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The Sims 4 Horse Ranch review - I’m one jolly rancher

While The Sims 4 Horse Ranch has its flaws, I am pleased overall with how much better this expansion handles equestrian elements than The Sims 3.

Our Verdict

The Sims 4 Horse Ranch has given me the equestrian content of my dreams, with a wide variety of horse breeds to choose from and beautiful riding animations. From adorable little farm animals to artisan wine making, there is a lot to love in Horse Ranch. I am only left wishing it was all a bit less Western.

The Sims 4 Horse Ranch seemed like the answer to all of my prayers. I had been waiting for horses since the base game arrived way back in 2014, often going back to The Sims 3 just for its equestrian inclusion. Now that the magnificent animals have finally come to the Maxis’ iconic simulation game, I am overjoyed to report that The Sims 4 has horses, and they are way cooler than their predecessors. With so much to share about my time with The Sims 4 Horse Ranch in this review, all I can say is yee-haw!

When I booted up my game, I clicked into a new game so fast that my screen barely had time to load. Forget about the Sims, I thought. There are horses to create – and boy did I create them! With over 30 breeds to choose from and a ridiculously vast amount of colors and patterns available, I think I spent three or four hours simply creating different foals and horses. A female Sim jumping across an obstacle on a white and pink unicorn in the desert

Just like your Sims’ cats and dogs do, each horse comes with a few personality traits that you can choose from. Friendly, intelligent, brave – make the horse of your dreams! Or, make your pony pal completely wild and difficult to work with. It’s up to you, and I had to choose the former traits because I’m here for a good time y’all.

And I did, indeed, have a good time, as I discovered none other than the unicorn horn and its shimmery colors. That’s right, you can make your horse a unicorn, and the horn sparkles. It also changes the horse’s voice a bit, making it sound ethereal and magical.

The saddles and equipment are also cute, but I do wish there was a bit more to choose from. There were a lot of Western options and fewer English ones, but I did love the color variety. The same can be said for the new clothing items and accessories for the human Sims, as most of it is all cowboy-related. I did what I could though, and ended up with a cute couple, one horse, and one glittery unicorn. A female Sims rides atop a white and brown spotted horse in the desert

When it comes to the Build and Buy Mode items that accompany Horse Ranch, I am left yearning. I think the cowboy aesthetic the team went for is captured well enough with the included objects, but it does not account for the diversity found within the equestrian community’s interests. Not all of us are into Western-style riding, nor are we all obsessed with cowboys and deserts. I loved some of the items, like the cute sheep rug and matching bed pattern, but I wish that EA added more of these and less of the bland brown or cream-colored objects.

This brings me to Chestnut Ridge and how I feel about the expansion pack’s new world. My opinion here is completely subjective, but I do not think I will have many of my Sims living in the bright, hot canyons. It reminds me too much of StrangerVille, with its color scheme and weather. While I do appreciate the inclusion of indigenous decor, I just cannot vibe with the Wild West feel Chestnut Ridge carries. As a pony princess sort of horse girl myself, I think my Sims and their horses are better suited to some of the game’s other biomes.

Regardless of the Western theme not aligning with my own interests, I was able to move my Sims over to my favorite location and live out a more cottage-core life with their horses. I made my dream pastel pink unicorn and had the time of my life caring for the horse that childhood me would have died for. That, after all, is the beauty of the pack: you can have your goats, horses, and sheep wherever you please! If you are like me and want to permanently base your household in-game elsewhere, then you can. Traveling to Chestnut Ridge is always available right at your Sims’ fingertips, and I know I’ll always go back to catch a glimpse of those glorious shooting stars. A group of four goats, each with different colors and patterns, stands in a grassy field with flowers

Speaking of goats and sheep, I am obsessed with the new micro-sized animals. I have never felt happier looking around my Sims’ lot than I do now that there are a bunch of little fuzzy guys roaming about. I thought that having chickens and cows to look after was the ultimate gameplay feature, but nope. Now we have mini-goats. The animals do also interact with one another, but I couldn’t spot any unique interactions. It felt like the usual ones you see between other pets and farm animals in-game.

When it comes to Sims’ interactions with the new animals, especially the horses, I’m pretty pleased. I loved building a Sim’s bond with their horse and seeing how different the dynamic between them became. No longer was my Sim thrust off the back of the horse or uncomfortable, as their riding skill and affection for the companion grew. The new horse-specific tools available to purchase are fun, too, from a big ball to play with to jumping courses for training. A blonde Sim rides atop a white and pink unicorn looking uncertain

I gave my Sims the new traits, making their aspirations align with those of a Championship Rider. I like the Horse Lover and Rancher traits, but I also spent a bit of time with the new Expert Nectar Maker aspiration. Your Sims can make nectar to age, keep, or sell, and they can even put their artisan goods in an adorable nectar rack. It’s a fun way to make some Simoleons on the side, as is milking or shearing the new little animals.

Something else that I love about Horse Ranch is its inclusion of an interactive mini-game. I knew the new world came with mysteries or secrets, but I wasn’t expecting this one. If you come across Dreadhorse Caverns, you can dive into a rabbit hole cave for a fun text-based adventure. While I don’t want to spoil too much about it, it’s reminiscent of Jungle Adventure in a way, with choices to make that affect your outcome. There are enemies and XP, making it feel kind of like a short Dungeons & Dragons session within The Sims 4. It would be cool to see more of these hidden gems around the map, in Galloping Gulch, New Appaloosa, or Rider’s Glen. A female Sim wearing an orange crop top bottle feeds a mini goat in a grassy field with flowers

Ultimately, I am happy to finally live out my horse girl dreams with The Sims 4 Horse Ranch. Everything looked exceedingly smooth: from the animals’ riding and movement animations to the horse creation itself. With a strong variety of breeds to choose from and endless customization, it would be difficult to criticize Horse Ranch for what it is meant to be—an expansion pack with a primary focus on adding horses to The Sims 4.

I would love to see more animal-related items that don’t lean so heavily on the cheesy American West theme, but that’s my personal preference and something we could very well see in an upcoming kit or smaller pack.