Yes! As of October 2022, The Sims 4 base game is now completely free to download and play on PC. This is truly exciting news for any fans of the iconic simulation franchise.
With the move to a free-to-play model, EA has knocked down the barriers so anyone can now easily experience the creative magic of The Sims. And while paid expansions are still around, the free base game still lets you enjoy plenty of that classic Sims charm.
In this beginner‘s guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about getting started with the new free edition of The Sims 4 for PC. What‘s included for free? What are the different DLC options? How does it work on Steam or Origin? And is The Sims 4 still worth playing in 2023 with Project Rene coming up?
Let‘s dive in fellow Simmer! I‘ll be your guide to unlocking all the fun and possibilities now available for absolutely zero dollars.
An Overview of What‘s Included in The Free Base Game
The most important thing to understand about this new free edition of The Sims 4 is exactly what gameplay content and features are actually included for free.
At its core, the free base game provides the original Sims 4 experience that long-time fans are familiar with. You‘ll have access to all of the major creative tools and gameplay systems that bring the franchise to life:
Create-a-Sim – Make unique Sims with customized personalities, appearances, voices and more.
Build Mode – Construct and customize houses with walls, floors, doors, windows and all the basic utilities.
Live Mode – Control your Sims as they complete daily needs, develop skills, pursue careers, build relationships and complete goals.
Buy Mode – Purchase furniture, appliances, decorations and other items to outfit your Sims‘ homes.
2 Playable Neighborhoods – The main town of Willow Creek and an desert-themed area called Oasis Springs.
So in terms of the core Sims experience, everything you need is there in the free base game. However, it is limited in some important ways compared to the full game:
Only 2 neighborhoods, versus 10+ in paid expansions
Many item categories locked in Build/Buy mode
Can only play single-floor homes, no pools
No restaurants, retail shops, clubs, or other special venue types
Holidays, seasons, pets, supernatural Sims, etc are all unavailable
Certain advanced systems like genetics, family trees, memories are locked
No way to visit or connect online with other players‘ Sims households
So in summary, the free base game lets you freely create Sims and homes while guiding your Sims through daily life. But a lot of specialized content and features are still locked behind paid DLC packs.
Here‘s a Quick Overview of The Different DLC Options
As a new Simmer diving in during 2022, it can be pretty overwhelming to see just how much paid additional content is available for The Sims 4 these days. It‘s been around for over 8 years now, so the DLC library has expanded massively.
Here‘s a quick crash course on what you need to know about the three main types of paid DLC packs:
Expansion Packs (EPs)
What they add: Huge new features, gameplay systems, worlds, Sims types, build mode items. Think pets, seasons, magic, fame, universities, etc.
Number available: There are 10 total expansion packs now.
Price: $39.99 each. Often discounted to ~$20 though during sales.
Game Packs (GPs)
What they add: Smaller scale new gameplay features with unique objects/outfits, but no new world. Topics include dine out, parenthood, vampires, Strangerville mystery, etc.
Number available: There are currently 15 game packs.
Price: $19.99 apiece. Discounts to ~$10 are common.
What they add: Very narrow content like themed clothing sets, furniture items, or decorative objects. Usually only include Buy/Build Mode assets.
Number available: There are 19 kits and counting.
Price: Ranges from $4.99 on the low end to $9.99 for the larger kits.
Adding it all up between expansions, game packs, and stuff packs, there is over $700 worth of DLC available. Yikes!
Thankfully, you can totally enjoy hundreds of hours in the free base game before ever needing to think about buying more. But it‘s good to understand what options are out there.
Can You Really Enjoy The Sims 4 With Just the Free Version?
As a longtime Sims addict myself, I‘ll admit that my first reaction to hearing about The Sims 4 going free-to-play was skepticism.
Could a restricted "freemium" version really capture the true magic of The Sims? Aren‘t all the best parts locked away behind expansions?
But after spending some time playing the latest base game myself, I‘m happy to report the free experience is surprisingly solid!
The Create-a-Sim and Build Mode tools that make up the core of The Sims are still incredibly deep even without any paid DLC. I was able to make a wide variety of unique Sims with distinctive personalities, appearances, and home designs without needing special packs.
And while features like holidays, pets, certain career types are unavailable, there‘s still plenty of classic Sims gameplay involving building skills, developing relationships, climbing career ladders, filling out aspirations, and reacting to dramatic events.
The free base game provides a great way for new players to experience the charm and possibilities of The Sims 4. And even as a longtime fan, it‘s refreshing having limitations that challenge me to get more creative.
So if you‘re on the fence, I‘d absolutely suggest giving it a shot. You might be surprised how much enjoyment you can get out of the free version if you embrace its constraints and get a bit clever!
But…if you‘re already a hardcore Sims devotee hungry for more, some DLC purchases will probably start feeling essential pretty quickly. Let‘s talk about that next.
How Much DLC Do You Really Need? What Should You Buy First?
While the free base version of The Sims 4 feels surprisingly solid, I suspect many existing Sims fans will quickly find themselves wanting to expand their options with paid DLC. And new players may not be far behind once they get hooked!
But with over $700 worth of packs to choose from, where should you start? Here are my top recommendations if you want to upgrade from the base game:
Most Essential Expansions
I‘d suggest Seasons and Cats & Dogs as the two most essential expansion packs that offer gameplay that feels "core" to the optimal Sims 4 experience.
Seasons ($39.99): Adds seasonal weather cycles and holidays, which help make passage of time feel more realistic and your Sims lives more varied and dynamic.
Cats & Dogs ($39.99): Lets you adopt pets who become true family members with unique personalities that add flavor to daily Sims life in delightful ways.
Best "Quality of Life" Game Pack
For a cheaper but still impactful upgrade, I suggest the Parenthood game pack ($19.99). The enhanced family systems make Sims parenting and childhood feel much more authentic and meaningful.
Top "Build Mode" Focused Pack
To unlock more customization options for home building and design, my top pick is the Tiny Living Stuff Pack ($9.99). It includes one of the best collections of furniture and build objects in a single pack.
Most Popular Mods & Custom Content
You can enhance the free base game in amazing ways for zero cost by installing player-created mods and CC. Top options include:
MC Command Center: Advanced story progression and settings control
UI Cheats Extension: Cheats accessible via UI buttons
Basemental Drugs: Adds functional drug system for Sims
LittleMsSam‘s Mods: Dozens of fixes and tweaks for annoyances
The Sims Resource: Huge database of free custom furniture, clothes, hair, etc.
Focus on mods that smooth out irritations or expand options in the base game. Be cautious about total conversion mods that require lots of packs you don‘t own.
And there you have it – with just 2 expansions, 1 game pack, and some free player creations, you can massively upgrade from the base free version of The Sims 4 into something super robust and immersive.
That would still only run you about $100 total, a fraction of the $700+ for absolutely everything. Pick up other DLCs selectively from there if they appeal to your personal playstyle.
Will The Sims 4 Still Be Worth Playing in 2023 and Beyond?
If you‘re just considering getting into The Sims 4 now that the base game is free, you may worry whether it‘s still worth investing your time now rather than waiting for the eventual sequel.
Here are my thoughts as a longtime fan…
The Sims 4 is absolutely still worth playing and getting invested in during 2023 and the coming years. Here are the key reasons why:
The Sims 5 (Project Rene) is not expected until at least late 2024, likely even longer. The Sims 4 will remain viable for years.
The Sims 4 now has 8 years worth of expansions – tons of content that will take most players years to experience.
Creating unique Sims and building homes are still best in class creative sandboxes.
Mods allow endless customization options beyond what the base DLC provides.
A thriving online community pumps out new content, mods, and creations constantly.
Cross-play features are expected to come to The Sims 4 and carry over when Sims 5 does launch.
Even when Sims 5 arrives, Sims 4 may remain popular similar to how Sims 3 still has active players.
Unless you literally only enjoy playing the latest and greatest games immediately on release, there‘s zero danger of "missing out" or wasting time by diving into The Sims 4 in 2023.
In fact, I‘d argue now is an ideal chance to either discover or rediscover The Sims magic with the lowered barrier to entry. Getting invested now will likely make you even more excited for Project Rene when the time comes!
So feel confident loading up your free copy of The Sims 4 and sinking deep into everything this iconic franchise has to offer. This is just the start of your amazing journey into the wonderfully weird world of Sims simulation!
Hopefully this beginner‘s guide has helped explain exactly what you can expect with The Sims 4 now being free-to-play.
While limited compared to the full experience, the free base game still lets you enjoy the core creativity and storytelling that makes The Sims so special. Dabble for free, then expand into paid DLCs selectively based on your budget and interests.
And with long-term support continuing for The Sims 4 even alongside Project Rene‘s eventual release, there‘s truly never been a better time to become part of this legendary franchise‘s thriving community.
What are you waiting for? Your unique Sims story is just waiting to unfold. Let your imagination run wild! Create a fantasy life or quirky characters that channel your personal spirit. The possibilities are endless.
Now get out there and start Simming, friend! I‘ll be eager to hear how your new adventures turn out.