Lego Open World
On an absolute whim yesterday I popped onto the steam website to check out what had been released, or was impending release this morning. One of the titles listed was something I quite literally knew nothing about called Lego Worlds. After some research, the consensus seemed to be Lego meets Minecraft. It has the same pedigree of the other Lego games out there as it is also created by Traveler’s Tales. Right now the game is on Steam Early Access for $14.99 and I figured for that price it was worth the risk. I was seemingly one of the few people who actually through Lego Universe was a pretty cool game. Similarly I have really enjoyed my time spent in Lego Minifigures Online, and will more than likely pick up the Lego portal based game as well. I may or may not be a Lego Maniac to borrow the 80s commercial catch phrase. As I sit here typing up my blog post I am sitting in an office surrounded by a mountain of Lego sets.
If you have ever played any of the Lego franchise titles like Lego Harry Potter or Lego Star Wars, this game will feel extremely familiar to you at least as far as movement and gameplay goes. Ultimately this is a game about destroying everything in sight, because when you destroy an object it erupts in a shower of “coins” which are represented by the 1×1 round plate pieces in various colors to denote denominations. Essentially as you roam around the world every new object you encounter, you collect its appearance. You can spend your coins to unlock the ability to build with these prefabs. This means that if you are running through an area and there is a neat lamp post along the trail, you can bump into it and collect its appearance and then build with these lamps from that point on. There is a truly overwhelming number of these prefab objects out in the world and in the three hours I spent yesterday playing I collected what seems like hundreds of them.
When you start the game you are given a very limited choice of appearances in the form of either a Male or a Female explorer. As you roam around the world however you encounter lots of other minifigures. Some of them are friendly and simply walking up to them allows you to collect their appearance, and others are more aggressive and you have to defeat them to collect theirs. In either case these minifigures that you have met go into the same “coin store” as the prefabs you encounter, and from there you can spend your coins to unlock their appearance items. At any point while playing you can swap around your look by changing out the various parts that make up a minifigure including head, body, arms, hands, legs, hat, cape, and assorted hair slot options. So far while roaming around I have managed to run into twenty one different figures, ranging from Yeti to a Surfer Girl. Each of them gave me various unique bits to add to my assortment of appearance items allowing me to assemble some fairly strange looks.
This for example is the caveman beard and hair combination, with the wizard cape, skull head and outlaw body parts. I got tired of this look pretty quickly but the beauty of the system is that you can swap things out on the fly and incorporate new pieces you might find as you are roaming around. I feel like that is this games strong point is that it really rewards exploration. While roaming around you encounter all sorts of vehicles and animals that you can ride on. Like everything else once you encounter it, you can purchase it in the coin store to permanently unlock it’s appearance. Once you have paid for an vehicle or mount like this, you can then summon it to your location at any point. This means if I want to ride around on a polar bear I can on a whim, or summon a racing bike, or even an airplane. The more you explore the easier exploration gets as you have all sorts of modes of transportations to get you where you need to go. Also while you explore there are special large chests that have items that you can collect like weapons and other items to help you in your adventures. Since I favor melee I am right now using a big club to bash things, but there is also a rifle and a bow that I have managed to find as well to allow you to attack things at range.
One of the most interesting vehicles that I encountered was this Ninjago inspired drill car vehicle. With it comes the special ability to hold A while driving it to drill the terrain. There are a few pitfalls with this vehicle, namely that it always seems to want to drill directly down. That said I had quite a bit of fun tearing up the terrain and drilling under a mountain. Now getting back OUT of that area was more of a challenge. This vehicle from what I can tell only appears in the similarly “ninjago” themed Biome, meaning the one with the cherry blossom trees and the huge pagoda like buildings. Other vehicles similarly spawn in unique biomes, like the Airplane appears to only be in the snowy biome, and the “Monster Fighters” style Roadster only appears in the desert/Egyptian biome with the free roaming Mummies. Essentially each biome seems to be based on a popular family of Lego sets and generally contains creatures that you might also find in that set. The only one that seems to make zero sense so far is that Cavemen and Cavewomen seem to spawn damned near everywhere.
The game right now is very “early access” and I do not mean necessarily that the game feels “beta” and buggy, but more so that the game feels like it is missing a lot of features that will be in what I hope is the final version. Right now there does not seem to be much purpose to the exploration other than to unlock items to build with. The problem there is that there seems to be little to no reason to really build anything. There are certain biomes where skeletons spawn infinitely during the night cycles, but building a structure does not really seem to present you with much shelter against the endless waves of them. For the time being the game is strictly single player, but I know multiplayer is in the works. Right now the list of things planned from the Steam page includes…
- Like/Dislike system for tailoring World Generation
- Procedurally Generated Underground Cave Networks
- LEGO ID integration to allow for sharing and uploading of in-game builds
- Additional Biomes
- Painting Themes
- Pre-Generated Towns/Villages/Settlements relevant to the Biome
- Updated AI Behaviors to provide organic feeling to free-roaming creatures and characters
- Red Brick Extras
- Full liquid behaviors
- Additional Minifigure Characters and Creatures
- Additional Vehicles and Pre-Built Models
- Additional Weapons
- Cut/Copy/Paste chunks of landscape
- Underwater Gameplay (including Vehicles, Creatures and additional sea life)
- Character Customizer
- Online Multiplayer”
So as you can see they pretty much intend to flesh this game out to be competitive with the Minecraft genre. For $14.99 it was more than enjoyable enough roaming around and interacting with things. However if you are looking for a complete game, keep moving on. There really is not much “game” to be had here and in that aspect you are far better off for the time being playing Trove because it offers a lot of the same fun and exploration gameplay, while also offering an actual game that creates reasons for your exploration and combat. This is planned to stay in Early Access throughout 2015, and by the time it launches next year it is probably going to be an awesome experience. The biggest suggestion I have if you plan on giving it a try is to hook up a controller, because the keyboard and mouse control options are pretty frustrating. The user interface has been designed for a controller and that experience seems to be the most enjoyable.