Is this a dramatic take? Yes. Am I lying? No.
I have been a fan of the series since I got my hands on a copy of The Sims 2 for the trusty PlayStation 2 and I have never looked back.
I haven’t played all of the DLC that has come out for The Sims 4 since it first launched in 2014, but packs like Realm of Magic and Strangerville have really added to the game in a fun way that has extended the life of a game that is closer to a decade-old than not.
Cottage Living caught my attention when it was first announced in early June because it aimed to add some mechanics to the core gameplay loop that resembles my longtime love for farming simulators. (Remember peeps, I am a Very Cool Kid™️)
I had the chance to virtually sit with lead developer Antonio Romero to take a deeper look at Cottage Living, which is set to launch on July 22, to learn more about Henford-on-Bagley and my excitement has increased tenfold.
There are some changes coming with Cottage Living that will be applied to the base game while most others are unique to the expansion. Let me cover those real quick and we’ll get to the meat.
Permanent free changes coming to The Sims 4 include children can cook, garden and help around the house as well as the ability to schedule and plan events with the in-game calendar.
Let’s take a look at what you can expect in your village-living life in the English-inspired Henford-on-Bagley.
Developers added the Simple Living Challenge and players who choose to take a crack at it will have to gather or purchase all necessary cooking ingredients to actually cook the meal you want and developers said it will be better quality and cheaper to live on. Developers added a variety of new recipes to make Simple Living feel more authentic including Beef Wellington and Yorkshire Pie.
You will also be able to can fruit through a new interaction with the fridge and stove.
You will be able to pack prepared meals into the new picnic basket to take with you out into the world and enjoy on your adventures in Henford-on-Bagley. Placing the picnic basket on a bench or table will allow you to set up a picnic to be shared with other Sims.
You’ll be growing fruits and vegetables in your garden that you can either eat or choose to enter in the weekly village fair if you manage to sprout an overgrown vegetable you know will garner a blue ribbon. You can also enter your animals and homemade pies at the fair.
Cottage Living will introduce garden patches along with some seed mechanics special to the expansion. Seed packs will provide nine sprouts per bad on the garden patch with a chance for veggies to become overgrown. You will have the chance to fertilize plants that offer different yields: one overgrown, two medium-sized crops or four small crops.
There are two merchants and one is a character that many fans of the series will be excited to see — Agatha Crumplebottom. She is the same love-hating granny that will also sell you the necessary supplies to manage your farm. She retained some of her iconic interactions like breaking up lovebirds and hitting those bold enough to flirt with her with her trusty purse.
The other will sell you the necessary cooking ingredients you’ll need for Simple Living. You’ll also be able to purchase ingredients to be delivered to your cottage from the Fridge menu.
The shops will have a rotating inventory of available items.
Raise chickens for eggs, cows for milk and llamas for love. They have their own friendship actions and are able to reject or accept your affection. Breed animals to have a farm teeming with livestock you love and customize their appearances in a variety of ways (including clothes) to give your farm some life.
Developers added the Animal Enthusiest trait that will give characters a variety of unique social options including playing instruments for animals and will give you a bonus for playing with them.
Developers also added some new deaths, including death by chickens and rabbits in a chance anger reaction. Dogs from the Cats & Dogs expansion will attempt to run-off foxes who invade the farm with a hankering for chicken nuggets.
Animals will have hunger, hygiene and attention needs that will determine their happiness on your farm. Animals live through full life cycles to death, but you will have the choice to disable aging if you so choose!
Animal happiness dictates the quality of products they produce. Developers said a very happy chicken may lay a golden or obsidian egg, which are worth lots of simoleons.
You’ll need space to build chicken coops and animal sheds for cows and llamas so make sure you’re considering the lot size for your cottage before building.
Developers broke lot challenges apart from lot traits and you will have the choice to select an unlimited number of lot challenges.
Developers also built upon the terrain manipulation tool so now you will be able to dig holes and trenches and then fill them with water. You will be able to stock and fish in your own ponds as well as play at the water’s edge. There are portions of the river in the game where Sims can swim as well.
The map features a variety of lots to build across three neighborhoods including Finchwick Village, Old New Headford and Bramble Wood.
In addition to building your dream cottage in the beautiful deep forest of Bramble Wood, you will be able to sing with the birds and befriend rabbits to build relationships that will reward players with the occasional gift and maybe some help in the garden.
Developers made it so your children can execute pretty much any action in Cottage Living, including cooking and tending animals. Some changes to children, as explained earlier, are being implemented into the base Sims 4 game. Cooking and gardening will increase their mental skill.
A minor add developers mentioned was bringing cross-stitching as a skill to the game. You will be able to purchase kits or buy hoops separately to stitch pre-made patterns or from a reference. Developers said this was a mechanic they added to painting and wanted to apply to cross-stitching.
Cottage Living has a lot of lore and a wide number of NPCs to work alongside (or do work for) that bring Henford-on-Bagley to life that have their own stories to tell. This includes befriending the mayor who also conveniently judges the fair — you may be able to bribe her to help you win.
Players who purchase the Cottage Living expansion by September 2 will get the Gnome on the Go special content including a scenic community bicycle to roam around town on, the Bramblewood DeLIGHTful Tree decoration and the “Onward” Adventurous Gnome decoration.
The preview put on a Sims spiral and I am BEYOND ready to pick up the full Cottage Living expansion with launches on July 22 on PC and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.