Ever since The Sims 2, The Sims series have been struggling in delivering a proper dining experience for the simmies. In The Sims 3, most of the "dining experience" will simply involve buying stuffs over the counter and subsequently stuffing the Sim's face. This trend seems to be continuing into The Sims 4...until now.
The Sims 4 'Dine Out' is a new Game Pack for The Sims 4. The Sims Team call these game packs somewhat a little more than Stuff Packs, but a little less than a fully fleshed out Expansion Pack. So far they've released two other game packs, one that caters to camping in the wilderness and another offering a full spa experience for your Sims. Both were considered pretty good for its price range, so let us see how 'Dine Out' fare against those.
The game pack is split into 2 major gameplay areas:
The first part is pretty straight forward. First, you'll need to install a restaurant into your World. You can find some templates already placed inside your Gallery, or you can download tons of user-created restaurants that is already uploaded into the Gallery. Once your World has a restaurant, you can then send your sims to dine there.
Once you've arrived, you'll notice that your sims are now fully dressed in accordance to the theme of the restaurant, be it a fancy formal wear at a very expensive restaurant; or maybe even in their swimsuits that will reveal some sweet 6-pack abs that you'll never have to dine at the local beach shack. From there, make your way to the hostess station to reserve a table. Interestingly, you can also directly click at the table to book a specific table, provided it is not occupied. Your hostess will then navigate your sims to their table.
Once you're comfortably seated, you can start ordering your food and drinks by clicking on the table again. You can order everything from appetisers to dessert, and you can order separately for each Sims. While waiting for your food, your younger Sims can bust out their crayons and draw on the placemats (don't ask me why, it's an American thing) and the adults can make small talks and engaged in neighborhood gossips.
When the waiter serves your food, your sims can take photos of the food and upload it on their Simstagram if it's one of the new experimental dishes. Once everything is done, you can either order your next meal or bayar and cabut!
The other major part of the Game Pack is buying and becoming an owner of a restaurant. You can choose to start from an empty retail lot and build one up from scratch, or just buy an existing restaurant. After your initial purchase you'll be required to split your household income into the restaurant budget (Accounting 101, people!) and now you're ready to set-up your restaurant.
And when I said set-up, I mean it. The whole shebang! You'll get to customize everything from your restaurant logo, to the staffs, their uniforms, the dining menu, the price and profit margin to the advertising budget. EVERYTHING. Heck, if you want to have a restaurant where all the waiters serve only Tacos in a bear outfit and naming the restaurant Jungle Fury, YOU CAN!
Once everything is set up, you can start opening up your establishment to visitors.
The fundamental part to managing a restaurant is taking a good care of both your customers and your employees. A new customer coming into the restaurant will start off with a neutral 3-star rating, and it will fluctuate up or down depending on a variety of factors, such as the food, the service and the environment. As a manager you'll have special interactions which you can use to help alleviate their dining experience. Once your customer leaves, their end rating will be added to the average pool of your overall restaurant rating.
Managing your customer is one thing, managing your employees is a whole other issue. Unlike in The Sims 2, this time around you can't directly take over your staff's role. So it is good if you treat your employees right. Give them a raise and words of encouragement when they are doing well. Provide ample training and scold them when they mess up. And be sure to let them rest once in a while if they're feeling tired. You can also hire more employees to help out.
Every successful interaction will earn you perk points, which you can use to unlock more interactions that will help you managing your restaurant more effectively. There's also perks that helps with raising quality of your food, instilling patience in your customers and help making all those advertisement more effective and affordable.
The Game Pack obviously also comes with objects, accessories, clothes and uniform that helps you make a restaurant. Apart from that it also comes with several new hairstyles for both gender and a Jazz radio station that you can utilize in a more classier restaurant.
How does this Game Pack fare against the 'Outdoor Retreat' and 'Spa Day' Game Packs? To be honest, I feel that this is the best Game Pack to date. After all, how often do we go for a spa trip or went hiking outdoors compared to eating out? So if you have a budget for only one single Game Pack, I'd say splurge on 'Dine Out', hands down.