When I heard that the latest game pack in the Sims 4 franchise was based on the Star Wars universe, I honestly thought it was a joke.
I’ve been playing in the Sims franchise since the first installment of Sims came out back when I was a kid, but Journey to Batuu is unlike anything EA (or Maxis) has ever tried to do with this franchise. Sure, they’ve thrown in the occasional nod to Star Wars–Yoda masks and whatnot–but I never thought they’d create an entire game pack dedicated to a galaxy far, far away…
When I realized that the Journey to Batuu trailer was no joke, I was one of the simmers who got really excited.
I know, I know. This is a contentious game pack, and some of y’all think that the Sims and Star Wars go together about as well as Mentos and cola.
Personally, I’ve always enjoyed it when Sims goes out of its comfort zone. I supported Sims: Life Stories when that came out, and I play Sims: Medieval to this day.
What can I say? I’m a rebel.
Now that I’ve played Journey to Batuu for about a week, I’m ready to give my honest feedback about what EA got right–and oh so wrong–with this divisive pack.
Let’s start with Journey to Batuu’s new CAS (Create-a-Sim) items, which are fucking gorgeous. New hairstyles include Rey’s signature updo as well as a twisted-braid-bun-ponytail… thing… that I can’t describe but am absolutely obsessed with.
Batuu also introduced some new clothes that, while geared toward Star Wars gameplay, I can honestly see myself using on a daily basis. The Star Wars fashion lends itself perfectly toward those sims who like to be comfy. Most of it looks like modern, fashionable lounge wear–the sort of stuff I’ve been wearing 24/7 since the pandemic gave me an excuse to not leave my house.
Let’s also mention the Star Wars masks, which are in the CAS system. While I don’t agree with the unique Batuu citizens being “sims in masks” — more on that later — the masks themselves are gorgeous and really well executed. #Sold.
Build Me Up… and Down
Batuu’s build mode items are another slam dunk–and not just for those of us into Star Wars. Sure, you’ve got some items you’ll never use outside of franchise-related gameplay, but other items are completely versatile. I’m currently obsessed with using their new stone floors in my builds, and I love decorating my kids’ rooms with things like the Millenium Falcon model.
LilSimsie goes through the Build/Buy items much more comprehensively than I plan to, but the summary is that EA really spent time making sure the items in this pack looked right, and it paid off. I’m currently enjoying the challenge of building Batuu-inspired underground houses using some of the new gamepack items.
I haven’t shared any to the gallery yet. They’re pretty awful. But I’m having fun.
A World Without Lots
For many simmers, the real aspect of Batuu that is hard to swallow is the fact that Batuu, itself, is a vacation world with no buildable lots.
Basically, when you travel to Batuu, you have a choice between three neighborhoods: the Black Spire Outpost, the Resistance Encampment, and the First Order District. The Black Spire Outpost is your neutral zone, where you can meet with scoundrels, gamble at the Cantina, and refill your needs at your little Rabbithole Hotel.
I’m going to be unpopular and say that I’m actually really happy with the way EA designed this world. Sure, I can’t build there, and that’s sort of a bummer. But the trade-off is that, when you’re playing in Batuu, you don’t have to wait through loading screens to go from building to building. Batuu is largely mission-based, and if you had to wait for a loading screen each time you ventured from the Cantina to the Millenium Falcon, gameplay would drag.
Instead, what they’ve offered is a best-of-both-worlds experience, with one fleshed-out area in each neighborhood and a bunch of rabbit holes.
It actually reminds me a fair amount of Sims Medieval. Pop-up dialogue boxes–complete with character faces–lend your missions verisimilitude without slowing you down.
Unlike in Sims Medieval, there is no menu bar on the bottom left to help you find the building you need to trigger the next part of your mission. The result is that I spent a fair amount of time clicking around the Outpost, trying to figure out which beige, dome-shaped building my sim could pee in.
I’m having fun with the mission system in Batuu, but I’m not sure if everyone will.
Basically, you can choose to receive missions from the leader of the scoundrels, the First Order, or the Resistance. Depending on where you receive missions from, you’ll have different opportunities available to you and gain renown with different factions.
I’ve only played with the scoundrels so far, so I can’t speak much to the Resistance or the First Order.
My experience is that the missions can get a little redundant… but no more than anything else you do in Sims. The missions–such as “transporting someone off-world”–are generic enough that it makes sense that you’d do them more than once.
Certain missions require you to build skills up, and having a Droid or a lightsaber opens up different dialogue options than heading into a mission empty-handed, which makes it feel worthwhile to invest in these items early on.
I’m enjoying the story-style of Batuu more than I enjoyed Strangerville, as it honestly feels like it has a greater replayability. Instead of there being one mystery to solve, which is then… solved… there are a lot of smaller missions that can be completed over and over again. It’s like how you can choose to follow the same career path with different sims and it doesn’t get old.
Separate… but Not Completely
Batuu feels like it was built so that you can play it separate from the rest of your game. Batuu townies don’t wander into your neighborhood when you go home, and you even have a completely separate Batuu wardrobe. It’s as if you can play your regular game and then occasionally wander into Batuu for a different experience.
Except… not really.
Because while you’re in Batuu, you’ll still receive notifications about festivals that you’re missing back home, or invitations from friends to attend Singles Night. If you spend long enough in Batuu without going home, you’ll even get notifications that your utilities were turned off because you didn’t pay your bills.
On the one hand, I get it. In real life, your mortgage doesn’t pause just because you go on vacation.
On the other hand, Batuu stops feeling separate from the rest of your game when mundane things like homeworld bills keep seeping into what you’re doing. I found myself missing how vacations worked in Sims 3. You had a limited number of days to vacation, but you didn’t age, time didn’t pass back home, and you were free from your obligations.
As it stands, you basically need to create a new save file to play Batuu anyway. In which case, you may as well let the Batuu townies wander in and out and allow me to toggle that on and off in my save, the same way I can toggle seasons or eco lifestyle or any number of other factors.
Also. As an aside. It’s complete bullshit that I can’t call Kylo Ren when I’m home because I “can’t get a signal” to Batuu, but when I’m on Batuu, my friends can call me constantly to tell me about stupid shit happening in our neighborhood.
Aliens or Just Convincing Cosplay?
When it comes to the “aliens” introduced in Batuu, EA swung and missed.
Basically, you’re not dealing with aliens at all. To create the unique alien-esque features, EA just created masks (and attached gloves in the same skin tone) to put on some of the Sims that populate Batuu.
Don’t get me wrong–these masks are gorgeous. But they’re also suuuuper problematic, especially if–like me–you’re a legacy simmer.
Say you make friends with one of the aliens while you’re on vacation on Batuu. You invite them to join you on vacation. Suddenly–and without any real reasoning behind it–they take off their mask, and you find yourself vacationing with a human. You sigh and put the mask back on them.
Later, you move them in with you. As you create their homeworld outfits, you find the second glaring issue with your “aliens”: the masks only go to their chests, and the arm tones only go to their elbows. This means that you are forced to keep your alien Sim in high-collar shirts with full arm sleeves. It doesn’t matter if they’re swimming or sleeping–they have to be dressed like they’re hiding tattoos from their mother.
Theeeen you try to have babies with them. I didn’t even worry about the baby stage of life, because we all know that EA shit the bed with that one and infants are little more than objects in the game anyway. I was interested in toddlers.
Guess who can’t wear alien masks?
Yeah, that’s right–toddlers.
And so my dream of bringing Batuu aliens into Windenburg failed spectacularly. More importantly, masks made it impossible to suspend my disbelief with Batuu when I’m clearly dealing, not with aliens, but with people in costumes.
It’s like you’re not vacationing on Batuu. You’re vacationing to the Star Wars area of Disneyworld. Except they didn’t accommodate kids there.
It’s 100% the most disappointing aspect of this pack.
Honestly, they have occult sims. I would have been through the roof if they’d given us just give us one good alien species from Batuu complete with working genetics. As it stands, I’m pretty bummed, because while I can travel to Batuu, I don’t feel like I can ever bring Batuu home with me. And that’s a shame.
Making the Journey to Batuu
Overall, I don’t regret buying Journey to Batuu. I’m enjoying the missions, I’m having fun with it, and I feel like I got $30.00 of entertainment out of the deal. I mean, let’s be real–it costs nearly that much to go to the theater with Vuk.
The fact that I’m enjoying it personally does not, however, mean that I would recommend it to all simmers out there. If you’re not a Star Wars fan, this pack isn’t going to convert you, and the CAS items alone aren’t worth the cost of the pack.
Despite having fun with the pack, I’m disappointed with its wasted potential. If they’d fleshed it out, EA could have made a serviceable spinoff Sims game that would have been really fun to play, rather than the sort-of fun Batuu they handed us. In lieu of that, just giving us a genetically-based occult alien would have launched this game pack into my favorites. Instead, it wades in the waters of mediocrity–not bad, but not as good as it could have been.
I’m giving this pack 6.5/10 stars. And two hands on my hips toward EA for, once again, proving that they don’t think through family play when they create their packs.