The Sims 4’s latest expansion takes you back to high school

The Sims 4’s newest expansion pack, High School Yearsfocuses 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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