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The Sims 4: Outdoor Retreat
Score: 84%
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: The Sims Studio
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

What’s New:

Ever since The Sims 4 came out back in September, they have been slowly adding free content (like adding back in swimming pools and such), but so far there have been no expansions or add-ons, until now. Finally we have our first expansion pack: The Sims 4: Outdoor Retreat. While it is not a huge release, it is priced accordingly and gives us a new world. Granted, it is a world you can only visit, albeit for as long as you have money to pay, because the big new thing in this release is something that I would love in real life right now…vacations! You have several different vacation spots to choose from, including a forest hideaway, lakeside retreat, campground, and more. These destinations are more or less wildlife retreats. You can harvest plants, go fishing, collect insects, and basically just get out of the city for a while.

If you want to check out the new items, a gold flag will mark new things in Build and Create a Sim. This makes it very easy to go find and see if there is something new that you have to have. All of the new items are of course centered on outdoors. You’ve got furniture that you would expect to see at a woodland retreat. You’ve got benches made from raw logs, tree stump decorations, a game of horseshoes, a fire pit to roast over, and a lot more. You would expect to have quite a few new plants since it is an outdoors pack and there are several. I like the new Gnarled Oak Tree, for one. It looks like it would be awesome to climb; I wish that you could climb the trees. You’ve also got 6 new styled rooms, in case you want to make your own home resemble a woodsy retreat. Some of these new items you actually have to unlock by completing tasks on vacation, like weenie roasts. A Gold Tier weenie roast will let you buy a really cool hand-carved chess table. Once again, there’s not a ton of new items, but I like what’s there.

Get Your Bags Packed!:

As soon as you are ready for a vacation, check out your vacation days and see when you can go. Just like in real life, you only have to take a vacation day if you miss work. Kids get vacation time from school as well. Make sure to "pack" whatever you want to take by putting it in your personal inventory. Things like kids' toys, instruments, and even beds if you choose the 0 bed, 0 bath location aren't going to be available at the site. You can buy supplies there from the Ranger's Station, but those are mostly food. You can't edit the site in Build Mode (unlike Sims 3: University Life), so don't expect to be able to swap out your bed (other than camping cots) or sell their items for money. The easiest way to remember what you can and can't bring is that anything in your personal inventory will be like your suitcase and will go with you. Anything in the family inventory will stay at home. If you can't put it in your personal inventory, like an easel or a PC, you can't take it. I would have loved to have an easel to paint or a laptop (which aren't yet available in Sims 4) to chat. While in one location, you can travel to any of the other destinations easily. This means that you can visit them, but still pay for the cheapest location.

Get on the Road:

Vacationing is easy to start. You simply click on your phone and choose your destination. Your funds may limit your choices though. Going camping is only $111 a day (which still seems expensive for camping), up to nearly $900 for a lakeside retreat. The cost is not per person, so you might as well take as many as you want, unless you just want to leave someone at home to work. Just a side note, while there are some things you cannot do on vacation, like get married, you can die on vacation. I guess that’s the best way to go. You can get pregnant while on vacation, but you can’t have the baby there since you can’t take the bassinet with you. However, you can stay on vacation as long as you want while pregnant. I wouldn’t recommend this though as your Sim will be in extreme discomfort from being in labor and she will be continually hungry and continually needing to go pee.

What you can do on vacation is have a great time. Run around in the open air. Play horseshoes with your friends and fish in the nearby waters. I do wish that there were a few more outdoors activities, but I am sure they will come. Being able to swim in the water would be nice, or maybe another outdoor game or two. But either way, I like the vacations. There are a lot of things that you can do around the fire pit. I recommend hosting a social event and inviting all your friends. You can earn medals, if you can manage to throw a great party. The best party is one that your Sims seem to come home feeling refreshed, happier, and better able to do their jobs.

Difficulties and Gotchas:

One thing that I found frustrating is that when your Sims needed to shower or use the restroom on vacation, most of the time they would leave your rental to go to the public ones, which makes no sense and wastes time. I had to keep an eye on those needs to make sure they went to the closest location. Sometimes they would stay home though, which was good. Vacation goals are not as easy as they seem. The more people that you invite, the more likely you are to achieve your goals but sometimes things, like wildfires, are simply unavoidable. You will get a warning when there is a day left on your vacation. You can choose to extend it then if you want. You can also choose to extend it when the vacation is actually supposed to be over.

While I was really wanting a huge first expansion pack that would make a big statement, The Sims 4: Outdoor Retreat is a very solid first offering, especially for the price. I had quite honestly put The Sims 4 aside and this new release made me realize how much closer the game is getting to putting everything back that I was missing from The Sims 3. Now if only they will come out with a Supernatural release…

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl
Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP or higher, CPU: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 Dual Core 4000+ or equivalent, RAM: 2 GB, Graphics: 128 MB of Video RAM and support for Pixel Shader 3.0, Hard Drive: 10 GB free, DirectX 9.0c Compatible
  Test System:

OS: Windows 8.1, CPU: Intel Core i7-3630QM 2.4 GHz, RAM: 16 GB, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 730M, Hard Drive: 400 GB free

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