Avid gamers already know Electronic Arts for their less than consumer-friendly practices, especially their love of locking content behind DLCs and expansion packs. Though this approach to games is everywhere today, you usually have the opportunity to switch over to a different game that offers a better player experience with more bang for your back.
When it comes to Sims 4, however, there’s just no better experience. As woefully lacking in meaningful gameplay as the Sims is (remember how the base game didn’t have a pool?), there’s virtually zero competition for it.
Maybe that’s why EA thought it would be a good idea to create a Sims 4 Star Wars pack even if nobody in the community wanted it. Sure, there’s some overlap with the Star Wars fan base, but most Simmers just wanted more family interactions.
While a lot of players hated it even before it was released, it honestly doesn’t seem that bad on paper. So, let’s give the Sims 4 Star Wars expansion pack a chance.
Journey to What Now?: Sims 4’s Star Wars Planet
The Sims 4 Star Wars pack’s official name is Sims 4: Journey to Batuu which doesn’t really tell casual fans anything about what to expect in the expansion pack itself.
It turns out Batuu is one of the remote planets within the Outer Rim Territories. If you’ve seen the Star Wars sequel trilogy, the one that started with The Force Awakens, you might remember that Rey Skywalker came from an Outer Rim planet known as Jakku. But that just raises another question: Why Batuu? Why not Jakku or Tatooine, the planet Anakin came from?
We might never know. But Batuu is supposedly where the First Order and the Resistance forces had one of their key face offs. Still, it doesn’t seem like enough of a reason to make it the setting of the only Sims 4 Star Wars pack.
Rumor among the sims community is that Journey to Batuu was released to promote Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, an upcoming themed area being developed at California Disneyland, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Walt Disney Studios Park.
The awfully well aligned release of the expansion pack and completion date of the theme park area made Sims fans speculate that it was some sort of marketing tactic. But no big deal. A theme park based Sims pack still sounds fun.
Buckle up and get comfortable because we’re playing the game.
Sims 4 Star Wars: The Adventure Begins
We can’t play the Sims 4 Star Wars themed pack with just any old randomly generated sim. Come on, you really wanna be the sims player that shows up to see Adam Driver, I mean, Kylo Ren with a sim that’s wearing a hotdog suit? No. This is going to be the biggest honeytrap scheme ever hatched to finally bring the First Order’s reign of terror to an end.
Even if that’s only so we can transfer it to an even worse megalomaniac.
Miranda is pulling out at all the stops in the custom content department in a bid to get the universe to declare her Supreme Leader. Sure, she’s just a random Simearth sim who looks like a knock-off Ashnikko but she’s materialistic and has no need for morals.
The Sims 4 Star Wars expansion adds two new aspirations to the game: Galactic Privateer and Hope vs. Order. We could have gone the dramatic route by choosing either Space Nazis or Space Buddhists right off the bat but a sim like Miranda deserves to bask in cool and collected degeneracy like Han Solo. Galactic Privateer it is.
The Galactic Privateer aspiration is all about the money which makes it fitting that Lily Feng is the one who calls us to take a trip to Batuu. Fitting but anti-climactic.
The Sims series already has a time-honored tradition of alien abductions which could have made for a cooler introduction to one of the best sci-fi franchises in the galaxy. Instead of getting a pop-up window, we could have found the Resistance and the First Order hunting each other down on Simearth before finding ourselves entangled in an intergalactic war. Think Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Star Lord.
Unfortunately, no such introduction happens. When you accept the prompt to go to Batuu, the game just takes you to a loading screen. To its credit, the Batuu loading screens use the same transitions used in the Star Wars films which is a fun little easter egg for fans.
The pop-up window we get in Batuu is essentially an exposition dialogue. It tells you how the separate currency system of Galactic Credits works before automatically plopping you into the Batuu map wearing an outfit that makes Miranda look like a homeless martial arts expert.
The game tells you to go to Oga’s Cantina which is also one of the locations in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The Cantina is essentially just a sad little bar in the middle of a desert planet. Zoom into the building and you realize that it isn’t even a real Sims building. It’s not a rabbit hole but it’s not fleshed out either.
Your camera just phases through the walls and leads you into the Cantina interior. The inside looks a little livelier than the rest of the world and comes complete with a DJ that has Batuu specific music and a bar that you can easily imagine Han Solo taking a seat at and ordering a drink.
Speaking of a drink, the Sims 4 Star Wars pack paid attention to tiny worldbuilding details that gave Batuu a sense of separation from the rest of the Sims worlds. Players can order drinks with fun names like Dagoba Slug Slinger, Black Spire Brew, Blurggfire, Carbon Freeze, and Bespin Fizz. Dagoba Slug Slinger sounded like a disgusting drink made from liquefied snails so the tamer-sounding Bespin Fizz got Miranda’s Galactic Credits.
There aren’t many clues on what to do from here but after talking to a pink Twilek lady, we do learn that we should find Hondo Ohnaka, the scoundrel leader figure of the smuggler faction. Just when Miranda’s settling into Batuu’s passingly immersive world, the conversation with Hondo ends with him literally telling us to open his interaction menu and pick the “Ask About Missions” option to see what he wants us to do for their crime ring.
Way to go there Star Wars pack.
Speaking of missions, you can’t even start one until you finish some of the aspiration tasks like asking people in Batuu about what the First Order, Resistance, and Scoundrels are. The game also tells you to freshen up and rest at the only motel in town but instead of getting to enjoy a small rental space as we do in the other Sims 4 vacation worlds, the building is just a rabbit hole.
The Sims 4 Star Wars pack is full of them by the way. Docking Bay 7 and Rondo Roasters, both of which are restaurants, are nothing but a shop front and a pop-up window. Even Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, a store that sells kyber crystals and lightsaber hilts, was just another pop-up window to buy stuff from. It would’ve been cool to be able to step into a smuggler’s shop and pick up strange curios that were featured in the Star Wars movies but no.
Things to Do in Batuu…or Not
This Sims 4 Star Wars pack really could have been fun considering its source material but the gameplay was like a wet slice of moldy bread.
One of the key missions is to beat Hondo in a game of sabacc which is a card game with high stakes gambling involved because this wouldn’t be your stereotypical seedy bar if no one was gambling with cards. This wouldn’t be an issue if a) the game told you how to make your sim better at sabacc so you can actually beat Hondo, and; b) The game made sure that you and Hondo wouldn’t be interrupted while trying to play.
But every time Miranda tried to sit Hondo down for a round of cards, they would always have two other sims joining in and turning the interaction into a heart-felt group sharing session.
At this point, Miranda and I are done. We’re sick of the smuggler crowd so we decided to move out of the grey moral area of intergalactic shipping businesses and go straight into joining the Space Nazis.
The game lets you walk right into the First Order headquarters. Not one of the Stormtroopers asks for identification or stops you from walking up to the leader of the First Order troops in Batuu. Lt. Agnon himself doesn’t seem to mind having a blue-haired stranger enthuse him about lightsabers. Is it because Miranda is pretty or does he not care about security? Either way, Sims 4: Strangerville felt more dangerous than the stage of a literal intergalactic war.
Pop over to the Resistance’s side of the Sims 4 Star Wars pack and you’ll find it’s even more deserted than the other areas. Maybe the Resistance doesn’t have the gameplay we’re looking for but at least give us a cameo from a Resistance officer. Even the First Order was friendlier.
There are significantly fewer buildings in this area which gave Miranda the false hope that she might actually see a real structure instead of a rabbit hole.
While they weren’t rabbit holes, most of them were just set pieces. You could at least take a nice nature walk around what was essentially the camping grounds vacation world but with an industrial skin.
But lo! At the end of the trail, just past the waterfall, was a cave that seemed to be a nod to that cave Rey got lost in when she first came to see Luke Skywalker in Ach-To. But our dreams of a mirror cave encounter with the Force were once again shattered when she disappeared into another rabbit hole.
Sims 4: Journey to Batuu at Home?
Okay, the Sims 4: Journey to Batuu was a flop in terms of gameplay. But this Star Wars pack had a few interesting Build and Buy mode items that were completely different from everything else in the game.
Unlike the typically polished and brand new furniture we get with regular packs, the Star Wars pack had scuffed and rusted lights and chairs which gave the furnishings a lot of character. The orange spaceship chairs are so detailed and would do well in a dystopian-themed or similar build project. The rusty lights also come in interesting shapes and sizes but without enough actual illumination, keeping the Super Subtle Saucer Light the savior of the galaxy, er, Sims 4‘s Build and Buy mode.
The Star Wars pack even comes with crates, curio items, and a pair of Brutalist-style plants that make the pack worth it for Sims players who are really only in it for the Build mode.
We tried going back to Batuu after three days of practicing her Logic skill because I thought it might help. After two days of waiting for Hondo’s interactions to not be interrupted by the other Cantina goers, however, Miranda just cut her losses and went home. Apparently, she’s not the only aspiring Galactic Privateer to have problems with the sabacc quest.
Forget smuggling, maybe Miranda should just make her money by starting a Black Widow Challenge on Lily Feng.