Graphics Mods for The Sims 4 – Make Your Game Pretty!

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Author: Nicole
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Did you know that there are mods & programs out there to make The Sims 4 look amazing? Check out this variety of graphics mods to improve your game’s appearance and make it more fun to play!

Graphics Mods

The Sims 4 has been around for almost a decade now. Fortunately, the cartoony style of the game has helped protect it from looking dated over time, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t look any better. Short of upgrading your PC you might feel like there’s not much you can do to improve the game’s appearance, but you’d be mistaken! There are lots of ways to improve your game’s look beyond maxing out the in-game graphics.

Graphics Mods & Other Visual Enhancements

There are several different ways you can tweak the appearance of The Sims 4 to have it look better than ever before. Because some of them are more complex than others, we’re going to list them in order of difficulty. It’s okay if you can’t try them all; even a small change can improve your game’s appearance noticeably.

More on SNOOTYSIMS: Are you familiar with mod-making programs? The Mod Constructor is one of them, and it’s incredible what it can do, and how simple it is to use!

MOD CONSTRUCTOR SNOOTYSIMS

Level 1: Lighting Changes with NoGlo & NoBlu by luumia

NoBlu

A really basic way you can improve the look of the game is with some lighting changes. NoBlu is a graphics mod that takes away the blueish undertone given to The Sims 4’s default interior lighting which makes everything look warmer and feel more “alive.” NoGlo helps fix the weird brightness differences that happen on sims under lighting, so they blend in with the environment better. NoBlu gives you several levels of intensity to choose from and while you don’t have to use them together, NoGlo works more effectively when paired with NoBlu.

To Install & Use: These graphics mods need to be installed in your Mods folder.

Level 2: Texture Replacements for the Environment

Ground Texture Replacement

The standard textures of the game don’t have a whole lot of depth to them and can oftentimes appear mottled. Texture replacement graphic mods do what you’d expect—they replace textures.

Tech Hippie has a collection of mods that replace all sorts of textures in the game. There are replacements for flooring, terrain, foundations, roofing, plants, & trees. Although they’re noticeably more detailed these new textures are at the same resolution as the default ones, so there should be no drop in performance if you play with them.

Another creator we’ve found who has made texture replacements is Asabinsims. They’ve made retextures for Bridleton Bay, Sulani, & San Sequoia, and they’ve also redone the base game trees.

To Install & Use: Install directly into the Mods folder. For Tech Hippie’s graphics mods, make sure you only install files for the EPs/GPs/SPs you own.

Level 3: Changing the Graphics Rules

Graphics Rules

The Sims 4 is built with a set of graphic rules—basically instructions on how to display the game. They include things like when to change the LOD (level of detail) of an item, how far out to render objects, when to smooth edges, etc. You can manipulate these rules and essentially upgrade the quality of the game without changing anything inside it. The GraphicsRules Override mod by Simp4Sims modifies a lot of these options to make the game look better, which they illustrate really well in this video:

If you want more control than what this graphics mod has to offer there’s a version with even more configuration options called Simp’s Setters. It’s pretty complex and not for beginners.

To Install & Use: The mod will need to be installed in your Config Override folder. There are optional actions you can take to make the lighting & clipping cooperate better, along with a recommended mod that affects object fading. You can find full installation instructions on the mod page.

Level 4: The HQ Mod by RemusSirion & Playerswonderland

HQ Mod

HQ textures are often popular for players who prefer Alpha style and for CC creators when showing off their creations. The HQ Mod works by replacing all textures in the game with high-resolution textures, making details much sharper.

One hitch about this graphics mod is that all items must be displayed in high-res, even custom content. Not all CC creators use HQ textures though! Luckily for us the late, great CmarNYC created the HQ Texture Converter program that you can use to upscale CC textures for use with the mod.

To Install & Use: The HQ Mod takes several steps to prepare and implement, but fortunately, there’s a useful & informative how-to on the mod’s website. You will need to upscale any CC you download from now on if it’s not HQ compatible already, so using this mod requires ongoing maintenance.

Level 5: Shaders

Shaders are a post-processing effect that can be applied to multiple games which completely changes the way said game looks. In addition to The Sims 4 you can use shaders for titles like Alan Wake, Cyberpunk 2077, Final Fantasy XIV, No Man’s Sky, and many many more. There are a lot of different elements that can be manipulated with shaders and while most of them are essentially “plug and play” many have extra options & configuration toggles that can get more advanced, which is why we rated it so high in difficulty compared to other graphics mods—you can make the experience as easy or as difficult as you’d like.

Shader Options
These are some of the options found in Gshade.

In addition to color and lighting balances, there are things like depth of field, bloom, shadows, etc. that you can toy with and the menus can be intimidating if you don’t understand them. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try shaders, but you should know that they require a level of knowledge if you want to get more precise in how you adjust them.

ReShade

One of the biggest and best-known shader programs is called ReShade. If you see a shader for The Sims 4 this is likely the system being used, and since it’s such a common platform you’ll find yourself using it again and again. Here are a few of our favorites for making your game’s graphics look better than before:

Drama Shader

Drama is a shader preset by Pixelore made for ReShade that increases color saturation, decreases black intensity, and adds a dreamy blur effect to the background. There’s a separate shader called Drama_Night that makes the darkness starker, light sources have a glowy halo-type effect, and contrast increases. It’s got toggles for ambient lighting, DOF, tilt shift, grain, gradient, bloom, and even a black-and-white filter.

Clear-Bloom-Reshade

Clear Bloom is a shader preset by Picture Amobae that comes with lots of effects you can turn on & off so it stays useful no matter the lighting or weather. Change exposure, bloom, fog, ambient lighting, grain, blue saturation, and much more to manipulate this shader to your desired effect.

There is an entire album of example screenshots to give you a better idea of how this shader will affect your game’s appearance. With the proper understanding of it, you can capture some truly gorgeous scenes that look like they’ve come from a completely different game.

Gshade

Gshade Converter

Another popular shader program you can use with The Sims 4 is Gshade which has its pros & cons over ReShade. Many users claim that it’s much easier to use than Reshade, and it has the added advantage that shaders built for ReShade can easily be converted for use with Gshade right from the program.

There was, however, a huge scandal in 2023 when it was discovered that the developer had added coding to the program which turned it into essentially malware, making it possible to control & shut down a user’s PC without their consent. Gshade was met with a lot of backlash and considered “dead” due to the betrayal of its users with these actions and many players stopped using the graphics mod as a result. The malicious code has since been removed, but users are still suspicious because there’s nothing stopping it from happening again in the future.

Gshade is still available to use and it has a robust selection of shaders made for use with The Sims 4, so if you are comfortable with the potential risks of using it you can enjoy lots of beautiful upgrades to your game. Take a look at these examples:

Pearl Shader

Pearl, a preset by Amelie, brightens things up while removing some harsher black tones, and softens the background so your subjects really pop. It does a good job of removing the blue tone that EA likes to put in the game so much.

Ophelia Shader

Made by Talentedtrait, the Ophelia shader makes things brighter, warmer, and more saturated. It also softens the background a lot so your focus stays on what’s in front of you.

The Cost Of Using Graphics Mods

Once you go beyond some lighting tweaks and texture replacements, the suggestions shared here can be pretty demanding on your PC. Graphics rules are set specifically so the game can perform properly and by changing them, you will put a higher load on your machine to properly render things. Shaders especially can be a drain if they have a lot of post-processing effects (tip: oftentimes shaders will tell you if they’re designed for gameplay or screenshots, with gameplay shaders being a lot less intense). The best thing to do is find a balance of graphics mods you must have while saving the more intense ones for special situations.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, as these programs update, older shaders may not be compatible. You might have to switch to different versions of the program, tweak some shader settings, or stop using presets that no longer function correctly.

Before you replace or install any graphics mods you must make a backup of your game!

Conclusion

If you’re looking to spruce up the appearance of a game that’s been out now for nearly a decade, there are lots of graphics mods that can make a significant difference. From simple adjustments to color and lighting to larger tweaks like DOF and edge smoothing and all the way to full-on post-processing of the output, you can really affect the way The Sims 4 looks and help keep it feeling cutting-edge and high quality. If your computer is strong enough, combine methods and turn it into something that looks completely different! What’s your favorite method for improving the look of the game? Let us know in the comments!


Your Author: Hi! I'm Nicole

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I've been playing The Sims since the first game launched way back in 2000 and have been using CC for over 20 years. As a creative person with an interest in design, The Sims games have always been a great outlet for me whether I'm creating a cool sim, trying a new build style, or dabbling in CC making. The Sims really is a wonderful medium for all sorts of creative outlets and I'm happy to share my enthusiasm with other like-minded players!

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