You can build a mountain, but you’ll have to do it brick by brick.
Lego Worlds seems like a no-brainer: a Minecraft-style world-building game starring everyone’s favorite plastic bricks. In practice, it’s a disappointing hodgepodge that is missing a main point.
You might think the building mechanic would be the focus here, but Lego Worlds instead offers a tedious “Adventure mode” that lets players very slowly unlock objects. Each randomized, themed world is filled with characters and items that somewhat fit that set. Characters offer missions, like building or painting something, that must be completed to unlock that character. Some will reward you with elusive gold bricks. A frustrating number of missions require objects from other sets, and the rewards are absolutely never worth it.
Every character and object must first be discovered by pointing your building tool at it and pressing a button, then unlocked by spending studs. Discovering and unlocking use the same button, and pointing your tool at an item is the only way to see if you’ve discovered it. I lost a lot of studs accidentally unlocking things I thought I was discovering. Missions requiring a specific item just show a picture of the item, and I wasted a lot of studs unlocking similar-looking items (like three red motorcycles).
Aside from unlocking objects, studs are used to upgrade your health from a hot-air balloon store that randomly shows up at night. Extra hearts come in handy because combat is an absolute mess. Attacks are extremely imprecise, and the weapon-switching menu doesn’t stop enemies from attacking you. Most enemies I encountered were only hurt by either my black axe or gold spear, both buried in my dozens of joke weapons. I did chase down countless friendly characters (and animals) with my guns and melee weapons as they screamed in pain. They explode into lifeless pieces when they die. It’s way too violent for a Lego game, but I’ve got to get those studs.
The main mechanic, I guess, is to walk slowly toward waypoints in the distance as objects pop into existence around you. Yellow waypoints are traps that signify characters with missions while gold waypoints point to buried treasure. Underneath every Lego World is an identical labyrinthian hellscape containing almost all of that world’s treasure. The easiest way to get to it is to bore straight down using the landscape tool, but going too quickly may leave the chest floating in midair. Some chests have gold bricks but many contain more joke weapons.
Gold bricks let you generate larger worlds and unlock a series of disappointments including a camera, a flashlight and a grapple gun. The biggest disappointment, a jetpack, was saved for last. The jetpack is slow, hard to control and can’t even hover. I discovered multiple better jetpacks before unlocking this ultimate let-down.
No, building is the ultimate let-down. Placing each brick takes a level of precision the Switch can’t offer and a level of patience I’ll never have. The slightest brush of the analog stick will leave your Lego piece flitting between two spaces. Building a wall straight up will inexplicably leave a gap or two. Copying and pasting a section will inevitably bring a chunk of environment with it. The camera follows both the brick and your character, getting stuck behind walls far too often. Positioning a brick uses every button and stick on the controller short of motion control. This game begs for a mouse a keyboard.
I tried hard on two houses in Lego Worlds. Only one has a roof. They both have the only bed and lamp I’ve discovered, even though I’ve unlocked dozens of plants. To be fair, none of the worlds I went to really had houses, with the junkyard, forest and farm being repeated a few times. I never encountered a city or even a castle. But my smaller house does look nice. A more patient player could build something really cool, and the sandbox mode unlocks everything from the start. I’d love to see what other players have built, but online functionality is coming later. Local multiplayer does work, though, and the performance hit is minimal, even if the game’s overall performance isn’t stellar.
Lego Worlds feels like someone dumped a box of Legos on the floor and told you to have fun. Only you’ve never held a Lego in your hand or heard the word “fun.” This is less of a game and more of an experiment for Lego to figure out its place in the increasingly digital future toy space, which is fine, but I for one would much rather play with real Legos. Or sleep on a pile of Legos.