Life By You wants to be one of the most open-ended, customizable life sims, yet despite its broad simulation it’s already looking like it captures the kind of lived-in vibe that The Sims 4 often falls short on, setting the bar for EA’s next project. In a new gameplay demo, general manager Rod Humble shows off how the upcoming project from Cities Skylines 2 and Crusader Kings 3 publisher Paradox Interactive is shaping up.
It’s still a while until we’ll be able to get hands-on with this upcoming life game, with the Life By You early access release date pushed back into March 2024. However, a 20-minute walkthrough with Humble, who is best known for previously heading up The Sims Label at EA during the time of The Sims 2 and 3, shows off how far Life By You has come in the past three months since we last got an in-depth look at it.
By far the most striking element to me as a long-time Sims fan, and something echoed by other commenters both on the YouTube video and on the game’s Reddit page, is how Life By You manages to balance its open-world simulation of the whole town while still keeping individual locations active. Watching it from a distance, you see individual members actually going about their lives, while zooming in on a location reveals the activity within.
The Sims 3 might still be my personal favorite of EA’s series because of the way it lets you explore the town more freely than The Sims 4 does. Yet jump into any of its establishments while you aren’t there and they can often feel rather empty; furthermore, it often feels like other NPCs in Sims games exist largely to revolve around your controlled characters, rather than functioning on their own schedules.
Life By You’s still in a relatively early stage of development, yet it looks to be solving that rather well. With no loading screens and the entire town simulated at once, you can actually explore the world and feel like it’s alive and lived-in; I might even find myself caught up in a little people-watching from time to time.
The Life By You team at Paradox Tectonic also addresses one of the more common concerns about the game – the look and animation of the characters. There, at least, The Sims and its robust roster of enthusiastic cartoon avatars still has Life By You beat – especially when it comes to the particularly personable small animation touches of The Sims 2.
“We anticipate we’ll continue working on humans’ look and animations throughout our entire development process,” the team says in response to a question in this latest video’s comments. “While we’re adding a ton of improvements for our early access period, a lot of improvements will come in early access, as we can see what animation issues folks are running into, and where the biggest issues are.”
It explains, “Since any changes to humans affect every aspect of the game (like animations, building, interactions), we’re aiming for slow and steady progress!” That’s certainly good to hear, as that personality adds a lot. One such example is the current lack of vendors – buying things is mostly done through menus, and that feels a little at odds with how alive the rest of the world is shaping up to be. There’s plenty of time for such features to be implemented however, so we’ll be watching Life By You’s progress with keen interest. If you’re looking to do the same, you can wishlist it on Steam.
If you want to hear more from Humble, PCGamesN spoke to him at GDC 2023 about the potential for creative freedom in Life By You. Alternatively, you can exercise your desire to control every moment of other people’s digital lives with the best management games on PC.