E3 2018: LEGO DC Super-Villains Encapsulates why LEGO Games are so Successful

LEGO games have been coming and going for the past decade since Traveller’s Tales first released LEGO Star Wars. Since then, the studio has been quietly refining their formula over dozens of titles across the Jurassic Park, Marvel, Harry Potter, Middle-earth, Incredibles and various other franchises. The DC Universe is a particular favorite of the LEGO series with three LEGO Batman released to date. For its latest outing, Traveller’s Tales returns to the DC Universe, but with a twist. The villains are in charge now in LEGO DC Super-Villains and we got a chance to see how this villain-sized entry is shaping up.

In LEGO DC Super-Villains, the Justice League has gone missing and replaced with a team of superheroes from a parallel universe called the ‘Justice Syndicate.’ The Injustice League discovers that these new heroes are not who they claim to be and team up with an up-and-coming villain to discover and thwart the Syndicate’s plans.

Unlike previous LEGO games, DC Super-Villains allows players to create their own character who plays a vital role in the game’s story. Traveller’s Tales customization tools have always been great, and that continues here. Your villain can be downright serious like Heath Ledger’s Joker, or as goofy as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze.

The level proceeds after character creation with a massive breakout. You, Lex Luther, and Mercy Graves must band together to secure freedom. Despite over a decade worth of LEGO games, the formula remains remarkably like LEGO Star Wars. You’ll run around the world, smash objects to pieces, solve a few puzzles, and then proceed to the next area. Each character fits a specific mold needed to complete a given level. Lex Luthor is the ranged guy capable of firing aimed projectiles, Mercy is the gadget character with the grappling gun, Cheetah is the lightweight character capable of jumping high, and Solomon Grundy is the heavy brute that breaks objects no one else can.

The wildcard here is your customized character who silently tags along. He’ll start with a basic ability but will continuously earn more throughout the campaign. For example, towards the end of the breakout, players unlock laser beams capable of destroying gold bricks. By the end of the game, players will have their own villain capable of doing that and so much more.

The final stage of the demo took us to Gotham City where the Joker and Harley Quinn were causing havoc as they climbed a belltower. While the gameplay hasn’t changed much, the use of humor has consistently gotten better. From watching a donut-loving guard caress his favorite treat to Harley Quinn nonchalantly skating across the screen, LEGO DC Super-Villains seems prepared to knock a few chuckles out of players.

Traveller’s Tales formula hasn’t changed much in the past decade, but that hasn’t stopped them from churning out successful LEGO game after game. LEGO DC Super-Villains doesn’t do anything to change the core formula, but still manages to have its own charm. It isn’t every day villains get to star in their own game. With the new character customization, players finally have the chance to create their own supervillain as well as play as DC’s famous rouge’s gallery. It’s a LEGO game, but it’s still fun.

LEGO DC Super-Villains is out October 16 on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.