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Lego Worlds Early Access Review

Thursday, 11 Jun 2015 - 9:15 am

GameSpot's early access reviews evaluate unfinished games that are nonetheless available for purchase by the public. While the games in question are not considered finished by their creators, you may still devote money, time, and bandwidth for the privilege of playing them before they are complete. The review below critiques a work in progress, and represents a snapshot of the game at the time of the review's publication.In the time that I've spent with it so far, Lego Worlds has been an utter delight. Whenever I think I've seen everything it has to offer in its current state, suddenly there's a camel rolling around comically in the sand, or a vampire jealously guarding a motorcycle, or a pig snuffling around the top of a massive cupcake.This game is a treat.Most animals will be your BFF if you ask nicely.Based on what's playable now and what's planned for the future, Lego Worlds’ focus is exploration and building, and it already excels at both. There is a surprising variety of biomes to drop into its generated worlds, along with a slew of interactive objects--too many to name, with countless unique interactions available. During my first few hours of play, I found myself riding a bear and fighting robbers in an area littered with oversized puddings, as the sun crested gold over a chocolate-topped mountain. Soon enough, I had traded my bear friend for a dinghy and set out toward a patch of green across the water.Mobility is key in Lego Worlds, whether you are spurring a cranky bear through a field of candy or traveling by foot. Characters can climb up the sides (and even undersides) of just about any object placed in the world, from pine trees to pagodas, and when climbing is combined with double-jumping, exploration-minded folks will have little trouble getting wherever they want to go. And there are plenty of reason to explore. New objects, characters, vehicles, and animals populate the inventory, while chests littered across the world spit out gleaming plastic studs to use as currency--as will most other objects, when punched hard enough. Larger, rarer chests may also have items like weapons in them, but considering that you can take down a zombie with a couple bare-handed swipes, these seem mostly ornamental.Climbing is an unexpected but welcome feature for explorers.Studs can also be used to unlock props and playsets to build with in the world, and building is where Lego Worlds shines brightest. Rather than giving you blocks made of specific materials, Lego Worlds instead provides you with dozens upon dozens of different brick shapes, colors, and even opacities to build with. That's simple enough, but the real brilliance of Lego Worlds' building system is how rarely it gets in the player's way. Bricks do not follow any particular rules, so there's no need to worry about gravity or logic or even lining up the studs of the bricks themselves. The camera is always where it's needed, while the avatar is always just out of the way, and switching between placing, moving, and deleting bricks is accomplished with a few deft clicks. Have a change of heart about the color of the walls? No need to rebuild, just paint it over. Brick variety is also staggering, and when you consider that making a chair in Minecraft still involves crafting up a set of stairs and two wooden signboards to slap on either side, it's easy to appreciate the creative freedom that a full range of shapes can provide. The best part of all this is that laying plain bricks costs the player absolutely no currency or resources, so it's easy to dig right into building if that's what you're there for. There's also terraforming, which can be accomplished with a standard range of terraforming brushes or with a line-up of entertaining specialty vehicles, including steamrollers, bulldozers, and even lawn mowers.But Lego Worlds still has its fair share of kinks to work out. The lack of a windowed mode is a big pain for those who likes to multitask while they build or wander, and I've personally had to contend with disappearing cursors and uncooperative menus more than once. Given how good the game both looks and feels otherwise, these are fairly minor grievances. I can live with a fickle “undo” function, for example, when I can remove the offending block with a single right click either way.Terraforming the old fashioned way.Of course, the conversation around Lego Worlds (and countless other building-oriented sandbox games) inevitably leads back to Minecraft, which doesn't do anyone any favors. While there are similarities between the two, there is a certain type of Minecraft fan who will find little of interest in Lego Worlds. It doesn't offer much in the way of survival mechanics or scarcity of materials, and there's no hint of either in the game's list of promised features. This means that those who savor spending their first night in a new world dug into a tiny hillside bunker, hoarding coal and raw pork chops, may be left wanting. The same is true for those who appreciate the creep of progress as they gain access to better and better materials for more advanced crafting recipes. It's best to scrap any hopes of crafting altogether, because this just isn't that game.A lot of promising sandbox games have stagnated in their early access or beta stages. I've personally been burned before, and I have a hard time imagining another “craftlike” enthusiast who hasn't. As much as I enjoy Lego Worlds' charm and usability, I would still describe its future as uncertain. It will take a lot more than camels and bears and unbelievably user-friendly building controls to stand alongside the genre's biggest successes. While it demonstrates an impressive understanding of how you engage with exploration and building in wide open worlds, that won't be enough to sustain it without even more content and the implementation of promised features, such as online multiplayer. Lego Worlds’ foundation is rock-solid; the developer just needs to keep laying the bricks.What's There?There are loads of biomes ready to explore, as well as creatures, characters, vehicles and items to interact with. The game also has a full set of building and terraforming features already implemented, though there may still be more in the works.What's to Come?The list is long, but most notably they're promising more biomes, items, characters, buildings, vehicles, as well as new liquid behaviours, underwater exploration, cave systems, improved AI and online multiplayer.What Does it Cost?$14.99When Will it be Finished?Early 2016What's the Verdict?It's an absolute delight to explore and build even in the game's current state, but there's still plenty of room to grow. Like so many other early access craftlikes, maintaining regular updates will make or break LEGO Worlds.

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