When Warner Bros first announced Lego Worlds my inner child gleamed with delight. The chance to relive a former childhood hobby and become a ‘Master Builder‘, every young Lego fans ambition.
For the past decade or more, developer Traveller’s Tales has continually provided us with hilariously fun packed takes on some of movie histories greatest franchises, giving players the chance to relive humorous scenes from the multiverse of Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Harry Potter; in truth, the list has become endless.
Shifting the spotlight away from the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood blockbuster franchise, Lego Worlds finally departs its 2-year development stint in Steam Early Access, arriving in full form on consoles, PC, and later for Nintendo Switch, delivering its Minecraft meets No Man’s Sky type experience with a Lego twist as players travel to and from a seemingly infinite number of procedurally generated worlds via a tiny compact spaceship.
Lego Worlds: Windows PC, Xbox One [Reviewed, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch [TBA]
Developer: Travellers Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros
Release Date: 7 March 2017
Price: £24.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
As much as I’d like to say that this is Lego in its purest form, Lego Worlds is largely and rather disconcertingly more Minecraft-like than anything else, possibly too much so for its own liking or iconic identity.
Despite its classic product coming decades before the addictive block-builder first announced itself to the world on the Let’s Play scene, Lego Worlds is a vast sandbox title that looks, plays and feels a whole lot like the creation of Markus Persson, which is not necessarily a bad thing. With Minecraft representing possibly the biggest financial posting indie sandbox title of all time, it would be almost foolish not to take advantage.
Lego Worlds starts out with the player character as an Astronaut, who, after travelling through space in his tiny one-seater spaceship, crash-lands onto a mysterious tropical island. With his mode of transport completely out of action, the aspiring ‘Master Builder‘ meets with the island’s locals, who unsurprisingly require assistance from the character in a variety of tasks where the reward of a gold block awaits the player upon completion.
Collecting gold blocks allow the player to not only repair and restore, but also refuel their lightweight craft to depart for one of many different destinations.
A handful of opening worlds make up Lego Worlds mandatory tutorial. Not only are these opening few worlds effective at relaying the various tidbits of information required to access and understand the many features of the game, they also introduce a few of the biomes that will become a customary sight as players travel about the galaxy of their own free will.
In its early stages, Lego Worlds introduces the player to many of its unique but equally cool looking tools. First up is the Discovery tool, a colourful device that allows the player to point at any particular object, animal or character residing on a biome, pull the trigger and store that model in their inventory, able to reproduce it at any time, which comes in extremely handy with the completion of various tasks.
Next up we have the Scenery tool, which can be used to manipulate the landscape; lowering or raising slabs of the ground, which comes in useful when assisting another character who has found themselves stuck in the environment.
Over time, more handy tools will become available, with Copy, Paint and Build tools on hand to ensure that all avenues and aspects of the Lego universe are covered, with the player freely able to piece blocks together, copy entire chunks of the landscape to paste onto another environment, decorate buildings with a rainbow of colours; while instruction kits allow players to create entire foundations in one go with little to no effort required on the players part.
Unlike Minecraft, there is a vestige of a story behind Lego Worlds, albeit not a massively complex one, though it does serve to point the player in the right direction. Lego games past and present tend to push the player on to becoming a better builder, knocking together varied constructions to proceed further in the game; Lego Worlds takes that idea one step further with the end goal to become the ‘Master Builder‘, it certainly adds more freedom to construct or deconstruct with plenty of room in which to do exactly that.
Without the comedic characteristics often seen with TT’s formulaic takes on various cinematic experiences, Lego Worlds feels more like a back to roots experience, which is a good thing.
Waltzing through a randomly generated seed world of Minecraft with your pickaxe, blocks and pork chop, you’ll likely encounter a bounty of different biomes with swamps, desert plains and jungle a walk away. The setting of Lego Worlds is similar in style, however, instead of lumbering all its themes under the roof of one world, it splits them into different worlds where one biome dominates proceedings; although while there is an abundance of themes on offer, many act as different takes on previously repeated biomes.
The early hours of Lego World are ideal and bags of fun for families of young children, with an array of bright, murky and charmingly magical worlds to explore. With tons of silly quests to complete; because despite this not being an off-the-cuff mirror of a movie, no Lego game would be complete without a handful of bumbling characters who have somehow succeded in getting themselves stuck in a deep hole or up a steep tree, Lego Worlds is nothing if not full of wonder, and then there is the ability to discover.
Each new world discovered via your compact spaceship promises an almost entirely new adventure with a batch of new characters and animals to meet, interact with and eventually clone, there are new items to discover; be it a treasure chest buried deep beneath the surface in an underground cavern or a new tool to further enhance the experience, sometimes allowing for new forms of traversal such as a grappling gun that allows the player to pull themselves to different points via attachment.
Animals accompany each world too. One world could see you riding a dolphin or shark in the bright blue, the next surfing the back of a giant elephant, Lego Worlds has a lot to offer players of a young age.
As an adult though, the novelty soon wears a little thin, something that may run on through to the younger generation of builders in time. After a few hours, worlds begin to blend into one, missions repeat themselves continuously, forcing you to re-do already completed tasks just to obtain a brick or gold block.
It’s tiring to watch the same task bled dry for the sake of an item you might or might not require. Once you’ve taken a picture of the King reunited with his Queen or dragged that idiot out of his hole for the millionth time, it all starts to wear on you.
Visually, Lego Worlds is as fine a looking Lego game as there has ever been, but despite its likely affinity with young children looking to build or explore its many realms, its looks cannot hide the fact it lacks sorely in so many departments that a far superior Minecraft prevails.
There is no addiction factor to it. My first moments spent with Minecraft quickly escalated into 9 or so hours and a missed dinner. I’d lost all track of time, engulfed in a world of endless often mindless building, crafting, fighting and dungeon crawling, Lego Worlds doesn’t have that same draw, that same appeal, but it does have its gorgeous yellow looks coupled with an infinity of gloriously rendered Lego block worlds.
With so much open space available, especially in later worlds, the ability to craft to your heart’s content should remain a strong point of Lego Worlds, but it all feels far too fussy or simple.
Construction should and can be plenty of fun, but it can also feel extremely fidgety when attempting to manoeuvre blocks into their correct position while crafting a grand design of your own. Labouring, construction quickly becomes a chore rather than something that should excite and drive the imagination on to create bigger and better things.
Replication of discoveries doesn’t exactly help to drive on player ambition or excitement either. Although it does allow for the swift and easy replication of buildings through the use of the Copy tool, it also helps to promote a form of laziness, whereby it’s so much easier to source out a building before relaying it somewhere else, rather than attempting to construct something similar using the Build tool.
When I think of Lego bricks, I instantly think of the versatility and flexibility that comes from building with each small-in-size block. Its product is an addictive obsession for many including my former child self, sadly what should come together to make Lego Worlds an exciting and fun prospect is one of the major features it falls flat on most. With a heavy assortment of different and colourful worlds to visit, vast characters and animals to meet and a long list of vehicles to drive, Lego Worlds will likely keep young children entertained for hours on end with its charm, unfortunately, most will undoubtedly get more of a kick out of Minecraft.