This video was made possible by EA Game Changers and I'm grateful to have received a review
copy of the pack.
In this case, it's important to disclose that my copy was free.
Anyway, if you know me you know I never do reviews.
But I've been asked by a couple of people to share my opinion, so I decided to give
my thoughts in a review of Island Living.
It's definitely one of my lowest picks in terms of gameplay additions and I'll explain
my issues with it while we go over its features and how they work.
I'll invite you to share your opinion as well so that people from the future can make a
better decision for themselves.
First, the setting: Sulani.
While I want my review to be gameplay-centric I do want you to see some of what you get
in the aesthetic areas.
I'm opening with a strength here, to be clear, but the new neighborhood of Sulani is definitely
as great looking as you might hope.
It is obvious that building a nice world was a high priority for Maxis, and they did pull
The sunshine's bright and there's a pretty view everywhere you look, it feels like a
lovely place to live and has its own unique weather patterns for Seasons owners, even
The Islanders' architecture and culture borrows heavily from Polynesia and other island peoples
like the Maori.
I learned a few things about activities of different cultures from this pack and there's
a chance you will too.
There's a lot inspired by tribal customs, traditional foods and even food preparation
techniques like the Hangi inspired Volcanic BBQ searer that allows you to cook meat in
the ground and come back when it's ready a couple hours later.
Also Kava, a relaxing drink is present and makes Sims happy via a relaxed moodlet.
You can have a party based around this drink.
While I won't do an exhaustive take on build/buy, everything fits right in and is clearly inspired
by the culture of island nations, with geometric patterns found on a number of items, intricate
wood carvings and solid craftsmanship.
Events like the new Kava Party you can throw offer some new things to experience, as do
the town parties that randomly happen on this lot.
The community spontaneously gets together to enjoy a bonfire.
That's really cool and probably authentic island life somewhere, but a problem is that
there's no gameplay here.
Standing around a fire making friends in a game with no real purpose to friendships isn't
really gameplay to me... actually it's pretty dull.
I wish there were a reason we would want to attend things like this, other than for a
time when social need is low.
So, this is a core game problem but it relates to island living in that these are "features"
yet they're mainly visual in nature.
New events aren't very useful when there's very little reason to ever experience those
get togethers unless you're a person who plays for a story that you're making.
That said I don't feel much interesting will happen at a thing like this, because there
are too few interactive objects on the lot.
It requires players to spice it up somehow, rather than supplying the spice on its own
on its own.
Despite all of this I want to be extremely clear.
the textures and artwork that went into this pack came out very well and the world's well-designed.
They gave this part a lot of love and I don't want to detract from that.
CAS features a lot of sunny Island clothing for Sims, some nice new hair my friend is
wild about, and some these really nice tribal tattoos.
I hear these are very important to people in those cultures.
They're painful as they're done using things like knives or chisels made of shark's teeth.
These tend to go on the legs, arms, and face and Island Living lets you go all out if you
You can make a Sim with one of two new traits, Child of the Ocean , for Sims who love mermaids,
fish, and don't want to harm the wildlife, and child of the islands, which gives you
a connection to the island's spiritual ancestors.
Now, this is all right and I wish more traits had this depth.
Most of Sims 4's traits are an after thought that only influences emotions at random and
don't give any unique bonuses.
There's also a good amount of depth to child of the ocean.
Various things trigger emotions, rather than just a random moodlet.
There's also a new Aspiration that rewards you for chilling on the beach, using one of
the new features: suntanning.
Now on to the gameplay segment, which we will break into several topics
First up, beach combing.
Sims can comb the beach for collectibles or trash that can help Sulani's environment - more
on that later.
You'll find random things like potato chips, a sea shell, and a live fish.
This feature reminds me of the next one, and I'll explain that.
Island Living has these buoys, and they are the only major source of interactivity between
you and the ocean.
If you want to dive, you go here.
You'll find in shallow water you can snorkel.
This activity is for fun and building fitness I guess, but it doesn't do much for your Sim
and is in general just a fun activity like a lot of things like sandcastles.
Deep-water Buoys have an option to free dive or scuba dive, and this is unfortunately a
You can make your Sim better at this with fitness, and can buy gear to open up new options,
but it's always going to be going underwater for collectibles and filling up my inventory
with stuff like the minor combing the beach feature does.
The thing is, inventory management in Sims 4 is such a nightmare this is almost a punishment,
to get this random stuff and have to sell them 1 at a time.
This is the same problem beach-coming has.
There is a Cave on Mua Pel'am that is very much like this.
The Sim goes in, finds random stuff.
It's a legit way to get kelp without spending satisfaction, but you quickly run out of text
and they're not very funny or anything to make them interesting in the first place.
This is an area where this type of functionality was watered down, as rocket science allowed
you to select between a couple choices to impact the outcome based in part on reading
Now it's just, gimme random collectibles and stuff my inventory with things I need things,
more things that Ill keep forever because they're annoying to sell.
Dolphins are now a thing, a random pack of them goes to different buoys, and you can
click the swirling fish to talk to them and feed 'em for $2 a pop.
Eventually you can befriend the dolphin, but the goal here is to have a dolphin buddy.
The problem is repetition.
You do the same stuff with and maybe a moodlet.
No real impact on gameplay, just a way to have fun a couple times adoring the animations
then a source of boredom and sameness.
Sims can now get a sun tan or, if they're out too long, a burn.
The thing is, sun tans and burning is a risk trade off in reality, you want a tan but burning
isn't desirable and you feel like you look good for some time afterward, whether you
do or not ha.
Anyway, in Sims a sunburn is a 4 hour uncomfortable moodlet then it's mostly over.
No impact on gameplay, just a visual.
I would at least have liked to be able to avoid sunburn in the shade or seek sunlight
to get a tan in the first place.
Thankfully you only get these burns when you deliberately lay out.
Island Living comes with two new modes of transportation - the Jet Ski and Canoe.
Both of these allow you to keep them in your inventory, meaning your Sim can use them automatically
The thing about transportation is, it's used to get somewhere right.
Where do you want to go in Sulani?
The only reason to cross a body of water is to go to the buoys.
There's next to nothing on all the little islands out in the water.
No reason to travel reduces the effect of having decent transportation in the game.
You're also able to swim in open water to get around, and fitness will improve your
swim style and speed as you level it.
This was a nice touch but it's a bit marred by the fact that you can completely switch
to an aqua zip jet ski any time you like and won't really need swimming in the future after
Maxis has expressed a desire to make open water swimming everywhere a thing, but I sort
of question how often people will care to use it when fitness is used to just keep your
figure in Sims 4.
New in this pack are odd jobs, which lets you bring up an interface with the phone.
You can select from various tasks, some of which are rabbit holes, that let your Sim
do something for another Islander to earn a little money.
Some of them task you with fetch quests to go around the island, like mail me so many
All right, so, the conservationist career - It's marginally better than a rabbit hole.
This is a new career tailored to a new system in Sulani, the environment system.
Improving the environment is a matter of cleaning up litter on the beaches and in the sea, testing
the water, and passing policy.
By doing these things, you'll get an improved ecosystem.
The career is one of the 'work from home' career, and I swear I saw someone compare
it to scientist but that's not the case.
These have activity but they're not like the active careers from Get to Work that have
a lot of work put into them, and this leads to a core flaw.
The extremely narrow range of activities you may have to do is THE core flaw.
Go get some trash, take pictures, get some trash in the sea.
See, the problem with this entire environment and litter system is that trash in the sea,
trash in the beach, even with multiple models of trash, is all the same thing.
Tell your Sim to complete the animation and you've succeeded.
Furthermore, it's probably an animation you've seen before.
So working on the environment quickly gets repetitive, and eventually you will probably
send your Sim in to work to get away from these activities.
In gaming, fetch quests are hated because they take the same idea, dress it in different
ways, and we as players know they're all really the same without any complexity or depth.
This is that, game filler but as a main feature.
It's perfectly fine that it be included if you can't think of a better way to do this,
and I certainly can't, but it cannot be one of the star additions to the pack, it qualifies
as an additional side activity that might get you interested a few times, but in this
case you put a laser focus on it and burn out quick.
So the work from home careers in general don't do it for me as a main feature.
If they are going to be this weak, there should be a few of them at least in an Expansion,
and that's what City Living provided.
Politician, critic, and social media, plus a location, plus festivals, a new skill and
a talking toilet.
You can join in one of two career tracks with similar pay.
There are abilities, they just don't do much other than function as money or social buttons
so it doesn't matter much that there are two branches in this regard.
A positive that does differentiate them are the two different trait Natural Speaker or
Master of the Sea, and they're pretty all right traits.
So you do enough of this environmental cleanup, whether you're in the Conservationist Career
or not, and you'll abruptly be told your efforts are paying off.
If you can get past Mua Pel'am is improving to the thriving level, you've done the quest
to clean up the island.
Just the one, the environment system I mentioned only impacts this one place and there's not
The trees get nice and bright green, more flowers show up, and you may see butterflies
and sea turtles around the area.
There is an... albino dolphin that pops up on the special beach lot on Mua Pel'am and
Sea Turtle eggs w ill hatch on the beach.
Here's the thing about those rewards: they don't do anything, I see no reason to do any
of this past the first time.
It's worse than StrangerVille in terms of replay value but at the price tag of an Expansion,
which should explain to you why I didn't knock StrangerVille.
So, Island Living's main features of Conservation and the Environment system didn't do much
Surely mermaids can pick up a slack right?
As the final main feature, mermaids were teased at the end of the main trailer and highly
desired by fans who dig this type of thing.
I am not one of them, but I promise you I would not be hating on mermaids if they had
more abilities and bonuses along with some kind of system built around them that would
differentiate one mermaid from another.
See you eat a kelp, which you buy for 500 satisfaction.
You can get that 15 minutes into the game if you apply yourself at all.
You are now a fully functioning mermaid with tons of power and years of training at doing
You can call a thunderstorm, rain or clear up the skies if you're a player that owns
Why not all weather types?
You can do a super romantic kiss in the water, you can be a jerkwad to other Sims by pulling
them under and tease at a big monster under the water.
You can fill up your needs.
You also swim amazingly fast.
See any new Sim game taking place here would benefit from athletics to get out to the buoys.
This'd give you a reason to level a skill that is only useful very rar ely.
But, you can eat a kelp, you're a mermaid.. .now you're the best swimmer and you didn't
need to do anything to work for it.
The mermaid's swimming bothers me for some reason, because I know it's highly inefficient
how she's doing it and feel like it would've been a great improvement if there was even
a few feet of depth to the water so they could travel how animals want to when they want
to go fast.
This isn't as shallow as PlantSim or something - there are abilities with a little going
for them here, but they're mostly forgettable due to not a great enough impact on gameplay.
There are some of us who play Sims 4 kind of like a tycoon game, Sim, and rpg hybrid
who like leveling up getting abilities and combining bonuses to make really powerful
So I want to clarify that it's not just that I feel my desire should make you have to level
up to unlock these powers.
It's not the case.
They also needed to implement some kind of mermaids system that would allow us to in
some way make them different so they aren't all the same.
No matter where you stand with me on leveling up, mermaids are all the same and that's the
You won't use most of their powers.
If you have Seasons, you have a weather machine.
Island Living has some things going for it, but in a big area it has a flaw and I feel
I'm not the only one noticing this.
Gameplay, it needed more primary and deeper gameplay.
By primary I mean skills and activities that are rewarding.
Not transportation, random things that give moodlets or satisfy fun, because we have enough
of those things.
We need good old fashioned gameplay that keeps people returning and doing different things.
The problem is present in many packs but it's pretty damning here.
If you start a Sim, make a mermaid - which requires only 500 satisfaction - and play
in the Conservationist career while fishing on the side, you've completely done this pack
in one sitting.
If that gameplay were extremely compelling, I would not be so hard on it, but what's here
has not been molded and refined with care.
There are little features I've left out, like the volcano and elementals and a couple others
I can think of, but there just isn't anything deep there to justify drawing out the video
Everything else that exists in the pack is scenery, They did fantastic with world building
and some neighborly Sim behaviors.
It needed more work to live up to its potential, whether that means longer development or preferably
more people so they can have the time to expand on the existing things they do create.
I cannot fault for developers for problems outside their control and feel they're good
people who if given more time would've made something I could've enjoyed.
Its biggest failure is replay value.
Nearly all the rewards and objects for gameplay are one dimensional or restricted to Sulani.
Some people will be bored because they don't find enough depth in what they're doing the
first time, but having everything contained to Sulani other than build/buy means that
you have very little to do in other worlds.
This does not expand the experience for me.
An expansion should send ripples into many aspects of gameplay and make the game deeper.
If you're salivating for this pack, be sure you want it for Sulani more than anything.
If that's what you want, you get what you want.
You are a lot less likely to feel burned.
Don't buy it for gameplay, get it on sale and it'll be more appropriately priced as
nearly all game packs have more actual gameplay than this.
The people who enjoy Sims with depth are definitely left wanting more and I am one of them.
I'd like to see the franchise recover its footing but packs with gameplay this shallow
and thin do not help.
We've seen shallow, them becoming thinner also is unacceptable to me as a player.
Gameplay expansions should give you more to do and extend a game's life.
This release that took several months to develop bought us a few days.
I'm sorry that I can not put these out sooner if my opinion would be valuable, but I don't
want to half ass something like this and I want to stand by my opinion, not give a rash
first impression or completely fail as a fansite owner to voice an opinion on the quality here.
I feel that it is important and hope that you do too.
Share your opinion below and hit the bell if you like this, I may do more reviews and
you can support my channel in the description.
Maxis is a good studio and I like them as people so if this is frustrating for you be
courteous to them.
This is now my longest video and it's taken a toll on my voice.
I left a few bad parts despite that because I think most of you will get it.
Thanks guys and have a nice weekend.