LEGO Worlds is an open world sandbox building game with clear inspiration drawn from the now multi-million dollar franchise, Minecraft. Using everyone’s favourite plastic bricks to create, shape and play LEGO Worlds offers players a digital playspace to build whatever they can dream of.
LEGO World’s has two main gameplay modes: an Adventure Mode and a Sandbox Mode. Diving into the Adventure Mode is where players are taught the basics on how to build, copy and essentially destroy the landscape. Each function is managed through a gun-shaped tool which players can cycle between by holding the X button to bring up a selection wheel. The mechanic is not unlike other LEGO games where instead players would cycle through to select different characters.
The Adventure Mode is where the bulk of the story is held. I use this lightly as there isn’t too much of an overarching narrative within the game and consists mainly of fetch quests in order to unlock the required number of golden bricks to progress to the next section. This mode essentially serves as a large tutorial drip feeding you the tools of your trade, once it’s sure you’ve mastered the use of its predecessor the next tool is unlocked with more sidequests used to help you understand how to use it to bend the world to your will.
Overall I found the Adventure Mode to be the weakest point in the game; while your standard LEGO platforming is there it feels like it clashes with the entire concept of LEGO Worlds. Afterall, it’s much easier to demolish the entire landscape to find the entrance to a cave than it would be to wander around searching for it. I feel the Adventure Mode would suit a more linear style with the free roam aspect reserved solely for the Sandbox Mode.
That’s not to say the Adventure Mode isn’t enjoyable. Putting aside the repetitive nature of the quests it can be fun to explore the hidden treasures a world has to offer, or mould it to your own liking by moving or modifying structures. The quests can be tricky to interpret at times but mostly they’re easy to complete without too much hindrance and it would appeal to the younger audience quite well.
The Sandbox Mode is where LEGO Worlds really shines regardless of your age, it gives you the freedom and space to build whatever you want with no limits. Choose from a preset world or generate your own and start building. This mode automatically has all items and tools unlocked and does advise new players to give the Adventure Mode a go first. But even with all of its freedom, the Sandbox Mode still has its own set of issues. The mode is largely limited by the players own ideas and imagination but after a while, the novelty can wear off.
An issue I found that spans across both modes, however, is that LEGO Worlds doesn’t feel like it suits the confines of a console’s joypad. It often feels overly complex in order to select the tool or brick you desire. Granted, over time I felt myself getting used the control scheme, but I couldn’t help but feel the developers were trying to bundle too much into such a small package. It’s a shame the Switch’s unique hardware points were not fully utilised to help overcome this factor; for example, the touchscreen would have worked well in handheld mode.
Graphically speaking LEGO Worlds is in no way the poster child of what the Switch is capable of in the visual department. The draw distance feels unnaturally close with a dense white fog covering anything further than a few hundred feet away. I found this to be true in both handheld and docked mode. While the resolution may have been bumped up while the console is nestled away in its dock, I don’t feel there was a noticeable difference in the game’s performance.
It is worth noting at this point, however, that the environments are composed completely of individual bricks. Whether or not you want to delete them one by one or in bulk, the option is there; I can imagine this puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the processor of the hybrid console meaning there are certain sacrifices that need to be made in order to strike a happy balance between performance and graphical output.Though even then, the balance is often uneasy. While in most cases LEGO Worlds runs smoothly on the hardware there are occasions where the framerate drops dramatically. I found local co-op play to be one of the main factors in this issue but having a number of larger builds on the screen simultaneously can make it stutter a bit.
In a game as large and complex as LEGO Worlds, it would be hard not to squash every bug and glitch. And unfortunately, Worlds suffers from a few. Talking to NPCs stood next to an object would sometimes render their chat boxes behind the bricks, while the camera would move to odd angles while building. The overall GUI feels clumsy and is more of a hindrance than a help. It’s disappointing, especially when a game has so much promise.
On paper, the Minecraft formula should work great with LEGO, but in reality, you’re left with a game that doesn’t really know what it’s trying to be. The Adventure Mode, while fun, lacks the spark you find in regular LEGO titles and the Sandbox mode only offers a finite amount of fun; combine this with tricky controls on a console and it can be a chore to play at times. The worlds are bright and vibrant but the draw distance lets them down. With a few patches I imagine LEGO Worlds could be a great game but until then it will be a distant second to Minecraft.