EARLY ACCESS: Lego Worlds

Reshaping Sandbox Games One Plastic Brick At A Time
Reshaping Sandbox Games One Plastic Brick At A Time

 

Up until this point the Lego video game developed by Traveler’s Tales have been casual games based on popular franchises. Play any of the games, and enemies or objects that are destroyed explode into smaller Lego pieces. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t played with Legos as a child or with their own kids? Before Minecraft, it was Lego toy pieces. It was the “sandbox toy” before video games existed, and for millions out there they still are. Dumping a giant bucket of Legos on the ground as a boy, was at one point a daily activity. The amount of adventures, imaginary lands, and stories I built with these rectangular plastic pieces were inestimable.  Now the granddaddy of block building fun wants to stack its way into your video game life. Lego Worlds hopes to capture that feeling of seemingly infinite adventure and wonder, in a new modernized virtual playground.

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Weeks ago, Lego Worlds released as an early access title. During this span, three updates that add content and improve performance have been released. Worlds is starting to become the diverse and wondrous experience we were anticipating. Even at this early stage, it is already a stable and polished experience. The procedurally generated worlds are comprised of layered polygon models with attractive lighting and brightly colored textures; giving every surface a nice feeling of depth. Game worlds appear more complex and detailed when compared to others that are comprised of simple pixelated cubes. Unmistakable and varied biospheres make traveling around your worlds feel like long expeditions into the unknown. Aesthetically, this has to be one of the  best Lego playground (virtual or real) anyone could ever want. Mayan temples, colorful gingerbread towns, and Egyptian desert wonders, are but some of the vivid locations numerous Lego animals and characters reside in.

 

Discovery, exploration, and traveling defines Lego Worlds. For several hours I traveled around my continent, I discovered a couple of vehicles and three different ecosystems. Each biome contained its own set of plants, trees, structures, animals, and characters. I messed around for a good hour with those vehicles, especially the bulldozer- I terrorized the landscape into swiss cheese with it. Then I decided to dive into the deep blue sea and found another exotic biome. Deep sea divers, giant sharks, manta rays, and Atlantean underwater ruins provided more to explore. Finally ended up on the other side of the great Lego ocean, at another continent. To my surprise I found two more types of biomes, including the bizarre gingerbread/candy land landscape. I wondered then, if there is plenty to see on land and sea, what is beneath the ground? So down I went, blocky Jules Verne style to the center of the world. There was in fact, more to find. Sentient robots, minotaurs, and other unexpected surprises; these worlds are teeming with activity in every corner.

Vehicles, characters, and objects that you discover, will require Lego pieces to buy. Once “purchased” with these in-game Lego currency pieces (available by punching trees, and inanimate objects) you can drop them anywhere using the system menus. You can drop into creative build mode at any time, which allows you place pieces together just as if you were playing with real Legos. While you initially start with access to a great number of pieces, some props and objects unlock when you find them out in your worlds. Particular characters can only be unlocked if you complete specific quests for them. This is a new feature added in the most recent update. So far, these quests are simple fetch and retrieve tasks. For example, I came across a black wizard, who put up his dukes to fight. After cleaning his clock with a few well placed punches, he fell over. His thought bubble requested an egg. Bring back an egg to the wizard and his entire character profile is yours to use.

 

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Here’s the big question many of you are wondering, “How does it compare to Minecraft and other games in this genre?” Aside from its superior aesthetic, Lego Worlds has room to improve. Exploring is a nice aspect of the game, but you can encircle the whole world in a few hours. Quests at the moment are a simple affair, but show potential for a more involved adventure. More intricate adventures are sorely needed, as there’s no challenge at the moment. Finding rare items or new creatures has no real purpose at the moment, other than making it another piece in your collection.

Further, comparing Lego Worlds to Minecraft means considering my favorite aspect of Minecraft: Survival Mode. Starting with nothing but your bare blocky hands, surviving for days using your wits and creativity. Then looking back at the three castles, with automatic booby traps and rail cart transportation systems is pretty great. There is a sense of vulnerability or cautiousness as you begin venturing out in other games- yet everything in Lego Worlds is safe. There is no sense that you need some kind of defensive tool to venture into a new place. There are no items to lose. With no defined purpose at all, gamers could lose focus on the game after a few sessions. Lego Worlds is lacking in all of these things at the moment as well as any kind of multiplayer component.

Just when you think you may have seen it all you dive down and discover more!
Just when you think you may have seen it all you dive down and discover more!

 

The potential for Lego Worlds to become a fervent draw for creative and adventuring gamers is already there. The building system alone will provide many gamers with hours and hours of creative fun. Developer Traveler’s Tale has been very vocal with its early access community, and that’s very encouraging. For those taking the plunge and exploring these early builds of Lego Worlds, be sure to submit your thoughts and opinions back to the team on either the Steam Forums or the official Lego Video Games forums.

 

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