For those of you that have been following the website lately, you may remember that we took a little trip to good old Germany last week, for Cologne's annual games festival, gamescom. Showcasing all the games that will be hitting the shelves over the next year or so, we were like kids in a sweetshop as we wondered around the various business halls, from appointment to appointment - and arguably one of the things we were most looking forward to was finding out what the folks at Traveller's Tales, the masterminds behind the Lego series of games, had up their sleeves.
Sadly, while there was no sign of the next story-driven film-tie in, the Cheshire based studio still delivered the goods, bringing LEGO Dimensions' second wave of figures to show off, along with one Lego game that hadn't previously been on our radar - LEGO Worlds. Fortunately, after begging our favourite Warner Bros PR, he let us sneak in and see it, despite the fact we weren't technically booked in - the legend.
Part open-ended creation tool, part traditional LEGO game, LEGO Worlds is both humongous and totally bonkers. Whether you're creating neon-coloured castles, riding around on a giraffe or doing a spot of skydiving with a friend, it's a huge, huge brick-tackular world to explore, customise and mess about in as you see fit. With support for two player co-operative, both online and offline, it's the kind of game you can truly go nuts in, and when you're not busy pelting your mate with paintballs for ploughing their way through your pristine pink mansion on a huge drilling machine, there's oodles upon oodles of quests, missions and tasks to complete too.
Basically, as you set off on your magical mystery tour of whichever procedurally-generated (i.e., totally random) LEGO Worlds, er, world, you find yourself in, you'll come across all kinds of friendly and not-so-friendly LEGO minifigures, all of which have their own quests for you to complete. Much like those found in the open world areas of LEGO Marvel, Lord of the Rings or the latest Star Wars tie-in, these missions generally involve helping the character in need by finding and bringing them a particular item. For example, we found a paint baller lamenting his lack of a gun in a forest-y area. Fortunately for him, the nice LEGO developers had loaded our demo with pretty much every item we'd ever need, and all we needed to do was hand over the firearm and bask in his gratitude. However, we would have liked to have a go at hunting things out for ourselves to see how things work - and how far afield the numpty had misplaced his gun.
A bit further down the line, we came across another LEGO guy in need - a big fan of motorbikes, he wanted nothing more than to have a picture taken with a red one, as shown by the helpful pictorial thought-bubble floating above his head. A simple matter of bringing up a menu full of your 'Discoveries', items you've found and unlocked during your travels, and spawning a bright red motorbike next to him, the little guy couldn't wait to get up close and personal with the vehicle, rushing to pose next to it as soon as we'd equipped our camera. From there, we just had to snap his pic and hand him the finished polaroid, before relaxing in the knowledge of a job well done. Again, as our inventory was already loaded up with everything, it's hard to say how hard finding a motorbike was in the first place, but it does give you a bit of an idea of the kinds of missions we'll be able to tackle in the full game.
According to our demo-er, Associate Producer Chris Rose, each mission you complete in the full game will unlock new minifigures to play as, new vehicles and items you can summon at will, and new equipment - like the aforementioned camera - to mess around with, so it'll be well worth taking the time to hunt down paint ball guns, motorbikes and, apparently, round up escaped chickens, for the fun rewards you'll get. And there's a heck of a lot of unlockables to collect, too, from broomsticks to yeti characters to electric guitars, complete with headbanging idling animation - and for fans of rideable animals, there's an entire zoo-worth of noble steeds to jump on, including kangaroos, gorillas, ostriches, giraffes and huskies, to name but a few.
But perhaps the best vehicle Traveller's Tales were showing off was a huge drilling machine - essentially a monster truck with a massive rotating drill strapped to the front. This beast could destroy pretty much everything in its path in a shower of Lego pieces - trees, buildings, and even the terrain itself was no match for its drill. According to our friendly Assistant Producer, the plan is that you'll eventually be able to drill your way through the earth to uncover a series of underground trap-filled dungeons, with all kinds of treasure hidden down there too.
Of course, a preview of LEGO Worlds wouldn't be complete without a look at it's editor - after all, it's a game primarily about creating all the crazy things you can possibly imagine, with an open world you can customise or create things in to your heart's content - like Minecraft, just with LEGO. Promising to bring the free-form creativity of LEGO into the virtual world, in LEGO Worlds, you can make almost anything you can imagine, choosing from a near infinite supply of LEGO bricks in all shapes, sizes and colours. While the game doesn't feature every single brick in existence, there's a damn good selection here, and a brick for almost every eventuality, which you can put together exactly as you would in real life, building brick by brick and from the ground up, into castles, giant towers or even your own version of the Death Star. Terrain can be moulded in minutes with some large-scale landscaping tools that let you raise, lower, level out and smooth over surfaces to create your own mountain ranges, islands or canyons - and for those of you who've ever played anything along the lines of Zoo Tycoon, it's a very similar selection of landscaping tools, and just as easy to use.
If you're a little bit creatively challenged, or stuck for ideas, there's also a whole range of pre-made pieces you can drop into your LEGO Worlds world, from castles and mansions to police stations and shops - all of which you can then edit further, to your heart's content, deleting random bricks, and tacking extra ones on just like the real thing. Likewise, you can customise your character pretty much endlessly, as every minifigure you unlock through quests and missions can be used to change up your character, even down to mixing and matching different parts - pirate kings, a caveman with a yeti face or a rather manly-faced punk rock chick are just some of the many, many combinations on offer. We were particularly fond of our electric guitar-playing king caveman for instance, rocking out in his regal fur one-piece, headbanging along without once dropping his crown.
As folks who love both creative games and anything LEGO, LEGO Worlds is definitely right up our street - and is shaping up to be one heck of a Minecraft rival when it launches (on PC) later next year. Our only wish is that it will eventually make it's way onto consoles, because there's nothing quite like sitting on a sofa, vegging out to a Lego game, Playstation controller in hand. But if you can't quite wait for next year to get your LEGO Worlds fix, you can always head over to Steam and pay around a tenner to get your hands on the Early Access version of the game, an in-development, pre-release version of the game that's constantly being updated as the developers reach completion. In the meantime, why not check out the latest multiplayer trailer below (and remember, local multiplayer is also an option too!):