Bright colors, profusion of power ups, full throttle customization and an open world to explore: in our test of LEGO 2K Drive we have already told you about the distinctive features of this racing game that hybridizes the Forza Horizon formula with that of Mario Kart, and now – to enrich our knowledge of the title – we leave the floor to Executive Producer Mark Pierce, whom we were able to interview during the London event dedicated to the production. At the starting line…ready…go!
The origins of the game and the balancing of the gameplay
Everyeye.it: A little Forza Horizon, a little Mario Kart, but also a lot of personality: what is the creative fuel that drives LEGO 2K Drive?
Mark Pierce: We started working on the game about 5 years ago. Our team includes creators who have also developed other arcade racing games, yet this sort of creative “legacy” was only the starting point. After all, our goal is to give life to an entire world made of creativity and sharing. For us LEGO 2K Drive is not just a “simple” racing game.
For this reason, even if running is not your forte or your favorite activity, you can always dedicate yourself to a large amount of other content, from mini-games to exploration, without forgetting the possibility of building your vehicles.
Everyeye.it: In this regard, how did you work to balance the various characteristics of the cars with the large amount of customization, so as to make the gameplay as balanced as possible?
Mark Pierce: There are more than 100 vehicles in the game, and they can be conquered during the story mode. Furthermore, as already highlighted, it is possible to modify the means already obtained or create completely new ones, right from the ground up. The balance is delicate. We have a whole system of vehicle statistics: we find the heaviest ones, the slowest ones, the fastest ones, the widest ones and so on. All have pros and cons.
For example, lighter cars are more agile, while heavier vehicles are more stable. The stats are influenced by the type of car you create, and again it is a balance that moves between disadvantages and advantages. Maybe a smaller car breaks down so easily but is faster, and instead a bigger one runs slower, preserving greater solidity on the other hand. When shaping a car you have to be careful how many pieces you put in, in order to make a vehicle taller, wider and so on. The whole game has its own rules.
Everyeye.it: This level of customization obeys specific rules. In fact, the game world foresees that during the races the cars transform according to the surface on which they whiz. How was this aspect of gameplay balanced to not favor one vehicle over another?
Mark Pierce: It’s all about level design. One player might purposely take the road that leads to the water, while another might choose to take the off-road path.
We made the tracks precisely because of this automatic car transformation feature. You have to pay attention to the circuit, because what at first might seem like a shortcut may not really be one. In short, it will be up to the players to take advantage of the differences in the surfaces present on the tracks.
Everyeye.it: So you need to study the environment to create a vehicle that is as suitable as possible for your style?
Mark Pierce: Yes exactly, it’s a matter of balance and choices. You can select your vehicle of choice, but there may be circumstances where you decide to change your approach. The Drive Pass will also add other biomes and situations, and it will be up to you to choose what kind of style to adopt.
The multiplayer station
Everyeye.it: Power ups are an integral part of racing. How many weapon types can we expect in the full game?
Mark Pierce: Right now there are about 8 or 9 power ups to use in the game. I prefer not to tell you too much but it wouldn’t be a big surprise if I told you that we intend to add more in the future.
Everyeye.it: Another “weapon” (if we want to define it that way) not to be underestimated during competitions is the jump…
Mark Pierce: Yes the jumping mechanic is fun. When I joined the team this ability was already part of the gameplay and I just loved it. I found it genuinely hilarious. And then it worked great too. As you learn to drive, according to the rules of the game, you realize that taking advantage of the jump at the right moment can be very important. This very question arose during the meetings: “Why jump?”. And the answer could only be: “because it’s fun”.
Later in the game you will also unlock the jetpack: it is not a flight properly speaking, because there is still a descending curve, but I am convinced that it will be interesting to explore the world also vertically, because there will be new mechanics ready to await you.
Everyeye.it: Great emphasis also seems to be placed on multiplayer: how does the competitive/cooperative structure of LEGO 2K Drive work? And how long will Story Mode alone keep us busy?
Mark Pierce: It’s possible to play split screen with up to two players. Online multiplayer instead provides for a maximum of 6 players. There will therefore be six human pilots and two more guided by the AI. You will then have the opportunity to play the story mode with a friend but not to take part in all the co-op activities. There are moments in which the activity to be carried out requires the involvement of both users, and others in which instead one participant has to wait for the other to have finished his tasks.
As for longevity, if you play from start to finish, without hanging around the maps, it could take between 15 and 20 hours. But I am convinced that you will get very distracted while playing, ending up taking much longer. Don’t forget that there will also be many other online activities. I don’t advance anything, but it is enough to know that you will find in the game everything that is legitimate to expect from a triple A title.
Evereye.it: Speaking of content, how many biomes await us at launch and what plans do you have for the future?
Mark Pierce: There are currently 4 biomes. It is our intention, however, to propose another additional one during this year. Our team’s goal is to carry this franchise forward for years, and we have tons of ideas to do that. The Drive Pass includes a mix of free and paid content.
We want to go light-hearted because LEGO is a family-friendly brand, so parents with their 2K account will have the ability to set what kids can and can’t buy. It is absolutely not a Pay to win game.
Everyeye.it: LEGO is synonymous with construction. In addition to cars, can we expect extensive customization of the game world as well?
Mark Pierce: Not at the moment, but let me be honest: we’ve thought about it! It is a very complex mechanic to create in terms of level design and also in terms of performance. However, LEGO is a brand designed to encourage construction. Perhaps it is a feature that we can add later, in the following chapters. Maybe…
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