When I first saw the announcement of LEGO Worlds, well, it only made too much sense. People have been saying for years that Minecraft is essentially a LEGO video game without the branding, more so than the actual video games which bear the LEGO license. This clearly didn’t escape the notice of the folks at LEGO, as they themselves have even released actual Minecraft LEGO sets.
So perhaps it was inevitable that things would finally come full circle and we would get a video game with the LEGO license that draws inspiration from Minecraft. However, one shouldn’t be mistaken by thinking this is just the same as Minecraft, only with yellow-headed peg-people in place of pixelated cube-people. Much like Dragon Quest Heroes took inspiration and put its own spin on the concept, so too does LEGO Worlds, helping to expand what was begun by Minecraft from a series of copycat clones into what might now be considered its own genre.
While there isn’t much of a story to speak of, there is a premise which loosely ties in to the various LEGO media we’ve seen over the last several years, including The LEGO Movie and LEGO Dimensions. You begin the game as a LEGO astronaut, traveling through space when your spaceship (sorry, not that spaceship) and end up crashing down onto a world somewhere out in the LEGO cosmos.
Upon landing, you’ve got to get the old bird flying again by collecting gold bricks — effectively the key to unlocking and accessing further differently-styled worlds throughout the game. Your ultimate goal is to become a Master Builder, but there are a lot of tools you’ll need and skills to understand in order to achieve this rank. In fact, you’ll need 100 of these foot-banes in order to take on something akin to what must be a sort of god-like status in the LEGO universe, wherein you can basically create from nothing. Suffice to say, godhood doesn’t come easy, and you’ll have a bit of a trek to reach your destination of pure, unhindered creation.
As with so much that is great, however, you’ll start out small. With a quickly-acquired tool in the first LEGO World, you’ll be able to scan and copy existing items, animals, and prefab-style structures, gaining pegs in the process that you’ll then spend to be able to produce your scanned items at will (rather than digging for materials). Further tools will allow you to alter the terrain (either deleting large numbers of blocks along the peaks and valleys or add them), place different types of blocks, copy and duplicate constructs, change colors via paintball-like pellet-shooting, and more.
The first several worlds introduce you to one of these tools, with several objectives scattered around that you need to accomplish in exchange for gold bricks. Get enough gold bricks, and you proceed to the next world and, in turn, the next tool in your arsenal. It’s definitely more instructional than Minecraft in this way, introducing you to each ability separately and allowing you time and opportunity to master it before gaining the next.
After you’ve completed the opening set of worlds, you move on to a wider expanse of (if I understand correctly) randomly-generated worlds, each with their own tasks to be completed as you work your way towards that coveted 100 gold bricks and the ability to create a world from scratch. However, things get a little tricky as you might need items from another world to fulfill the quest in the world you’re in. That said, backtracking is kind of tricky, as you can save your game and return to where you were in one of these worlds, but you’ll need the provided code in order to revisit that precise world you were on previously. (Interestingly, you can also enter a random string of numbers and “produce” a new world that way.)
Incidentally, while you aren’t able to build a world from scratch in the early going, those confident with what they have can pretty much construct or deconstruct whatever they like (within their given abilities) on any of the earlier worlds. It’s pretty much your plaything from the moment you set down.
At the start, players are provided with a limited array of customization options, including whether they want to be an “Astronaut” (read: boy) or “Intergalactic Girl.” You’ll gain more options along your travels, ideally allowing you to make the LEGO person of your dreams or who you best identify with (unless your ideal is Batman).
In terms of basic control, those familiar with other LEGO video games should feel right at home. Holding the Y button opens the circular menu where, rather than choosing other characters, you select from your different tools and access their menus as necessary. You can punch apart some constructs, perform that floaty double-jump that doesn’t seem to give you much added height — the whole nine yards.
Plus, drop-in/drop-out multiplayer is here as well! Alternatively, you can host an online session with the ability for changes made by other players to be permanent or ignored when you return to your regular offline game.
From a visual standpoint, the game looks great. Unlike Minecraft, which has a more rigid voxel structure, LEGO Worlds uses the titular building blocks in all their many shapes and sizes to create their vast landscapes. In a way, it’s almost like a higher definition version of Minecraft‘s trademark aesthetic, allowing for a bit more nuance than the more strict square block structure.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure just how big these worlds can get, or if they’re directly comparable to Minecraft, but they do end up rather enormous in scale — perhaps even too big, as I have run into a little bit of stuttering and other performance issues on rare occasion.
One other difference from Minecraft that is certainly worth noting is that LEGO Worlds doesn’t feature the survival or resource-management elements of the former. You’re not going to starve, and you won’t need to find or cook food. There are day and night cycles on the worlds, but you don’t need to sleep or build a shelter, either. That isn’t to say that there aren’t dangers; you are provided with a three-heart life meter, and you will encounter some irritable creatures, people, or zombies that will gladly rip you to shreds, but those are the exception more than the rule. As such, the emphasis is less on ensuring your survival and more on exploring the world around you and your imagination.
In a way, LEGO Worlds has been a long time in coming. Literally, as it was in beta on Steam all the way back in June of 2015. Its true longevity remains to be seen, insomuch as how LEGO will continue to support it (even today, Mojang is still supporting Minecraft with new content six years after its 2011 release), and if it will still demand the same level of devotion from its community that far into its lifespan.
But for now, if you’ve been wanting a virtual LEGO experience that doesn’t feature various movie tie-ins and the like and just lets you do what brought the property to prominence in the first place — building — then this looks like what you’ve been waiting for. Even if you aren’t as interested in wielding the full power of creation, LEGO Worlds still has enough goal-oriented content to keep fans busy for a little while, giving it a fair amount of appeal for those who prefer to have an objective in mind, or simply wish to do whatever their imagination thinks of next.
LEGO Worlds was released for the Xbox One (reviewed), PlayStation 4, and PC on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 at a price of $29.99.
A review code was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.