The Sims 4 Growing Together Expansion Pack review: Is it worth it?

Ava Thompson-Powell
A group of Sims in San Sequoia from Growing Together

Growing Together is the latest Expansion Pack for The Sims 4, bringing a new San Francisco-like world called San Sequoia into the mix along with additions focusing on generational, family-style play — but is it worth it?

While Teen Sims had the spotlight in the previous Expansion Pack, High School Years, Growing Together promises a wider scope of features that focus on other life stages in the game.

Tying in nicely with the free Base Game update that includes the Infant life stage — a first for The Sims franchise — everything from a Midlife Crisis for Adult Sims to a buildable (and upgradeable) treehouse is present in Growing Together, adding more depth to the lives of your Sims overall.

Please note that some images included in this review are from a pre-release code, using software that is not final and subject to change.

The Sims 4 Growing Together Expansion Pack – Key details

  • Price: $39.99 / £34.99
  • Developer: Maxis
  • Release date: March 16, 2023
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, PlayStation, and Xbox

The Sims 4 Growing Together Expansion Pack trailer

Home (is not) where the heart is

For me, a new world is always one of the most exciting parts of a new Pack from The Sims 4. Exploring the neighborhoods, searching for all the little details, and anticipating what builds some of my favorite content creators will come up with to fit in with them is a huge part of the new pack experience.

So, upon jumping into the lush, tree-filled world of San Sequoia, I ventured on my usual path of exploring what it had to offer. Right from the outset it’s clear that, as is par for the course, the team put a huge amount of effort into creating a cohesive world that feels both lived in and vibrant, with trees and a large landmark bridge running through the world’s heart.

Across its three neighborhoods — Anchorpoint Wharf, Hopewell Hills, and Gilbert Gardens — there are a total of 12 lots and four premade families. Hopewell Hills is a suburban, densely packed neighborhood full of houses, but suffers from a large part of them (there are only four livable lots here) acting purely as set-dressing — something I have sadly come to expect from The Sims 4. Cars and dropped curbs are also present in the environment, providing an unfair reminder that the ability to own or drive a car is not something Simmers can actually do.

Anchorpoint Wharf is situated right on the coast, with a gorgeous bay area that has a little boat dock, a subway station entry point (again, just set-dressing), and a rabbit hole movie theater. Sims can, as you’d expect, disappear inside to watch different movies, receiving unique Moodlets depending on the movie they watched and their experience there (choice cards flash up on-screen occasionally, allowing you to react to different situations to affect this).

Gilbert Gardens in The Sims 4 Growing Together
A lake is situated at the heart of Gilbert Gardens in Growing Together.

The third neighborhood, Gilbert Gardens, has to be my favorite of them all, without a shadow of a doubt. Not only does it feature the new Recreation Center lot type (an underwhelming, jack-of-all-trades lot that can have everything from the new puzzle table to gym equipment, arts and crafts, and more placed in it), but its central point, a gorgeous — and swimmable — lake, features a fun new interaction.

By clicking the trail board shown below, Sims can take a little jaunt around it by taking part in a walk or a jog, both solo or with others — they can even power walk around it! The power walk is probably my favorite feature in all of San Sequoia, and something I hope we see more of in the future. What’s more, Sims will stop to take a little sip of water on occasion, too, making this interaction feel both fleshed out and realistic.

Screenshot showing how to power walk or jog around the lake in The Sims 4 Growing Together

Sadly, though, while this does help to make the world feel more interactive, and while there’s a lot of detail here, it somehow feels incredibly… empty? As mentioned in the My Wedding Stories review, there are chairs dotted around that can’t be sat on, and while these on their own are disappointing, together, it creates this bigger feeling that your Sims are living on a set rather than a living, breathing world.

I’m sad to say that San Sequoia will likely be relegated to those worlds I spend a lot of time to place down lots and families in and then never use, a la Willow Creek, Magnolia Promenade, Newcrest, and San Myshuno.

San Sequoia lake group jog
Call in your friends and jog around the lake together as a group!

Ready-to-wear in CAS

At the other end of the scale, Growing Together’s Create-a-Sim offers plenty of wonderful items to put together new looks, both for current life stages and the newly introduced Infants. It’s a great offering across the board here all in all (though I would like to have seen some more shoes or accessories added, as a minor criticism).

One of the standout additions is by far the new skin detail options, adding more freckle, mole, and stretch mark options for your Sims in order to give them that je ne sais quoi — something that has been slightly limited until now without using custom content from the community.

With the pack being more focused on generational play and the family aspect that comes along with it, many of the items included in CAS are more relaxed, ready-to-wear, everyday items. Slouchy sweaters, hoodies, loose pants, and items geared towards Infant and Elder Sims (there’s an activewear outfit that perfectly captures a stereotypical workout look for someone in their golden years) take up the bulk of what you’ll find, with a few extra options like pendant earrings and pig-patterned socks.

An Elder Sim walking around Gilbert Gardens lake in Growing Together
The new activewear Full Body outfit is perfect for taking a power walk around Gilbert Gardens’ lake in.

Growing Together’s Build/Buy Mode is an absolute treat

I’m rarely disappointed when it comes to a new Expansion Pack’s item set, and that’s no different here in Growing Together. Featuring bikes for Child Sims (yes, they can now learn to ride a bike!), an interactive treehouse that can be built by multiple Sims (and upgraded to add slides or other decorations), and plenty of gorgeous furniture I’d add to my home in real life at the drop of a hat, there’s a lot on offer here.

A living room in The Sims 4

Featuring three new styled rooms that showcase the new bathroom set, living room furniture, and items for a younger Sim’s bedroom, Growing Together’s offering for these modes is chock-full of content I will reach for time and time again. That couch with the blanket and the cream armchair shown above? Love.

A whole new world of features

Growing Together feels much smaller in scope in terms of what it adds to The Sims 4 in terms of scale, but it’s by no means lackluster. What I mean by that is that these feel as if they add to, and expand, the building blocks already present in the game, through the new likes and dislikes or the Family Dynamics system, as opposed to the addition of weather from Seasons, for example.

Conversation Topics and Sim Characteristics are arguably some of the best additions in Growing Together, bringing us closer to something that feels like one of my favorite features in The Sims 2: The Chemistry system. Now, Sims will be more or less compatible with another depending on each’s likes and dislikes for the former, adding more depth and individuality to each Sim you meet.

Conversation Topics also complements this nicely, dictating how a Sim will react when another does a particular interaction with them. It’s a great addition that again, adds more nuance to the Sims themselves, making them feel more realistic in the way that they interact with one another.

Family Dynamics are a really interesting feature, giving you finer control over the relationships and interactions family members will make. These can be set between Sims in CAS, and include everything from ‘Close’ to ‘Jokesters’ and even ‘Strict’. I’m disappointed that this sort of thing doesn’t exist outside of actual family relationships, though, as it would be nice to have similar things between non-married partners or even friends that live together.

Milestones are unlocked naturally as you play, allowing you (and your Sims) to reminisce and recall certain events from their lives. Where a new Milestone was unlocked is even recorded — one of my Sims had a little, uh, bladder failure at their home, receiving the ‘First Bladder Failure’ Milestone, and it detailed exactly which world and lot it happened on. Some may even unlock items like a marriage certificate, for example, giving a tangible way for you to reflect on things they have done by placing them around their home. At certain stages in life, some will even be suggested to you as things to achieve, like learning to ride a bike as a Child.

Milestone panel in Growing Together
Sims will unlock plenty of Milestones throughout their lives in Growing Together.

Continuing this trend of fleshing out Sims and their personalities, Toddlers, and Infants also receive new Quirks, which are discovered naturally throughout gameplay. I absolutely love how nuanced these make a Sim feel. For example, one of my Toddler Sims earned the ‘Little Singer’ Quirk after running into their mother’s bedroom and waking them up, bursting into a sing-song once she was awake. Playing through a random Sim day and learning something new about them through a gameplay element like this is something that I love, and I’m hoping we’ll receive more of them in the future for other ages.

This ties in nicely with the new Midlife Crisis feature for Adults too, which are essentially temporary Aspirations that you’ll need to complete in order to help them get through it, adding some interesting storytelling opportunities depending on which one it is that a Sim receives.

One new gameplay feature for Live Mode is the ‘Stay Over’ event, where you can call up a Sim and ask them to, well, stay over, at your home for a certain period of time. This works similarly to the Vacation feature, but repurposed in that you’re inviting people to stay with you at your home rather than jet-setting off somewhere. I’d have appreciated the ability to be able to stay over at another Sim’s home rather than your own here, but it is definitely a nice option to have as is. It can also be triggered by NPCs asking to come and stay at your abode for a little escape, making this event feel less forced by taking it out of your hands.

A suitcase from TS4
House guests will bring a suitcase with them through the ‘Stay Over’ event.

Sims can even discover new personality traits while playing, which I think is absolutely fantastic and works alongside Snowy Escape’s Lifestyles nicely — one of my Sims was vacuuming, when a popup appeared onscreen asking if I wanted to give her the ‘Neat’ trait! I’d say that was pretty… neat, right?

At work, Sims can gain a Workplace Rival that will need ironing out by working with the Sim in question before you could be considered for a promotion, and they can even face career layoffs. Both the personality trait discovery mechanic (dubbed ‘Self Discovery’) and layoffs themselves can also be turned off in the game’s options if you so choose. More player agency is something I’m always happy to see, so I appreciate that these potentially life-altering options for Sims can be removed from play at will.

The Verdict – 3/5

All in all, while I am not a Simmer that prefers a generational style of play (I typically play with aging turned off and mostly as Young Adults, Adults, or Elders), Growing Together still has plenty of features that appeal to me, from its wide range of catalog items in CAS and Build/Buy through to the gorgeous (albeit shallow-feeling) world of San Sequoia, and an all-new Soul radio station to listen to.

If a generational style of play does interest you, however, then The Sims 4 Growing Together will be exactly what you’re looking for. It brings much more (very needed) depth to the systems already in-game, with new likes and dislikes, Milestones, and Family Dynamics fleshing out how your Sims interact with one another. Storytellers will likely have ample fun utilizing all of these new features, and it has to be said that removing these gameplay elements would take a lot away from how individual Sims are now starting to feel all these years after its original 2014 release.

Reviewed on PC.

About The Author

Ava was formerly Dexerto's Evergreen Editor, based in England. With a BA (Hons) in Media and Communications, and a passion for RPGs, The Sims, Pokemon, and Dead by Daylight, she primarily covered tips, guides, and reviews.