There are some great things about LEGO Dimensions that set it apart from these other games. Players will be interacting with the Toy Pad (LEGO’s version of the Infinity Base or Portal of Power) more than they can in other toys-to-life games. In Disney Infinity, figures need to be moved off the Infinity Base when they die. In Skylanders, the Portal of Power functions the same way, but with added interactions depending on what version of the game you’re playing. For example, in Skylanders: Trap Team, traps can be added to the Portal to catch villains and play as them.
The Toy Pad has seven slots to hold weapons, vehicles, and character figurines. You might have to move a character from an endangered spot on the Toy Pad to a safe zone to continue playing. You’ll have to rebuild vehicles to adapt to their in-game needs. These are all very cool, interactive touches that ramp up the connections between the player and the game. Seeing your actions impact things in the game usually makes the game feel more special and more magical.
This move is also in keeping with LEGO’s brand of DIY crafting. LEGOs are hands-on toys. It makes sense that they’ll be part of a hands-on game.
So that’s the actual toy component of LEGO Dimensions. Gameplay-wise, it will probably be very similar to what we’ve seen in other LEGO video games: smashing things, building things, solving simple environmental puzzles. These games are popular, and for good reason. With LEGO Dimensions’s Level Packs, it looks like we’ll be seeing even more diverse play. For instance, the Portal expansion is going to actually have Portal-style puzzles.
This game will also see a bigger mash-up of franchises than we’ve seen before. That’s a really dry way of saying that LEGO and Warner Bros. have the rights to Batman, Lord of the Rings, The LEGO Movie, Portal, Doctor Who…so many fun, geeky characters and stories that they could tell. Which translates to so many extra expansion packs to sell.
LEGO Dimensions’s success gets less-assured when we think about where it’s coming in the toys-to-life cycle. Disney Infinity is coming out with its third edition on August 30. That’s one more expensive starter pack and an unfathomable ton of new figures. Skylanders SuperChargers is coming out on September 20, also with an expensive starter pack, new characters, and now vehicles.
The LEGO Dimensions starter pack will be $99.99, blasting past Disney Infinity’s $64.99 price tag and Skylanders $74.99 price tag. While it arguably provides more value than the other games, and we’re no strangers to paying a lot for LEGOs, it’s going to be a hard sell for parents who have already added Disney Infinity, Skylanders, or (God forbid) both to their family game library.
That’s a shame. LEGO Dimensions looks like it’s going to be as fun as it is expensive. I just think it’s going to be hard explaining that to parents who have heard it all before.