I have played The Sims series since its first game launched in the year 2000. I have played all of the main games extensively and still regularly return to its latest instalment, The Sims 4, to this day.
As an avid player of the series for the last 20 years, I like to believe that I know quite a lot about the games and would like to use this knowledge to evaluate the UI in the latest game.
So lets get into the issues that I have:
The Sims 4 was released in 2015 but was rebranded in 2019. This included a new main menu and loading screen along with new branding for online sales of the game and physical changes to game packaging in stores.
This is the original main menu for The Sims 4 and I have no real issues with this screen. It is simple to use and gives a good representation of the game through colours and feelings.
This is the new main menu from the 2019 rebrand and there are a number of issues that I personally have with this game.
The new colour palette is very confusing for me personally. I feel that the colours do not go well together and are constantly fighting for the player’s attention due to their vibrancy. I can understand the use of the blue and tones, to an extent, as all of the previous sims games feature the colour quite heavily. However the use of the pink and orange colours seems very strange to me as they are not seen anywhere else and do not compliment the well.
While the first menu also had advertisements, they were more subtle and were presented more as news updates for the player. This new menu heavily features the large list of expansion, game and stuff packs available to buy for extra money. These icons, when clicked, send the player to the webpage to purchase them. While it can be helpful for the player to see which packs they have purchased, this feature is also unnecessary and dangerous when considering that many players of The Sims are children. With many documented cases of children spending hundreds and even thousands of pounds on in-game currency or packs with parents’ credit cards, access to buyable extras should be a little more difficult in my opinion.
While animations can be fun and aesthetic to the player, they can also be distracting. The llama in the lower right of the screen constantly bounces up and down while the confetti around it rotates. While the animation is cute, it is unnecessary, distracting and takes away from any and all of the useful parts of the screen.
This is the old loading screen. It features the old plumbob logo and has informative text about the game appearing periodically.
This is the loading screen brought in with the 2019 rebrand. At the time this was introduced, I was having a number of issues with my PC and it would randomly crash on me – especially when playing The Sims – producing a ‘blue screen error’. This hue is almost identical to the windows error and would terrify me every time it appeared as I thought, for a brief moment, that my PC had crashed again.
After a huge volume of complaints from players – especially those with sensory issues – the loading screen was updated to a darker shade. Although I much prefer this screen, it is yet another shade of blue added to the game’s palette that does not match anything else.
Live Mode HUD
My main issue with the HUD is its size. The design is clearly intended to be minimalistic and unobtrusive but the problem comes with a larger screen. My screen resolution is 3840 x 2160 and the size of the HUD is significantly reduced to a point where, even with good eyesight, I have to sit extremely close to the screen.
As someone who spends a lot of time in the build/buy mode, I have very few complaints about the UI. My main criticism, again, comes from my screen resolution. The item catalogue is too small, making it easy to miss an item when looking for it. In the previous games, the catalogue had an arrow which expanded the menu and doubled the number of items in view. I think that this feature would be beneficial in The Sims 4 to help builders find what they are looking for.
Despite the multiple issues that I have with the UI in this game, I still love it and continue to play it regularly. This shows that although flaws in UI are less than desirable, they are not always game breaking when issues occur.