Traveling Back in Time
Besides the presentation for The Sims 3 Late Night, the fan sites also got an exclusive look at The Sims Medieval. In this game you go back in time with your Sims, running a medieval kingdom. The Sims Medieval is not like the classic Sims games, where you try to make your families as (un)successful in life as you like. Instead you have to fulfill quests to get further in the game. The game is based on the Sims 3 engine and will feel familiar to those who know the game, but of course everything is dipped in a medieval theme. So, let's find out what this game is all about...
The kingdom you'll enter looks lively and sets a perfect medieval atmosphere. The Sims you'll see look slightly different and dress more medieval. As you start the game, you have to choose your kingdom's ambition. At first you can pick one out of three, complete the game and you'll unlock more ambitions. The ambition may be something like making sure everyone in your reign is healthy, you may want to pursue building as much as possible, et cetera. There are several scores, such as health, security, knowledge and capacity that rate your kingdom. As you play, these scores (hopefully) improve.
To achieve these goals, you have to complete quests. These are somewhat like challenges and adventures in the Sims 3: a problem occurs, it's up to you to solve it. An example is the case when the monarch is sick. Of course you can figure out a way to cure him (or her). If you're a little more of a sadist, you can of course also just kill the monarch and move on with your own life.
As you start the challenge, you will have to gather a team of Sims to complete the challenge. Depending on the challenge, some Sims may be able to help you more than others. Each Sim has his or her own profession. You pick a leader and several Sims to join the team. These are the Sims, so-called heroes, you will be able to control for the duration of the quest.
The quest won't be the only thing on your heroes' minds, however. They have their daily duties to perform. If they fail, punishment may follow. This can be a simple fine, but if you screw up badly execution is a worse kind of punishment. In between these tasks you have to do research, socialize and find out how you will solve the challenge that's upon you.
There are 10 kinds of heroes, including a monarch, priest and physician. Each of them will have their own little place to work and live. Most - if not all - of them will by default have their work set up downstairs, while they live in a small room right above the office. Each hero also has just two (positive) traits/strengths and 1 fatal flaw. If you play well, the flaw may turn into a legendary trait.
Points to Score
Each quest you perform will cost you some quest points. You may abort the quest, but it will still have cost you those points. At the start of the game you are given a certain number of quest points which at some point will run out. When that happens the game ends, and the game will give you a score depending on how well you did for your ambition. There are some smaller and bigger quests. It depends on your style of playing if you take it easy and (probably) settle for a slightly lower final score, or if every action you take is oriented at achieving your ambition.
On the other hand, each quest will give you some Kingdom Points (KP) in return. Kingdom points can be spent in your kingdom to place down new buildings. Each building comes with a new (specific) hero, which you create in a Create-a-Sim like interface. There is no free build mode in the game, all you can do is (starting with an empty kingdom) place down what you think is necessary to complete the kingdom ambition.
Each quest will also get your heroes some cash which can be spent by them personally. You can head into buy mode to get some new furniture. Of course everything is in a medieval style, but nothing stops you from making the rooms look however you like. Create a Style is still available, and very similar to the Sims 3 version.
There is no generation gameplay in The Sims Medieval. Your Sims are able to make babies, and they will grow up to become children. That's as far as it goes though; much like The Sims 1, the children will never grow up and your adult Sims will never die of old age.
All the objects you'll see in the game help towards creating an immersive medieval style. There is no phone, but a carrier pigeon will get some messages across. Furthermore you'll find crafting stations, (rivaling) churches and interesting punishments in the game. During the quests you'll also have to play some mini games, from treating a Sim with leeches (and using just enough to get a slider in the right area) to dueling other Sims.
Oh, and even though many Sims fans have wanted them since the first Sims game was released: no horses. Also, the game will not have any custom content or other (supported) ways to be expanded. For now, you should also not expect your scores to be posted on your profile page or some online leaderboard: everything is single player and offline. There was however a slight hint towards possible expansion packs in the future, but only time will tell if they will become reality.
The Sims Medieval is a more or less directed game, pointing you in certain story developments to get you further in the game. You have to aim at completing your ambition (at some point), through mini games and quests, although you can put it off for a while.
There are many limitations in the game, such as no build mode and just one choice for the kingdom area, which make you sacrifice quite a bit of the freedom you may be used to from The Sims 3. Therefore it seems that The Sims Medieval is most interesting for new players of the Sims franchise - similar to the Sims Stories series for The Sims 2. Seasoned players may find the game too limited. To increase the replay value of the game, you can continuously start over with a new kingdom and new ambition, but at some point I expect you'll have "been there, done that."
Nevertheless the style of the game, even in these somewhat early stages of development, makes an immersive medieval setting. It is an entirely different style compared to the modern Sims we have seen until now, which makes for a nice variation. Also having the quests probably makes the game more suitable for shorter game sessions, in which you just complete a single quest.
The Sims Medieval will be released early 2011 on PC and Mac. It is not an expansion and does not require or build on The Sims 3 - they are two completely separate games.
Make sure you also read some of the other The Sims Medieval previews from fan sites who attended the GamesCom:
- Sims 3 Nieuws (Preview from earlier demo at The Sims Studios)
- Simlicious (Dutch, Google translation)
- SmartSims (Dutch, Google translation)
- SimsPlanet2 (Preview from earlier demo at The Sims Studios, Dutch, Google translation)
- Sims-3.net (German, Google translation
- SimFans (German, Google translation
- SimsExchange (Q&A only)
- The Daily Sims (French, Google translation
- L'UniverSims (French, Google translation)
- SimSoucis (French, Google translation)
- Urbania Sims (French, Google translation)
- KhanySims (French, Google translation)
Do you know a link that's missing here? Please contact me!
Thanks to EA Netherlands and EA Germany for inviting us over, and Rachel Bernstein for presenting the game and answering questions from the community.
Written at 00:43 on Thursday 2 September 2010 by