Eco Lifestyle is the ninth major expansion pack for The Sims 4. So far, there’s been magic, fame, knowledge and fortune. With Eco Lifestyle, climate change joins the fray. The pack introduces a new ‘eco footprint’ system designed to limit your Sims’ environmental impact and add another layer of challenge to the game. While it feels like the least consequential pack released so far, it does make some important changes to how your Sims live and interact with their local community.
Like every expansion, Eco Lifestyle brings a whole lot of changes to The Sims 4. The changes are fairly minimal this time around, but they impact every part of your Sims’ daily interactions.
What does Eco Lifestyle add?
Eco Lifestyle contains a bunch of new hairstyles (mostly ‘hipster’ cuts and updos), furniture items, housing lots and mechanics. While some of the included lots are genuinely stunning (like the pictured eco-treehouse), the best feature of the pack is the implementation of the new ‘eco footprint’ mechanic.
The Sims 4's Eco Lifestyle expansion pack introduces a bunch of new features never seen in Sims games before. Among them is the 'eco footprint' system which grades how environmentally sustainable your Sim's house and lifestyle is. Sims are graded on their power consumption and recycling skills — but the final score depends on the sustainability of their neighbours too. These are the steps you can take to lower your own eco footprint.Read more
This mechanic introduces sustainability to your Sims household and places a ‘power consumption’ toll on every electronic item in the game. Rather than being a hindrance, this feels like a very nifty way to make players think more about their Sims and how they live. Because of this, neighbourhoods feel more realistic and ‘lived in’.
Eco footprint is impacted by many actions like town-wide initiatives, purchasing eco-enabling technology like rain catchers and solar panels, or by upgraded your existing electronics with eco-friendly parts (which actually makes learning the ‘handiness’ skill feel worthwhile).
The most important of these new actions are community initiatives known as Neighbourhood Action Plans (NAPs).
Building your community
NAPs determine the future plans for a whole Sims neighbourhood and can be voted on by any household member. Votes take place via mail-in ballot or at your neighbourhood’s Community Board. These Boards quickly become a meeting point for your entire neighbourhood, and it’s here that your Sims can make friends, influence them to vote for their chosen NAP or just introduce themselves.
Every action you perform that’s categorised as ‘neighbourly’ or ‘friendly’ will now earn you influence points. These influence points are used to vote on upcoming NAPs and determine what developments your neighbourhood has planned. It’s a unique system and one that makes reaching out to your neighbours feel genuinely worthwhile. The Sims 4 has often been criticised for feeling empty or goalless, but having a new reason to make friends and get involved in community activities is a welcome change.
It also breathes life into your Sims’ local neighbourhood. The new town location of Evergreen Harbour feels alive and your Sims can have a direct impact on how it looks. Implementing positive ‘green’ initiatives will clean up the local neighbourhood and allow the development of new trees, decorative gardens and sustainable resources. You can also impact town behaviour by voting on more gardening initiatives or encouraging your Sim neighbours to reduce their power consumption.
It adds a much-needed sense of community and a worthwhile reason for forging friendships within your local neighbourhood. Introducing a voting mechanic also makes every Sim feel important. Change isn’t easy to implement but meeting new people, holding parties and giving meaningful speeches can help rally your community towards essential change.
With the current state of the world, it feels like an incredibly timely and powerful message.
While it doesn’t add any glamorous accessories or game-changing features, Eco Lifestyle is a very nice addition to the Sims 4 line-up. Needing to focus on lifestyle changes or improvements around the home is a nice gameplay quirk that’ll change how some players splurge. Community-based initiatives make Sims neighbourhoods feel more alive than ever. Still, Eco Lifestyle it doesn’t add any particularly necessary features, so you won’t miss out on much if you skip this expansion.
For Sims diehards, the new sustainability mechanics add in a good challenge affecting every aspect of the game. For the rest, it might feel too much like chores. Consider how important realism is to your gameplay experience before buying.