TT Games ventures into new territory with LEGO Worlds, going beyond the usual story-based collectible hunting concept to focus on building. How does this sideways move measure up?
Price: £19.99 Platform: PC (version reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One Available: Now
After almost two years of Early Access on Steam, LEGO Worlds was released on March 10 on PC, Xbox One and PS4 (PC version reviewed here). It differentiates from its Early Access incarnation – which despite claims to the contrary, was basically Minecraft – by upping the humour quota and giving the game a semblance of a plot.
The game begins with an asteroid hitting your rocket ship, after which you crash-land on a world and find the Discovery tool. A brief tutorial voiced by the excellent Peter Serafinowicz later and you’ll be hopping around the world discovering things and completing mini-quests in order to gain Gold Bricks – a reward familiar to players of previous LEGO games. You’ll feed these to your rocket ship to gain upgrades to enable you to visit larger, more diverse planets, and to level up with the ultimate aim of becoming a Master Builder after collecting 100 bricks. The next two planets you visit will tutor you in the ways of further tools and then you’re free to explore as you see fit.
The planets you visit will introduce you to new biomes, a range of creatures and vehicles and a diverse populace made up of familar and varied LEGO brands. As well as the Collectible Minifigures there’s Arctic Explorers, Pharoah’s Quest and Pirates – plus plenty more. You get a small thumbnail of the geography of the planet but really don’t know what to expect until you your rocket lands. Inevitably though, you’ll jump out, keen to explore a new planet and be surrounded by starving animals. If you feed them, you’ll be rewarded with a few coins and gain a legion of devoted beasts who will literally follow you to the ends of the earth like you’re some kind of latter-day plastic Saint Francis of Assisi. Unless you choose to whip out your Discovery tool and wipe them from existence.
There’s plenty of quests available, indicated by characters with thought bubbles above their heads. These are often repetitive and it’s not always clear what your reward for completing the quest will be. You might complete several time-consuming tasks; trading with several folk, remodeling a character’s home, and generating livestock for them only to be rewarded with a handful of coins and a pretzel. Nevertheless, your character celebrates as if he or she has won the lottery.
Other times characters holding a valuable gold brick will cry for help, wanting to be defended from a gang of zombies. When you die while fighting them off (which happens often – zombies are surprisingly tougher than the mainstream media would have you believe), the quest will be over. If I tried to delete them from the game using the Discovery tool, the quest would never end and the character would stand quivering in fear at nothing until the end of time itself.
There’s plenty of treasure to be found, taking the forms of rare items, map pieces, or the elusive gold bricks. Once you become a Master Builder, the galaxy becomes your oyster and you’re able to create worlds containing as many or as few biomes as you want, choosing to live in splendid isolation, keeping the fruit of your labour for yourself, or among knights, pirates and scientists.
Despite the tutorial, it’s up to the player to learn the intricacies of most of the tools. At some stage you’ll inevitably start finding parts of maps to exotic worlds. I was able to see fairly easily these maps came in the form of QR codes I had to assemble, but had to research on the internet to find out what exactly needed doing with them. And the first result I clicked on included a huge list of locations, rendering the whole process of collecting and scanning fairly unnecessary. Granted, I didn’t have to Google it, but it does speak somewhat to the game’s lack of exposition around its own features.
The performance of the game was generally okay – it looks beautiful and I can see why this was chosen not to be released for anything other than the latest generation consoles. Still, when you begin travelling across land in flying vehicles, texture pop-in really begins to be noticeable and the game begins to stutter, even on higher-end PCs. In addition, an alarming number of vehicles will fall from the terrain in front of you – a spawning issue which also presents as random characters can spawn in the same location as treasure chests.
Dungeons begin to appear once you are able to visit larger worlds with the promise that the treasure chests within hold rare treasures hidden behind a series of (mostly fire-based) traps. In the first of these I encountered, I was jumping hurdles where I could, constructing bridges, descending further and further into the depths of the dungeon. It’s an atmospheric part of the game and the only part where it felt like another LEGO game, but in subsequent dungeons I chose the quicker route of using the Landscape tool to delete large chunks of the earth leaving the traps (and the treasure chests) in plain sight and a lot more easily accessible. Having ‘done’ the dungeon level and seen all of the variant traps and creatures within, I don’t need to repeat it ad nauseum. The same is true of the golden beams you’ll see on worlds indicating a treasure chest. It might be fun to go exploring a cave system after finding the entrance, painting markers on the ground to indicate your route out, but with the Landscape tool it takes just seconds to burrow directly to the chest.
I tried importing some of my own LEGO Digital Designer models – a process that really isn’t as simple as it should be – only to find that large parts of the models were incomplete. It turns out that the brick palette of LEGO Worlds isn’t very expansive. Hopefully this is something that will be adjusted in the future as building within the game itself seemed fairly awkward.
LEGO Worlds is trying to be both a general-play LEGO game and a fully-featured open world Minecraft clone and not quite managing to succeed at either just yet. Structure is good for a game like this, but when you’re collecting to unlock items and tools, the repetitive, limited nature of the quests are going to frustrate many. At the end of it, you’ll get out of LEGO Worlds what you put in – if you’re the kind of person that wants to create his or her own town from scratch with each detail being perfect, then you’re going to have a blast, but if you see the game as an exercise in obtaining a complete collection of items, builds, and characters (props within the game number over 1000), you’re going to be left feeling that the game is a bit lacking.
With the developers committed to updating and enhancing the game, it’s going to be interesting to see where it’s taken. This is, of course, only the initial release and undeniably a very ambitious one with a powerful engine behind it.
This product was provided for review by Warner Bros.