The new Sims 4 Expansion Pack High School Years adds new depth to the teen life stage with a completely interactive high school experience. The new DLC will be the first in series history to make going to school an active experience instead of a rabbit hole like in previous Sims titles. A preview event for the game outlined how teens will have a host of new activities both in and out of school, as well as a myriad of new ways to express themselves and explore their identity.
The Sims 4 High School aims to provide an authentic teen experience, showcasing both the highs and lows of adolescence. Teens will attend class, after school activities, prom, and graduation, and have new places to hang out with their friends as they navigate the drama of high school crushes and rivals. Some new features of the DLC will also be making their way to the base game in an expansive new update that adds multiple highly-requested features from previous Sims games.
During the preview presentation, Sims 4 High School Years Lead Designer Jessica Croft and Lead Producer George Pigula gave an overview of the four main pillars that guided the creation of the Expansion Pack:
- Experience High School: Players can live through the moment-to-moment happenings of high school and all the drama that comes with it, whether it’s classes and tests, after school clubs, or big events.
- Navigate The Drama Of Being A Teenager: Develop crushes and rivals, go through first dates and breakups, sneak out at night, and risk it all asking another Sim to prom with a promposal.
- Express Your Style And Creativity: Design unique teen rooms to be a haven from the rest of the world, and dress Sims in a wide variety of popular clothing styles with unique Create A Sim options that express who they are.
- Explore Your Identity: Whether a player’s Sim is a straight-A student, popular cheerleader, or rebellious troublemaker, there’s many ways for them to discover their place in the world and what they want to be after high school.
The Sims 4 High School Years comes with the brand new world of Copperdale, home to Copperdale High, the romantic Plumbite Pier, and combination thrift store and boba tea shop ThrifTea. Copperdale High has all the classic high school spots: classrooms, a cafeteria, a sports field, and an auditorium for special events. Plumbite Pier is described as a “perfect first date spot” where players can ride a tunnel of love, haunted house, and ferris wheel and take memorable pictures in a photobooth. ThrifTea is fashion central for teen Sims, and features special clothing from a Sims 4 collaboration with Depop, an online clothes retailer.
Create A Sim will receive many new additions with The Sims 4 High School Years, several of which will make their way to the base game. Players can now opt to have body hair on their face, back, torso, and legs which can be set to grow and in turn be shaved by Sims. New fashion spans a broad array of popular styles from kawaii to dark academia to cottage core, as well as a focus on formal wear for prom. Four new teen specific aspirations – Live Fast, Drama Llama, Admired Icon, and Goal Oriented – are available, as well as 3 new Sims 4 traits, 2 of which are teen-specific as well as a Socially Awkward trait for all ages. Body hair and the Socially Awkward trait will make their way to the base game, as will a huge new sexual orientation update where players can select which genders Sims are attracted to – with aromantic and asexual options – and if they are still exploring their orientation.
School days will play out in The Sims 4 High School Years much like active careers do, where players can choose whether or not to follow their Sims to school each day. Once at school, the day will have various goals to complete in the same manner as an active career, and Sim choices to skip class or not study for exams will result in academic consequences. Class sessions will help Sims gain skills, and a student who successfully graduates with high standing will have a leg-up when it comes to attending college with the Sims 4 Discover University DLC. Conversely, Sims who fail and don’t receive a degree will be locked out of certain careers, although they can obtain a degree online to offset this.
However, most of the Sims 4 High School Years experience is about what happens between classes and after school. Between classes, players can have their Sim primp at their customizable locker, eat at the cafeteria, and interact with friends. Sims can join the football team, cheerleading squad, computer club, and chess club, and developers stated there will often be after school events, like career fairs and sports team events. Sims can now acquire both crushes and rivals as they progress through school, which come with new interactions. Social media will also play a big part in teen lives – new apps allows players to message friends, post on social media, make a living streaming online, and hype up outfits created at ThrifTea on Trendi, where they can be sold. Prom and graduation are big features of The Sims 4 Expansion Pack, with social events happening both before and after. Sims can even be elected prom royalty or become valedictorian.
Four new Woohoo spots will come with The Sims 4 High School Years: the photobooth, as well as all rides at Plumbite Pier – however, if Sims are caught they may be banned from the park. Two new deaths will also make an appearance, one stemming from a stink bomb prank gone wrong, and one related to repeating a name in the mirror 3 times with friends akin to Bloody Mary. Arguably the largest new mechanic coming to both the DLC and base game is an overhaul of the Whims system, completely replacing it with the Wants and Fears system from The Sims 2. These will be more specifically tailored to a Sim’s personality and goals, and will tie in to other Sims 4 DLC if owned by the player.
The Sims 4 High School Years looks to be an incredibly comprehensive teen experience, which developers shared was inspired by a myriad of coming-of-age teen media from Riverdale to Grease. With so much contained in the DLC, it was clear that the preview presentation barely scratched the surface of the new mechanics that will become available for the teen life stage. Until now, teens have been a largely overlooked age in The Sims 4, and the many new features coming to both High School Years and the base game look like they will add an entirely new level of depth to the simulation game.
The Sims 4 High School Years launches on July 28, 2022. Screen Rant was invited to a preview for the purpose of this article.