Sims 4: Cats & Dogs Is A Purr-fect DLC

And a measure of the franchise's potential.
9.5
  • Simulator
sims 4 cats dogs
The Cats & Dogs expansion pack has precious interactions between children and pets. EA

In the real world, most of us can’t control our pets with any consistency, other than the average “come here.” The Sims 4 is no different. How much you enjoy Cats & Dogs depends on what kind of simulation game you want The Sims 4 to be, but even if you were hoping for direct control, this pets expansion pack is a testament to the franchise's potential. 

These pets act spontaneously. You can’t tell them when to fall asleep or to jump from countertop to countertop. You never know exactly what they want. If you’re a good owner, you’ll learn your pet’s habits and adapt to their needs, as you would a toddler or baby. This iteration of pets is more realistic in that respect, and thus a better simulation of the way cats and dogs (and racoons and foxes) actually behave. From the way your cat raises her behind in the air when you pet her back, to the number of times a dog walks in a circle before they lay down for the night, these animations will make your heart ‘awe’ every time. But if you are expecting The Sims 4 to defy reality -- making you the brain behind your pet-- Cats & Dogs could leave you quite frustrated.

As could the expansion’s new Vet Career, if you aren’t in it for the long haul. The Sims 4 treats pets as a lifestyle. They are as time-consuming as raising toddlers, but they never become a child. Becoming a veterinarian takes extra commitment because it does not act as a standard or active career path. Your Sim has to own the business. If you're starting a new game, the average Sim can barely afford to purchase a clinic from the start (let’s be honest, you’ll probably end up cheating). It’s not like you can become the Vet right away either… you must hire an employee and reach level 10 of the Vet skill. It's kind of like a blend between the doctor career and running a business, but better than owning a restaurant because you can eventually be a pretty decent Vet. The downside is work doesn’t simply whisk you away each day, and if you want a successful Vet Clinic, it involves hands-on gameplay that distracts from taking care of your pets and kids at home.

But it’s that complexity, commitment and journey that makes Sims 4: Cats & Dogs one of the greatest expansion packs to date. Early in The Sims 4 lifecycle, the game lacked challenge. That is not the case anymore with the addition of pets, San Myshuno and the vampire life state.  Unless you cheat, there is no way you're burning through everything this expansion pack has to offer in a weekend’s time (at least I couldn’t). It will take many many sessions to teach your dog all sorts of cool tricks, and hours of gameplay to see all the ways your cat can annoy the crap out of you.

It’s also easy to spend hours in Create-A-Pet alone. This tool has more manipulative properties than Create-A-Sim, as well as a staggering number of breeds (over 150+ not including mixed options) to choose from. A scaled-down version of Photoshop, where you can legitimately draw on your pet, is the highlight. One player even recreated The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh on their cat.

The pack does not forget about owners, either. Create-A-Sim is loaded with clothing and much-needed curly hairstyles that are surprisingly stylish. It’s as if your Sims just moved from New York City to the Berkshires in New England -- Fall layers and functional country fashion bring plaids, sweaters, long dresses, boots, henleys and baggy ripped jeans. Build / Buy mode isn’t only objects for pets. The coastal architecture brings traditional items like a dining room hutch into the game. There’s a bed with a handmade quilt, window seating, beautiful wood-paneled doors, hand-woven carpets and curtains that surprisingly aren’t hideous. The couch set that has been sitting in your grandma’s family room for so long, there’s mouse turd droppings in the cushions has also made its way into the game, as well as a high-backed chair with a matching ottoman. This expansion just really wants you to sit by the fireplace and read a book with your pets until your death.

And to top it all off, the dynamic town of Bridlington Bay is an absolute treasure. This coastal city with bridges, docks, oak trees and a lighthouse is tied for #1 best world in the game with the city of San Myshuno. It’s a place you’ll actually want to explore on foot with your dog, and you’ll never get tired of the scenery. The addition of Brindleton Bay and the decision to pair it with all Cats & Dogs has to offer is a measure of how much thought went into this expansion pack. Its true depth and impact on the game remains to be discovered.

REVIEW SUMMARY
The Sims 4: Cats & Dogs
9.5
Sims 4: Cats & Dogs Is A Purr-fect DLC
Pets in Sims 4 are a measure to the franchise's potential.
  • More realistic than Sims 3: Pets
  • The costal city, Brindleton Bay
  • Create-A-Pet is everything
  • Can't actually control pet's every move
  • Have to own Vet clinic to be a Vet
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