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OPINION: Why The Sims 4 City Living feels like a 40$ Game Pack

The announcement of The Sims 4 City Living got me pretty excited! After waiting for almost a year for a new Expansion Pack, the features that The Sims 4 City Living promised, such as the new world, apartments, penthouses, new careers and more really felt like it’ll freshen up the game. But, once The Sims 4 developers started talking what we actually can and can’t do in the game, I was negatively surprised, and here’s why…

Very Limited Apartment Tools

The confirmation that we can’t build apartments from scratch or place the apartment shells in other worlds was a HUGE let down about this pack, and the explanation by SimGuruEugi why we can’t do all of this is really questionable:

If we had allowed the creation of apartment buildings from Build/Buy, we would not have been able to achieve the look we were going for. For instance, B/B limits construction to five floors, but you want buildings to look like they have many more than that, so you can look over the city skyline.

There are also performance implications. You might want a building to look like it has, say, hundreds of windows and small items of decor. If those were actual B/B objects, they would all count against our performance metrics.

Sure, I understand that optimizing the performance is really needed in order to make all of this work, but the fact that we can’t even place apartments in other worlds is something I still can’t understand. Plus, just because the developers wanted apartments to be 200 meters high (I may be exaggerating here but you get the point) doesn’t mean that everyone in the community wants to see San Myshuno the way they presented it so far. I’d appreciate more if they made a simple re-make of Belladona Cove where, even though Apartments didn’t look so ambitious like in City Living, they preserved full functions and allowed us to not only build Apartments from scratch, but place them anywhere in the world, in any world!

Placing an Apartment was a breeze and you could do it anywhere as long as you’re placing near the road. Not bad for a game from 2004.

Down below you can see the creation process of Apartments in The Sims 2. You did need to use a cheat after you’re done with building your apartment, but that only means that The Sims Team fully supported it back in the day.

The Sims 3 Late Night didn’t allow you to build an apartment from scratch and the shells looked similarly to the ones presented in The Sims 4 City Living, but the game still allowed you to place these apartment shells in any world in The Sims 3, letting you turn any world into a downtown world.

An apartment shell placed in Isla Paradiso.

Although apartments in The Sims 4 City Living are spared of any options that’ll let you create an apartment from scratch of place an apartment somewhere else, what’s truly new and great in this pack about apartments is the new gameplay that we’re getting. Up to 4 households in certain apartments, specific Lot Traits such as earthquakes and random problems that may make your gameplay more challenging. If some of your neighborhods have the key to your apartment they might randomly pop over!


Festivals Limited to San Myshuno

Another big feature in this pack are city cultural festivals, which bring certain challenges, competitions and overall different types of Sims (street performers and Sims who dress with different cultural clothing). Still, what’s a huge letdown with all of this is that this feature is as well limited to San Myshuno.

We still have a lot to find out about these festivals in the coming weeks, but so far it’s official that we won’t enjoy in festival features in different worlds with City Living expansion pack.


There’s a lot more to be discovered about this Expansion Pack once we get our hands on it: Apartments and their Lot Traits, Penthouses, Festivals, new careers and more. What’s worrying is that so far 2 major features are confirmed to be tied to only one world.

I can’t help but think of a similar game pack that functions the similar way: The Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat Game Pack. In order to enjoy your vacation and rent a vacation home, you need to travel to the world of Granite Falls (Outdoor Retreat world) in order to fully enjoy the features of this pack.


I’m not saying that The Sims 4 City Living isn’t bringing enough features to the table, it’s just that those features do not expand enough to the entire game that would make it more customizable. The Sims has always been focused on customization but this pack simply doesn’t bring any major control over what you play. You’re forced to play with what The Sims Team has given you until you eventually get bored of it. This pack would get a much longer-lasting appear if some of the major features could be transferred to other worlds, such as placing an apartment in Newcrest.


Instead of actually expanding the game, The Sims 4 City Living seems like it’s only adding stuff to it. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong once The Sims 4 City Living releases in the first week of November.

About the author

Jovan Jovic

Founder of the Sims Community website. I do plenty of things around here including writing articles such as "Top 10 Disney Princesses in The Sims", social media management, video content creation, streaming and more!


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      • In sims 3, there are 2 types of apartments, Shell apartments and normal build mode apartments. with the Shell apartments you can change the shape of the apartment with a cheat, but as you said not the actual shell. With the normal build mode apartments, you can build them yourself you just need the debug markers to set the rooms. (Building apartments in build mode

  • Cultural Festivals might be San Myshuno exclusive but don’t forget one of the most important features in The Sims 4 – the ability to visit other worlds without having to make a new game save. So if your sims live in a suburban world they can actually go to the festivals in San Myshuno, well to me that’s kinda realistic as the big festivals only take place in large cities. As for the apartments we don’t know yet if there will be some items like in The Sims 3 that let you build apartments without shell from scratch. I think before any judging we must wait for more info and the pack release. But your points were very interesting and kinda true with the info we’ve got so far.

  • Good article! I agree about the apartments. Its a real shame that 2 years into this game there still hasn’t been anything overly game changing added in my eyes. I was really hoping the ability to build apartments would change that but how wrong was I.

  • Thanks for this opinion/thoughts article, you should do more of these ! 😉
    It’s incredible to see how a 2004 game is still way more superior and funnier to play than the Sims 4. The Sims 2 will always be my favorite of all and there are goods reasons for that. Such a shame to see that they are actually not even listening, despite whatever they say. Since this generation, it seems like they are always trying to give excuses for their poor investments and lack of innovation. Making a big deal about “issues” that they obviously overcame in the past. What happened to the Maxis we know ?

    • I agree about Sims 2 I think if they made Sims 4 exactly like Sims 2 they would have a lot more sales. Lol you would think they knew that already.

  • Adding vs. expanding seems like an interesting topic.
    Just a guess but… if they tried to expand and integrate a new feature into the existing base game for all neighbourhoods (toddlers, festivals in all towns), it’d mean messing with base game code and programming which would create bugs and problems that would take a long long time to figure out maybe? where-as just adding something completely independent from the other neighbourhoods wouldn’t require messing with the base game code, and would be easier to accomplish for a deadline. I’m just chatting out of my ass so if there’s anyone who knows about developing, give a bell haha. I’m trying to understand from the developers perspective because we often get carried away with our ideas but don’t realize how hair-pulling/impossible the complications can be.

    However! I still definitely promote fans to continue suggesting even if it is impossible, because it’s an idea, it’s from the wants of the consumer and that’s so important. That impossible idea can be broken up into something more compromise-able (A good one for example is apartments and skyscrapers still being B/B 5 floors with a low poly shell to extend the height, rather than every floor customizable.)

    • I agree, I am completely content with this expansion pack because as a Game Developer myself I am sorta bias, but know that it would be extremely difficult for them to make everything viable for every neighbor hood. Though, I do think they can slack or waste time on things we do not need. They still work hard, and people should not just bluntly yell or insult to get there way. At least try to give them suggestion and not just say “I want this” “I want that”.

      • Ah, thanks for sharing your view-point as a developer yourself, it’s always good to try and learn from your perspective. + Yea I’ve gotta say the packs have been… not suggestions I’ve seen in the Sims community or Sims forums much if at all if I’m honest. Maybe there’s a place that have been suggesting garden and party stuff this whole time and I just haven’t come across it yet I don’t know haha.

        Aye, I’ve definitely seen ‘I want this, I want that’ a-lot, and they will actually get angry without trying to understand the limitations… That’s when I feel bad for developers. On the plus side there are also a-lot of forum threads with brilliant suggestions, and even if those suggestions won’t work, they are things that can be worked around if they are truly a great idea.

        I can also feel bad for fans as-well because… The Sims is such a huge franchise that so many of these people have grown up with, and if you’re spending your money on a product that you really admire, it’s disheartening.The Sims from 1, to 2, to 3 has expanded where-as 4 is the first one to actually seem to be downgrading which I understand has been concerning.

    • But they could at least let us build our apts in this city only. I would be ok with that. Customizing apt buildings from scratch in the city environment, restrictive but ok… but now this is too restrictive…

      • Aye, that would be nice
        Although do you mean customizing from scratch with only 5 customizable floors, or customizing from scratch with multiple sky-scraper floors? To make this possible as in the example, they would have to provide a few un-customizable building ‘shells’ (it looks like it has windows etc, but can’t see into it or interact with it) just to give the appearance of height, (it’d be cool if there were a few of these to choose from in the build catalogue) and then at the top will be 5 customizable floors to play in.

        • I think both of them would be ok! I would prefer from zero with a little more floors (like 7 or 8 max maybe?), but if it was easier to give us empty shells like in sims 3, ok too.

  • Finally someone who disagrees with this pack BUT has valid reasons and information instead of just saying “I wanted this” or “I do not like that”. I for one like the pack, but I love it when people actually explain why they do not like the things so that I as a person on the other side can understand and learn. Thanks again!

  • The difference is with the Sims 4 your Sims can easily travel between worlds so your Sims that live in Willow Creek can visit San Myshuno for a festival and come back home, just like as if they were visiting Magnolia Promenade for a day of shopping. I don’t really like not being able to create my own apartment but I’m sure modders will figure out a way around that. I’m looking forward to the pack

  • A lot of great things were mentioned in this article that I agree with. I also was thinking how much City Living seemed to be very similar to Outdoor Retreat with everything being restricted to one world. Honestly, The Sims 4 is the least creatively inspiring game for me so far. I feel restricted and it’s taken away so many abilities to use our creative thought processes to make things feel like our own or have our own personal touch. Everything is either made or done for us and that’s highly disappointing for me.

  • I understand why they have it so the festivals are San Myshuno exclusive. After all, in real life, festivals are often local events that only happen in one place. They’re also often tied to a certain location — every year, the Whatever Festival is held in That Park. Having the spice festival in Windenburg, for example, wouldn’t make as much sense, and would make it not quite as special. Also, as someone already pointed out, with the way the Sims 4 works, your sims can always plan a day trip to San Myshuno to participate in a festival, without actually living there. That, too, is pretty realistic, at least in my opinion.

    The lack of the ability to build apartments, however, really pisses me off. As you pointed out, building apartments in the Sims 2 was super easy. Building them in the Sims 3 was a bit more challenging (what with the multiple cheat codes and the forays into the buydebug catalog) but definitely doable. I’m really, really hoping that we’ll find out later that, with the right cheat codes and stuff, you actually can build your own apartments. I think that’s how the Sims 3 ended up? If I remember correctly, they advertised that you couldn’t build your own apartments, but then some intrepid simmers found two of the building shells in buydebug, as well as the room markers, so you could build either a penthouse-type apartment in a shell or a smaller two-or-three story apartment without a shell. Then EA gave up and admitted that you could, then released all the shells in buydebug. I’m hoping something like that is going to happen with the Sims 4.

    Because, honestly? I’ve already drawn the line in the sand. If I cannot build my own apartments, something that I’ve loved doing since “The Sims 2: University” (I know dorms aren’t really apartments, but they’re the same basic idea (lots of different “households” sharing a single building) so they count), then I’m not buying “City Living”. Period. I’m just so tired of the “you can play the game, but only inside the limited framework we’re enforcing” standard that the Sims 4 seems to be based on. The Sims franchise has always been about freedom to play (AND CREATE!!) however you want. If I wanted to play a open-ish game where I have a few different tasks I can choose from, but not a whole lot of freedom within those tasks, I’d go farm gold in “World of Warcraft” or something.

  • And now I tell you why I don’t agree with anything what the editor(s) of this page wrote down.
    1.: No apartment building: It would be cool to build your own apartment, but there are a lot of apartments, it’s not a huge let down for me.
    2.: No apartments in other worlds: Every other world is suburb. I think it would be wierd if a suburb had only apartments. Or any apartments. And anyone who says Newcrest is empty, and u could place there apartments: Newcrest is also a suburb, and apartments are looking wierd in suburbs.
    3.: Festivals limited to San Myshuno: I just can’t imagine a festival in Willow Creek or Newcrest. Maybe festivals would look great in Windenburg, or Magnolia Promenade, but in the other worlds? No way.
    I only disappointed in City Living because of the map view. When I didn’t see it, I imagined it as a huge world, with a lot of apartments and community lots, and if u moved into an apartment u could choose wich floor is where your sim wants to live. But in City Living, it looks like there are the apartments, and in every apartment, there is just ONE lodging where you can live. I hope that I am wrong, and the player can switch between different floors, because that would be really cool.

    • Honestly? It’s not just apartments you can build when you build an apartment lot. Yes, technically, you’re building an “apartment”. But there’s so much variety within that one type. For example:

      1: Duplexes. Either built that way or a house that has been converted to have two households. Or even a house with an attached mother-in-law apartment, so the family lives in one unit and the grandparents live in another.
      2: Large, older homes that have been converted to multi-family dwellings (there are a lot of those where I live in real life). You walk in to a foyer area, with a staircase. Each floor is its own unit, or two (depending on the size of the house and the units).
      3: Rowhousing/townhouses. Windenburg’s historic area would look great with some European-style rowhouses. And a few lots of townhouses would be right at home in the other American-style towns — townhouses are common in the suburbs here. My family lived in one, in the suburbs, for a few years while I was growing up.
      4: Tiny apartment buildings. Two or three stories, two units per story or so. One would look awesome sandwiched in between the shops and gyms and libraries and whatever else in the “downtown” area of one of the worlds, especially Willow Creek.
      5: Communities. A trailer park. A little community of tiny, one bedroom cottages, all facing a small common area. A commune of some sort.

      And it’s not just about gameplay. You can also make some pretty creative storytelling setups. Like the family renting out a unit above their garage to earn a few extra simoleons. Or a homeless camp, with “cabins” that look like they’re made of cardboard boxes. Or a retreat of some sort, inhabited by a cult or something. Or a “Big Brother” type scenario where each “contestant” rents a bedroom, and then the kitchen/livingroom/bathrooms are in the common area. Or that same setup, and it’s a dorm at a college. Or that same setup, and they’re patients in rehab. That would revolutionize the Asylum Challenge.

      So, yeah. I agree that a huge skyscraper would look pretty odd plopped down in the middle of Willow Creek. But there’s so much more you can do with the apartment setup, if you’re given the tools to make your own (like we were in The Sims 2 and The Sims 3). And I’ve never been interested in building apartment-type apartments in the first place.

      • Well, you are right. But big amount of the examples you told can be implemented, without being able to build apartments. But now I don’T really have much time to write.

        • They can be implemented halfway, and at a great expense. For example, you could set up a trailer park or a row of townhouses and just furnish one “unit” and leave the rest empty; however, you’re still looking at a pretty hefty pricetag due to the cost of the exterior walls/paint/windows/doors/whatever to make it look convincing, as well as the cost of the lot itself. (The apartment-type lots on the gallery usually cost in the §200k-§500k range.) Also, your sim household would be the only one that could live there; the empty “units” would be forced to remain empty. Unless you made a household full of single sims and had them each live in a unit, but now you’re looking at the expense of furnishing all the units, and now you’re playing the entire neighborhood instead of just a single family.

  • just a little correction: the sims 3 *did* allow you to build apartments from scratch, but you had to go into buydebug and place hidden room markers, public room markers, apartment mailboxes & callboxes yourself 🙂
    and yes i totally agree, i was really hoping to be able to fill newcrest with apartments…
    plus their excuse doesn’t even make sense, their points are:
    1. only 5 floors in BB: you can get past this problem with apartment shells like in ts3 late night
    2. performance: again, the apartment shells would’ve taken care of that.
    it doesn’t look like the san myshuno apartments are all actual buildings anyway, so like i said if they just had the shells as buydebug objects and some of the correct roommakers, i don’t think would not be a problem to build them in other worlds.
    but hey, maybe a modder will figure it out..