At EA's recent Summer Showcase, we got our first look at The Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles, the new adventure pack set to come out later this month. As an add-on to this year's The Sims Medieval, the pack comes with 16 new quests added to the original storyline and gives you options to either band with the pirates of Aarbyville or ally yourself with the nobles of Tredony. But if you're more of a loving, peace-keeping ruler, you may choose to not go with either and work out a peace treaty instead. Other than new story content, a host of elaborate noble or pirate outfits, and decorative new items, there are three main features that are worth highlighting in Pirates and Nobles.
Depending on whom you align with, you can have a pet parrot or falcon on your arm to attack people. OK, these birds can do more than that, but it is fun to send your avian friend toward an unsuspecting noble to harass him or her--just a little bit. Falcons can also be directed to go off into the wild and hunt for you. In our case, it brought back a dead rat. We're told that parrots can bring back other treasures and trinkets, and because it doesn't cost you anything, you might as well put these birds to work.
You'll get whistles that call each parrot or falcon, and there are five of each in the game. Some are rarer, and some are obviously only available if you explore one side of the storyline, but there are also special birds that you can assemble. In our demo, we called a streampunk-themed mechanical falcon to our side and then sent it on its way. Of course, you can also feed, name, and pet your bird, as well as do all kinds of "normal" pet things.
As you progress through the quests, you may be asked to retrieve some secret information from the locals. The best way to go about it is to tie them to the interrogation chair. Interrogation is like a minigame of sorts, where you have to use different devious methods to get them to talk. A will and alertness meter displayed will give you an idea of how you're doing. You have to keep them alert, but you have to raise or lower their will to get the info by means of persuading or scaring it out of them. Some methods include tickling with feathers, showing "something" from a box, attacking them with a chinchilla, or threatening them outright. There are some sims that actually like these methods of torture, so you'll have to adjust your tactics accordingly. But when you're successful, you can gain special items or that piece of information that you've been seeking.
Armed with a shovel, you can dive into some backbreaking work to try to find something of value. There are multiple shovels in the game, and some let you dig faster than others. You can randomly dig in any location and hope that you come across something useful, or you can use an actual map. Digging in sandy beaches could mean that you'll discover more pirate-y items like a pirate flag, but if you're shoveling dirt in the middle of a majestic forest, you might stumble upon some valuable artifacts. Maps can be obtained through various means, but once you have one--and depending on your treasure hunting skills (that go up the more you hunt)--you'll be able to track down that special spot. If you're not interested in digging (come on, who isn't?), then you can always leave your sims alone and they'll eventually get around to finding treasure on their own. You have to be cautious of the pit beast that can yank your sims into the hole they just dug because if your sims get caught, you'll risk losing quite a bit, including your sim.
The Sims Medieval: Pirates and Nobles looks to flush out the main game a bit by adding more involved quests and giving you choices in how you approach the story. The goal of the game is not necessarily to create your own story as you would in the main Sims series; The Sims Medieval seems to be designed for those who need a little more guidance and direction while still maintaining an element of choice. You'll be able to choose your side when the adventure pack is released on August 30.