It’s time fans of The Sims started living their cottage life! The Sims 4: Cottage Living is out and we’re feeling those sweet cottagecore vibes. With the rise in farming and nurturing simulation games such as Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing, The Sims was behind.

Sure, you could plant things. But farming many crops, taking care of the farm animals and even encountering wild creatures wasn’t available in the game until July 22, the expansion pack’s release date.

After taking in a hefty sample of the game, I can show you the new world and the most entertaining things to do while in it. Before The Sims 4: Cottage Living came out, I had 2,862 hours of Sims gameplay logged. Now, I have 2,910. You do the math.

Begin Your Simple Life With Lot Challenges

The Sims 4 Cottage Living - Sim milking a cow.

If this wasn’t obvious at the start, The Sims 4: Cottage Living is all about living a simple existence with Don Lothario, crouched over a computer keyboard and lamenting your life as a corporate shill. Or maybe an astronaut.

Regardless of your chosen career, you can either quit your job or keep it depending on how cottagecore you want to go. If you want to live your life the “simple” way, you’ll need to select the new Lot Challenge option, “Simple Living.” These lot challenges, introduced recently in Base Game, can be found under lot traits (little house with an “i” in the top left corner of Build/Buy mode).

They’ve now separated those mostly negative traits into Lot Challenges. You can select as many Lot Challenges as you want, be it “Off-the-Grid,” “Spooky” (if you have City Living) or any of the traits available with the other packs. If you wanted to have the world’s most haunted, cursed and disgusting house, you could!

However, the best Lot Challenge to come with the new pack is Simple Living. Not because of anything terrible, but because you can create all your meals using ingredients, whether you buy them or grow them yourself.

This was not available in any of the previous packs. It was only available via a mod known as Srsly’s Complete Cooking Overhaul, which, at its core, did the same thing. Now, The Sims has actively put that functionality into their game with this Lot Challenge.

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Plant All the Things

If you want to get ahead in this world with nothing but a plot of land and whatever Simoleons you have in your bank account, you might want to try planting something. In the games and packs before it, you could plant flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. However, they never seemed to hit just right for full-on farming. Now, The Sims 4: Cottage Living offers a new series of fruits and vegetables to use: Oversized Crops.

On each plot, not just garden boxes, you can plant new crops in your garden. The crops include aubergines, lettuce, mushrooms, pumpkins and watermelons. Plant them and then fertilize them every day. Yes, every single day. If you don’t, you won’t have a pumpkin or a watermelon big enough to win Finchwick Fair’s Garden competition.

Buy a Chicken Coop

The Sims 4 Cottage Living. Chicken coop.

If farming isn’t your sole source of income (and it shouldn’t), buy a hen house or a chicken coop. Chickens will be an amazing source of income at the start. The better relationship you have with your animals, the better off their resource yield will be.

Be careful, though! If eggs are left in your inventory for long, they’ll spoil. Thankfully, if placed directly in your fridge, they won’t spoil as quickly. The quality of your eggs will depend on the happiness of your chickens. If you hover your cursor over the chickens, you can see four statuses for keeping them happy. Happiness, Hygiene, Hunger and Attention. Keep these in the green and you’ll be a winner in your cute little chicks’ eyes.

Thankfully, chickens are easy to socialize with. If you socialize with one chicken while the other chickens are around, all chickens receive a social boost. However, if you pester them or rudely interact with them, this causes them to peck your eyes out.

Yes, they can and will kill you if you disturb them enough. But if you have a good relationship with your chicken or feed your chicken special treats, you can expect to receive special eggs—possibly hatchable ones. Eggs have different colors and they give you different results.

For example, if you want the notorious “Evil Chicken,” often referred to in-game as “Charles,” you can gain a high enough relationship with your chicken. Then, you hope you get a hatchable Obsidian egg or give them what’s known as a Midnight Treat: a mix of Cowberry jam and an Obsidian egg.

Please don’t mix these two and feed them to your chicken. Otherwise, they’ll turn into an Evil Hen or Rooster. If you ask the Evil Chicken for help, and if Grim or Vlad’s around, they’ll attack them for you!

Now, if you’re in this for money, either buy a hatchable golden egg from the stalls in Finchwick (they rotate out their stock) or hope your chicken lays one. Golden chickens lay golden eggs most of the time. Each egg is worth around 300 simoleons, so sell, sell, sell!

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Buy a Cow and Llama 

The Sims 4 Cottage Living. Cows and Llamas.

You heard me. Don’t buy one or the other; get both! While you can’t purchase the animals themselves, you can purchase them through Build/Buy mode. You’ll need to purchase the Animal Shed. Each time you do this, you can pick whether you want a llama or a cow.

Llamas and cows hold important resources: wool and milk. You can use milk to make quite a few recipes if you turn on Simple Living — especially desserts. Utilize wool to create cross-stitch hoops. If you need new designs for those same cross-stitch hoops, talk to the villagers in the town. Sometimes, after doing quests or after befriending them enough, they might bestow on you a “Henford favor,” where you can nab a new pattern to create for this craft.

Canning

Canning is one of the most lucrative cooking options in the game. Want to make a meat substitute for your vegetarian Sims? Grab an aubergine and stuff it in the can! Strawberry or blueberry jam addict? Learn to can it yourself instead of paying almost 100 dollars a pop down at the fair.

Made too many? Turn around and sell them at the Finchwick Fair for 80 to 90 dollars with a 10 percent mark up on Saturdays. Canning is great for recipes and making a living off the land. Make a lot of them, and your Sim might just be swimming in their vault full of money in the coming year … or 50.

The Finchwick Fair       

The Sims 4 Cottage Living. Prize winning rainbow cow.

This is a debatably good pastime for your Sim to attend. The only reason why I enjoy the Finchwick Fair is because of the selling potential. Go to the garden stall (usually run by the infamous Agnes Crumplebottom) or grocery stall to buy discounted items or to sell at a 10 percent markup on fair days, which is every Saturday. Your Sim can also participate in the animal and crop competitions held, but don’t expect to win. Ever.

Seriously, I tried rainbow chickens, golden chickens, money fruit and the biggest, healthiest crops ever. I even tried the glorious money fruit. No, I didn’t win. I even romanced the mayor. Did that matter? No. I guess I’m doomed to be just a lowly participant forever. Perhaps the chances of a win will be fixed in time, but the competitions are probably rigged for now.

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Cross Stitching       

The Sims 4: Cottage Living Screenshot. Cross stitching.

There is a new skill to earn while living the cottage life: cross-stitching. Cross-stitching isn’t a huge skill to master with the new pack (only five levels instead of the traditional 10). If you have a llama, shearing the llama will give you the materials to create fantastic designs you can sell, gift or even hang up in your cottage home. I personally like the “This Took Me Forever” cross-stitch pattern.

Foraging in the Bramblewood

Foraging is kind of hard to do in Henford, but it’s encouraged by the residents. Let’s say, for instance, that you’d like your future farmer to begin farming, but you’d like them to do it at minimal cost. Send them foraging in the Bramblewood for Henford-specific items such as “Nightly Mushrooms,” “Spicy Mushrooms,” “Chocoberries” and Blueberries, to name a few.

While there are better places in The Sims 4 to forage, this would be the place to start if you want the definitive Henford experience. Make sure you visit The Ruins, the Snail Circle and the Creature Keeper’s cottage while there.

Going On a Quest                                                                                                                 

The Sims 4: Cottage Living. Agnes Crumplebottom.

Henford-on-Bagley offers a rare treat for players who want to know a little bit more about the NPCs that cover the town. Now, you don’t have to play with the characters and go into their info/family trees to discover who they are. You can play through quests or run “errands” for the inhabitants of the town. In addition to learning a bit more about the characters, you can win items such as postcards, ingredients and even gifts such as cute clothes for the animals to wear.

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Cross-Pack Play

I list this last because not everyone has the extra packs. This is something rare for a pack to have great potential for cross-pack potential. But if you do, this last bit is important. Let’s say you have the Realm of Magic Expansion pack.

If you do and have a Spellcaster Sim, you can put those spells to good use! Is your cow’s shed in need of cleaning? Scruberoo! Need some help with trying to win the Finchwick Fair? Repairio your milk, egg, food or crop entries to increase the quality of your entries. 

Try experimenting with other packs that you have. Into robotics with the University pack? Create gardening robots, so your farm is easier to manage. Want to make more clothes for your animals? Get your knitting needles ready. Living that Eco-lifestyle too? Perfect! All that planting will help you achieve those N.A.P. protocols to avoid fines.

This pack gives us an immense amount of gameplay. I’ve been an avid player of The Sims for over 20 years now. I’ve bought or played every game they’ve released, from Urbz: Sims in the City to Sims 2: Castaway. I know what I like to see in the games and when the game developers outdo themselves.

The developers worked exceptionally hard on this game, making it one of the best expansion packs released in the series. The Sims 4: Cottage Living is one of those expansion packs we needed … yesterday.

This article was originally posted on 7/31/21.

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