LEGO Worlds has now been out for a whole year, available at least through Early Access on Steam. It’s been an interesting merger of play, bringing everyone’s favourite plastic brick and all that goes with it, marrying it to the creative play of Minecraft. The combination of being able to place LEGO bricks, interact with specific bits of lego and being able to both explore and terraform a world has been interesting, but up until recently it hadn’t delivered what seemed on paper like a winning combination.
Some of this can be attributed to the way content has been added to the game, teething issues with performance, and even an interface that made it frustrating to free-build with bricks. In real terms, the biggest problem with LEGO Worlds has been that it hasn’t known what it wants to be.
Bearing in mind that the game is still in flux and there will no doubt be many more updates to the game before it’s officially out of early access, the problem with the game till now has been the level that the two core methods of play interact with the world.
There’s the brick-building side of LEGO Worlds where players are free to transform the landscape, use blocks and set pieces to build what they want and place them in the world, and generally touch upon the side of play that is most in line with playing with physical bricks. Some of the early LEGO games did touch on construction with the use of virtual bricks, though the approach with licensed LEGO games have been to have characters perform a quick-build instead. LEGO Worlds has some of this, but also has the ability to build with individual bricks as well.
The other main play in LEGO Worlds is exploration. This is how different pieces of content can be discovered, with players needing to find the sets, figures, vehicles and props that they’ll want to play with. Regular content updates have added to the possibilities there, continually adding new biomes or things to interact with. Players can still affect the world with tools or vehicles they discover while exploring, though the impact is general, not specific.
Beyond the bricks themselves, a huge part of a LEGO game atmosphere is its charm. They have a tongue-in-cheek personality that invites two seemingly incompatible things to be put together because they’re both made of LEGO, or that lend to exaggerated emotes that subvert the fact we’re working with virtual moulded plastic.
Despite the price-point, the best coupling between video game, brick-building and the LEGO flavour is still LEGO Dimensions, but with the update to the game that came out earlier this week, the gap between them is closing.
Up until this update, the two distinct methods of playing LEGO Worlds were incompatible. Each work at a different granularity, with free-build tied to precision, and the world interaction of both landscaping and using vehicles to transform the terrain worked roughly.
The update changes that, making it easier to alter the terrain exactly how you want to, and improving the means for switching between blocks so that the brick-by-brick builds are no longer frustrating. This was the case with LEGO Worlds as recently as a week ago, but no longer. Everything is easier, and with improvements to performance, much more satisfying.
The wider roadmap for the game has been hinted at, with work on networked multiplayer still in the wings and other changes mentioned recently. Cooperative play was added to the game a while ago, and there have been a lot of changes to LEGO Worlds since the first few days of the game being out.
The developers have also talked about plans for the generation of towns and dungeons, as well as mentioning that they will also be looking into progression as time goes on.
Though most might not find an update to the user interface to be exciting, the game couldn’t have grown without it. It’s not a complete game yet, but the controls are more responsive and flow better than they did before.
In many ways, LEGO Worlds now presents the epitome of a sandbox. There’s no gravity attached to the player’s actions, but they have the freedom to do whatever they want. Once it’s possible to connect with other players as well, allowing worlds and creations to be shared more easily, it will be a perfect encapsulation of what a LEGO game should be. It’s not there yet, but with the new update, it’s heading there.