I will admit it I was completely beside myself when I saw the announcement for this expansion. I mean, the damn trailer had bunnies in sweaters… COME ON! But beyond that, it looked like a fantastic experience overall. I lived on farms on and off when I was younger and frankly miss it to some extent. So what better way to get to live that out than through “live vicariously simulator.”
Cottage Living was released at the end of last month, and like most Sims expansions, adds a new town, challenges, and other varieties of gameplay features. The expansions can be a little hit or miss with how much they give you, and this is more on the hit side. The village of Henford-on-Bagley is really well designed. The buildings all have that charming “farm” vibe to them, and there are a few different places to make your home.
There is also a really lovely park that is added where you can fish, forage, meet animals, and then the standard park stuff. It has a little maze and some cute buildings and stuff. It’s actually one of the better parks in the game and is rather large and fun to explore. I appreciate the detail that went into it and how it has a more natural look than the others in the game.
Each of the homes comes with garden plots and an area for animals; the amount you can keep and have depends on how large your plot is, of course. I started with the smaller plot, and it has three gardening places, room for one large animal, and a chicken coop. You can expand and go even bigger, but I would recommend taking it a little slow because one thing this game gets pretty right is that farming is not easy.
Farming in this game is time-consuming. You will need to be on top of keeping your animals and their shelters clean, as well as keeping them fed and happy. The first time I played, I ended up having to quit my part-time job at a certain point because I was getting too backed up. When I restarted with a fresh character, I had them work and only had chickens until I stockpiled enough money to be jobless. The good part of that is that once your farm is doing well, if you keep up with it and supplement by say, selling crafts, you will actually be pretty stable. It just might be worth not having a one Sim home when you play.
In addition to the farming aspect, they also added helping other Sims with errands, which usually involves getting certain crops and the like for them. There is also cross-stitching for those that enjoy crafting and oversized crops. There are also fairs now where you can sell stuff for a bit more and enter your animal products to compete. It’s rather fun and really kind of develops that cottage/farming life/small community vibe. It is really easy to just actually stay in this new area and enjoy what it offers as though it’s its own isolated place.
The expansion also adds new challenges to lots. You can have wild foxes who live around your farm, although this ended up being rather stressful as you’d need to watch them a lot to keep them from harassing your animals. Still pretty enjoyable and brings a challenge that farming comes with (I remember the coyote problem). Simple living is the other, which means you can only cook with what is on your lot, which brings about grocery delivery, something they oddly took out of this game. Really that “challenge” just makes cooking more like Sims 3, where you have to make sure to have ingredients on hand to cook. However, it can be nice if you don’t overly rely on grocery delivery to really live off of what you grow, farm, fish, etc. yourself.
The other big thing this expansion brings to the table is it’s just so damn cute. As I mentioned, the trailer showed off bunnies in sweaters, and yep, it’s a thing. You can make friends with bunnies and have them hang on your farm, giving them things like sweaters to wear. There is also clothing for all the varieties of farm animals. If you take the animal lover perk, you can “pet enthusiastically,” which leads to positive things like “successfully pet a chicken” to give your sim a good mood bonus. You can watch the foxes and eventually get to be friends with them. You can discuss gardening with your bunny friends. Show off you dance mooooooves to cows and just a plethora of ridiculous but adorable things.
Overall this is without a doubt one of the better expansions, if not the best. The additional area is great, the farming gameplay is a lot of fun, and it’s just a treat to look at and play.
Bottom line, if you have any interest in “cottage core” or farming or whatever else, at least in the gaming world, this expansion is for you. If that doesn’t appeal, there are a lot of other great ones. Happy farming!