The Sims Medieval Preview – Hever Castle, UK

Medieval Preview UK

Dit is de Engelse versie van de preview. Lees je hem liever in het Nederlands?

So there you are. In a plane, ready to fly to London, UK. What am I going to do there? Well to be honest, I wasn’t going to do anything in London. But from London I went to Hever, a small medieval town just under London. And well as you might have guessed from the description of the town, EA has flown yours truly there to have a closer look at the Sims Medieval. And what better place to do that, than in a medieval castle, in a medieval city, full of medievalness (yeah I just made that word up).

So as said we arrived at Hever Castle, a beautiful 13th century castle, with a rich history. It was once the home of King Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn. Once we were on the grounds of the castle, we felt like we were actually in the medieval times. Really impressive and beautiful.

We were greeted by a few people from EA UK and after that, were led into a small courtyard. There we witnessed some medieval sword fighting. A dispute between Henry VIII, current king of England and his enemy, trying to take over the crown. Swords were swung. It was pretty spectacular. After that we went inside the castle, where we were badged and given some tea and cookies. We couldn’t rest for long though, as our first activity of the day was almost ready. The group was split into two, where the first group went to a falconry demonstration and we (the second group) went to shoot some bow and arrow. Which was actually pretty cool. In between our shooting, Henry VIII and his enemy came back, to settle their dispute once more. Again, really impressive!
Then it was our turn to go to the falconer. A nice man named Terry showed us the ropes of the art of falconry. Really cool to be so close to those birds and to actually have them on your own arm.

After those activities it was time to go back inside and do what we actually came here for: play some games!

So we were going to play the game. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. But before we actually could play it ourselves, Rachel Bernstein, senior producer for the Sims Medieval, gave us a demonstration. She showed us the kingdom and how you could expand it. She also showed a bit how the quests system works. Pretty cool.

After that, it was our turn to discover all that. So what do you do first when you play a Sims game? Well normally you’d start by making a Sim. But this time, you start by actually choosing an ‘ambition’ (more on those later on). After you’ve chosen your ambition and have named your kingdom (a kingdom is nothing without a cool name), you can start by actually making a Sim.

Well in this case, you create a monarch. That’s what every new Medieval game starts with, the monarch. With him or her, you follow a (fairly lengthy) tutorial to learn the ropes of this new game. This tutorial is useful, because the game is fairly different from what you might be used to from the Sims 3. Sure most of the controls are the same, but a lot of them aren’t and there are some new functions added.

But back to CaS. Because there are some new elements to be seen there as well. The age selector is gone, but instead you have an age modifier slider. This allows you to give your Sim a more aged look, by adding wrinkles and such.
Also new is the traits and flaws system. Instead of giving your Sim 5 traits, you give him 2 traits and 1 fatal flaw. There are actually quite a few funny ones. We gave our Sim the traits Vain and “Whale ate my Parents”. As a flaw we gave him drunkard (he just couldn’t stay away of the medieval scotch). After that we gave our Sim a nice royal outfit and put him in his castle.

What you’ll immediately notice is the new UI. The Sims team has given the familiar user interface a complete overhaul to fit the medieval setting of the game. Something else you’ll notice is that most of the needs of your Sim are gone. The only needs they have now are hunger and energy. So no need for potty breaks when on a dangerous quest. Apparently medieval Sims don’t care about that, or they just let it all flow… Okay well let’s just not venture to deep in medieval toilet habits. Let’s move on.

In the game you have three modes to play in. The first one is ‘live mode’ where you – as the name implies – live and play the game. Nothing really new here. The second is buy mode, again as the name implies, you can buy things for your kingdom here. Decorate your buildings and such. The last mode is Kindom mode. It’s basically the build mode of the game, but with a twist.

So let’s talk about the Kingdom mode of the game. As you might’ve heard you can’t really build things in the game yourselves. So no building your own castle. All the buildings in the game are “ploppable”. So what does this mean? Well as the game progresses, you gain more and more experience points. These points you can spend in kingdom mode, to “buy” (place) new buildings. The downside to this is that you can’t even choose where you want to place these buildings. You just select a location and choose to buy the building that belongs there. So the Wizard tower is always located on the same spot just as the pub, the spy tower… well you get the gist.

When you place a new building, that building also needs a new hero Sim. You can choose to customize it yourself, or to just choose a prefab Sim. Saves you time, but it’s less creative.
When you’ve placed a new building and have made a hero, you can start doing quests with that Sim. Yep, your Sims have to do quests. What did you think? You could just let them sit in the pub all day? Right, well think again!

When you first start your kingdom, you’ll get to choose an ambition. This is something that you will try to achieve during the game. An example could be “place all buildings in your kingdom”. At first not all ambitions are open, but you’ll unlock more as you play. To fulfil this ambition, you need to do quests. These quests will help you gain points, which will help you further in your ambition.

So quests are a big part of the game. How do they work? Well, you go into kingdom mode, to select a quest. You’ll get a list of quests you can do, together with a description of them. After you select a quest, you also need to select a hero with whom you’ll do the quest with. Sometimes you need to select a helper Sim. But here is where the “confusing” part comes in (at least for some). Because you select the Sim(s) you want to play the quest with, only those Sims will appear in your UI. That means that you can’t play with your other Sims. They will just live on their own and do things. And yes they will gain experience points, but not as quickly as if you would play with them yourself. But it is entirely possible that you play with one Sim all the time and almost never play with some of your Heroes. It totally depends on your quest selection.

So how do quests work? Well the system is similar to that of the Sims 3 World Adventures. You’ll get a certain task that you need to fulfil in order to progress in the quest. Sometimes these tasks are rather simple like ‘go to a Sim and talk to him about subject X’, but sometimes they are more complicated. For instance, we once had to do a quest where we had to locate a special frog. For this we had to talk to the townspeople, to find out if they knew more about this frog. The townspeople didn’t just give us the information, but rather gave us clues and hints, for the whereabouts of the frog. So we had to figure out ourselves where the frog might actually be. That was kind of fun, because some of the clues were pretty cryptic so you can’t just speed through a quest, without thinking.

So let’s talk about your kingdom. What caught our attention first was that it looks really nice. There is a forest and a beautiful river going through your kingdom. The Sims team really has paid attention to the looks of your kingdom. There are also several locations to be found; the village shop (where you can buy things), the stocks and pit (where Sims get their punishment) and several others. All these locations can be found easily via a menu in the UI. This menu has some of the key locations and when you select one, the camera automatically zooms to that specific location. That, or you could use the ALT button, in combination with a number 1 through 5, to go to a location. Whichever you like best.

In your kingdom, you can enter most of the buildings. When you press the right mouse button on a building, you’ll see the interior. One thing you’ll notice is that once in a building, you can’t turn the camera 360 degrees anymore. The Sims team said that they did this because they didn’t want to break the “fourth wall”. So you can look into a building, but you can’t look from within the building.

As said before, you can place new buildings in your kingdom. These buildings really spice up your kingdom. Especially when you have “collected” the entire castle, things look pretty cool. Also the two churches in the game (based on two fake religions), look quite nice. So you’ll really try to gain enough points so you can buy more buildings; it’s really worth it!

There are several things that we noticed or heard about the game, but haven’t been able to check out ourselves. We heard that there will be children in the game. These are, however, not like children in the Sims 3. They do age, but they don’t go by the normal age phases. They’ll age quicker.

Talking about aging, this is something that’s left out of the game. Besides the children, your adult Sims won’t age anymore. They can however die, but from other causes than age (by poisoning for example). There is also a new medieval grim reaper, which looks more scary than the original grim reaper.

The moodlets of your Sim have also been changed. Instead of moodlets they are now called ‘focus’. This is also what they are intended for. When your Sim has more positive focus, he’ll be able to focus better on his quests. And vice versa of course; with more negative focus, he’ll proceed less quick. So make sure you keep your Sims happy.

So, let’s give this game a verdict. Do we need to send it to the stocks, or can we crown it as our next king? Well this depends actually. If you like the quest based gameplay, than you’ll definitely enjoy the Sims Medieval. It’s a fresh new game, with a nice Sims twist.
If however you prefer to simulate live and play with a family, give them a job and raise your children, then this game is not for you.

But whichever of the two above groups you are in, I’d like to say this. The Sims Medieval is a really nice game. It’s clear that the team has spent quite some time to really fine tune it. This you cannot only tell by the gameplay, but also by the look and feel of the game. Several elements really have a medieval theme and look really cool. In-game menus and even the intro movie (which is hand drawn to give a sketch feel) are awesome.

So I’d strongly recommend you giving the Sims Medieval a spin yourself. You’ll will not be disappointed. And if you don’t like it, then just feed it to the pit monster, I heard he’s pretty hungry!

If you want to see more (exclusive) screens of the event go to our event gallery.
For more (exclusive) screens of the Sims Medieval, visit our Medieval gallery.

We would like to thank EA Benelux for the opportunity to go the UK on behalf of the De Sims Hyves.