It may be over a decade since Sims 3 came out, but the game maintains a strong following and is still well-loved among fans of the Sims series. While Sims 3 admittedly doesn’t have the most up-to-date graphics today, the sheer amount of gameplay it has gives it a leg up over the newer Sims 4.
The secret to its success? The Sims 3 expansion packs. Stuffed to the brim with content, the Sims 3 expansion packs have brought us family bonding moments, supernatural creatures, and the sweet escapism of being a mermaid vibing on a tropical island.
But one burning philosophical question remains among fans of Maxis’ simulation game: Which Sims 3 expansion pack is the best one?
So, here’s my uncalled-for take where I rank all the Sims 3 expansion packs from best to not so great.
11. Sims 3: Showtime Expansion
Kicking off our list is Sims 3: Showtime. It isn’t that the expansion wasn’t fun, it just seemed to bring little to the table that Sims 3: Late Night hadn’t done already. The expansion pack was released on March 6, 2012, and has been enjoyed by players of the Sims 3 since. Its main selling point was getting your Sim to achieve stardom either as a DJ, a singer, an acrobat, or a magician.
While this Sims 3 expansion pack was certainly fun, it wasn’t as big of a gamechanger as other packs were. Like, Sims 3: Sweet Treats may have been the most hated stuff pack of the game but at least it was different.
10. Sims 3: Ambitions Expansion
Let’s move on before I start getting hate mail. The Sims 3: Ambitions comes next on our ranking of Sims 3 expansion packs. It’s an obvious pick, what with the number of new careers the pack brings to the game. Thanks to Sims 3: Ambitions, you could live vicariously through your Sim by putting them on the path of being a firefighter or an architect.
The best part? You could be a billionaire inventor without the guilt of exploiting your employees’ labor or violating labor laws.
Props to you, Sims 3 expansion packs.
9. Sims 3: World Adventures Expansion
Notice how everybody and their mother is a travel blogger or travel Instagram influencer these days? That’s the cultural impact of the Sims 3: World Adventures expansion for you. The Sims 4 may have brought back international travel expansion packs but the Sims 3 gave us an opportunity to explore historic sites and learn about the basics of other cultures without cutting up the content into several different stuff packs. Looking at you, Sims 4: Jungle Adventure and Sims 4: Snowy Escape.
With all the risks associated with traveling this year, the Sims 3: World Adventures expansion pack is the unexpected hero we all need.
8. Sims 3: Into the Future Expansion
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the Sims 3: Into the Future expansion pack has you covered. Live out your Marty McFly dreams, wearing Marty’s vest to boot, in this futuristic expansion pack that lets you travel to the future. The charming Sims 3 expansion pack lets you build androids to do your bidding before the inevitable AI revolt crushes all of us flesh beings under its heel.
Once you’re done exploring the dystopian and utopian futures that the Sims 3: Into the Future expansion has, you could take home your robot servants to the present day.
Plus, it’s got time travel and Terminator references. Doesn’t get much better than that.
7. Sims 3: Pets Expansion
Okay, I lied. Maybe some things are better than time travel. How could futuristic gameplay ever be topped by another of its fellow Sims 3 expansion packs? The answer is horses.
Honestly, Sims 4: Cats and Dogs and Sims 4: My First Pet Stuff could never. Until now, the recent installment of the game only has cats, dogs, fish, and the occasional annoying hamster. But Sims 3: Pets? It was the main course, the fixings, the dessert – everything. It didn’t skimp out on any of the features and selection of pets. The Sims 3 expansion pack brought us cats, dogs, turtles, snakes, birds, lizards, deer, and even racoons. Okay, so maybe the deer weren’t intended to be pets, but with a little cheating, you could make your Snow White dreams come true.
6. Sims 3: Supernatural Expansion
Yummy, yummy fantasy creatures. As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the supernatural, Sims 3: Supernatural tickles my brain folds to a degree that I’m going to be very biased. Feel free to just move around the Sims 3 expansion packs on this list in your head because really, your preferences are valid, too.
But let me make my case. The Sims 3: Supernatural expansion was Sims 3: Ambitions for anyone who enjoyed more fantastical gameplay. It gave us a dark, mysterious world in the form of Moonlight Falls and let us turn our sims into witches, wizards, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and fairies. While Sims 4: Vampires does the vampire bit better than Sims 3: Supernatural, this expansion pack gave us everything we needed to start a knock-off playthrough of Twilight.
5. Sims 3: Seasons Expansion
This is a choice that few Sims fans are likely to disagree with. The Sims 3: Seasons, in all of its iterations, is just a top-tier addition to the library of Sims 3 expansion packs.
Sims 3: Seasons introduced our Simselves to fun seasonal activities and new interactions with the environment. It doesn’t matter if it’s scorching hot outside in real life, your Simself can have fun riding a snowboard down a hill. Just be careful when walking outside during a rainstorm. As fun as it is to watch your Sim play in the rain, having them die from a lightning strike could end your Legacy challenge playthrough early.
4. Sims 3: Island Paradise Expansion
The Sims 3: Island Paradise expansion aloha’d its way into our hearts and onto the Sims 3 expansion packs roster with the addition of jet skis, beach homes, and mermaids.
This Sims 3 expansion pack combined the best parts of Sims 3: World Adventures and Sims 3: Supernatural to bring us to a tropical escape where you can explore the uncharted islands of the new map while being a mermaid. Not a fan of cutesy mermaid gameplay? The Friend of the Kraken trait lets you summon chthonic creatures from the deep to wreak havoc on boats that are way too loud outside your beach house.
The expansion pack also had content for people who can’t help but work on their vacations – even in a game. You could choose the path of a resort mogul and make bank by running resorts for other vacationers.
3. Sims 3: University Life Expansion
University life can be fun, but you know what’s not fun? Studying. The Sims 3: University Life managed to make hammering out a philosophy paper at 4:00 A.M. while hopped up on heart-attack-inducing amounts of coffee look fun. Seriously, Electronic Arts managed to sell us the pain that is the university experience as gameplay.
This addition to the library of Sims 3 expansion packs gave us partying with fraternities, exploring our university town, and even introduced players to student activism. That’s right. You could hold protests at Sims University with your fellow student activists and that’s a slice of realism that is very much welcome.
2. Sims 3: Generations Expansion
I feel like I’m going to get smacked for this, but I know it will be worth it. Coming in at second on our ranking of the Sims 3 expansion packs is the Sims 3: Generations expansion.
Why someone would make a game out of taking care of toddlers is beyond me, but family-oriented gameplay is the other half of the Sims fanbase. The rest of us are just here to play architecture simulator. That said, even wannabe Sims architects like me can see the charm of the expansion pack.
Sims 3: Generations fleshes out many of the interactions between parents and their children and adds a Memories system, both of which go a long way in making Sims feel more human and relatable. It’s especially great for Legacy challenge players who could now guide their Sims through playing with an imaginary friend, asking other teens out on a date, marriage, and raising their own children. At the end of it all, it’s rewarding to watch your elderly Sims reminisce on their younger years while surrounded by their grandchildren.
1. Sims 3: Late Night Expansion
The Sims 3: Late Night expansion is the winner in this ranking of Sims 3 expansion packs.
This Sims 3 expansion pack brought back a classic from the original Sims game, the hot tub. The pack lets you dress your Sims out for a hot night out in the city – if they can get past the club bouncers, that is.
But partying your way through the night in Bridgeport is much easier if your Sim can become a famous celebrity who can bypass lines altogether. Better yet, you could be a vampire and just drink the bouncers dry. Not much they can do to stop you after that.
The pack also gave us curved pools, the Build Mode marvel that is half-walls, and penthouse suites to live out our Christian Grey power CEO fantasies in. That latter feature is further complemented by the new Zodiac system which gave Sims a more in-depth personality and added an extra layer of intrigue to flirting and dating in the game.