Discover University, the eighth expansion pack for The Sims 4, isn’t exactly breaking the mould. In fact, we’ve already seen some variation of a university pack for three generations of the franchise, but that’s not to say that Discover University doesn’t have some new tricks to teach our student Sims.
The expansion includes two new universities that your Sims can attend; there’s the modern, American-themed architecture of Foxbury Institute that specialises in the sciences, or the British-inspired University of Britechester, complete with a historical aesthetic and a flair for the arts.
Getting into one of these two prestigious establishments won’t be a simple task, however. Your Sims will either need to be highly intelligent, famous, or more controversially, able to bribe their way in. Even this method can be unsuccessful, so you’ll want to plan for attending university early on in your Sims’ lives.
The town of Britechester houses both universities, but is much more sparse than previous expansions, even if the architecture is nice to look at. The real meat of this expansion comes from the added life content, though. There are three new careers that have been added: education, engineering, and law, with thirteen degrees that your Sims can pursue at university.
This is more than twice the number of degrees available in previous variations of university DLC for The Sims and each has a Distinguished version that will be tougher to qualify for, but will reap your Sims far greater rewards once they graduate. At first, I thought having only two universities would be a limiting factor on the DLC, but this level of variety eliminates that fear altogether.
The variety extends to the Create-A-Sim accessories as well, with one of the most impressive sets of additions to character customisation to date. There are new clothes, tattoos, piercings, and hairstyles practically bursting from the seams of Discover University.
Although it follows an American system of education – GPAs, course credits, and so on – Discover University mirrors a lot of my own experiences with higher education. Whether it’s deciding if your Sims will live on campus or commute from home, or fretting over spending your family’s hard-earned Simoleons versus tempting fate with exorbitant student loans, Discover University feels true to life. There are even scholarships that help pay for your tuition if your Sim is technically gifted or comes from a poorer background.
Though one of the new skills, Research & Debate, isn’t hardly a ground-breaking addition, the other addition, Robotics, is brilliant. Not only does it allow you to craft and invent all manner of metallic doodads, it means the inevitable return of the Servos from previous generations of The Sims. These robotic companions function much like regular Sims, with traits, aspirations, and a wide range of lifelike actions. Yes, you can marry and even Woohoo with your robotic Sims, but having them flirt with the dishwasher is far more compelling.
Another new inclusion is the litany of Organisations your Sims can join – these are, essentially, university clubs, but the “Clubs” name has already been taken by the Get Together DLC pack. Each organization has a set of tasks and events, which really help add some flavour to your student’s lives; much needed flavour, seeing as they’re all living off cheap ramen noodles and pizza rolls, after all!
Organizations and Servos both add new layers of depth to Discover University, even if it’s in direct contrast to the majority of the expansion’s humdrum scholarly content. It’s certainly less hands-on and engaging than the more outlandish expansions such as Get Famous and Island Living, but Discover University really helps to round out your Sims’ lives – it’s like adding an extra chapter to the story of their biography, which is extremely rewarding considering how much time you can spend building narratives for your fictional subjects.
It still has some rough edges – lessons are very basic affairs without much interaction and kegs are still filled with ‘juice’ to keep the age ratings down – but Discover University is an excellent expansion if you’re looking for a deeper level of control in your Sims’ educations and lives.