Some of my favorite Sims 4 expansion packs like City Living and Snowy Escape expand on gameplay elements and add in new features that make playing more fun — like the ability to take your Sims to karaoke, live in apartments, and even take a snowboarding excursion. And the Sims 4’s newest expansion pack, High School Years, brings a bunch of new features into the game that are as refreshing as a glass of prom punch.
High School Years gives players a new world, Copperdale, that is home to a fully functioning high school, new pre-designed families, and new areas that were ripe for exploration such as the dockside amusement park and the combination boba tea and thrift store.
To really test out all of these new elements in the pack, I took the opportunity to put my Sim through the full high school experience — drama, selfies, existential crisis, and prom included.
Disclaimer: Images captured for this article are not final game footage and subject to change.
Right into the social game
Starting my new Sim family off on Sunday in Copperdale, I immediately wanted to check out one of the new side hustles for my teen. Teens and up can take on two new side hustles: Sim-fluencer and Video Game Streamer. The working hours for both are available early in the morning or later on at night — perfectly mimicking when IRL teens might actually be able to stream or pursue side gigs while attending school.
The Sim-fluencer side hustle paired with one of the new Teen Aspirations, Admired Icon, immediately had me leaving the house to go out and meet people in town. One new location I love is ThrifTea, the boba and thrift shop where Sims can style new outfits to sell on Trendi (i.e., the Depop of the The Sims 4). The thrift shop has a rotating inventory of clothing to choose from, some even designed by Depop sellers themselves who worked in collaboration with the Sims 4 team.
Alongside the new locations in Copperdale are all new social interactions as well that feel very fitting for a teen-centered expansion pack to include. My Sim met a few other teens while she was out exploring, including a few who she had some flirty interactions with. Those flirty interactions later translated into my Sim being able to “confess daydreams about crush” to her mom once she’d returned home — an adorable new interaction.
More on the teen crush side of things, once my Sim did make it to high school there were a few interactions with other Sims that she had flirty vibes with that included revealing her crush to them and even asking them to prom. When she developed crushes on multiple Sims, she also had the option to try and get over crushes.
The new world and social interactions from High School Years liven up the game for teenage Sims. I enjoyed getting to have my Sim interact with other teens, both on a friendship level and for those pesky teenage crushes throughout the time I played. Rejections were had, social awkwardness ensued, and even taking pictures in the photo booth on the boardwalk left my Sim feeling equally excited or dejected, depending on how the interactions went.
Off to high school
I was able to get right into the academic grind by following my Sim to school come Monday morning. Checking her class schedule revealed a feature that is relatively small when compared to everything else in this pack — each day of the week has Sims attending two classes that teach them a different skill. For my Sim, her Monday schedule consists of math and science, which both focus on the logic skill.
That’s a small feature, but a highly practical one too. Now teens are working on the various skills available to Sims while attending high school, whereas teens can only build their skills by doing homework after school in the base game.
Time spent at school gave my Sim plenty of free time to interact with other teens and pursue activities. There’s a large basement in the pre-built high school that has a computer lab, gym, and chess club space that Sims can freely spend time in. I didn’t end up using these spaces during school hours because it does take a bit of time for your Sim to actually walk down to the basement during those breaks in between classes. I was focused on having my Sim make friends, study for final exams, and hitting different school day goals like being friendly with staff members or working on homework.
Once the school day is actually over, the school stays open as a hang-out spot for Sims which I particularly enjoyed. There are after-school activities and clubs like cheerleading, but Sims can also hang with friends, study, use the different facilities, and ask their crush out to prom via promposal sign.
Similar to dates, weddings, and other social events in The Sims 4, prom comes with its own goal tracker that prompts you to dance, vote for prom royalty, and take part in all things prom. Prom saw my Sim going with a completely different date than she had originally asked, which brought a bit of jealousy and hard feelings into the mix of teens.
And while I didn’t customize the actual prom itself, I did go back to the auditorium afterward to mess around with different setups for prom with the different prom-specific items. Much like the high school itself, the auditorium can be rebuilt completely into your own prom (or a totally different building) and mixing and matching for some different themes was fun — something I think players who enjoy building will get a lot out of.
High School Years delivers a fun expansion pack that brings a number of new elements into The Sims 4, all of which I’m having a blast with. The ability to set trends, thrift shop, pursue side hustles, and explore new relationships during the high school years is refreshing; especially for teenage Sims who I enjoyed playing beforehand, but never as much as with this pack. My Sim’s high school experience saw her perfectly prepped for exams, juggling some existential feelings late at night while she played video games for hours at a time, and having to scramble to find a new prom date the night before.
Compared to my own high school experience where I attended a completely online school, my Sim’s academic ventures were far more traditional than my own ever were. And while there were definitely some commonalities between my own high school experience and my Sim’s, the irony is not lost on me that I finally got to see what prom was like through the lens of a virtual prom.
The Sims 4: High School Years is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
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