Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows
My childhood hopes and dreams are crushed. Lego Worlds had so much potential and lived up to absolutely none of it. This game should have been like Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign - even if it's not a perfect game, there's no way Traveller's Tales should have been able to screw this up. Unfortunately, just as Clinton found a way to lose to a xenophobe who open mocked a disabled man during a campaign event, Traveller's Tales found a way to make a sandbox Lego game kind of suck.
A lot of people have described Lego Worlds as "Minecraft with Legos," but that's not entirely accurate. I would say it's like No Man's Sky crossed with Minecraft but all made out of Legos. The box boasts "infinite worlds," and it's important to note what that means. The worlds are not infinite. On the contrary, the worlds are distressingly finite. The NUMBER of worlds are infinite because they're all procedurally generated. In fairness, some of the worlds are pretty big, but some of them are smaller than the Super Mario 64 level "Bob-omb Battlefield." As with Minecraft, you can build whatever you want, but it very quickly becomes apparent that the focus is more on the exploration than the construction. That's not necessarily a bad thing; especially when you find a huge subterranean cavern, it's a lot of fun to explore. What can make things a bit dull is that, given the size of Lego bricks, construction from scratch takes a LONG time, and the controls for it are extremely finicky. This is one way in which Minecraft's admittedly boring "literally everything is a cube" design is a boon; it makes construction much quicker and much more intuitive.
The reason that I say that Lego Worlds is a bit like No Man's Sky is not just because it's ridiculously disappointing (although that's also true of both games) but because the game turns into a mindless trudge through random worlds that all start to look the same on a hunt for increasingly hard to find objectives. The end goal of the game's Adventure mode is to collect 100 gold bricks and become a "Master Builder." At first, this seems like it shouldn't be too hard because the game throws gold bricks at you left and right for the simplest quests. The problem is that as your collection of gold bricks builds, the game gets stingier and stingier with them to the point where I explored whole worlds and couldn't find a single gold brick. That's not to say that there weren't any in that world, but that does bring me to the next major issue with the game - it's riddled with bugs. I haven't played on PC or the Switch's more powerful companions, there were a lot of instances in which there was a marker on my map - either a green marker for a quest, a blue marker for the shop balloon, or a gold marker for a special chest - but nothing was there. The chests are typically underground, so it makes sense that those aren't always immediately visible, but even after excavating right on top of the marker all the way down to the bottom of the map's Z axis, there would sometimes be no chest. Those instances weren't a majority of the time by any means, but I'd say that happened a good 10% or 15% of the time, and that's just way too much.
I suspect that the mysteriously empty quest and chest makers are rooted in this next issue, but there are a PLETHORA of performance issues in the game, or at the very least, in the Switch version. The frame rate on land is usually pretty fair - a few dips now and then, but nothing major - but the frame rate seems to drop to 10-15 frame per second underwater. When you're using the landscape tool to remove areas of land, the game will lag behind what you're trying to do if you try to remove more than a little bit. I used this method with the largest removal area that I could to dig down for chests, and the game would lag a full second a half behind the bricks I'm removing. Another issue with the caverns (or being underground in general) is that the camera will occasionally clip up above ground on its own, and about half the time, your character will get warped to the ground above. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you've spent the better part of a half hour exploring caverns to hunt for treasure chests in hopes of finding a gold brick or two, it's extraordinarily irksome to be ripped away and have no idea where the entrance to that cavern was or even where in it you were.
One of the GOOD features of the game is the second function of your "discovery tool," the tool with which you discover things. The second function of that is to place any object, person, or animal you've "discovered," but if you've found blueprints for Lego buildings or structures, you can "place" them as well, automatically building them. One of the BAD things about this feature is that no one bothered to spend any time on quality assurance for the Switch port as building these structures causes the game to absolutely CHUG along and - on rare occasion - completely freeze entirely. I was trying to build a big ass castle (because it's like a rule that in any sandbox construction game, you build a big ass castle) after I had found a couple gold bricks in a cavern, and about halfway through auto-building my castle, the castle just sort of quits building itself. The "bricks flying into shape" sound doesn't quit, and the little spinny white loading symbol is still in the middle of the Switch screen, but I can't move more than a few steps in any direction, and it just sits there. After like three minutes, I gave up and just closed the game and restarted. That doesn't happen too terribly often, but in my playthrough, it probably happened to me two or three times.
The one thing that the game does get right is the visuals. The game definitely looks pretty, and there are some really nice light effects on the bricks from which the world is made. The problem (yes, even with the stuff it gets right, the game screws something up) is that the draw distance is ABYSMAL. We're talking legit PlayStation 1 draw distances here, but unlike Silent Hill, Lego Worlds doesn't use any kind of pseudo-fog effect to hide its craptastic draw distance; the world just pops in an out of existence abruptly. This REALLY kills an otherwise pretty good initial presentation. To make matters worse, not only does the world wait until you're basically on top of it to render, but with a lot of the NPCs in the game, they take time to appear even when you're standing right beside where they should be. There were a few instances in which it took legit like 10 seconds for a quest person to appear, begging the question of whether those aforementioned empty quest makers were really empty or just taking their sweet damn time to load into the world.
Six paragraphs in, and I've barely even addressed the actual gameplay. As I mentioned, the game is more about discovery and exploration than anything else, and you've got a "discovery tool" to add stuff to your database. You can then summon anything in your database wherever you want including animals and vehicles to ride (I like the spaceships, personally). You also have a "build tool" that lets you build things from scratch with bricks, and a "copy tool" that lets you save a copy of anything you find in the world within a set three dimensional space and recreate it later with the discovery tool. Next you've got your paint tool that let's you - you guessed it - paint things. The thing that's kind of neat about this is that the color paint you choose can change the bricks' properties in some situations. If, for example, you paint a house with the "River Water" color, that house literally becomes water. Gravity doesn't affect water in Lego Worlds like it does in Minecraft (remember, the world world is made out of bricks), so the house will stand up like normal, but if you walk into a wall, you'll suddenly be swimming underwater. You can also open an inventory to select the various weapons that you've found for the admittedly limited combat in the game as well as a character customizer that lets you customize your character with parts from any of the various Lego characters you've discovered. I've not spent much time playing around with different options, but I do know that some character parts have different effects. For example, with your default character, you have a limited oxygen supply underwater, but if you use the skeleton head once unlocking it, you can breathe underwater (although I guess it would be more accurate to say "not have to breathe anywhere").
Lego Worlds is a functional game, but it stretches that description at times on Switch. I haven't tried multiplayer, either online or local, and I imagine that it would actually be decently fun with a friend, but it gets so monotonous so fast solo. There's some post-game stuff I could do, but honestly, I have zero incentive. If I find someone else who has the game for Switch and wants to play together, I may pick it back up and give it another shot, but really, it made a horrible first impression, middle impression, last impression, and every impression in between. Nothing about this game really impressed me, and because I had SUCH high hopes and hype for it, that made the disappointment sting so much worse. I really can't recommend this game to anyone unless you're a SUPER hardcore Lego fan. Hell, I'm a super hardcore Lego fan, and I still thought the game was pretty much garbage. There's definite potential, but without some No Man's Sky-level content updates, that potential is probably going to remain wasted.
My Rating - 2 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.