Sims 4 – Cottage Living Week 1 – Simdew Valley

While I haven’t had a lot of time to play the new Sims 4 expansion, I have at least managed to get through one in-game week. It ironically correlates with one real-world week as well, but that wasn’t by design. I’m going to go over what I’ve done and seen so far and my basic opinion based on that, but I do intend to revisit this later after I’ve seen more content. I’ve been exploring all this on my own without using any guides or reference material, so there may very well be some errors or inefficiencies here. I’m more interested in the experience of playing with the features than I am making sure I’m “doing it right.”

We’ll start by talking about the new neighborhood, Henford-on-Bagley. Honestly I’m not very impressed. There’s only 11 lots in the whole area, 8 of which are residential and three of those are already occupied. If you’re looking for a default empty lot, there’s only that one on the far right. For a new 2-person family there were only three affordable options, a 1-bedroom cabin at the far north, the empty lot, and the one I chose; a two-bedroom house at the very bottom.

I’ve made a few modifications, but this is largely what the furnished version is. I added the scarecrow and changed the furniture in the kids room. It’s a pretty nice lot that definitely hits the cabin mark, but seems to be a bit off on the subsistence living theme of the pack itself. One of the advantages though is that it shares space with the village center, which is always accessible with no loading screen and his a pretty high amount of foot traffic. Great if you’re participating in the Faire or doing errands for other villagers.

It’s actually quite a large area, with an attached green and park which aren’t shown here. Those little stands with the green and red roof are actually vendors with a rotating stock. They sell mostly cooking ingredients, related books, gnomes, and animal treats. I’ve only been a couple of times, but it’s pretty handy.

I also visited the nearby pub at one point. In addition to drinks it sells a variety of Brit-ish foods, though I don’t recall seeing mushy peas on the list.

At some point in the first week there was a fair where you could submit a chicken and an egg to be judged. I figured my “excellent” quality egg might win something, but I ended up getting a consolation prize for both of them. There are apparently a variety of specialty eggs in the game and mine was simply too normal.

Chickens are pretty straightforward. You can either buy them as chicks or full grown chickens, though the latter is much more expensive. The chicks take about three days to mature and have the same needs as the grown chickens do. It’s pretty much a matter of keeping the coop clean, making sure you spread feed daily, and interacting with them. If you have at least one rooster you’ll occasionally get hatchable eggs as well, which you can drag and drop back into the coop to hatch. I would assume it’s related the the heart particle effect shown in this image of the coop, but I’ve only seen it one time. I can only assume that special eggs are a result of happiness and/or crossbreeding.

Eggs are laid daily, and started out at one each, but it does seem to vary. Either that or I’ve been forgetting to check it. I also occasionally get rewards from cleaning out the coop, such as oversized fertilizers. It happens frequently enough that I have several, perhaps every other day or close to it.

Because I’ve played too much Stardew Valley, I felt like I really needed a scarecrow near my crops. There is a thing related to befriending local birds or something, but I figured when I saw the option to chat with him that it was a good idea, so I made a point to do so at least once a day. True to form, once I maxed out the initial relationship meter, I gained access to new scarecrow outfit and he started getting up during the daylight hours and helping out around the house. In his humanoid form his has a seperate relationship meter and all the normal sim-sim interactions. I’m currently trying to befriend him to see if he can be invited into the household.

In addition to the original crops and plants within the game, the expansion adds new “oversized crops” which occupy an entire plot. They have the advantage of counting as a single plant, though, making them easier to care for compared to a normal plot of four different plants. They also use their own unique fertilizers that aren’t the same as the standard gardening ones

The details available on them in-game are pretty light, with no real indication of what season is appropriate until they’re planted. I got these mushrooms as a reward at one point, so once my original plants went out of season I uprooted them and tried these instead. Not really sure what all they can be used for, but I remember seeing them in a meat substitute recipe I think.

I will probably have to add some extra garden plots in order to fully utilize this feature. There’s only so much I can do with the two I currently have. The advantage of the oversized is that it would be a lot more effective to care for a large number of plots.

One of the other new features are these pesky little critters. They visit quite often, and do things such as fight chickens, steal eggs, and steal produce. At least that’s what I’ve seen so far. If you make friends with them, you can ask them to leave you alone, though it’s a bit time consuming to do so.

They’re part of the “challenges” section that’s been added/modified. This includes a variety of different modifiers that generally make it slightly more difficult to live on a given lot by placing restrictions on what you can or cannot do, or otherwise finding a way to impede you.

The Simple Living challenge, for example, prevents you from cooking food if you don’t have the ingredients in your fridge. They don’t have to be grown by you, but you must grow, buy, or order what you need for specific meals. This means no more paying on the spot if you’re missing tomatoes.

Reduce and Recycle, from the Eco Living expansion, makes it so your lot trash can can get full and require emptying.

Some of these items were already existing lot traits, but a recent update separated the traits and challenges into the different categories and sections. It’s actually not a bad idea, and I personally like the variety of situations that can be created this way.

Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to more fully explore the content available in the expansion. I’ve barely dealt with the errand/favor system, and I haven’t seen or interacted with the large animals, rabbits, or birds.

It seems a little light, at first, but if approached in the casual manner of Stardew Valley, it has a nice appeal to it.

Y’all take care. Always watch out for a fox in the henhouse.


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