Thanks to an excellent new location to explore and some solid build mode items, this pack successfully stands out from the crowd but the lackluster new gameplay elements and low level but persistent technical problems mean that this pack falls a little short of greatness.
A picturesque rural village, it is complete with all the staples you would expect of a typical English town with rows of thatched-roof cottages centered around a cozy village green, boutique shops, a post office, and a bustling pub.
Much like Mt Komorebi, Henford-on-Bagley also brings its own unique gameplay mechanics to the table, most notably through the weekly farm festivals which are held by the market in the village green.
To help facilitate this focus on weekly events, the calendar system from the Seasons pack has finally been brought into the main game and tweaked for all players to enjoy.
I enjoyed entering a number of the competitions on offer, particularly the home cooking contest, where Sims must present a lovingly-crafted home-cooked dish to be judged - or in the case of my prize-winning pie, one hastily ordered from the local pub.
You can build relationships by playing games with them, chatting, or even singing to them in the case of birds, and this unlocks special, unique activities or contributes to progress with the new ‘Country Caretaker’ life aspiration which serves as a fun way to reward players for exploring the pack’s new features. Another major, much-requested, addition is farming, which ties in nicely with the recently overhauled cooking system.
Although it’s undeniably satisfying to create your first meal entirely from scratch, the constant need for maintenance, especially when compared to the ease of just ordering ingredients online, makes returning to this playstyle a pretty unappealing prospect.
I also found the lack of a farming-oriented career path a little disappointing and while it is still possible to make a bit of money from farming alone, the income never became anywhere near high enough to justify the hands-on effort. The new build mode items, however, proved far more long-lasting additions.
I can see myself continuing to use a number of the new English-inspired architectural elements, like cottage windows, chimney stacks, and wooden ceiling beams in builds for years to come because of their distinct European look.
It’s understandable that the scope of some of the map’s larger areas would somewhat affect performance but consistently hitting lows of around 20 frames-per-second in build mode on a modern, high-power machine is disappointing, to say the least.
A number of bugs also became apparent throughout my playtime, most annoyingly when all my expensive farms inexplicably packed up and left despite having all of their needs met.
Given past updates, I expect the technical issues will be patched very quickly but whilst the new map is excellent and the build mode items are great, the new gameplay elements still don’t quite hold enough long-lasting appeal to justify more than a handful of playthroughs.
2 months ago by Masoumeh Shafiei