: Island Living is a solid tropical expansion for both newcomers and avid fans of the Sims series.
The Sims 4 has come a long way since its initial release back in 2014. The latest expansion titled Island Living is no exception. Since its reveal at EA Play earlier this month, many dedicated Sims fans like myself have been excited for the chance to frolic in the now open ocean, try out a new career, play with dolphins, and even get a chance to live out childhood dreams of being a mermaid. Island Living adds the new neighborhood of the beautiful island of Sulani, but most of the expansion’s perks are limited to the island itself in contrast to other Sims expansions like Seasons.
In The Sims 4: Island Living, your Sims can visit or move to the paradise that is Sulani which is divided up into three sections from the beautiful beaches of Lani St. Taz and Ohan’ali Town to the volcanic Mua Pel’am. There is plenty of ocean to swim, and even travel with the help of a jet ski or canoe. The island is absolutely beautiful and has plenty to explore both on land and in the ocean.
Unlike the previous expansions, Outdoor Retreat and Jungle Adventure, your Sims can’t choose to vacation here but can visit the different beaches whenever they want if they don’t reside in Sulani, which may affect how you play. The expansion also has plenty of new items in Build Mode to create the ultimate beach house for avid Sims house builders in addition to a myriad of new hair, clothing, and even tattoos that you can use to personalize your Sims. Both of these are a major plus in any Sims expansion.
While there are several families already moved into some of the existing houses in Sulani, I, of course, chose to begin my island adventure in Create-a-Sim and design my very own mermaid. Mermaids are not confined to the ocean and can shift from their tailed form to one with legs with such ease it would make Ariel jealous. Their mermaid form can be as similar or as different to their human form, just like in the Vampires expansion. Even if you’re not into the mermaid lifestyle, when creating a new Sims, new lifestyle traits are also available including Child of the Ocean and Child of the Islands. The latter allows Sims to better connect with the island itself through interacting with island spirits, but whether that’s carried out positively or negatively is up to you. However, if you wish for one of your existing Sims to make the shift from human to mermaid, then never fear, as the Mermaid Kelp available in the Rewards Store for only 500 points can be eaten to make the transition.
Living as a mermaid has its own perks and challenges. Instead of having to worry about the Hygiene need, Mermaids instead must worry about Hydration. This need can be met by relaxing in a bathtub, handwashing, and taking a dip in the ocean. Mermaids can spend as much time in the water as they want, even having the option of sleeping underwater and accidentally going to the bathroom in the ocean. From my experience, the only need they can’t fulfill in the ocean is eating. Mermaids have plenty of new powers to play with as well, but each one will cause their need for Hydration to grow. They can lure mere mortals into the ocean with the power of their Siren’s Call for a nasty surprise, or use a Siren’s Lullaby such as the Charmer’s Lullaby to put another sim into a more romantic mood. With the Seasons expansion installed, they can even change the weather to make it rain or clear up the skies. Playing as a mermaid is definitely fun and a great addition to the base game, but it’s obviously best to play with them living in Sulani as they need to be Hydrated quite frequently, and the easiest way to do so is by running into the ocean.
While mermaids get the most out of the ocean, even regular Sims will enjoy the open waters. Taking a ride on the jet ski is a quick way to get from place to place, and Sims can snorkel in the deepest parts of the ocean to find treasure and take underwater pictures. A new perk of Island Living is hanging out with dolphins. Mermaids can call dolphins and will develop a deep bond with the creatures, but anyone can feed them, play with them, and ask for tricks with a high enough relationship. Being able to interact with the ocean to such a degree is definitely a plus and adds to the immersion with island life. On the beach, Sims can sunbathe, build sand castles, and comb the beach for treasure. The activities are great, but they do begin to become repetitive after a while.
Island Living also includes a few new career options for Sims as well including Diving and becoming a Conservationist. Embarking on the Conservationist career is similar to that of the Gardening career introduced in Seasons which you can choose to work from home or leave for work like a traditional Sim job. Tasks include cleaning up garbage on the beach, enthusing to other Sims about conservation, and taking samples from the ocean. As you tidy up the island, it will become even more luminescent and beautiful. Just look out for volcanic movement.
Even off the island, Sims can now work a one-time Odd Job whenever they wish. By searching on their phone, they will leave for a brief time to complete whatever task is listed such as photography or installing another Sims’ television. Certain jobs will ask for a minimum skill requirement, but overall, they pay your Sims rather well, especially for those with Noncommital or Ambitious traits.
In addition to new career options, Island Living also has a new aspiration called Beach Living. This is one of the weakest parts of the expansion, in my opinion. While other life aspirations will definitely take some work and real-life hours to complete, I completed this one in just a few hours. With easy milestone tasks like finding a few shells while beachcombing or literally just falling asleep while sunbathing for its tier 4 milestone, it felt kind of anticlimactic. However, if you’re a player that wants an easy aspiration to accomplish for reward points, then it’ll be great for you.
When living vicariously through your Sims, Island Living is definitely worth it if you choose to move them to the island itself, even without choosing the mermaid life. However, off of the island, the expansion will have much less of an impact on your regular Sims’ daily life, unlike that of the previous Seasons expansion. If there was the option to schedule a vacation, like in Outdoor Retreat, in addition to brief visits, I think it would have more of an impact on the overall game. In the end though, Island Living is a solid expansion that is definitely worth the time of both the casual and avid Sims player.