The Sims 4 has been out for more than six years. In that time the base game has received 37 pieces of DLC split between expansion packs, game packs, stuff packs, and two free packs. Each type of DLC varies in price and size, with Journey to Batuu being a game pack, which are generally middle of the road in both. The question is, does Journey to Batuu provide players with the same value as other game packs, or is it just trying to cash in on the Star Wars brand?
Pack your bags
In The Sims 4, Batuu is a destination players can visit by pulling up their phone and choosing the option to take a vacation. Once they arrive there are three regions to visit: the Resistance Encampment, Black Spire Outpost, and First Order District. Each region is home to one faction and each faction offers several missions to build reputation within that group. As players gain reputation and rank, they will unlock more things to do within that faction’s region and earn rewards to be used both in Batuu or back at home. Players will also encounter iconic characters from the Star Wars universe and, while I’m sure you can guess some of their names, I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.
Once players begin exploring Batuu they’ll be given an introductory mission to learn the ropes. You’ll freshen up, change your wardrobe, and get some food. After that you’ll need to get to know each of the factions and decide which one you want to work with. You can work with two if one is the Scoundrels, but you can’t gain reputation with the First Order and Resistance at the same time for obvious reasons. It’s best to work with one at a time if you wish to experience everything Batuu has to offer.
A working vacation
Before I started with missions, I decided to explore Batuu. I began with the Black Spire Outpost and was underwhelmed. There’s Oga’s Cantina which acts as the only building in the outpost players can enter and walk around in. There are numerous food and shopping options, but these are buildings you simply click on to bring up a menu. You can’t enter and explore them, and each requires a credit unique to Batuu. There’s The Dwelling where players can sleep, freshen up, or deal with their outfit. Unfortunately, this is also handled via pop-up menu; there is no quarters for players to call home while they’re on Batuu.
This extends beyond the Black Spire Outpost. Both the First Order District and Resistance Encampment lack interiors of substance. You can walk around outside and click on buildings, but mostly you’re choosing a menu option. About 90 percent of gameplay in Batuu takes place in the streets of each region, which are not extensive, with the other 10 percent taking place in Oga’s Cantina if a mission takes you there.
The missions themselves are fine, but they suffer greatly from the Batuu location being underrealized. It’s a lot of walking up to panels and clicking on menus, opening crates, or clicking on NPCs and checking an ID or having a conversation. If you’re thinking the missions are on par with the tasks found in the Get to Work expansion, they aren't. Get to Work has far more depth to it.
Batuu is not void of the odd cool moment. There are iconic characters to meet as you increase your faction reputation. It was nifty to see the Millennium Falcon parked in the Black Spire Outpost, an X-wing in the Resistance Encampment, and a TIE Echelon in the First Order District, but that’s just eye candy. If you get your reputation maxed out with each faction you can explore each one but, you guessed it, that’s just a menu and a progress bar.
The highlights of my time on Batuu were more about stuff than missions. I enjoyed building a Lightsaber that I could then use to spar with and upgrade my Fitness. Players can build their own Droid and it’s a lot of fun to shock random people in the street or instruct it to break into a crate for you. You can even take your Droid home when you leave Batuu. Lightsabers can also go home with you and you can continue to spar with other Sims who have their own. This action was probably my favorite of the DLC. It was cool to watch my Sim spar with [Redacted] while I was in the Resistance Encampment.
As players level up their reputation with each faction, they’ll also unlock new clothing items and other goodies. It wasn’t long before I was walking around Oga’s Cantina as a Stormtrooper, and I’m sure I’ll find a reason to wear that outfit when I head back to the real Sims world. Still, it’s not enough.
The holiday is ruined
Even with a few cool moments scattered throughout my time in Batuu, there’s just not enough there for me. It’s a game pack, the same as Outdoor Retreat. Both packs require you to go on vacation, but it’s hard to fathom how Outdoor Retreat, a DLC that came out more than five years ago, can be more fleshed out than Journey to Batuu. How is it I can rent a cabin to stay in while visiting Granite Falls, but I don’t have so much as a tiny living quarters when I visit Batuu? How is there the Forgotten Grotto in Oasis Springs for me to explore, but when I explore the Batuu Caves in the Resistance Encampment it’s by clicking on a menu option, then checking work emails while I wait for a progress bar to finish?
When Journey to Batuu was announced there was a lot of backlash from fans about how nobody wanted this. Players wanted bunkbeds and other base game quality-of-life improvements. I’m not against Star Wars making its way to The Sims 4. We’ve got Vampires and Realm of Magic game packs that push past reality, so Star Wars isn’t out of place. My problem is this is the 10th game pack since release, and I struggle to think of one more poorly realized than Journey to Batuu. Players needed a reason to change their tune on Star Wars content in The Sims 4, but all they’re getting are Lightsabers, cool outfits, and a reason to say, “We told you so.”
These impressions are based on a PC download code provided by the publisher. The Sims 4: Journey to Batuu will be avaiable on September 8, 2020.
Bill Lavoy posted a new article, The Sims 4: Journey to Batuu impressions: Stay home
Ouch, I was kinda looking forward to that one.