Last week we talked you through LEGO Minifigures Online, a charmingly simple MMO crafted by the brilliant minds at Funcom. Aimed primarily at a younger audience, it manages to cram in everything LEGO fans love about the Minifigures range while also proving to be a fairly solid online dungeon crawler.
One thing we didn’t really touched on during our first impressions was the multiplayer. Just like any other MMO, Minifigures Online allows its players to explore worlds and social hubs populated by other real-life users. Funcom has even managed to apply some technical wizardry here, creating cross-platform servers to accommodate both PC and mobile gamers under the same roof.
However, where games like World of Warcraft, EVE, and Everquest have built their legacy around multiplayer features, it feels more like an afterthought in Minifigures Online. Sure, there are options that allow players to form parties, and even tackle the game’s shopping list of dungeons, but none of this is signposted.
There is no “looking for group” button to be found here, so unless you’re playing with friends or happen to rally nearby users via the chat room, you’ll be running these dungeons solo. That’s a big shame, especially considering their fun factor and sheer abundance, not to mention the bag loads of loot they have to offer. Player versus player (or PvP) is another brick missing from the wall, although Funcom has talked about adding it at a later time.
Although disappointing, these omissions speak to Funcom’s kid-friendly design ethos. By disabling any form of matchmaking, it prevents young’uns from being paired up with randoms, making Minifigures Online a safer environment to play in. We guess.
The other significant topic to discuss is how the game holds up on mobile and tablet. Having spent a small amount of time with iPad version, we’re confident in saying that Funcom has done a stellar job. Everything, from the cluster of worlds to each individual minifigure, is present and accounted for in the portable edition, just as well as on PC. In short, it’s direct port that even manages to feel and look the same as its PC counterpart.
The big draw here is the server tech, allowing gamers to continue their progress whether on the go or sat at their computers. There is one slight drawback to this approach however, with fans having to pay again to unlock this cross-play privilege. Luckily, on mobile and tablet, you won’t have to purchase the full game up front as you do on PC. Instead it is broken down world-by-world, meaning you only have to pay for the areas you actually visit.
LEGO Minifigures Online continues to satisfy our most basic needs. Although the lack of certain multiplayer features is a real turn-off, once again we’re reminded at just who this game is actually meant for. On top of that we’re sure Funcom will, in future, be able to deploy some kind of workaround, presenting a slew of matchmaking options that are both safe and efficient for kids and adults alike.
For now we’re happy to roam from world to world, completing quests and picking up the odd bit of loot here and there. Even if only logged in for a short burst of five minutes, there’s still something fun and rewarding to do. The novelty is bound to wear off at some point, but hopefully Funcom can deliver more substantive features by then.