I’m sure we’ve discussed before the sheer size of The Sims 4 if you count in all the Game Packs, item bundles and Expansion Packs – not to mention the undeniably exorbitant cost. The continued popularity of the game means it’s not uncommon to see a Sims 4 Expansion outsell a AAA video game in a given month. But this much content on such a regular basis means that, simply by the law of average, it can’t all be gold. The Sims 4 Horse Ranch is, sadly, not one of the best despite how long fans have been clamouring for an equestrian expansion.
Which is not to say this is bad, by any stretch. But when you stand the Horse Ranch expansion alongside, say, the Island Living or Discover University expansions, it feels decidedly content-light. There is a new playspace in Chestnut Ridge, the ranch where you can play with your new horsey family, and it adds a few new jobs and plenty of new build and buy items. But that’s kind of all it adds. There’s no new neighborhood or deep, interesting career paths.
You can be a Nectar Maker, or a Championship Rider, both of which offer new challenges to complete but feel oddly undercooked. I went with Championship Rider initially, which was a fun focus, but ultimately it’s quite simple, and never feels like it informs anything about your Sims. Arguably, a lot of the fun of the Sims 4 is role playing families and watching their little dramas unfold, guiding them along a career trajectory while trying not to let them starve. Maybe it’s that I’m not a hardcore Sims 4 player or a big horse lover, but I didn’t get the same level of investment from this career as I did when I put my Sims through Uni.
Obviously you can also muck-in on the Ranch, quite literally. There’s a host of new activities and interactions to be had, and you can even dawb your Sims in mud and dirt thanks to some of the new clothing and accessory options. In fact, if you’re in the cowboy way the additions to CAS are great here. There’s not as much for younger Sims, though there are basics so that when your kids ride horses they at least look the part. But dressing up the adults in full Western apparel is cool, as is redesigning your homes with the new furniture and decor options. It’s all hand-crafted wooden furniture that really adds to the Western aesthetic.
As for the horses themselves, well, they’re adorable. As you might expect there are tons of options to create your new equine family members, which take up a slot in your household the way the dogs and cats do. You can make any crazy colour combos you like, and can even make unicorns, although this is a purely aesthetic thing. No rainbow-coloured poops here. They have personality choices too, such as Mellow it Aggressive, which make them easier or harder to train. As your Sims can also be given two new traits in Horse Lover or Rancher, you can work towards building special bonds between your Sims and their steeds.
But where The Sims 4 Horse Ranch falls down is in the execution. All the content is great, but unlike other Expansions it never feels like there’s anything to truly pull it all together. There’s a Wild West themed neighborhood with over a dozen new lots, a club, and an Equestrian Centre – although you can’t go and watch championship tournaments with your Sims. And the horses (and adorable goats) don’t integrate with your households as seamlessly and believably as the dogs and cats and kids have in past EPs.
Other editions such as line-dancing and feeding the goats give you stuff to do on Chestnut Ridge, but none of it feels all that different to the standard Sims gameplay. There’s certainly nothing that really stands out besides the horses themselves, but if that’s what you’re here for, then you’ll have a lot of fun.
The Sims 4 Horse Ranch feels more like a Game Pack with targeted content than something that will expand your day-to-day play. If you’re a horse lover, this expansion is a no-brainier. For anyone else, this is one that it might not be a bad thing to skip. It adds some fun and creativity to The Sims 4, but not on the scale we’ve seen before.
Horses and goats are adorable
Some great new build & buy items
New neighborhood doesn't feature anything exciting
Feels a little disconnected