One of the best things about The Sims 4 is that you can keep coming back to it, again and again, and mold new parameters for your unknowing victims (sorry, uh, Sims) every time. Seriously. I’ve sunk in over 1,000 hours in the last few years alone, and rather than my experience growing stagnant, the way I play has only evolved.
What first started as a life simulator where I’d focus on building families and generations, later became a more involved architect simulation game. I got really into decorating, remodeling homes, and building houses (and community lots) from the ground up. But even as I consistently come back to The Sims 4, it doesn’t always scratch my itch.
Sometimes I want something a little different, but not too different. I want more Sims that isn’t the typical Sims I play every day. With games like Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, life-simulation games over the years have become all the more abundant. Looking ahead, there’s plenty more to be excited about. Here are five upcoming titles to keep on your radar.
Disney Dreamlight Valley
Described as “a hybrid between a life-sim and an adventure game,” Disney Dreamlight Valley will let you create a character and meet with iconic Disney and Pixar characters within its world. You can spend your time on the harmonic island by farming, harvesting, fishing, and so on, as well as go on adventures with characters like Donald Duck and Goofy. Its gameplay has, unsurprisingly, been compared to Animal Crossing and it’s pretty easy to see why, as much of your time is spent tending the island or decorating spaces.
The whole setup is somewhat reminiscent of older home console life-simulation games which often weren’t polished. But Disney Dreamlight Valley sounds a little more promising. At the very least, we’ll be able to find out incredibly soon: Early access begins September 6, and the game will be available on a variety of platforms including Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
It’s been a few years now since the indie life-simulation game Paralives was first announced by its small Montreal-based development team, and I genuinely can’t wait until I can get my hands on it. Clearly inspired by The Sims, it has all the similar foundations (make a human, build their house, guide them through life’s obstacles), but there are specific things about it that make it feel unique rather than a cheap copy-cat.
The art style is distinct and bright, and they’re adding features that just aren’t possible in The Sims franchise (or weren’t possible for a long time up until very recently, like curved walls and body hair). The character creator looks incredibly impressive, bringing some deep flexibility with body shapes and more control over placement of things like tattoos.
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As much as I love The Sims, there are some pretty frustrating limitations with building, and from what I’ve seen of Paralives, there are some neat tricks they’re using to stream-line building and decorating to make it less of a hassle. Walls can more easily be made to be tall or short with a simple pull, and furniture can be stacked, flipped, and resized without any cheats or mods.
Paralives has no release date just yet, but it’s something any dedicated Sims fan should keep their eye on.
House Flipper 2
I can’t be the only one that got ridiculously sucked into the original House Flipper. I do love building things in games, after all, so it made sense: House Flipper is all about building a career flipping homes, where you go into derelict buildings and remodel them from the inside out until you can re-sell them at a much higher price on the market.
The original could be a little tedious (setting up radiators with all the turning of knobs was very annoying), but I can’t deny that I had fun spending hours upon hours making houses look perfect. And boy, I loved the satisfying feeling of painting walls.
Details are slim on what we can expect in the sequel, but it does portray a more realistic office space than the previous game, which acted as your home base between jobs. House Flipper 2 comes out in 2023. In the meantime, the original is still receiving new DLC, like the ability to have your own pet.
This free-to-play game is a community-centric MMO, created by former developers from Riot, PlayStation, and Epic at a studio called Sigularity Six. Palia looks absolutely gorgeous, and the gameplay revolves around forming connections with both NPCs and other players, decorating spaces, and completing daily activities.
You spend a lot of your time exploring a lush fantasy world in which you can catch bugs, cook, fish, etc, but the heart of Palia is all about collaborating with others — most tasks can be done with friends. Furthermore, there’s a backdrop of lore about the disappearance of humans, which makes for a compelling mystery that the developers have teased may take years to fully unfold, in a live-service kind of way.
No release date has been set, but Palia has undergone a couple phases of alpha testing in which players have been able to test features within the game and give feedback. It’s likely still a ways off from release, but I for one am excited.
Roots of Pacha
This upcoming co-op simulation game, taking place in the stone age, revolves around growing your town and tending to crops within a wholesome community. It shares a lot of similarities to Stardew Valley, but looks to go a little deeper in some respects with cooperative play and more intuitive systems. Plus, the whole stone age setting makes things particularly interesting.
For one, you have to discover things — like how to harvest certain crops for the first time, or the best ways to cook from scratch — rather than relying on shops to buy ingredients. Every discovery you make helps your town progress forward into new, modern ways of doing things.
Bonding or romancing other characters is of course par for the course here, but what’s really neat is that, unlike Stardew Valley, there’s no need to memorize their routes or schedules to find them at certain places. Their locations will appear live on your map, which should help a great deal.
Roots of Pacha was recently delayed and will now be releasing next year.