John McCarroll
E3: Lego + MMO = Fun
We take a look at Lego Universe.
06.16.10 - 2:36 PM

While our appointment with NetDevil proper won't happen until later in the day, where we'll take a look at their Marvel Super Hero Squad MMORPG and my personal favorite, Jumpgate: Evolution, I did have a chance to stop by WBIE's booth to check out their other title, Lego Universe. More in the vein of SOE's Free Realms with its minigame-based gameplay and kid-friendly bent, the title isn't really for World of Warcraft holdovers, but that's not to say that this game isn't chock full of features.

NetDevil first showed us the sandbox part of the game, its build mode. Each player will have their own planet that they are able to customize to their heart's content. In the adventure part of the game, a description of which will follow, players will collect bricks, items, and trophies that they can use to make their planet their own. Other players will also be able to explore these zones, and players can password-protect their planets or areas therein where they don't want everyone to be able to roam. As well, items in these worlds can be scripted using a rudimentary icon-based scripting system. It's simple enough that the target audience of children will be able to make their creations move and attack and do all other sorts of cool stuff, but adults might just be able to make them do much more.

To get all these items, players have to go out into the world and kick some Lego butt. NetDevil told us that players who have taken a shine to any of Travelers' Tales Lego titles will be right at home with Lego Universe. The gameplay itself is action-oriented and similar to the TT games, although players will now be able to play with more than two people. To keep things simple for the kiddos, NetDevil has crafted Lego Universe not to focus on levels and classes, but rather has crafted the game to be oriented around items.

A character's equipment will not only affect their strength, but it will provide them with their class and skills. While systems in games like Final Fantasy XI allow players to shift between classes at will, Lego Universe takes things one step further, where players can, essentially, be any class at any given time. As such, there are items that are oriented to give players healing skills or direct damage skills or crowd control skills, so that they do take up a standard MMORPG role. To gain class powers and skills, players will turn in tokens that they obtain out in the adventure world. Taking the banner of one of four different factions, these factions each have individual tiers that will give players different abilities and items. It's really a great system and allows diversity and there's never a point where players will have to spend hours on end looking for a particular class so that they can take down their dungeon.

These dungeons will get progressively harder and darker as the game goes along, but as the game is not level-based, players of different skill and experience levels can play together easily. As well, there will be different build types of items. There are some points where players will build static items, like someone playing Lego Star Wars would build a vehicle. There are also template-based items, where players building vehicles or similar items will have a certain amount of required Lego pieces, but these can be customized just like everything else in the game.

Perhaps the best part of Lego Universe only has to do peripherally with the MMORPG itself. Players can build items from the ground up, brick by brick if they would like. Once this is done and little Jimmy has built a 300-brick dragon that he just loves to death, it can be uploaded to Lego.com through what is currently being called the Treasure Chest feature. Once there, it can be purchased as a kit of real Lego, complete with instructions, so that it can be built in real life. That is the extent of Lego Universe's microtransaction system - the game itself will be subscription based.

Keep watch for Lego Universe when it sees release later this year!


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