The Sims 4: Get to Work Review (PC)
One of the hardest things about being an adult is figuring out the ideal work/life balance. You don’t want to take your job home with you, but also don’t want to miss out on potential opportunities to show off your skills and put yourself in line for advancement. This balance is perfectly encapsulated in the first expansion for The Sims 4, aptly titled "Get to Work." It adds depth to returning career paths from previous games and allows entrepreneurial Sims the ability to own and manage their own retail stores. With so much more, well, work to do, the expansion bolsters a core game that was a bit sparse at launch. At the same time, it’s hindered by the limitations of The Sims 4, which make it very hard to balance careers, family, and fun.
The three career paths added to the base game in "Get to Work" will be very familiar to longtime players of the series. Sims with an affinity for medicine can be doctors, caring for and diagnosing patients—and eventually delivering babies—at the hospital. Or, if wacky inventions and discovering alien life are more your thing, you can pursue a career as a scientist. Then there’s the detective, who spends his or her days solving those tough-to-crack cases. The jobs themselves may not be new, but what is new is what happens when you follow a Sim to work instead of them disappearing for eight hours a day.
Being able to travel with your Sims to the hospital, police station, or lab allows you to micromanage virtually every aspect of each Sim’s job. You can interact with coworkers, do some research, treat patients, or maybe slack off and flirt with a cute doctor. This actually solves some of the boredom associated with single-Sim households—instead of fast-forwarding through the work day as you stare at an empty house, you can continue to control your created characters as they advance their careers.
Running a retail store, whether you’re selling edible treats or taking advantage of the new photography skill, offers even more depth. There are a dizzying number of factors to control and tasks to do—keeping the store clean, restocking items as they sell out, ringing up customers, making more goods to sell, hiring and managing employees. You can build up your own store from scratch or buy one available in the expansion’s new town. Don’t get too excited about the possibility of that new location, though—it’s strictly a barebones retail district with only four lots.
When you’re managing a single Sim’s career, it all just works beautifully. It’s in households with multiple working Sims that the balance starts to shift. Because of the base game’s inability to control multiple Sims in different locations (like you could in The Sims 3), switching back and forth is a huge hassle. Different lots are blocked off with loading screens, which are only a minor annoyance, but worse is what they represent: the game's inability to multitask. There are a few commands available for non-active Sims, but these vague, general orders like “Care for self” don’t really accomplish much. If you’ve set a Sim to a specific task and then switch off to someone else, the first Sim will stop what he or she was doing. As a result, you’ll never be able to dedicate as much time to two Sims’ careers as you’ll want to—and in even bigger households, job performance is really going to suffer.
Good luck running that retail store when you can only keep it open on days your other Sims aren’t working—or you can just not follow those Sims to work and prepare for job stagnation. And with so many hours actively spent at work, there’s little time for fun, like WooHooing with the neighbor or throwing dinner parties. Eventually, you’ll want to design households around this issue; maybe just one working Sim is enough, or you don’t need to open that store after all. This is unfortunate because it compromises the promise of unlimited imagination that the series is built upon. Sure, this isn’t just a "Get to Work" problem—it’s something that’s been severely limiting since The Sims 4 launched. However, even small tweaks, like more significant or meaningful actions for non-active Sims, could have made a big difference.
Building on the base game’s careers is a time-honored Sims expansion tradition, and "Get to Work" is a worthwhile addition. It does make the doctor and detective career paths more fun, and managing a retail store is a much-needed challenge. It’s only when you try to do it all at the same time that "Get to Work" suffers. Unlike in the real world, where micromanaging is an ineffective way to lead, The Sims 4’s first expansion makes it thoroughly addictive. It’s a shame that it couldn’t work around the base game’s issues to find a better balance.
This review is based on a download code for The Sims 4: Get to Work provided by the publisher for PC.