TT Games is breaking the tried and tested pattern with LEGO Worlds, and Brick Fanatics has taken an early look at the latest release…
A meteor smashes into the hull of my PUG-Z rocket. I lose control and my damaged spaceship hurtles through the atmosphere of a strange looking, hitherto uncharted, planet.
I quickly sort myself out with some new duds and a fresh hairstyle before careening into the ground headfirst. Remarkably I land completely unharmed and in the distance I can see the smoking wreck of my rocket. The dulcet tones of Peter Serafinowicz introduce me to my new temporary residence – Pirate Playground.
And so begins the latest LEGO game from TT Games. Usually beholden to a licence or a particular narrative, with LEGO Worlds both the developer and the player have been given entirely free reign to shape the story. And that’s not the only departure from the usual development process – the game has been available publicly on Steam for twenty months in an Early Access state, with different game elements introduced, refined and replaced in response to player community feedback. When the game is released on March 10 it will be the culmination of almost two years of Early Access and an additional year of development.
With three starter worlds acting as a tutorial for the player to progressively learn the various tools of the game, LEGO Worlds then becomes more of a sandbox environment with an overarching goal of becoming a Master Builder.
Each tool you obtain will trigger a short narrated video explaining and demonstrating its use. A meteorite crashes near the character containing the first tool you’ll get your hands on – The Discovery tool allows the player to scan and collect new models, outfits, creatures and vehicles which can then be summoned into your world at will. Further on you’ll encounter the Paint tool which can coat surfaces with different landscaping effects like lava, ice, or piano notes, the Copy tool which allows easy duplication of objects, and the powerful Landscaping tool which can shape the environment, carving chunks from the earth or flattening as appropriate. With the terrain being composed entirely of individual LEGO bricks, this can leave some rather jagged faces, so another aspect to the tool can gently and pleasingly smooth those out.
Much like the open world aspects of the usual LEGO games, gold bricks are the main collectibles of the game to level your character – and your rocket – up, and are obtainable by completing quests from characters you meet. The quests in early stages take the form of ‘scan an object and recreate that object a number of times’, but we’re reliably informed by the developers that they get progressively more difficult as the game continues – you may not have the required items nearby, or there might be multiple stages to the quest.
At 100 gold bricks not only can you scan the galaxy for new planets, you can create brand new planets from scratch with the ‘ingredients’ available from your collection. If you want an ice planet full of monkeys, you can have it.
The game has the same basic controls as the regular LEGO games, so it was simple to dive right in and play. There’s a mini-map indicating the location of available quests, but they’re also visible in the main portion of the screen as gold beams rising into the air. As in the LEGO games of past, each character I meet utters grunts and squeaks rather than using dialogue, but the series of icons indicating what needs to be done in order to complete quests is reasonably intuitive. I was able to figure out that I needed to use the Discovery tool to scan and then duplicate three pigs and five chicken into a particular pen to complete one particular quest, each new animal I create ejecting from my tool with a plaintive squeal.
To gain access to a treasure chest hidden behind sharp thorns I needed to use perhaps a not-so-obvious method – I ‘discovered’ the thorns and then, now they were part of an inventory of LEGO items I had in my collection, I was able to delete them from the World.
With over a thousand items available to discover in-game, it’s easy to imagine your inventory looking a little crowded and difficult to navigate. It’s pleasing then, to find that items you might need for a quest are highlighted. A future plan for the developers is to order these items into categories but, for now, the system works reasonably well.
With a more technical sandbox game it’s nice to see that the iconic humour of past LEGO games is threaded in the DNA of LEGO Worlds. The t-rex, for example, can be distracted by whipping out a guitar and shredding your little LEGO heart out. Your virtuoso skills will result in the dinosaur – and anyone nearby – dropping what they’re doing to begin moshing.
The game features a Brick-Built Showcase which currently showcases particularly impressive fan-made models. The hopes are eventually to turn this into a full upload/download system where friends can trade creations.
LEGO Worlds has, for a while now, supported LEGO Digital Designer integration in its Early Access iteration, and it’s pleasing to know that this is going to remain, though only available on PC, the system I imagine the more ‘hardcore’ players will gravitate towards. Besides this, the game plays similarly on all systems, but if you’re undecided as to what platform you’ll play LEGO Worlds on, you may also want to bear in mind that the only DLC announced so far, featuring LEGO Agents, is a timed-exclusive for PS4.
I can see that I’ll be spending a lot of time inside LEGO Worlds. Aside from other LEGO games, influences seem to be many and varied. Elements of Sim City 2000, Portal 2, Minecraft, and No Man’s Sky all seem to coalesce into a fun, creative experience which seems destined to develop further as the community grows and the game evolves.