Skip to main content

The Sims 4’s latest expansion recreates the full high school experience

The Sims 4’s newest expansion pack, High School Years, focuses on the high school experience and brings with it teen content and a whole array of new features — from all new fashion options to in-game features like following your teen Sims through their classes and extracurriculars.

The Sims 4 High School Years: Official Reveal Trailer

In a press preview event, lead producer George Pigula and lead designer Jessica Croft shared a number of new features that come with the pack including the new world of Copperdale, teen aspirations, new side hustles, and some base game updates that I know players have been interested to see.

High School Years opens up the ability for players to follow their teen Sims to high school where they attend class, join after-school clubs, and attend both prom and graduation. It offers up new gameplay and features that are set to appeal to Sims players of all styles in the form of new fashion options, social interactions, and a new world ripe for exploration.

Total control of the high school experience

The big highlight of the DLC is, of course, the fact that high school is now a playable part of The Sims. Copperdale High features a sports field, auditorium, and everything you can expect to see in a high school like classrooms, bathrooms, and a range of after-school clubs like chess club, cheerleading, and a football team that Sims are free to join as they like.

Lockers are especially customizable for each teen Sim in a household. And that customizability extends to the teens’ homes. A number of new Create-A-Sim items and Build and Buy items were shown — including gaming chairs, desks, and what looked like gaming PCs as well! These items pair well with the two new side hustles that teens can pursue alongside their academics as a Simfluencer and a video game streamer.

Sims attend high school in The Sims 4: High School Years.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Four new aspirations are available for Sims to fulfill during their high school years that center around different aspects of the teen experience. These aspirations include Drama Llama, Live Fast, Admired Icon, and Goal Oriented. Each aspiration has teens pursuing different things such as popularity or wanting to be the best across the board with good grades, sports, and money. I think this will definitely open up teen play quite a bit, especially for players who enjoy the storytelling element of The Sims.

Perhaps the highest school of high school events that players can look forward to are prom and graduation. Prom comes with all the expectations of Sims looking for dates, either through dropping a note in a locker or going all out with a prom-posal. Players have total control over the prom itself with full customization from the decorations to the food that is served which can open the door for funny mistakes — such as full turkeys being served, which happened in my preview.

Two Sims dance at prom in The Sims 4: High School Years.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

And it wouldn’t be high school without graduation. Pigula and Croft noted that grades would impact a Sim’s graduation, just as they would in real life. Players can shoot for valedictorian or they may have to have their Sims come back as a young adults to pursue an online high school diploma. And for players with University Life installed, high school graduation will also impact university offers.

Style and Sim-thrifting

A huge focus of High School Years can be found in the overall style from what I saw in the preview – especially in terms of clothing items. Modern styles, especially those popularized by Gen Z in recent years, served as a big influence in a lot of the new clothing items players will see like dark academia, cottagecore, and Y2K.

New expansion packs typically focus on one style of clothing, but Croft emphasized that the numerous styles were key to dialing in on the teen experience. Croft commented on the focus that was given to self-exploration in the pack, especially through style, even going so far as to say that “if high school itself is the spine of the pack, then exploring your identity is the soul of the pack.”

Ash spilled the tea on the Trendi app & ThriftTea shop in #TheSims4HighSchoolYears! 🤗

Available for Preorder ✨

— The Sims (@TheSims) July 13, 2022

Style and self-expression are further brought into High School Years through a new in-game app called Trendi which allows Sims to create and sell unique outfits online and a new shop called ThrifTea — a combination boba tea and thrift shop. Trendi is something along the lines of Depop or Mercari, which are real-world sites that let you sell second-hand clothing online. Sims will be able to earn Simoleons on the app and even try to get a new fashion trend started while ThrifTea will have a rotating stock of different clothing items for Sims to buy and style with.

Base game updates to come

High School Years has a lot of new content coming with it, but there were also two base game updates coming that were mentioned during the preview.

More body hair is being added to Create-A-Sim through the addition of leg, arm, torso, and back hair. High School Years will have a few options that are strictly exclusive to the expansion pack, but the base game will receive options through a free update as well. A feature of High School Years includes the ability to enable hair growth — which will allow players to have their Sims shave or not.

Sims drink tea together at an ice cream shop in The Sims 4.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

And lastly, Pigula and Croft shared that another new update to come would be the ability to customize a Sim’s sexual orientation in Create-A-Sim, a feature that has been highly in demand from players. The new feature will allow players to set their Sims attraction in a few different ways such as “attraction to the same or different sex, experiment with attraction naturally through interactions with other Sims over time, feel physical but not romantic attraction and vice versa, or not feel any attraction at all.”

Of note was the fact that The Sims team did work with organizations It Gets Better and GLAAD on this new feature to create “a detailed and affirming option” for players.

With the new content and features set to come with High School Years and the new base game updates, players have a lot to look forward to — especially for those who have an interest in being able to do more with their younger Sims and get more hands-on with the high school experience.

The Sims 4: High School Years expansion pack will launch on July 28.

Editors' Recommendations

Paige Lyman
Freelance writer and journalist
Paige Lyman is a freelance writer and journalist who covers culture and entertainment. She has contributed stories to Digital…
Fallout 4’s PS5 and Xbox Series X upgrade launches for free in 2023
Power armor suit in Fallout 4.

In celebration of Fallout's 25th anniversary, Bethesda has announced that Fallout 4 will get an upgrade for the current generation of consoles in 2023. This free update will launch for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC and comes with a variety of new features that take advantage of more powerful hardware.

The upgraded version will include a performance mode that prioritizes high frame rates, in addition to new quality features that boost the game to 4K resolution. This new version of Fallout 4 also offers bug fixes and Creation Club content. Players who already own the game on PS4, Xbox One, and PC will gain access to the current-gen upgrade at no additional cost. It's unclear how much the game will cost for players buying it for the first time on PS5 or Xbox Series X/S.

Read more
No Man’s Sky 4.0’s difficulty options make the space game feel new again
No Man's Sky warp drive

You’d think space was the final frontier, but 2016’s spacefaring exploration sim No Man’s Sky seems to keep finding new ways to expand and improve its eye-watering collection of features. What began as a quiet trek through a galaxy comprised of over 18 quintillion lonely planets is now a far more comprehensive game with a more sophisticated suite of gameplay options, including frontier towns to run, outlaw space systems to smuggle goods through, multiplayer missions to complete alongside your friends, and a fully-fledged story campaign to follow at your own leisurely pace.

It’s also recently been updated to its fourth major iteration as of October 7. That’s when developer Hello Games unleashed the 4.0 update, also known as the Waypoint update, coinciding with the long-awaited Nintendo Switch release. As a result of the 4.0 update, long-term No Man’s Sky fans were once again treated to an impressive array of improvements, including boosts to visual fidelity, better legibility within menus, and a noteworthy overhaul to inventory management that also left some players momentarily disheartened.

Read more
The next Sims game is officially in development and fans will help shape it
A crowd of Sims attends an in-game musical festival.

More than 8 years after the initial launch of The Sims 4, EA and Maxis revealed what's next for the popular life simulation series. Code-named Project Rene, this game is in early development, and EA plans on looping players in on the state of the game throughout development as they have with skate. (as it styles itself) and Dead Space.
EA teased the new game during the Behind The Sims Summit livestream, which reflected on the series' history, and also teased upcoming DLC content for The Sims 4, The Sims FreePlay, and The Sims Mobile. Still, the final announcement of Project Rene was the highlight of the show, and we even got an early look at gameplay. Not only is there a clear visual improvement over The Sims 4, but Project Rene also includes new features like being able to change the shape of objects you are placing in the game and create with friends in the same space no matter what platform you are both playing on. 

We didn't actually see any Sims in this footage, but those who enjoy the interior designing that the game enables will appreciate the early look. Still, VP of Franchise Creative for The Sims Lyndsay Pearson hinted at the overall vision of Project Rene when introducing the game. 
"This is the future of The Sims, built on a foundation of charming Sims, powerful tools, and meaningful stories," Pearson teased. "This future requires us to stay true to what The Sims has always been while pushing to evolve how those Sims think and behave, to push tools even further when creating and customizing, and to explore innovative ways to not only tell stories but to collaborate on those stories or creations with your closest friends across your favorite devices."
EA did not detail all of the specific platforms Project Rene will come to, but we did see the game running on PC and mobile during the showcase. The game is "years away," so a specific release date or window was not shared, but we'll learn it in due course as EA continues the open development process with this game. 

Read more