I’ve never been more excited about a Sims Game Pack than I have for Star Wars: Journey to Batuu. Overall it’s fun, but feels like it could have been more.
The Sims 4 is one of three games that I play with any sort of regularity (the others being Minecraft and Pokemon Go). I’m not a heavy gamer by any means, but I’ve spent a significant period of time with this one. That said, I usually wait until expansion or game packs go on sale to get them because, on top of being a casual gamer, I’m a cheap mofo. But Star Wars: Journey to Batuu is different.
As soon as it was announced I knew I’d be buying this on day one, paying full price for it, and playing it immediately after work. And that’s exactly what I did. In general, I had a good time, but the game is not without flaws, especially in regards to the type of gameplay I prefer from a Sims game.
Journey to Batuu: The GOOD
Let’s be real here. The reason I was so excited about this is because I love Star Wars and I loved Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland. I was supposed to return to Galaxy’s Edge in July as part of my annual trip to California but, well, the global health crisis we have found ourselves in had other plans. So being able to actually go back there from home was incredibly appealing, so much so that I legitimately debated taking a day off work to play (I did NOT do this, but it was tempting, man. So tempting). I miss Galaxy’s Edge a whole bunch, man. I miss it real bad.
The new world has many of the same locations you’ll find at Galaxy’s Edge, including Oga’s Cantina, Docking Bay 7, Savi’s Workshop, Droid Depot, Ronto Roasters, the Millennium Falcon, and Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities.
When I visited the real Galaxy’s Edge, I spent over 10 hours of my day visiting these attractions and trying everything I could. It’s easier in the game to hit them all within a couple of hours, though, as there are no lines or oppressive California sun (I usually visit in July, guys) to wear you down. It’s not as time-consuming, but for someone whose already been there, this was a great reminder of the good times I had last summer in person. If you’ve never been to Galaxy’s Edge, it might not have the same appeal on that front.
You can interact with many of the same characters that you can in Galaxy’s Edge, too. Hondo, Rey, and Kylo Ren are all present in the game, and Batuu residents and First Order members roam the land for interesting interactions. You can get missions from these interactions as well as affect your ‘influence’ among the factions. The choices you make will impacts what options are available to you, so choose wisely. Part of the map is locked until you gain a certain amount of influence with a character, so your gameplay could limit the amount of room you have to play in.
When choosing your character aspirations, you can pick an aspiration that fits whatever path you’re choosing to follow. You can be a Galactic Privateer, which doesn’t have any real loyalty to the Resistance or First Order and is more about missions with the Scoundrels. You can also choose Hope Vs Order, where you pick a side and stick with it. In my view, the Galactic Privateer is the funnest option, but your mileage may vary.
If you are hoping to unlock part of the map that’s hidden, choosing the wrong side early on could keep that out of your grasp. But, then again, sometimes it’s fun to play the bad guy, so who cares! The best part of Sims is how many different ways you can choose to play it, so if unlocking new areas isn’t a priority for you, please get down with your bad First Order self and live it up.
The extra items such as clothes and decor are also incredibly cool. Even if you don’t want to actually spend any significant time in Batuu itself, the items are worth the $20. I could spend days just decorating with the various Star Wars related stuff for the hell of it. But I’m the type of player who would legitimately spend days building a house and then only play for a couple of hours, so your mileage, again, may vary. This is my style of gameplay, though, and I love the new stuff.
The new world and associated items are simply beautiful, and the details that went into everything are incredible. Shout out to the designers who really knocked it out of the park here.
Journey to Batuu: The BAD
My hope with this game was to be able to build in and live in Batuu. What I got was more of a Stuff Pack with a world you can visit but not inhabit with any sort of real depth. There’s a “residence” that you can use to “freshen up” (pee and shower) and sleep, but you can’t explore the inside of the house or have any real interactions within it.
Furthermore, the residence is fairly far away from a lot of the other stuff you’d want to interact with, so running back and forth to satisfy those needs is quite annoying. There are no other bathrooms in Batuu so you’re going to have to get used to this. Unless you plan on just peeing yourself and smelling terrible a lot, which is a valid route to go if you so choose. You do you, man.
The only lot you can go inside and keep control of your character is Oga’s Cantina. The others are rabbit holes where you can purchase food or merchandise, or complete certain tasks separately. Other than that, all the action happens on the streets of Batuu. I went into the game blind and made one of my Sims interested in cooking, hoping that I could explore the new recipes that would come with the world. Sadly, while my character got to learn a lot of recipes, she’d have to return home to actually use them. It was thoroughly disappointing.
There’s a lot of clickable stuff on the streets, however, so while the lack of playable and interactive lots is disappointing, you can still spend many hours working through all that there is to do in Batuu. I was just sad with the lack of depth as I’m more of a creative player than a goal-oriented player. Goal-oriented players likely won’t have the same issue as I’m having with this, so you might not even categorize this as a bad thing.
There’s also a Resistance Encampment that you can unlock if you gain the trust of certain resistance characters. I have not unlocked this section of the map yet, however, so I can’t comment on it personally. Based on the few screenshots I’ve seen, it looks like it adds more playable areas to the new world, so there’s even more to keep you entertained. Without following this specific path of gameplay, however, that section remains locked and you are limited to the streets of Batuu and Oga’s Cantina.
Back to the challenges presented for more creative-focused players, you are restricted to using only the new Game Pack’s clothing when entering Batuu, which is incredibly limiting. While I mentioned in my ‘GOOD’ section that I enjoy the new clothes, what I primarily enjoyed about them was being able to mix and match them with already existing stuff and create rad new looks. Imagine my surprise when I journeyed to Batuu and all that disappeared. Total bummer!
My dream was to have a huge amazing Star Wars house and invite all the residents of Batuu to party it up. That’s just not possible, though. The new expansion is built with goal-oriented gameplay in mind, and has far less for those that prefer more creative and controllable activity. This wasn’t built with my style of play in mind. The closest way I can think of to get to the level of gameplay that I was hoping for is to spend a significant period of time in Batuu making friends, then invite those friends over to my real-world house. But I don’t even know if that’s possible. With all the limits I’ve encountered so far, I would not be surprised to find a roadblock here as well.
Journey to Batuu: The MEH
The way the funding is set up, it’s difficult to play in Batuu with multiple characters. Only one mission can be played at a time, which means funding is very difficult to manage for a large group of characters. Thankfully, there are cheats to help remedy this, but before I discovered those cheats I was struggling to keep my Sims fed with things other than popcorn and buy cool stuff like lightsabers at the same time.
If you go into Batuu with only one character while planning to play this honestly without cheats, this part might not be as much of an issue. I went in blind, however, and made a whole family who then bumbled around in poverty living off of popcorn and pissing their pants after challenging Hondo Ohnaka to a game of Sabacc (and losing for so long that I had to call it quits before I passed out in my own urine). If you have multiple characters who need to eat and plan on doing anything remotely fun besides talking to other characters, you’re going to be broke real fast.
So basically, in order to be playable with multiple characters, you’re going to have to use cheats. I feel like that simply should not be the case, even with an expansion pack. The main game is playable with big families without cheats, so this should be too. Granted, your big families will start out sleeping on uncomfortable beds with crappy food and plumbing, but they can get multiple jobs and quickly start replacing the starter furniture. You can’t do that in Batuu.
Is it worth it?
Despite all of its flaws, yes, I feel that this game is worth it, especially for Star Wars fans who have found themselves stuck at home during the crappy experience that is 2020. Even if you breeze through the limited options in Batuu itself and find yourself with nothing else left to do, you can still bring back your new skills, merchandise, and recipes to your main home base and do whatever the heck you want without limits. In fact, that might end up being more fun than the new world itself, but I have a lot of play left in Batuu before I get to that point.
If you are a hardcore Sims player, however, the limited scope of the new area may be a deal-breaker. I’ve noticed the massive downvote campaign on the YouTube channel, so I know the dislike of this particular pack is out there in heavy numbers. But I can’t help thinking these irate Sims fans are playing this game for different reasons than I am. They are playing it specifically for Sims gameplay whereas I’m playing it for the Star Wars escapism. We are two entirely different groups of people.
That said, my critiques of the game still stand. Even when I’m coming at this from a Star Wars fanatic angle, I find the gameplay too limiting to truly escape how I want to. I’m going to have to use a lot of cheats and spend a lot of time to get even close to what I was hoping for. But I’m willing to do that because I love Star Wars and Galaxy’s Edge just that much.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and keep fiddling with my characters until I get something that works, and then maybe I’ll get some things accomplished instead of bumbling around and peeing myself a whole lot. Nobody – not Resistance nor First Order nor Scoundrel – likes a Sim covered in their own urine. Gonna be hard to unlock the Resistance Camp while smelling like wee.
Note: Special thanks to Khai for being my fact-checker and screen grabber for this review.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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