Lego Worlds review (Early Access)

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What is it? An attempt to bring the iconic Danish blocks into a virtual 3D sandbox.
Influenced by Minecraft
Reviewed on Intel Core i5-2320 CPU, 8GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD6670
Alternatively Minecraft, Terraria, Starbound, Don’t Starve
Price £11.99 / $14.99
Release TBC 2016
Publisher Warner Bros.
Developer TT Games
Link Official site
Multiplayer None currently, but planned

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

It had to happen eventually. The number of times that the words ‘Minecraft’ and ‘Lego’ have appeared in the same sentence over the last decade would likely rival salt and pepper in the global psyche as Most Immediately Obvious Pairing. But while this block-based sandbox takes the familiar Danish toy and rebuilds the seeded worlds of Mojang’s much aped forerunner, there’s much it does differently. There was no cobblestone farming necessary to get me going for a start. Within minutes of playing I’d built a western saloon, ridden a polar bear across a snow-capped mountain range and discovered a race of cavemen parading around on a beach waiting for me to pilfer their minifigure forms.

Despite being very clearly in its infancy—the full version is not expected to launch until at least 2016—Lego Worlds feels very capable when giving you excuses to get out and explore. There are constant surprises lying in wait, and each one you discover has its blueprints sucked up into the top left menu bars ready for your to rebuild anew at any time at the cost of the game’s familiar stud currency. You can still bash trees and bushes or knock apart your surroundings. There are even a few skeletons that come out at night to give you some hassle. But when it comes to getting out there and finding stuff, Lego Worlds feels much more immediate than Minecraft.

Take the game’s version of the humble bow. As you press and hold the action key to activate it you can then wave your mouse cursor over various destructible objects in the world, before releasing and seeing your minifigure avatar unleash a barrage of quick fire volleys. This is not about timing, or accuracy, but more about seeing those delicious studs erupt from stuff and then having them gravitate towards you before blinging satisfyingly into your wallet.

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Likewise, you don't need to grind, nor to craft suitable saddles or whatnot to be able to leap aboard a horse. I clambered up on the first creature I found (a wolf puppy) and was zipping off to discover a new biome over the hills and far away. Pretty much everything with feet or wheels is ridable.

This push outwards, to get off your plastic rear end and explore, is ushered along by some joyous animation. Your minifigure hero, who’s also customisable with the bits and pieces you discover in the world, windmills constantly, like he simply cannot wait to be just three feet further ahead than he’s standing. The enthusiasm on display is infectious.

Sadly, the fact that you’re seeing this world from a third-person perspective is as conducive to crafting in a 3D space as having your eyes replaced with those of a dog. It’s wonky, imprecise and you’re as likely to break the thing you're building with inaccurate brick placement as you are to walk away satisfied with a job well done. Without a first person view and a helpful voxel grid to aid you, building is an exercise in extreme patience. That there are so many pre-built props for you to discover and break out as and when you feel like altering your surroundings is telling. The problem is, watching a little Lego fellow spew bricks out of a funny looking gun and into the form of a wooden cabin is nowhere near as fun nor as rewarding as laying down the brain blueprints yourself and having at it might have been.

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Minecraft’s innate brilliance is in its simplicity. Anyone with half an interest can bash a tree in for the very first time and then hours later find themselves standing in the centre of a mountainside skull fort they’ve just constructed. The uniformity of the blocks is the key. With every conceivable shape and size of Lego block under the sun at hand here it’s a task to know where to start, or what you might end up with.

I have cherished memories of upending buckets of Lego bricks onto my living room carpet as a kid, then letting my brain take me in impossible directions as I’d put them all together in fantastical ways. Playing Lego Worlds feels like having that bucket tipped out, but only allowing me to interact with the resulting pile with a solitary finger.

It’s hard to recommend Lego Worlds right now as more than a curiosity for those with a predisposition for all things Danish, plastic and covered in studs. For anyone else it’ll likely pack a couple of hours of rampant exploration which peters out quickly due to the lack of meaningful stuff to do with the said bricks you accrue.

Verdict Exploration feels immediately rewarding, but fiddly building systems irk.

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