Lego Worlds for Xbox One review: it doesn't quite deliver the open-world dream
What happens when you combine Legos, Minecraft and No Man's Sky? You get Lego Worlds for Xbox One.
This is unlike any recent Lego game, of which there are many, and it's immediately better for it. There's no movie tie-in storyline, and with that comes a sense of freedom.
Like Minecraft, you can build things. Lots of things. And you can build them out of Legos, which is awesome. And, like No Man's Sky, you can explore a seemingly endless universe populated by all kinds of weird and wonderful worlds.
It's also a pretty low-priced game at $24.99, which makes it even more appealing. But while the immediate appeal is apparent, there are questions over how long you'll want to play it, though that may also depend on your age.
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Across the Lego cosmos
You begin your journey as a Lego astronaut plunging towards an unknown planet. Your ship crashes while you float effortlessly to the ground beneath a Mary Poppins umbrella. The first couple of worlds are essentially a tutorial, showing you the basic mechanics of the game and the principles to follow.
The secret to exploring and discovering new worlds is gold bricks. Your ship needs them to be able to fly, and so in the first world you have to find three of them to get back up into the big black.
The secret to obtaining gold bricks is to undertake quests for the locals, doing something for them in return for your valuable source of fuel. It might be building a clock tower, painting a house, rescuing someone from a volcano or anything else that can put your Lego skills to the test.
After the early stages, you unlock the tools you need to manipulate the Lego environment. The landscape tool, for example, will allow you to raise, lower, and even completely flatten areas of the world. Painting involves using that tool to spray a color of your choice all over the place. Think Nintendo's Splatoon, and you're on the right track with this one.
One of the most important tools in your arsenal is the discover tool.
Discover all the things
In order to build things within Lego Worlds you first need to discover them. The discover tool is what you'll use to basically hoover up the environment, adding new things to your portfolio as you come across them. You get a comprehensive tutorial early on that teaches you how to use the tool.
Building requires discovery, but the same tool can also be used to easily remove items from the world. In typical Lego fashion, (almost) everything is destructible, but wiping things out using the discover tool is a much swifter way to get rid of unwanted objects.
Of course if you do this, you don't get the studs which are presented upon you for hacking something to bits with your own yellow hands.
The freedom to do anything you want within Lego Worlds isn't exactly there. You can't just theme and build to your own desires all of the time, and there's still a more linear progression in play. You can visit random worlds, sure, but you also still need to obtain gold bricks to go further and further afield.
Doing that requires completing quests on worlds you're already able to visit, and over time they lack imagination. It's easy enough to locate your brick hunting challenges — a beam of light shoots up into the sky to act as your navigation point — and it's one of the more grinding aspects of Lego Worlds.
In fact, the whole early part of the game feels a little like a grind. In order to get to the more creative, fun parts, you have to follow a path of doing quests, getting gold bricks, getting back in the spaceship and doing the whole thing again.
That's not to say it isn't fun, but expectations should be tempered, at least for a while. The Lego charm is here in spades, though, and it helps you through the whole thing.
Of course, there are achievements and they're varied in complexity. You get a decent few just for obtaining a new rank or completing a certain set of objectives. The full set will require a little more patience and many hours of Lego-ing.
See the complete list of Lego Worlds achievements at TrueAchievements
Lego Worlds bottom line
If you were expecting Minecraft but with Legos, you'll probably be a little disappointed. The game lacks the ultimate freedom you find there but covers everything with oodles of Lego charm and personality. Lego Worlds is fun to play, that's for sure, but the longevity aspect will potentially be linked to how old you are.
Once you're through the early stages and you have a little more openness on what you can build and where, there's a ton of enjoyment to be had. But all the while there's still some underlying linear aspects to the gameplay that keep you in check.
The game is not expensive at $24.99, and there is a promise of some DLC in the future. It's a different approach to recent Lego games that is commendable. (And it's still better than No Man's Sky.)
- A different approach to recent Lego games.
- Full of charm and personality.
- Digital Lego building is awesome.
- Too linear to be completely open world.
- Longevity questions right now.
- Early stages are a grind.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
It does take time to get to the point where you can start building anything, but you won't get bored before then.
If you don't want to wait, though, you can unlock all bricks with a special code, just google for it.