Emma Withington reviews LEGO Worlds…
A meteorite plummets into the LEGO earth, sending studs scattering into temporary chaos. As the debris settles, a perfectly formed crater remains. The lost spaceman – let’s call him Nondescript Norman – finds his first tool, cooling off in the centre: The Discovery Tool. A whole new world of possibilities was about to open up for Norman, soon he would be able to travel to pirate camps, medieval villages, swamps, western towns, volcanic wastelands, deserts, and more! With each Biome comes a variety of native minifigures, he could clone people, creatures, and vehicles…Maybe he could create a new identity, become the master of his own world, find a legendary dragon..? From this day forward Nondescript Norman would be no more.
Following the LEGO Worlds Preview it was time to take home my very own ‘Nondescript Norman’ and forge his destiny. Unfortunately for Norman, he fell into the hands of a madwoman – he would eventually transform into a bionic pirate captain and her main priority in life would be to find dragons, and craft a lair to live with them in. But more on that fascinating insight into my psyche later.
You and your fresh faced minifigure cannot simply walk into Brickdor and build elaborate structures. LEGO Worlds is designed to ease you into the vast amount of possibilities at your fingertips with a sense of progression – to reach the exalted rank: Master Builder. You need 100 Gold Bricks (what else would it be?) to ascend the twelve ranks and unlock the ability to ‘Create a World’. As you explore the procedurally-generated worlds there is an unlimited pool of tasks, rather than a story arc – this is your own bonkers tale after all. These could be anything from building roofs for farmers, to some pig desperately wanting an ice lolly. Your quest giver could bestow upon you a Gold Brick, a tradeable item enabling a new minifigure unlock, a unique weapon, or build plans (pre-made in-game structures) – you get the idea. The more you do, the more you get. Even your LEGO bricks must be captured by tackling ‘Troublemakers’ – manifesting as a sporadically spawning, gaggling green monster. These guys appear reasonably frequently and your collection of bricks will expand exponentially – it can be a humourous diversion while you are drilling through an ancient Egyptian pyramid…
With 100 gold bricks to collect before you can have full creative freedom over your own dominion, the tasks can become tiresome, repetitive, and a bit of a grind around the halfway mark. By 50 bricks you will have myriad items and bricks to experiment and create, but you don’t particularly want to commit to any one world until you’re happy to settle and have quenched the discovery thirst that LEGO Worlds instils in you. Depending on how you do it (aka – how cheeky you are) it can take around fifteen hours to collect 100 Gold Bricks, and you will be spending the majority of your time in what feels like an exploratory adventure game rather than constructing.
What do I mean by cheeky? Well, with a wide range of tools at your disposal, it can be fun to bend the rules a little – I came across ‘Intergalactic Girl’, whose rocket ship was in a desperate state of disrepair. Turns out, it doesn’t matter what you build, so long as it is constructed with enough bricks in the designated building area. So using the Copy Tool, which allows you to copy structures you would potentially like to use elsewhere, Captain Cyborgton (formerly known as Norman) decided to copy the intact wing of the ship and place an identical wing on the other side. ‘Intergalactic Girl’ was advised against using it ever again – “I wouldn’t fly that if I were you, love – one of your thrusters is facing the cockpit #justSayin'”. She was fine with it. Thanks for the Gold Brick, sucker!
The main issue with the tools, one which is not limited to LEGO Worlds, is that any sandbox game – or construction sim – translated from PC will lack that ease when it comes to pinpoint building precision. From Minecraft to the Sims, their console counterparts naturally end up differing in significant ways to the PC native version, to make it a ‘workable’ console system – PS2’s Sims 2 being the biggest headache known to man, just did not work. LEGO Worlds however, admirably maintains the creative scope offered on the PC – and while it takes a bit of getting used to (the camera in particular) the Build Tool is very precise and forgiving. For instance, if you are creating a line of bricks and there’s a small gap, you don’t need to search for a brick that fits or completely start over – you can fill it with your current brick type.
The Discovery Tool is the most frequent flyer – within minutes you will have scanned a staggering number of items, a collection that will expand rapidly. However, the more you have the longer it takes to navigate through all of your objects, particularly if you are simply looking for ‘Clump of Grass #2’. While a wondrous selection, it’s crying out for a search function or a means of searching by biome/item type. The placement of objects you’ve collected with the Discovery Tool is the most fiddly process in LEGO Worlds, unless you’re flinging dragons/trolls/pigs across the landscape – or any other godforsaken creatures. Placing items such as fences is a hair ripping task, lacking the precision showcased in other areas – as the iron fence jumps around the desired placement area. These things aside, with a bit of patience and practise, it is highly addictive once you get stuck in and develop specific knacks for the various tools. It is a commendable feat to have a workable version of LEGO Worlds, that can be experienced by everyone across the market.
Once you’ve passed through the starter worlds, set out as a loose story mode, you begin to generate new ones from the Galaxy Map. They begin as small, but as you progress you move up to medium, large, and HUGE! However, with bigger worlds come unfortunate revelations. The PS4 encounters some jarring texture loading issues, which is glaringly noticeable if you decide to fly across the landscape. It’s a frustrating brick on the road, as the amount of work and detail put into LEGO Worlds is staggering – particularly as it is entirely generated out of LEGO bricks. This doesn’t necessarily hinder gameplay consistently, if you’re focused on one area for a long period of time you won’t notice. However, with all of the exploring involved, you may want to zip back across the landscape to deliver a carrot, but is less of a zip and more of a queue at the supermarket.
Once you have selected your LEGO chunk of choice, your bird-like rocket ship ‘PUG-Z’ bursts out of the atmosphere and takes its course through space. While you’re not in for a short loading time, it doesn’t drag either – it presents quite an entertaining interlude. You can rotate the camera 360 degrees around PUG-Z, as your character animatedly pilots the craft. The speech bubble above spouts various phrases, some of which are neat little references such as: ‘Reticulating Splines’, ‘Backward Calculating 42’, and ‘Telling Tales of Travellers’.
Ding! You now have 100 Gold Bricks and can access the Create a World function. This is reasonably simple yet incredibly varied, depending on how many Biomes you have unlocked. Out of all of the available Biomes, Captain Cyborgton favoured the Weird Woods, Crystal Crags, and Wicked Wasteland combo. So, just select your favourite Biome(s) and your preferred world size. Once you’ve done this, a world randomly generates based on your selections – you can also choose which characters, vehicles, and creatures that you want to appear, ready for your arrival. It was time to create that dragon lair, but – ‘where are my dragons!?’ After hours of chasing the dragon – no, an actual dragon – Captain Cyborgton found Viserion, who had made sure his treasure was so safe, that it was located atop a large cloud in the sky…
After placing ‘Castle #2’, slapping on different grades of lava – lava lava, cooling lava, and hot rock – via the Paint Tool, manipulating the walls to appear melted and battle damaged with the Smooth Tool, and placing skeletons, charred bushes, fire traps, and a spelunker who had fallen to dragon related misfortune – it looked pretty homely. For a dragon at least…Taking a family photo? Being chased by skeletons and zombie pirates who wish to devour you? Accidentally continue to wield the camera? Not a problem. Watch those boneheads pose away, as you snap shots of nonchalant and saucy undead, then scarper into your well protected lair where Viserion awaits their arrival.
The co-op multiplayer works well, if you are both busying away and being creative. However, the Dungeon proved to be too much for LEGO Worlds to handle. The lag caused our Cyborg Captain and Troll Police Officer to call it a day and return to the town. That being said, the main aspect of the game in local multiplayer is tremendous fun – LEGO Worlds taking the stage as the game that makes people exclaim in ways that were previously deemed physically impossible. Regardless of the issues we encountered in this mode, at its heart LEGO Worlds remains charming and it’s difficult not to laugh when you are being chased by skeletons, who collectively sound like Gremlins on a night out – or when you take your dragon for a walk, and accidentally crush a part of your partners painstakingly constructed graveyard…
“Your own bonkers tale”.
LEGO Worlds is a very good game, and for the relatively low price point offers an abundance of possibilities for all the Master Builders out there. However LEGO Worlds encounters a few bumps on the road to becoming a great game. The genuine investment TT Games has with their fans is crystal clear and With the console edition of LEGO Worlds still in its early days following release, I expect there will be updates in the future to iron out some of these niggles. Until then, keep calm and ride a dragon.
Replayability factor: Sky high.
Game Mastery level (Trophies): Medium, exploration takes time.
+ Endless possibilities
+ Enjoyable for various playstyles
+ Staggering attention to detail
+ Excellent value for money
– Poor texture loading/low visibility
– Some fiddly tools/build camera
– Repetetive quests
– Game stopping multiplayer lag
Emma Withington – Follow me on Twitter