LEGO has no rival when it comes to imagination engineering – you can build sprawling cities or fly the Millennium Falcon with a cowboy at the helm. Combining LEGO with Hollywood and video games is the natural progression in this modern world, and this gets us to LEGO Worlds, a sandbox game built using millions of LEGO bricks. It’s the ultimate sandbox building adventure game… or is it?
LEGO Worlds has potential by the brickload, but it’s not perfect. It has issues with the toolset given to players to make the most of it, an annoying sticky camera, and repetitive cycles players are forced into to get through it all. But don’t let these things put you off, they’ll eventually get fixed or go away if you keep at them. LEGO Worlds is an amazing experience and as a bonus absolutely everything you see in the game world is made up of LEGO bricks, so that’s fantastic.
Beware the LEGO in the night…
The developer at the helm here is Traveller’s Tales, the people behind other brilliant LEGO games like LEGO The Lord of the Rings and LEGO Dimensions, so they know how to put a LEGO game together. Or do they? It seems that once out of their comfort zone and game format they stumble and fall a little. They are an experienced development studio (especially with the LEGO brand) so these bumps and issues are easy to overlook. That said, the game tends to be somewhat annoying because the flaws, while not game breaking, are just silly and mostly unnecessary. Perhaps with some patching and tweaking during its lifetime, LEGO Worlds will live up to its extraordinary potential – but for now it should come with a disclaimer.
The game world is procedurally generated. Each random world can feature land and oceans or fields of lava. The worlds can be set in lush green lands, frozen polar areas, or deserts with spooky woods, candy canes or huge trees dotted about the landscape. Each world is filled with animals, objects, vehicles and characters all built out of LEGO. The world generation system is astonishing and you’ll sometimes find yourself climbing impossibly tall tress only to leap onto clouds and explore the castles magically floating there. Other worlds will see you exploring deep oceans caves while looking for treasures chests and if you tire of swimming why not jump on a dolphin or manta ray for a ride.
The whole point of the game is to become a master builder and as you complete tasks you are given golden bricks towards a 100 gold brick goal – something borrowed from The LEGO Movie. Don’t worry, you’ll learn how it all works by completing a few tutorials worlds in the beginning. The tutorials are well implemented and by the end of it all you should have a working knowledge set to continue towards your goal.
Tasks are given to you by in-game characters with problems you need to solve. So in a farm setting you’ll be asked to paint a barnyard, then build a fence and then fill that area with sheep and cows. Complete all the jobs correctly (or close enough) and you’re given a gold brick to add to your collection. Each new task requires a special tool to complete it.
First up is the discovery tool, which allows you to scan LEGO objects into an ever-growing database, and once scanned you can then remove the objects from the world or place them into the world. So if you scanned a pig on the first world you can then place a pig on any other world. One of the tasks, for example, will be to place five flowers of a specific type near a character for a golden brick. The next tool is the landscape tool, which adds bricks, removes bricks, and lowers and raises the terrain. Use this to solve problems like how to get across the lava without stepping in the lava. The paint tool is next. With this tool you (spoiler!) paint. But that’s not all! You can also use it to paint new properties onto bricks like glow in the dark paint. Then the copy tool is used to copy entire things like houses, pirate ships or specific smaller items, all of which are added to your object/animal/character and block library. Lastly, the build tool allows the placement of individual bricks.
It’s a complete set of tools to get through the game make each world your own. There’s also an inventory so you can carry objects around that don’t fall into the tool manipulation category, like an apple to feed to a cow so you can ride it.
With all this ability and freedom and random content generation, you have everything you need to get lost in LEGO Worlds forever. But you don’t because of the game’s insistence on collecting 100 golden bricks before you can create you own permanent world you and your friends can join. This alone wouldn’t be such a problem if it wasn’t for the repetitive tasks you must complete to collect them. There are only so many farm fences to paint and pirate ship renovations you can do before it all starts feeling familiar. Why not just let players forget all the hoop-jumping and let them do as they please instead? There are a few ways this could have been done differently, and it feels like Traveller’s Tales selected the worst possible solution. But it’s not that bad, and the worlds are diverse and wonderful to explore. There’s so much to find on each one you’ll be at each stop for ages.
The other niggle is using the tools. Some of them, like the discovery tool and the paint tool are simple and easy to use. But others like the landscape and build tool are a chore. It’s hard to be precise when your perspective is so forced by a sticky camera, so it’s difficult to judge depth and distance, and picking the precise location to raise and lower the landscape is not easy. Building is also unnecessarily complicated; the undo button shouldn’t be the most used button in a game like this. Why not detach the camera and allow players to see what they’re doing from whatever angle they want? This makes building very time consuming and the whole thing feels like there must be a better way to do it all. It’s a combination of strange design choices that knock this game off the top of the pile. Minecraft works because you can easily move around and build whatever you want, wherever you want. LEGO Worlds just needs a lot more tweaking before things are right. This review reads mostly negative but the game underneath is marvellous and brims with possibility – it’s just a pity you must fight through the game and controls to get there.