Upon its release in 2011, Minecraft drew plenty of comparisons to LEGO. It was like playing with everyone's favourite Danish export – no, not him – but virtually, and without the damage to your bank account. Hell, LEGO even made Minecraft sets, so you could play your favourite virtual LEGO game in real life with LEGO.
So perhaps it was inevitable that Traveller's Tales would finally break away from its usual formulaic LEGO games and create LEGO Worlds. While it could be easily described as LEGO Minecraft, it's a lot more nuanced and detailed than Mojang's classic.
The concept of LEGO Worlds is simple: using your spaceship, you make your way across a universe of randomly-generated planets – a warning flag for some – collecting Gold Bricks in order to upgrade your spaceship so you can travel to even bigger randomly-generated planets. These gold bricks are obtained by helping out the citizens of these planets; one time you'll need to paint a construction worker's house, another time you'll need to flatten some terrain in order to help someone stuck on a volcano.
As a progression system, it's simple, easy, and it encourages exploration of the various worlds that you encounter, as much as it lacks challenge. It also helps you get to grips with the many tools that you're armed with, showing you how the mechanics of the game work instead of telling you.
There are tools for painting, terrain deformation, and – of course – building, but the most prominent one is the Discovery Tool, used to highlight new vehicles, animals, characters, bricks, and items. Once you discover an item, you can pay studs to unlock the item for good – and then use it in your building exploits.
Said building is remarkably detailed – you can build whatever you want literally brick by brick if you want to. Every single brick made my LEGO is in the game, so you have an absolutely huge selection of components to make your creations with, not counting that fact that most of LEGO's sets in real life are also present, meaning that you can combine your favourites or make alterations to them. Not only that, but you can also save your builds and paste them in wherever you want – in a rather satisfying fashion, no less, as your build tool shoots out a whirlwind of bricks that combine to form your build.
The building mechanics feel very intuitive, as do the game's general controls. As soon as you select a tool, you control the reticule rather than your character, allowing for precision building and aiming. The fact that your character automatically starts climbing when faced with a vertical surface also feels good, and means that you can reach virtually everywhere on the map.
You can build and edit anything on any planet that you land on, but the best way to build – the Free Build mode – is stupidly locked behind a 100 Golden Brick wall, which you'll attain when you finish the game's story mode. Granted, it's a good way to keep the game fresh, but having story and free build mode both playable from the start would've been better, as they each suit different play styles.
Sadly, the story mode – if you can call it a story – is quite repetitive and can get boring by the end. It's essentially a few easy tasks mixed in with some fetch quests, as well as the relentless combing of each planet that you'll do in order to get studs and discover new builds and bricks. It's a satisfying feeling at the end to have all the bricks and sets unlocked so that you can experiment and build whatever you wish, but it's a bit of a tedious ride to get there – something that could've been alleviated simply by making the free build mode available from the start.
However, in the free build mode itself lies a bigger problem: LEGO Worlds is an incredibly targeted title for a very specific type of person. If you're a creative type – or a LEGO lover – that's not satisfied with the amount of building options in a game like Minecraft or Dragon Quest Builders, then this game is for you. Apart from that, this game has nothing to offer for those looking for a story, a strong campaign mode, or a multiplayer game – though there is two-player co-op play online and locally.
LEGO Worlds is a technical accomplishment, containing thousands of bricks and items that allow players to build whatever comes to their mind. There are a few odd decisions and the gameplay will appeal more to a specific demographic, but Traveller's Tales' latest will surely prove a joy for most creative types.