The Sims 4 Star Wars Journey to Batuu Game Pack might end up being one of the controversial packs of all time. Announced just a few weeks ago to very, very lukewarm reception, the pack was accused of being a “cash grab” more than an experience for the community. With such a frosty fanbase to impress, how does Journey to Batuu fair when it comes to the crunch?
(Before we get stuck in, I’d just like to establish that I’m by no means a big Star Wars fan. Scale-wise, if a 10 is a Star Wars-quoting, convention-attending fan, and a zero is a hater, I’m probably around a four. This is important to establish when it comes to this pack, because it seems as though it’s only going to appeal to the hardcore Star Wars lovers out there. Let me prove that wrong).
The Sims 4 Journey to Batuu kicks off with a new world…sort of. Accessible only as a holiday destination, the Sims team definitely missed a trick by not making Batuu an actual new world for your Sims to live in or even properly stay in. Your Sim’s basic needs are met with rabbit hole-like tents in which they can use the bathroom, shower and sleep. Hunger is satisfied by purchasing Star Wars-inspired meals at the Cantina or various other kiosks found in the three areas of the new map: the Resistance Encampment, Black Spire Outpost and the First Order District.
No one area seems to be able to satisfy all of your Sim’s needs, with food mainly being available in Black Spire Outpost. Thanks to this oversight, you’ll be travelling across the three regions a lot, so if your computer struggles with loading screens, you might have a problem.
Each of the three areas is clearly designed with a lot of care and attention. Set pieces include huge sand dune-like buildings in Black Spire Outpost and the First Order District, with lush trees and even a waterfall in the Resistance Encampment. Sadly, you can only interact with around 20-30 percent of what you see around you, though I guess it’s nice to see the world building has been sort of considered.
Definitely one of the most unique-looking packs in The Sims 4, Journey to Batuu does an excellent job of bringing characters like Kylo Ren and Rey into the cartoony world of The Sims. Though there’s probably only a handful of characters designs for NPCs you’ll meet in the pack, they all somehow retain their own charm and style. I’m not well-versed in my Star Wars knowledge at all, but seeing tentacles, horns, scales and Doctor Who Ood-looking things in my Sims game was very, very welcome.
Music is also excellent, with loading screen taking advantage of your favourite Star Wars musical numbers to keep you immersed deeply into the lore of the world.
As I touched on above, Batuu and its three regions are definitely very eye-catching and well-designed in terms of the aesthetics. I’d like to have seen more explorable areas and things to interact with, though it’s important to remember this is a Game Pack and not an Expansion Pack.
The Sims 4 Journey to Batuu has a surprising amount for you to do – it’s just not that satisfying to do it. The game allows you to choose from three factions for your Sim: they can join the Resistance, the First Order or the Scoundrels. Each of these factions require you to complete quests to earn Galactic Credits as currency and items (yep, your Simoleons are no good on Batuu). As you progress, you’ll rank up until you become as important within your faction as the likes of Darth Maul himself.
The quests sometimes sound like they’re going to be very exciting, like stealing a member of the First Order’s uniform and hacking into their holocron to steal information for the Resistance (if you choose that faction). However, getting down to business will show you there’s not much to the quests. You can simply bribe the officer and then it’s just a quick click to access the holocron, which is somewhat disappointing.
The quests reminded me of the less exciting fetch quests and basic “filler” content you get in big RPGs, but the linearity of them and the minor progression threads somehow managed to hook me in. I wanted to complete quests and earn Credits and buy Porg plushies, lightsaber crystals and my own BB-8, so I kept going…and going…and suddenly I’d played for five straight hours and still wasn’t bored.
Despite being repetitive, despite having many loading screens and despite not really having any clear incentive to complete these tasks which barely had any gameplay, I couldn’t pull myself away. If you’re a tick-box gamer who likes to get sh*t done, the gameplay here will probably appeal. Again, loading screens are a pain in the butt when you’re trying to work through quests, so be wary of that.
Perhaps one of my favourite things to do in this pack is spar with Rey. Watching my Sim take on Rey Skywalker in a flashy lightsaber battle in The Sims is fantastic, even if it’s just an animation. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll love the little things like this that the pack offers.
Journey to Batuu’s actual Sims-like content is very lacking. A number of new outfits are available but are locked until you rank up within all three of the factions. You can unlock them with cheats, but the locked content is definitely less effective here than it was in the Nifty Knitting Stuff Pack. A lack of hairstyles and accessories is also disappointing, especially considering this is a Game Pack.
Since you can’t build in Batuu, you can instead pick up a few decorative items for your actual home when you return, but other than that there’s not a huge amount to enjoy. You can purchase and customise your own droids though, which is a welcome thought. I loved having my BB-8 (named GBB-8 because GameByte) follow me around the world, even if he was only useful to hack locked storage boxes.
Two new Aspirations are introduced with the pack, but only serve as tutorial modes, with just a couple of tasks to complete.
As much as I expected to dislike the linearity and specificity of The Sims 4 Star Wars Journey to Batuu Game Pack, I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying it. As a person who doesn’t really mind grindy minimum-resource games and basic fetch quests, I actually had a lot of fun meeting with informants, sparring with lightsabers, hiring for the Resistance and hacking keypads and lockboxes. I’m a sucker for building up your currency and inventory to make sure you’ll have everything you need, and I definitely enjoyed doing it within the world of The Sims.
Is this a Sims game in the traditional sense though? No, absolutely not. I’d firmly place this pack in the genre of a Star Wars point and click game, if anything. The opportunity to build families, homes, or even have a sit-down restaurant meal instead of eating in the Catina would have gone a long way in making this pack feel more like The Sims and less like a Star Wars game which happens to feature Sims.
The pack reminds me of the standalone Sims games likes The Sims 2 Island Castaway, which followed the same premise of fetch quests and linear storylines. It’s here in which I believe lies the crux of this pack as it’s not one for Simmers per se, though I can see it definitely appealing to people who play the Sims casually. It’s lack of build-and-buy additions, CAS items and the lack of having a home on Batuu makes this pack very Anti-Sim. It’s more of a quest pack set in the world of The Sims.
The trick to getting enjoyment out of this pack is to pretend it’s not actually a Sims game, and instead more of a Star Wars sim. It’s easy to see why the Sims community is so disappointed with the launch of this pack when the base game is still in need of many improvements, but if you’re looking for new linear adventures for your favourite Sim – and if you have even a vague interest in Star Wars – there’s definitely lots of hours of fun to be had with this one.
The Sims 4 Journey to Batuu Game Pack was reviewed on PC/Mac.
Featured Image Credit: EA