Earlier this week, LEGO and 2K announced LEGO 2K Drive, an “ultimate AAA open world driving adventure game” that’s coming to all major consoles on 19 May 2023.
Developed by Visual Concepts, LEGO 2K Drive is the first game from LEGO’s new partnership with 2K (best known for NBA 2K and WWE 2K titles) and invites players into an expansive open-world driving game that’s fuelled by LEGO building and IP (intellectual property).
The price for the Awesome Edition is US$99.99 / £86.99 / €99,99 / AU$150 for reference.
Like most modern games, there are three editions of LEGO 2K Drive will be available:
- The Standard Edition will be available for $59.99* on PlayStation®4 (PS4™), Xbox One, PC and Nintendo SwitchTM and $69.99* on PlayStation®5 (PS5™) and Xbox Series X|S in both physical and digital formats.
- The Awesome Edition will be available for $99.99* and includes a new vehicle, vehicle flair, and an in-game LEGO minifigure. Players will also receive the Year 1 Drive Pass, which will introduce an all-new biome, in addition to four individual post-launch seasons of Drive Pass content, each with new vehicles and themes.
- The Awesome Rivals Edition will be available for $119.99* and includes multiple new vehicles, a vehicle flair, and in-game LEGO minifigures. Players will also receive the Year 1 Drive Pass, which will introduce an all-new biome, in addition to four individual post-launch seasons of Drive Pass content, each with new vehicles and themes.
I think this is highly problematic, and will expand on this point below.
You can pre-order LEGO 2K Drive from LEGO.com or on your preferred console’s digital shop. If you pre-order the Standard Edition, you’ll receive a bonus Aquadirt Racer pack which includes one (1) Aquadirt Racer Street Car, one (1) Aquadirt Racer Off-road Car and one (1) Aquadirt Racer Boat.
If you purchase the Awesome or Awesome Rivals Edition, the Aquadirt Racer Pack is automatically included.
Also, if you purchase the physical 2K Drive Awesome Edition, you’ll receive a 3-in-1 Aquadirt Racer vehicle, which can be assembled in Street, Off-Road, or Water forms.
But first, be enthralled by the shiny visuals of the game via the official trailer below:
In a nutshell, 2K Drive isn’t styled as a traditional kart or racing game, but you’ll explore an open-world called Bricklandia filled with adventures, challenges, minigames, characters and all sorts of digital collectibles to hunt down.
LEGO’s creative DNA is embedded in every facet of the game as you can build your vehicle from scratch using over 1,000 pieces to customise your very own racer.
There are multiplayer and co-op features in the game, but is designed to be played single-player and there will be other multiplayer modes available too.
To further integrate into LEGO’s product portfolio, at launch there will be sets and vehicles from themes like City, Creator and Speed Champions in the game, anchoring it to many of the vehicles and characters we own as toys.
This is showcased via a collaboration with McLaren, where the 76918 McLaren Solus GT & McLaren F1 LM Speed Champions set is featured prominently on the covers, and can be found in game.
For those of us old (or nostalgic enough), this might remind you of the legendary LEGO Racers game from 1999, a fun customisable racing game with a terrific soundtrack that is fondly remembered by many, so in many ways, LEGO 2K Drive seems like a spiritual successor to LEGO Racers.
LEGO 2K Drive features four biomes (worlds) for you to explore, and 2K are planning to expand this further via a Drive Pass (aka Season Pass/paid DLC), which means 2K is gearing up for the expansion of the game via paid DLC (downloadable content) for future updates.
For example, you’re encouraged to go for the Awesome or Awesome Rivals edition which will include a Year 1 Drive Pass, which will introduce an all-new biome, in addition to four individual post-launch seasons of Drive Pass content, each with new vehicles and themes
2K’s problematic track record of microtransations
So I will preface this section by saying that I’m not a heavy gamer. I game very casually, and am not particularly connected to modern games, so my views on this might be a little antiquated.
I did game a lot when I was younger, and I still do play quite a bit on my Nintendo Switch (mostly RPGs, Animal Crossing and Pokemon) but again, these are mostly nostalgic indulgences.
I am very sceptical of 2K, and upon learning more about the game through the press release and launch material, I think that this is going to be a deceptively expensive game, for those that want to get the “complete” experience.
The price of the base game starts at US$70, but a lot of additional content like cars, elements and biomes will be locked away by a series of microtransactions or a Season Pass (bundle of bonus content tied to a specific timeframe) which will cost more money/
It’s a problem that is currently plaguing modern video games, mostly because it encourages additional spending to obtain the complete experience, a far cry from LEGO Racers where you used to unlock characters by just winning races, or even the recent LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga which had most planets available in the base game, but only gated playable characters behind microtransactions and paid DLC.
Buried in the 2K Drive FAQs, we have tacit confirmation that the game is built around microtransactions and in-game purchases
Does LEGO 2K Drive include optional in-game purchases?
Yes. Coin bundles in Unkie’s Emporium can be purchased with real-world money, and Coins are used to buy optional in-game items like vehicles, flairs and brick sets.. To ensure parents can make the right decisions for their kids, all players must create a 2K Account before they can make any purchases in Unkie’s Emporium. Parents have the ability to block real-world money purchases in-game, for any 2K Account registered to their child . Unkie’s Emporium also offers many in-game items that are purchased using Brickbux, which are earned via gameplay.
For those of you who are ardent gamers, or know a bit about the modern video games industry, 2K is notorious for having a reputation of being extremely predatory and aggressive with microtransactions.
Just look at the reception to the most recent NBA 2K23 game where players and critics
The game’s hustling and nagging off the court is so unrelenting, and I’m so worn down by it after so many years, that it sucks the life out of the basketball itself. MyCareer is so ruined by its off-key branding and constant advertisements that I wasn’t even that fussed about how phoned in the story was. Multiplayer modes are so overrun with microtransactions, grinds and ad exposure that I didn’t want to spend any time there either.Luke Plunkett – Kotaku
Or this VideoGameChronicle review, which has “Microtransaction obsession spoils an otherwise great game” in the headline.
The fact that the base game costs US$70 and you’re expected to cough up more in microtransactions to unlock cars, biomes and maybe themes makes me feel very uncomfortable, and parents of kids who will undeniably attracted to this game need to be made aware of.
The fact that this game is published by 2K does not feel me with a lot of confidence because of their track record in this space. Pushing “gambling” in NBA 2K through things like MyTeam packs makes me highly uncomfortable, and I’m concerned that we’ll see some of that in LEGO 2K Drive.
Hopefully, The LEGO Group will put up some strong guardrails to tamp down 2K’s microtransaction-heavy game design philosophy, but with LEGO’s continual flirtation with pure blind bags LEGO Minifigures, I am still somewhat wary.
The fact that the funny-looking Hamburghini vehicle is only available in the most expensive Awesome Rivals Edition, OR can be purchased individually, yet is featured so prominently in the launch trailer should really brace you for the kind of game that LEGO 2K Drive is going to be.
I will reserve my full judgement until the full game is revealed, and the extent of microtransactions in the game, but with 2K at the wheel, I’m fully expecting them to charge for heated steering wheels, ala BMW.
That said, it does look like fun, and building on the success of the LEGO Star Wars game, it is interesting to see LEGO explore some other genres like open-world racing.
But with all microtransaction-laden games, just be prepared for the digital casino experience, and try to set healthy limits on what you (or your kids) will spend on this game, to avoid falling for predatory microtransaction tactics.
LEGO 2K Drive will be released on Playstation 4, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and Nintendo Switch on 19 May 2023.
What do you think of LEGO 2K Drive, and are you concerned about microtransactions encroaching into your LEGO Games?
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