During my hands-on time with The Sims 4 Island Living, I swam with dolphins, spun fire poi with the locals, and got into a little mischief as I usually do in The Sims. I didn't find any mermaids, unfortunately, but at least the island volcano didn't decide to erupt at any point during my stay in tropical paradise. I dedicated my time to exploring the island, not building a cute, water-side bungalow, but from what I have seen so far I'm not disappointed.
There are a few similarities between the Island Paradise expansion for The Sims 3 and this one, like the lifeguard career and the presence of mermaids, but Island Living captures the slow, peaceful pace of island life with a strong focus on culture and care for the environment. You can be a mermaid in Island Living, but there's no Kraken this time around, and you can clean up piles of trash on the beach to restore the environment. It was cool to build my own resort in the island expansion for Sims 3, but I appreciate the different approach here—and there’s no shortage of illogical, hilarious moments that happen across the island.
I created a character with pale skin, dressed her in all black, named her Goth Sally Parker, and moved her into a bare-bones island home with a very earthy color scheme that was so not her taste in decor. After I bought an inflatable pizza raft at a vending machine outside my house, I ventured around the island to get some sun.
One of the new features in this expansion is the option to take odd jobs around the island, which have a time limit. Someone might want help photographing an elusive mermaid, moving furniture, or commandeering the mixology bar for the night at a party. Depending on the type of job, you might need to gain a few points in a specific skill to make your job easier, but some don’t require any skills. Sally had no skills to speak of, so I had her catch some frogs at a waterfall to kickstart her I-need-more-black-home-décor fund.
I don’t remember how much money I made from that odd job, but I remember not catching a frog on the first several tries. I’d shoot my hands into the water only to grab a grilled cheese sandwich or a slice of cake. Seriously. And they weren’t even good grilled cheese sandwiches or slices of cake. They were spoiled. I’m not sure why Sally thought otherwise, but I decided to let her learn from experience rather than force her to throw out the nasty food.
I guess it really wasn’t much of a learning experience because she didn’t get sick, but this is The Sims, and even if she had, she would have still eaten another spoiled grilled cheese at some point, because the sims can only know if it’s bad by eating it instead of wafting the rancid smell emitting in a puke-brown and green cloud and realizing, hey, I probably shouldn’t eat this.
Anyway, catching frogs is hard work, so I had Sally swim around in the ocean for a bit. The open-swimming feature of The Sims 4 Island living was more expansive than I imagined it to be. On any part of the island, you can swim across the entire ocean as long as it continuously connects. If you swim out far enough, you'll find hidden coves away from the busy, town-side shores. You'll find dolphins congregating around buoys, where schools of fish swim in a frenzied circle.
As a side note, you don't need to worry about a rip-tide drowning your sim… I don't think. I didn't run into any sharks either, but sharks are in The Sims 3 island expansion, and they will try to drown your sim, so it's possible they are in The Sims 4 Island Living Expansion and I just didn't swim far enough into the ocean to find them. When the expansion is released and I get more time with it, I hope either one of those are in the game as a new death. It wouldn't be a proper Sims expansion if there wasn't at least one new way to die, right?
Sally didn't run into any trouble while swimming in the ocean. I had sent her to find a mermaid, but ran into some dolphins instead. I tried to befriend them, but dolphins are critical creatures; it swam off before I could say hello. In all fairness, I probably shouldn't have immediately showed him my butt. (It was all ill-timed somersault my sim automatically did in the water.) I assume you need to level up a specific skill or have a specific animal-friendly trait that would make it easier to befriend a dolphin.
Shore-side, there's a large beach area with a few towels, a swing-set, and rafts. It's one of the only spots I found on the island with a setup area like that, but it was a chill spot with a few locals you could strike up a conversation with if you wanted—or do what I did and lay in the sun for a little while. No one bothers you when you are drifting in and out of sleep in the sun. Just don't stay out too long or you will get burned.
You do have the option to tan naked if you want, on either beach towels or on a raft floating in the ocean, which will attract some attention from the locals, but once you put your clothes back on they forget it ever happened.
But as soon as I had Sally climb into a green whale raft and bare it all, I remembered I forgot about another odd job I told someone I'd do: pick up seashells on the seashore. I sent Sally to comb the beach, but oddly didn't find anything worth picking up besides this entire batch of Kava.
And these chickens that I couldn't interact with, sadly.
By this point, my six o'clock deadline had passed, and I'm pretty sure that's one islander I'll never get to know because I've proven myself unreliable. But, there was still some light out, and Sally wasn't tired. We're having a nice time here. No point in dwelling on things in the past.
Time to move forward with a new life plan. For my sim, that was planting pineapple and coconut trees, and taro roots in her backyard to sell. It's crazy how many Simoleons you can rake in by selling your entire garden stock, especially if they are all alien fruits.
The Sims 4 Island Living rounds out an already diverse list places for your sims to explore and live, but unlike most of the other expansion packs, this is only the second one to add a brand new residential area. It still feels like I'm not even close to discovering everything, even after running around the island for an hour an a half. After swimming in the ocean, tanning naked on the beach, and trying the cuisine at a little food stand, it was great to unwind at the local tiki-style bar with a Lotta Cocolata. Unwind from what, I don't know.