Note: This thread is not for being mean or insulting. Please try to phrase your critiques as civilly and respectfully as possible, no matter how much the issue irks you. Thanks in advance!
For me, my biggest gripe about Sims 4 so far is how often the development team attempts to emphasize their characters and storylines in the game. It's one thing in a mission-based pack like "Strangerville", where the story is the pack, but when it's more of a feature-based pack like "Werewolves", it can get somewhat grating.
Now, I know there is a certain subset of the playerbase who came from TS1, 2, and 3 and played the premades very extensively, maybe even exclusively, and are very fond of expanding on already established characters and plotlines. However, there are also players like me, who came off of previous games and exclusively played our own sims, who never played any of the much-cherished premade hoods or sims in TS2 and went straight to making our own hoods for our own characters to inhabit and stories to be told in. For us, TS4 has been a battle for space for our sims to live, for opportunities for more freeform gameplay moments, and with "Werewolves", even just the ability to fully engage with the game's systems without having to enmesh the premade characters into our stories.
I said this in another thread, but it sometimes feels as if the current Sims Team is populated with people who actually want to make a narrative-driven game with a set cast and a clear-cut beginning, middle, and end to the story as opposed to an open-ended, player-driven gaming experience with no pre-determined storyline or cast. Almost like they really had their hearts set on working for a development studio that focuses on RPG's or platformers or adventure games, but ended up working on this game instead because it was the only industry job they could get and are trying to make the most of it and squeeze in the kind of game they're actually passionate about making wherever they can into this one.
But, The Sims is not about completing a story that has been pre-written for you. This franchise is about being able to tell your own stories using the game and its systems as your tools and canvas to do so. Yes, many people enjoy using the premade sims and their plots as a story prompt, but not everyone does. Sure, some people only ever played the premade worlds in earlier titles, but others of us have always preferred to build our own. Some people are quite happy with the pre-existing werewolf packs, others of us would rather have the ability to form our own. Giving players a choice of pre-existing content to engage with is one thing, but making all but two aspirations in a Game Pack impossible to complete without engaging with the pre-existing NPC factions is a whole different bucket of sweets.
I would have liked to be able to create my own pack of werewolves either with a pack creation system or using the club system without having to use mods to have werewolf activities count as club activities. I would have liked to have aspirations about forming your own pack, or ones about becoming a good werewolf or getting comfortable in your own fur that don't involve having to engage with the pre-existing werewolf factions. I would have liked for werewolves and vampires to start on neutral terms instead of having automatic enmity because of some far-off lore that has nothing to do with the story I want to tell. "Strangerville" had a pre-written chain of events, but at least you got to choose your crew (Do you go with premades or create your own party?) instead of being required to bring specific premade characters along.
I can play any RPG, any adventure game, any platformer to get a story someone else wrote for me. When I play The Sims, I'm looking for systems and a platform to mess around with them on to tell my own stories. The more narrative-heavy design philosophy of many of TS4's packs actually has me a little worried for what the high school pack will ultimately be. Will players go in hyped to play their own little group of Teens, only to have the devs' own Breakfast Club from the trailer foist upon them to complete any of the pack's aspirations? Will the amusement park be a scripted event hub with an event timer and a list of activities you have to do or else your sim gets a sad moodlet? I sure hope not, because The Sims is best as a collection of systems for freeform storytelling, not a watered-down RPG.
There is a song I hear, a melody from the past...
When I woke for the first time, when I slept for the last.