Games

The Sims 4's Star Wars Expansion is Definitely Star Wars, For Better Or Worse

May te Forsh be wibbey!
September 4, 2020, 1:00pm
09-01-20_11-16-07 PM

Although the game is stretching itself to the absolute limits of its systems to do so, The Sims 4 Star Wars: Journey To Batuu gives me the Star Wars video game experience I've always wanted: being a regular guy, but in Star Wars.

It's unfortunate that this pack has come out at a time when brand deals like this are the last thing on the fandom's mind. Hardcore Sims 4 fans are having a hard time getting excited for Batuu when they still feel like the issue of the game's skin tones and other ongoing problems haven't been resolved. There's still a lot to love about this pack, and every time I wonder if I'm just getting deluded by the Star Wars veneer I play another hour of it without realizing that time is passing. I feel like the affection for Star Wars is so present in this pack that it's like sharing your enthusiasm for its fiction with the team. But you can also tell where their creative energies have come up against the limits of the pack's lore. Sometimes, I wish they had been able to spread their wings a little more.

Journey to Batuu uses many of the existing Sims 4 systems to create a pack that does things that set it apart from every other. Like Jungle Adventure, this is a Vacation World, meaning your Sim can't live there or grow up there. You can't build new structures on Batuu, where everyone lives in a dormitory-esque dwelling called The Dwelling. Instead of taking showers and using the bathroom, The Dwelling serves as a rabbit hole that covers all your hygiene and sleeping needs. You don't even have the ability to cook on Batuu—you buy all your food from vendors.

While on Batuu, you also have an inventory unique to that world, and use a new currency that is explicitly distinct from Simoleons. Unlike other Vacation Worlds, going to Batuu doesn't cost any money and isn't for a set number of days. You can stay there as long as you'd like. In a way, this Game Pack basically adds a button to The Sims 4 that turns it into a Star Wars game for as long as you'd like.

Journey to Batuu is explicitly and specifically based on the Disney Galaxy's Edge theme park experience and not any of the movies. Vi Morandi, a Star Wars character that, for lack of a better word, is the star of the theme park, can be found hanging out with other Resistance members at their camp. The restaurants that you can buy food from serve the same meals that they do in the park, and are in the same location. It's a twisty bit of lore wrangling, because the theme park Batuu also has, you know, rides, but this Batuu doesn't. This is the "real" Batuu—or at least a version of Batuu where the Millennium Falcon is an actual spaceship and not a ride.

Batuu looks and feels so much like the Disney theme park photos I've seen that I can recognize the "stairways to nowhere" that YouTuber Jenny Nicholson commented on in her video about the visit she made to the park. It's main district, Black Spire Outpost, is so big and often so empty that is can also feel like a theme park staging for an attraction that's yet to happen. Once you're inside the few smaller locations that exist, especially the Cantina, the game feels much more alive. I have spent so many in-game nights playing sabacc at the Cantina, trying to make Hondo Ohnaka my friend. All he does is keep stealing my credits.

In order to get new credits—and to access the majority of the story content in this pack—you take on missions. This uses the new freelance jobs system that was introduced in a free update, though instead of checking your phone for new jobs, you talk to specific characters to pick up missions. The missions you do affect how other characters react to you. If you're following the Resistance track, taking on enough Resistance missions will make the Stormtroopers hate you so much that they pretty much start yelling at you on sight. I've been beaten up and arrested by the First Order twice.

Talking about your experiences in Batuu is when you start to realize the kind of narrative that The Sims 4 is guiding you through. If you want to get into lightsaber fights and pilot an X-Wing in this game, you're out of luck. I have had lightsaber duels and own a frankly concerning number of sabers at this point, but like all fights in the Sims, you're simply clicking on another character to have an interaction and then waiting on the game to tell you who wins. You can explore in an X-Wing, but like The Dwelling, it's a rabbit hole that you disappear into, then read text descriptions of what you see and do; sometimes you will be able to make a couple choices. It's the social systems that contain the bulk of the excitement, and that put you in the mind of a Star Wars character that's making a name for themself across the universe.

I have befriended scoundrels and made enemies with Stormtroopers. I've built a droid and stolen from the First Order. I've even made friends with Rey, who looks and sounds uncannily like her actress Daisy Ridley to the point that she has a voice actress that is completely unique to her character. I immediately made it a goal to become her best friend, if only because I want to hear her say "may te forsh be wibbey" as often as possible.

But as many Star Wars fans now know, any love you have for the series will eventually be undercut by disappointment. Despite Hondo Ohnaka, Rey, and Kylo Ren being present in the game, fans looking for Finn are going to be disappointed. In the fiction of the theme park, Finn is off-world on a secret mission, meaning in The Sims 4 he is just not around. I can't help but be sad that he isn't there, even if it's not canon to Batuu. I have six or seven lightsabers in my Sim's inventory now; that feels like a break from canon too.

Despite the lack of Finn, I can't help but want to return to Batuu and finish my missions for the Resistance. This pack feels more like a treat for Star Wars fans than something for the game's core audience, and that means there are plenty of things that the most invested Simmers won't like. The clothing in particular has some pretty drab color combinations, and they all kind of hang like linen sacks on the characters. But it's also a lovely tribute to the aspects of Star Wars that I love, like the idea of convincing people who otherwise wouldn't be virtuous to join a resistance movement, or using your droid best friend to make Kylo Ren faint, or chugging down some blue milk on a hot day. If I can't make it to Galaxy's Edge, then I'll fire up this pack. It's close enough.