As you complete tasks and unlock new themed areas to expand your town, you’ll gain access to more elaborate building blocks, such as curved pieces. You’ll also have an expanding collection of “essences” - decorative objects that can be incorporated into your designs or used to paint things with pretty patterns.
While you can always enter houses and start moving furniture - to the delight or annoyance of the residents - you have to gain the trust of your Sims before you can customize their personal appearance. As an example of the game’s “blank canvas” style, one of the designers told us it’s possible to give the whole place a Wild West flavor by sticking saloon doors on the buildings and forcing everyone to wear cowboy outfits. Whether the Sims’ll appreciate this kind of thing is another matter.
The similarities to Animal Crossing don’t really go much further than the cute visual style. In terms of gameplay, MySims seems more like Harvest Moon, with social engineering instead of farming. The ability to rearrange buildings adds a SimCity feel - which will no doubt become increasingly important as your town spreads out over what appears to be a fairly large playing area.
The controls are in the process of being refined. At the moment, moving the main character around is done entirely with the analog stick, and the only motion controls we’ve seen are in the object-editing screens. It’s all liable to go through several more revisions, although it already seems to work reasonably intuitively.
So, a Sims game to actually look forward to on a console? These are strange times indeed.