Life is plastic, it’s a bit spastic.
The ongoing pursuit to cram as many intellectual properties and/or ideas into the LEGO universe continues with Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO Worlds. But rather than piggy back and make full use of an already well-established and familiar universe as its backbone, LEGO Worlds does something that you would think would have already happened with the flagship games by now: it lets you build stuff in an open sandbox-y world with actual LEGOs.
It was something of a shock to see LEGO Worlds initially start off as a Steam Early Access title all the way back in June 2015, with the premise drawing immediate comparisons to another certain and highly successful sandbox crafting video game of the “Mine-ing” variety. Yes, LEGO Worlds essentially takes it own whack at the Minecraft formula, and it’s a fit that makes all too much sense to NOT happen.
"Much like a lot of the LEGO Games from Traveller’s Tales, there’s some humor to be had when you’re trying your best to learn the controls."
And fit, it does. Right from the get-go, you’re thrust onto your first preset world, dubbed biomes, via your spaceship (“SPACESHIP!”). A rather charismatic narration voiced by Peter Serafinowicz takes you through the many creation tools you will have at your disposal. This sort of story-telling doesn’t stray too far from the LittleBigPlanet tree, and it’s especially nudge worthy when you consider Mr. Serafinowicz also voiced several characters in LittleBigPlanet 3. That said, the narration works well here and does warrant a chuckle every now and then.
Once you’ve visited several of the first few biomes, you’ll be acquainted with all the tools necessary to create, build, copy and explore the terrain as you see. Therein lies the charm of LEGO Worlds. Each world you visit is not only procedurally generated but is also accompanied by a theme that determines the sort of characters, creatures, vehicles and items that will spawn within. From lush forests to a junkyard, candy lands to volcanic regions; it’s all fantastic to look at, not only thanks to the visual style, but with how everything animates together. Much like a lot of the LEGO Games from Traveller’s Tales, there’s some humor to be had when you’re trying your best to learn the controls.
Not to say the controls are difficult per se but it took a bit of time to know when to optimally switch between your various tools, all the while managing your inventory items. From here, things actually differ quite a bit from Minecraft. Each of your tools performs a multitude of functions, such as terrain deformation, copy and pasting buildings and environments (which the narrator assures isn’t cheating at all) and of course, building with individual blocks of assorted LEGO shapes and sizes.
"Truth be told, there isn’t a lot of crafting of items involved."
Using your tools, you’re tasked to explore each biome and acquire as many Gold Bricks as you can. These bricks can be earned by completing side quests as simple as talking to an NPC and handing them an item, building something for them, painting objects, taking photos of them with some object, protecting them from enemies etc. Gold Bricks can also be earned by digging for random chests beneath the surface, wherever a pillar of gold light shines above it or on your world map. While solutions to helping NPCs are practically laid out for you, the freedom to find items, weapons and vehicles at your own pace lends well to the exploration aspect.
Truth be told, there isn’t a lot of crafting of items involved. As mentioned earlier, each biome already comes predefined with its own set items. By using the Discovery Tool, you can scan objects from previously visited worlds, then spawn and use them whenever you choose to with minimum cost. Therefore, there’s no need to craft for individual weapons or vehicles. Ditto goes to the survival aspect commonly seen in crafting games. Because your character will immediately spawn back upon death, things are far less punishing here.
Because of the lack of urgency, it’s easy to just lose yourself to a world you’ve visited and then blast off once you’ve exhausted its offerings. In some ways, it’s not too different to the gameplay loop in No Man’s Sky which kept players moving from planet to planet for resources. But the struggle of earning resources is nearly non-existent as you’re mostly left to your own free will. It’s actually not so bad in that respect but may put off those who expect far more of a challenge compared to survival-oriented contemporaries. Which, to be fair, you’re playing a LEGO game. Challenges aren’t exactly the focus.
"For fans of LEGO games, it comes highly recommended."
On that note, if there’s one feature you could always expect in a LEGO game, it drop-in/drop-out local and online co-op. Yes, it works very much like previous LEGO Games. Sadly, due to performance issues, local co-op is just unplayable. This could be due to the number of on-screen static and animating objects that can be displayed at any given time, but that is not always the case. Even when playing solo, it’s easy to run into frame stutters and environmental pop-in, even for some of the medium-sized biomes. There is also the usual jankiness that comes with any sandbox crafting game, such as falling from the world or having your character’s position reset based on where you place large building structures, but nothing too game breaking.
No doubt the true icing on LEGO Worlds’ blocky cake is its asking price. It’s smartly positioned for those seeking a nice deviation from the standard Minecraft fare with the added bonus of being LEGO flavored. There’s enough to sink your teeth into with the amount of worlds to visit, the number of items and characters to be collected, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with finding a Gold Brick tucked in some chest. For fans of LEGO games, it comes highly recommended.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Nice sense of exploration mixed with a bit of crafting and building. Great variety of LEGO themed levels to explore and items to play around with. Generally charming to look at throughout your journey.
Performance during solo-play can get erratic, and makes local co-op downright unplayable. Controls on console can take getting used to. Side-quests are your typical NPC fetch quests. Won’t pose much of a challenge.
Although LEGO Worlds is a little rough around the edges and is definitely not a Minecraft killer, it's a delightful game that LEGO fans should look into.