As part of its first ever Behind the Sims Summit Stream event, EA has given a "super early" look at its next Sims game, codenamed Project Rene, and shared a few future plans for The Sims 4.
Project Rene - a name EA says it chose to reflect words like "renewal, renaissance, rebirth" - is described as a "next generation Sims game and creative platform" that will "[reimagine] the Sims you know and love with new ways to play".
It's said to be built on a foundation of "charming sims, powerful tools, and meaningful stories" that will stay true to previous Sims games while also "pushing to evolve how those Sims think and behave, [pushing] tools even further when creating and customising, and [exploring] innovative ways to not only tell stories but to collaborate on those stories or creations with your closest friends across your favourite devices."
EA says it currently has a "growing team" working on Project Rene, with development on The Sims 4 and The Sims mobile continuing in tandem. And while it repeatedly stressed that Project Rene is still early in development, it did share some initial footage highlighting some of the concepts the team is currently playing with.
These included expanded creativity tools seemingly inspired by The Sims 3's extensive Create a Style customisation options, which were omitted from The Sims 4. At one point, for instance, a player was shown choosing the colour of a sofa from a colour wheel before independently applying a selected pattern. Additionally, individual elements of a furniture item could be changed independently, such as a bed's headboard or footboard.
Notably, EA explained that while Project Rene can still be played solo, one of its design goals is to "make it easier to work together and share", with players able to collaborate on a build simultaneously and see each other's changes happening in real-time on their screens. All this will be supported across a range of devices, so players can, say, use a mobile device to continue building with their friend on PC.
As to when Project Rene might finally arrive, it sounds like it's still some considerable way off. EA says it'll continue sharing updates "over the next couple of years" as development progresses, with the aim being to offer small groups of players early access to Project Rene over time.
In the meantime, development of The Sims mobile and The Sims 4 (which goes free-to-play today) will continue, with a new baby focused expansion for the latter being teased during today's show. Currently, babies exist in The Sims 4 as little more than barely interactive cots, but EA's brief teaser - showing a baby crawling across the floor - suggests they'll be getting the same kind of autonomy treatment as other Sims when the feature arrives some time next year.