E3 2016: Buildin’ Makes Me Feel Good in Lego Dimensions
How do you take one of 2015's most successful and fan-favorite games and improve on it for a sequel? Well, if you're Lego Dimensions, you just don't make a sequel. Instead, you spend all that time just adding to the formula that got the original incarnation of Lego Dimensions so much acclaim and attention. In addition to implementing some slight tweaks to the foundation you built less than a year ago, you go bigger and more outrageous with the content as well. Not only is Lego Dimensions bringing the same tested gameplay back, without the need for new portals or game discs, it's also adding a crazy number of new characters and worlds to the base game without skipping a beat.
Starting this fall, Lego Dimensions will add more than a dozen new characters and levels to the existing content. Considering the packs will feature the likes of Ghostbusters (2016), Beetlejuice, Knight Rider, Adventure Time, Harry Potter, Mission: Impossible and many more, this just might be the most diverse game from a character/level select point ever made. Even more impressive is the fact that this will be the first time a number of these franchises will see a Lego figure, and Lego Dimensions will also be the only place many of these franchises will ever exist. Those of you hoping for that Gremlins set may as well keep dreaming. For now, Dimensions will be the only place you'll see Gizmo or Stripe.
Lego Dimensions won't just be adding more small character and level packs however. TT Games will also introduce new Story Packs, which feature larger sets that allow you to customize your gateway portal with the style of a particular franchise. The only two we know about right now are Ghostbusters and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but it wouldn't be that surprising to see a few more in early 2017. We saw the Ghostbusters Story Pack completely assembled this week, and played through the first chapter based on the upcoming film as well. Warner Bros. has all of Fantastic Beasts merchandise on lockdown, so we probably won't be seeing any of those sets for a few months.
Like Lego Lord of the Rings and the recent Lego Marvel's Avengers, the Ghostbusters Story Pack takes all of its voice over straight from the film, and plays out select sequences that best suit the action game nature of Dimensions. We won't spoil what happens, but there are a number of good gags and throwbacks to the original film included. There isn't much different about how Lego Dimensions plays from any other Lego game you may have played over the last decade --- you smash things, you build things, you uncover puzzles, you fight three-stage bosses. There's a fairly consistent design sense behind every Lego game, but Dimensions' upcoming Ghostbusters set does add another new Keystone ability; the ability to travel to alternate timelines. These small tears in the fabric of time and space offer a new wrinkle to the puzzle solving mechanics, but still boil down to breaking items you can't use into bricks you can build to your advantage. Once you uncover it in the Ghostbusters pack, the Keystone ability will appear in other adventures to give them a slightly new perspective.
More stories and levels are great, but Lego Dimensions was sorely missing a multiplayer component. Though you could play the game together with a friend, all these characters being thrown into the mix was just begging for a competitive mode. When Year Two of Lego Dimensions begins, that PvP aspect will come along with it. Every single pack adds a new Battle Arena for the mode, which allows you to play with up to three other friends (or against the AI) in one of four modes. We only got a chance to see Capture the Flag and Objective modes in action, but they are both incredibly chaotic. Hitting the Quidditch pitch for a rousing game of CTF on its own would have been interesting, but Dimensions also throws some crazy power-ups and traps into the mix, like bouncing bubbles, shrink rays, and course specific abilities like Dementor summons. It's hard to say after just one match how longlived these modes will be, but they do inject a bit of needed life into the Lego game formula.
By merely adding onto what's already available, Lego Dimensions is setting itself up for a strong second season. Cluttering the market with a number of starter packs and portals has become a bit of an issue in the toys to life genre, but keeping it streamlined should help Lego Dimensions find continued success. Of course, if the characters and sets weren't something fans would be excited about, it wouldn't matter very much. Fortunately, Lego Dimensions has a fantastic array of licenses from all wakes of fandom, meaning there's even more reason to look forward to the fall.
Lego Dimensions Year Two begins on Sept. 27 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Wii U.