The Sims 4: For Rent review - Love, Death (by mold) and Taxes

A The Sims Landlord covered in mold stink lines

A The Sims Landlord covered in mold stink lines

The Sims 4: For Rent introduces the concept of renting to The Sims 4 - or reintroduces it, if you bought the 2016 expansion pack City Living - along with death by mold, the ability to be a landlord, and, as is expected of The Sims 4 DLC these days, plenty of bugs and glitches.

In all fairness to Maxis and EA, For Rent does expand on City Living’s rental system. While City Living limited players to renting high-rise apartments in the city of San Myshuno from non-playable landlords, For Rent is a spiritual successor to The Sims 2: Apartment Life and brings back apartments in the form of ‘residential rental’ lots that can fit multiple Sim families into one building.

Each building can hold between 2 and 6 units in the vanilla game, with each unit holding up to 8 Sims each. That means you can get an entire 48 Sims crammed into one lot. While you do have to go through loading screens to visit each individual unit, which can get incredibly annoying if you’re playing as a landlord Sim just trying to keep up with unit maintenance, the loading screens are significantly shorter than any others found in the game so far. For Rent’s apartments aren’t restricted to one world, either, as almost any lot in any in-game residential world can be transformed into a rental building.

While being a landlord isn’t an official job, it works the same as purchasing commercial venues from other packs (such as vet clinics or restaurants) and your Sim can get a steady income from their tenants. Or they could if the rent system currently worked. After playing through a whole in-game year as a landlord, my Sim never saw a single penny of rent from their tenants, but still had to shell out the $50 rental tax.

A landlord in The Sims wearing a hazmat suit cleaning mold off the floor
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My landlord has never once cleaned away mold with their bare hands. Once again, The Sims sets unrealistic expectations for the struggles of daily life.

Lack of rent aside, the apartment system is surprisingly in-depth, featuring tenant agreements that determine things such as rent, tenancy duration, and unit rules, and the ability to filter through tenant applications to decide exactly who you want your Sims to lord over. If tenants violate unit rules then they’ll be fined and, if they don’t pay the fine, your landlord Sim will wind up being fined too.

You can also ‘justly’ evict tenants if they violate unit rules or wish to move out, or ‘unjustly’ evict them if you’re just really into evicting people. Unjustly evicted tenants can serve you a lawsuit that also accompanies a hefty fine, though, and there’s currently a bug that means that even justly evicted tenants can still get mad at you, so you might consider just evicting to your heart’s content, but evictions can also crash your entire game by accidentally starting neverending events that you can’t exit out of, meaning you’ll have to force quit and lose all your unsaved progress.

A Sims 4 character snooping through a mailbox
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Be a real landlord, snoop through your tenant's mail. That's just how it be sometimes.

Speaking of upset tenants - poorly maintained apartments and repeated fines from violating the apartment rules can result in your unit ratings dropping and tenants leading a self-explanatory event called a ‘tenant revolt’. Because this is The Sims 4 and nothing works at launch (or even seven years later, if you’re the The Sims 4: Dine Out expansion) there’s a hilarious glitch where landlords can often be found leading the tenant revolts. You can turn off these tenant events in the settings menu if your tenants tend to re-enact Les Misérables more than they need to.

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The new expansion pack isn’t entirely doom and gloom, however. The new world of Tomarang, while only featuring nine lots in total, is absolutely beautiful and draws inspiration from Southeast Asian culture. It’s clear that the The Sims team did their homework, as the new build mode and Create-A-Sim items are not only wonderful depictions of the culture but are also extremely lovely to use, and the new trait ‘Child of the Village’ allows your Sims to partake in Tomarani traditions such as releasing paper lanterns. The pack also comes with four other traits: ‘Nosy’, ‘Generous’, ‘Cringe’, and the elder-only ‘Wise’ to help flesh out your Sims’ personalities a little more.

Along with the new traits are four new aspirations (‘Seeker of Secrets’, ‘Five-Star Property Owner’, ‘Found of Tomarani Knowledge’, and ‘Discerning Dweller’) that are well integrated with the pack’s gameplay. The new part-time job, handyperson, also fits with the renting and building maintenance theme, and the new ‘death by mold’ feature means that Sims living in slums can be consumed by the filth of their own apartments.

Perhaps the highlight of For Rent are the new ‘snooping’ and ‘breaking and entering’ interactions, which allow your Sims to break into other people’s apartments and snoop around for secrets or just straight up steal things. The secrets consist of tongue-in-cheek references to both the game and community’s lore while being able to steal from other Sims is the closest that the game has gotten to the iconic burglar NPC of the previous three mainline The Sims entries, ‘Kleptomaniac’ trait notwithstanding.

The Tomarang night market in The Sims 4 shining with asian-inspired lanterns in the air
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The Sims 4: For Rent does at least add the gorgeous new Tomarang world to explore

For Rent’s main problem lies in the fact that while the pack is lovely to look at and padded out with plenty of new items and character mechanics, the gameplay itself is rather shallow, and that’s not even touching on how glitchy and broken the pack is. There’s really not much to do outside of keeping your tenants happy by inspecting their fridges every now and then or destroying their lives one mold infestation at a time.

It seems like EA and Maxis once again forgot that their full priced expansion packs (that’s $39.99/£34.99 per expansion, by the way) for games usually include actual gameplay and that they’re not just expensive ‘kit’ packs. It’s a shame, especially seeing as the pack’s spiritual predecessor The Sims 2: Apartment Life not only built on its base game but had fully fleshed out mechanics, gameplay, and also witches that weren’t sold separately and paywalled behind a $19.99/£17.99 game pack (that’s The Sims 4: Realm of Magic for anyone interested, although why they added witches in the apartment-themed pack in The Sims 2 is still beyond me).

The Sims 4: For Rent is another middling expansion that regurgitates old content for an inflated price. Complete with the usual wave of bugs, this new expansion is another overpriced letdown.
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