The Sims 3 was released earlier this year, and it added new depth to the pastime of controlling the lives of little computer people as they lived, loved, aspired to lofty ambitions, and got into hilarious catfights. The first expansion for the game, World Adventures, will add three new huge areas to explore (China, France, and Egypt), along with intriguing new puzzle-based gameplay. It will also include tons of new environments, character clothing, moneymaking options, and character traits. And we got the first look.
World Adventures will let you trot the globe to three different worldwide locations, either on a simple vacation (which you can take at any time if you've got the simoleons to afford a plane ticket) or as part of an "adventure" (which is an expanded version of the opportunity system that would randomly pop up at certain points in the careers of your sims). These adventures will have you go to one of these three nations to take on quests to explore and plunder trap-filled ruins on behalf of a greedy corporation, though once you've fully explored one locale's ruins, you can decide whether you prefer to side with the company (who would prefer to bulldoze them) or with the locals (who would prefer to keep their landmarks safe).
This kind of quest- and choice-based gameplay is a first for the Sims series and makes World Adventures a lot more like a role-playing game than previous games in the series. You'll have an extensive adventure journal that will keep track of a huge number of statistics and achievements, including how many relics (a new type of collectible item) you've gathered, how many puzzles you've solved, different areas you've visited, and your sim's "visa points" (which determine how long you can stay abroad). Stats are very important to the World Adventures team--and apparently to the Sims community--and there will be a ton of them. There will also be tons of new collectible items, including new plants, seeds, and catchable fish for all the pack rats out there.
We watched a demonstration of a sim exploring a tomb in Egypt, which was filled with rubble that needed to be cleared away (and can be cleared faster with athletic skills). Behind the rubble lay a switch that opened up a stairway to a lower level, though the pyramid also had several other adjoining chambers that were obscured by a fog of war. Different chambers may contain treasure caches in urns with valuable relics, dangerous traps or, worse, threats.
We watched our explorer try to navigate a fire trap that belched flames up out of the floor, but he failed miserably. He ended up catching on fire, making a panicky run to the nearest pool of water, and diving in with a cowardly leap. However, after getting dunked, our sim was affected by the "soaked" moodlet (minor conditions in The Sims 3 that can positively or negatively affect your character), which also made him immune to fire, so he was able to safely cross. He moved on to a treasure room full of urns containing items, but he didn't realize that there was a sarcophagus at the other end of the room from which a hideous mummy emerged.
Mummies will attack your sims and drag them into a fistfight, and unless your sim is a master of the martial arts skill (which is new to World Adventures), you'll end up with the mummy's curse. This will kill you in two weeks' worth of game time unless you pay a visit to the Sphinx, which is also in the area, and plead your case. Of course, if you prefer to be adventurous, you can actually spend the night inside a cursed sarcophagus and become a mummy yourself, which will cause you to move much more slowly and die should you catch on fire. But, it will also increase your strength and limit your personal needs (so unlike regular sims, you won't need to sleep or take bathroom breaks) and otherwise make you live much longer. You'll also get new, unique mummy social interaction options. (Though if you die as a mummy, you can come back as a ghost-mummy. Yes, a ghost-mummy.)
While you begin your adventures on location at a base camp, all three international locations have their own businesses and amenities, as well as locals whom you can meet, interact with, and even fall in love with and marry, then bring home to Sunset Valley (the original Sims 3 neighborhood). Sims from these different regions are being designed to look like they belong to those regions and will have various behaviors added to their personalities under the hood that will serve the purpose of modeling their different cultures. Should your sims decide to marry someone from abroad, their children will evince these behaviors.
Along with new behaviors come new traits, skills, and side activities that can be used to generate a handsome income on the side. The three new traits each enhance the expansion's three new skills. The first new skill is martial arts, which is first learned in China; it can be practiced with a training dummy item and advanced to compete in a special martial arts tournament in that country. The second new skill is photography, which can be advanced through various skill levels to take on new styles (such as panoramic shots or sepia-tone photos), and the expansion will offer a series of photography challenges to fill an album collection. These include simpler stuff like grabbing a photo of a new father carrying a baby to esoteric, secret photo setups that will be much harder to nab.
The final new skill is "nectar making," which originates in France and involves using grapes to make non-alcoholic "nectar." If made properly, the nectar will give its imbibers a "good meal" moodlet that will make them much happier, but if made poorly, it will make its drinkers spit out the swill and bring their moods down for a while. Skilled nectar vintners can age their bottles in a nectar rack and sell aged bottles for a pretty penny, and having an advanced gardening skill (to grow good grapes) will help considerably in this profession.
In addition to all this other stuff, World Adventures will add the three new areas to explore, each of which will be comparable in size to Sunset Valley, along with a huge number of brand-new clothing outfits. There will also be tons of scenery items, which can be used by industrious players to build out their own trap-filled ruins to explore, filled with hidden switches, buttons, staircases, traps, and treasures. There will definitely be a ton of interesting new stuff to play in an expansion that will go in a new direction for Sims expansion packs. World Adventures will be released later this year.