Once you’ve created a character and decided how you’d like to live its life, it’ll be time to enter the game itself. The Sims 3 handles much like the other games in the series, with one important exception: the seamless world. No more loading screens, no more calling up virtual friends just to leave your house. Once you’ve picked a location you’d like to travel to, your Sim will call a cab or ride a car or bike if they own one. You can also choose to walk, and see what adventures or friends you might stumble into along the way.

The Sims 3 also does away with some of the duller parts of virtual life management. Keeping your Sims in good spirits is key to making friends and staying employed, but earlier games forced players to do a lot of babysitting. The Sims are now a bit more autonomous, and dramatic status changes will trigger “moodlets” that alert a player when a Sim’s needs have become dire.

That means less time spent shepherding your digital self to the bathroom. And if you’re plagued by a particularly lazy or messy Sim, you’ll be able to interact directly with the environment, tossing out the trash or fetching the newspaper off the front porch.

Hands On: Sims 3 Boosts Customization, Cuts Babysitting