The Sims 4's October update marks the first steps towards better representation, but also breaks some stuff

(Image credit: EA)

Launched yesterday, Patch 102 is the latest monthly update to The Sims 4, and begins the roll out of a series of planned updates aiming to improve the game's racial representation and diversity. After disappointment over the game's lack of realistic and varied options for darker skin tones in Create-A-Sim came to the fore this summer, the Sims team pledged to do better. The main event is still to come in December—with that month's update set to radically increase the number of available skin tones, both by adding new swatches and introducing sliders that allow players to modify each tone—but the first improvements are now here, and so far, they seem to have been quite well-received.

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The October update overhauls two base game hairstyles—the 'long braided pulled back' feminine style and the 'Afro medium' masculine style—by giving them more realistic and detailed textures. Though not officially commented on as part of the patch notes, players have also noted that the widely-disliked blue tinge on the game's only black hair swatch seems to have departed—though whether this is the case for all hairstyles using the swatch or just the updated ones is not yet clear.

Furthermore, while no new skin tones have yet been added, the update has fixed a long-standing problem with existing skin swatches: namely, strange blotchy artefacts and distracting patterns that affected many of the game's darker skin tones. The cause of the problem—stated to have been over-zealous layer compression—has now been dealt with, though you'll need to be running the game using the default 'Uncompressed Sim Textures' option in the graphics settings to see the results.

The new update also adds several new items to the game in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, including new food, furniture, and clothing inspired by Mexican, Argentinian, and Dominican cultures, among others. The patch was developed in collaboration with Chicano artist Mister Cartoon as well as SOMOS EA (EA's Hispanic/Latinx employee resource group), and it seems like The Sims 4 team are more keen than ever to show their work when it comes to diversity and inclusion behind-the-scenes.

While these aspects of the latest update seem to have gone over well with players, the patch has not been without its issues. Anyone familiar with The Sims 4 will probably be aware that minor bug fixes have a troublesome habit of solving a problem only to cause another that's equally annoying, and this seems to be the case again with Patch 102. One Reddit user has posted a video of the rocks around Evergreen Harbor performing some wild dance moves—presumably a knock-on effect of a bug-fix to stop rocks from disappearing in Sulani—and there are reports of other little irritants cropping up as well. Unfortunately, there's not much to be done about those but wait for the November patch.