Many of Gameplanet’s reader base probably don’t consider The Sims 4 to be relevant to their interests. As much as I personally love the franchise, I know that The Sims hasn’t attracted the attention of core gamers in a number of years, if it ever did.

But if you’re one of those people who spends an hour creating a character in Fallout: New Vegas or Skyrim before you even start playing the game, then you may want to take a moment to investigate this cartoony life simulator.

I got access to a demo of The Sims 4’s new character creator, which appears to have been inspired by touchscreens in a lot of ways. Instead of using a number of sliders to create your character, you simply click and drag a body part to adjust its shape. If you drag the mouse outward, that part of your sim’s body will get wider. If you pull inwards, it’ll get slimmer. You can move body parts up and down, as well.

The Sims 4's impressive character creator is the new gold standard
The Sims 4's impressive character creator is the new gold standard
The Sims 4's impressive character creator is the new gold standard
The Sims 4's impressive character creator is the new gold standard

There are limitations – you can’t make a sim’s shoulders twice the width of their hips – but as a result of this click-and-drag system The Sims 4’s character creator has more diversity in terms of body shapes and types than any game I’ve ever seen. The degree to which you can adjust a sim’s waist, chest and hips is quite remarkable. You can even make body parts, erm, sag.

The downside of this click-and-drag mechanic is that it can be kind of unwieldy. You have to drag the mouse way too far to get the game to respond - hopefully this issue will be fixed in the final cut.

If you use the scroll wheel to zoom in on your character’s face you get a more detailed view, so you can move eyes and noses around, as well as change hairstyles, facial hair, eye colour, nose shape and other little details.

Click on any other body part, and a similar menu of options will come up on the right hand side that allows you to choose skin colour (from white to black to green and everything in between) as well as clothing and accessories.

In addition to changing your sim’s look, you can alter its voice as you could in previous games, but also its walk. Your sim might have a snooty walk, a feminine walk, or just walk like a regular person.

Finally, you can choose your sim’s ambitions and interests, just like you could in previous games, although this time they appear to be more closely linked to one another. I’m inferring this purely based on the UI design, though.

The system is, on the whole, a much more robust character creator than any I’ve seen in another video game. It’s also a much simpler and more refined way of adjusting a character to your liking than using a generic ‘body size slider’ followed by a ‘sex appeal slider’. I genuinely believe creators of more serious games – particularly RPGs and MMOs – will be taking notes.