The Sims: All Expansions For The Sims, Ranked

Released in February 2000 on the heels of the success of Sim City, the very first game in The Sims series is still iconic over two decades later. It was the game that paved the way for the rest of the series, introducing us to these digital dolls with a language we don’t understand, and basic human needs that constantly require attention.

As the series grew, so, too, did ideas for the games, and it wasn’t long before the first expansion was released. For an extra cost, these new additions would broaden players’ horizons far beyond where previously thought possible.

Over the course of its lifespan, there were seven expansions for the first Sims game. Longtime fans of the series will recognize these expansions as prototypes of sorts for the kind of content we’d keep receiving throughout The Sims’ multi-decade run. So, we wanted to look back to the early days of the series, and reminisce about which expansions gave us the most enjoyment.

7 Unleashed

The fifth pack to be released, Unleashed was the very first time in the series that we got to play with pets. Cats, dogs, birds, fish, turtles, and iguanas debuted in this pack, and while it wasn’t possible with every animal, Maxis left control of cats and dogs to us. Pets did take up the spot of a family member in the game’s eight-Sim limit, but the trade-off was that you could control them the same as actual Sims.

Not only did this pack bring animals and all their specialized care, but it also introduced gardening as well. Additionally, the pack expanded the standard neighborhood from ten lots all the way to 40, to give our families ample new places to settle down with their fluffy friends.

6 House Party

House Party was the game’s second expansion, and it delivered on exactly what the title promises – all the goods, services, and accessories one might need to have a raging party. Trying to feed your friends? Check out the catering table or drinks fountain, and even hire a caterer if you’d just like to focus on having fun. Trying to get your guests on their feet? Stick a DJ booth in front of the brightly lit rainbow dance floor. Don’t feel like hosting? Head out to any of the several new bars and clubs to party instead.

This pack was all about letting our hair down, and we had a great time doing just that. Except, does anyone remember Drew Carey just showing up out of the blue at your Sims’ house when they threw a really good party? Because that definitely still feels like a fever dream to us…

5 Makin' Magic

Although it was the last expansion for the original Sims, Makin’ Magic is definitely not to be overlooked, since it was our first real time playing with the supernatural. Hop into the portal to Magic Town and get ready for your world to be turned upside down (that kind of sounded like a spell; we played this pack a lot).

This pack kicked off with a visit to your home lot from a Mystery Man, who’d provide all the things you needed to get started on your magical journey. Going to the specialized magic-centric world would enable you to meet other magic users, buy ingredients to practice witchcraft with at home, and even appoint a dragon as a familiar. Learning spells and charms would allow your spellcaster to do things like make other Sims fall in love with you, turn a pet into a human if you had the Unleashed pack as well, or even clone yourself and send one to work for you while you stay home. And if the occasional taste of magic wasn’t enough, your Sims could also move to residential lots in Magic Town to be closer to the action, too.

4 Superstar

Lights, camera, action – get ready for your Sim to ride the fame train all the way to Studio Town on their journey to becoming a bonafide celebrity. And not only that, but the fame-based careers were active ones, too, making this the first time we could actually follow our Sims to and control them at their jobs.

You had to have near-perfect skills in Charisma, Creativity, and Body to work the celebrity careers successfully, though, and they were kind of tough to maintain once achieved. But, with a network of famous friends (featuring a handful of actual celebrities – everyone from Avril Lavigne to Andy Warhol) and a little luck on your side, Superstar was your Sims' first real shot to make it big and live a life of luxury.

3 Vacation

Feeling burnt out from the stresses of everyday Sim life (since the first Sims game was infamously more chaotic)? Need a moment away from it all? Call up the Vacation Van and head off to Vacation Island, where you’ll choose from three different travel packages offering up fun for the whole family.

The pack featured a variety of trips: a beach that offered swimming and sandcastle construction, a campsite for fishing and archery, or a snow-capped mountain for wintry activities like snowboarding and going down ice slides. Each had a themed mascot walking around, to boot. Opting to go to any of these lots booked you the space until 11am the following morning (with the option to just not leave and be charged again if you'd like to stay longer), marking the first time in the series your Sims could actively spend the night away from home.

2 Hot Date

Burning desire and branching out were the two themes of the Hot Date expansion, and Maxis captured them both really well. For the first time in the series, your Sims were able to leave their home lot to head Downtown and experience the breadth of new public locations, such as shops, recreation centers, restaurants, and clubs. You could go for a special night out with your significant other, if already spoken for, or hit the town as a single ready to mingle and see who you might bump into.

With how much more difficult the game was to effectively control back then, thankfully enough, time froze in the home world entirely when your Sims went Downtown. Their needs would still decay as normal and need tending to while Downtown, but time will have paused, meaning you somehow arrive home exactly when you left. With Livin' Large and House Party seen as simple (but welcomed) additions to the base game, Hot Date, although the third expansion pack, is considered the first to actually have expanded the game.

1 Livin' Large

First was anything but the worst when it came to Sims expansions, because Livin’ Large released just shy of seven months after the base game and added a TON of new things. And while it didn’t have a theme like the other packs did, it still has a strong place in our hearts for practically doubling the size of the game.

Bored of base game careers? Become a journalist, paranormal investigator, hacker, or musician. In your free time, brew up potions at a science table while gaining logic, look to the skies with the telescope, or even make a wish to a genie in a lamp. Servo the robot can take over the work of maids, butlers, and gardeners, while the Tragic Clown would tend to your Sims’ emotional needs if they were feeling down. Barter for Sims’ lives when they come to an end with the Grim Reaper, who might just turn the dearly departed into a controllable zombie Sim. And, at the end of the day, you could rest your head on the pillows of the infamous and much-beloved Vibromatic Heart Bed. This pack gave us way more than anyone bargained for, and we loved it for doing just that.

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