Being huge fans of LEGO, we’ve long fantasised about the perfect LEGO racing game.
Sure, the LEGO Speed Champions DLC of Forza Horizon 4 went some way to fulfil our dreams. It did a lot of things right – enough to be named amongst our games of the year in 2019, in fact. It looked fantastic, it let us razz around a world built out of LEGO, and it featured a bunch of licensed sets that we could get giddy over. “I’m driving around in a car I’ve actually built in real life!”, we’d exclaim. “Look! That’s the LEGO Roller Coaster in the background!”. But once we’d completed all of its races and activities, it left us wanting more.
Many times since its release we’ve asked ourselves, “when will we get a full game of the LEGO Forza Horizon DLC?”. It seemed such an obvious thing and the fact it didn’t exist was frustrating. But it seems LEGO, Visual Concepts and 2K had heard our cries. They were already well underway with the answer, in fact. LEGO 2K Drive, an open world LEGO driving adventure game, has been in development for more than five years – and it’s launching in just two months.
An open-world driving adventure
LEGO 2K Drive isn’t just a racing game. It’s being marketed as a “driving adventure” and, having spent a couple of hours with it at a preview event earlier this month, we can attest that’s a very fitting description. Like the open world of Forza Horizon, there are challenges to complete, time trials to try your luck at and races to take part in, but that’s just a fraction of what’s on offer here. There’s a story to work through, collectibles to be found, characters to meet, quests to pick up and a whole lot more. There’s everything you’d expect from an open world adventure, essentially. The only difference is you’re on four wheels, rather than two legs.
The world of LEGO 2K Drive is separated into biomes, all with their own unique theme. We were let loose in Big Butte County, a dry, arid land filled with canyons, deserts and a bustling little town. Other biomes have their own theme, including one based on LEGO’s much-loved Monsters series, and if Big Butte is anything to go by, they’ll have plenty of character. Big Butte County is big enough by itself, and by poking around its nooks and crannies there are lots of fun secrets to discover – including alien invasions. This is a LEGO game after all, and it’s packed with LEGO’s signature family-friendly humour and charm. We challenge you not to have a grin plastered on your face as you drive around.
LEGO 2K Drive: A huge range of activities
You’re never more than a few seconds from some sort of side activity in LEGO 2K Drive. While driving around Big Butte County, we engaged in missions that had us smashing up brick-built objects, collecting scattered items as quickly as possible, and rounding up escaped farm animals. You’ll uncover new types of activities as you drive around, with icons appearing on your minimap. Some minifigure characters might give you a mission too, like finding someone in town or collecting something for them.
There are, of course, more race-oriented missions, too. We did a couple of hillclimb events, tasking us to climb a hill as fast as possible while avoiding obstacles. There are plenty of time trials, challenging us to drive around a small track as quickly as possible. Bronze, silver and gold medals are up for grabs – and you’re going to have to really practice to score highly: they’re tough.
Hectic kart-like racing
There are 24 main races across the campaign of LEGO 2K Drive, each of them being part of the main story. You can’t jump into them all straight away, then: they’re drip-fed to you as you move throughout LEGO 2K Drive‘s campaign. You’ll meet a legendary driver who you’ll have to beat – the first we were challenged by was Clutch Racington, your typical cheesy LEGO City resident. It’s not just a one-on-one race, though: the track will be occupied by you, your rival and six other racers. And, just like a kart racing game, you’ll have weapons to pick up and target your fellow racers with.
It makes the on-track action rather hectic, but thoroughly enjoyable. There are your typical pick-ups here: rockets, mines and shields, amongst other things. Taking out opponents will certainly help you climb to victory, but you’ll also need to race well, drifting around corners, making use of boost – which you’ll earn while drifting – and seeking out shortcuts where possible.
You’ll also race over different terrain, with your vehicle changing as you do. On road, you’ll find yourself in a typical racing car, but move onto the dirt and you’ll switch to an off-road vehicle. There are boats, too, allowing you to race over water. Your vehicles will switch automatically by default, but you can switch manually. And we’re told that, to be truly competitive when playing LEGO 2K Drive online, you’ll need to be strategic with your switching.
Compelling online play
We’ve tried our hand at LEGO 2K Drive‘s online play, and we have to say we were enamoured by it. It might have helped that we won both cups we took part in but, humble brag aside, this is the sort of wholesome multiplayer experience that we can really see taking off.
The online tracks are specially designed, taking inspiration from each of the game’s biomes. We raced across eight of them, and each one was vastly different from the last, offering a variety of terrains and challenges. Naturally, racing against real people is even more hectic than battling it out against the CPU, but it’s where your skills (and sneakiness) can really shine. Each online race can accommodate six real players and will always have two CPU racers in. You can matchmake with random players, or create a squad of your own. That same squad can be taken into the open world adventure mode, too: it’s not just a single-player experience – everything can be enjoyed with others.
Incredibly deep vehicle customisation
Perhaps the area of LEGO 2K Drive that stands out the most, and excites us the most, though, is its vehicle customisation. The garage has over 1,000 individual types of LEGO bricks, allowing you to build your own vehicle from scratch or customise an existing model. There are licensed LEGO sets in the game – you’ll recognise LEGO City cars, alongside Speed Champion models – but racing with a car you’ve built yourself is really going to take the experience to the next level.
And with such a huge range of LEGO bricks at your fingertips, you’re going to be able to create something truly special. If you’re a master builder, you’ll be able to hit the ground running: this is an intuitive builder that’s easy to get to grips with but one that offers enough depth for those who need it. We’re wondering how plausible it would be to grab the instructions of any minifigure-scale LEGO vehicle and recreate it within LEGO 2K Drive. Very possible, we’d imagine, judging by the range of bricks available – and something we’re looking forward to trying.
Coming to PC and consoles on 19th May
Despite only just being announced, LEGO 2K Drive has been in development for over five years. And that means its release date is just around the corner: it’s coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC on 19th May.
Three versions of the game will be available:
- Standard Edition ($59.99/£49.99 on PS4/Xbox One/PC/Switch; $69.99/$59.99 on PS5/Xbox Series X/S) – base game only
- Awesome Edition ($99.99/£84.99) – base game, Year 1 Drive Pass, in-game minifigure, vehicle and vehicle decorations
- Awesome Rivals Edition ($119.99/£99.99) – base game, Year 1 Drive Pass, in-game minifigure, multiple vehicles and vehicle decorations.
The Year 1 Drive Pass – a season pass, essentially – will add a new biome to the game, complete with its own challenges and missions. There’ll also be four seasons of DrivePass content, which will all add new vehicles and themes. Presumably, standard edition owners will be able to purchase the Drive Pass separately.