LEGO 2K Drive brings your colorful building brick creations to life

By Brian Crecente

LEGO 2K Drive is an open world, LEGO-brick-infused racing title packed with a Bricklandia-trotting story mode, Grand Brix cups, pick-up races, and mini-games spread across four distinct brick-built biomes.

You can play it alone, locally with a friend on one screen, or hop online for races and roaming.

But what really makes this a LEGO video game is the garage and the way it allows players to craft their vehicles – street, off-road, or boat – brick-by-brick and then drop the creation straight into the game and go wild.

“The Garage is a huge point of pride for us, so we're super excited to finally be able to talk about it!” said David Msika , design director at game developer Visual Concepts. “It's the ultimate LEGO vehicle builder that truly takes a page out of the real world, and lets the players build a ride brick by brick from a large selection of LEGO elements.”

That means not just using the wide-range of available bricks to piece together your ride, but also going back in and assigning engine and horn sounds, applying stickers, and attaching animated Flairs.

The building process involves selecting a base for your vehicle from an assortment. Then you move through the bricks by category and pull it onto the screen with your creation where you can rotate, flip, and eventually snap it in, stud to tube. It’s a quick and rewarding experience. There are some limitations. All of the base builds offer four tires. So no motorcycles, trikes, or 36 wheelers. There’s also a 350 element limit and size restrictions, but that gives builders a lot of space in which to play. Once built, painted, and customized, you have to submit the creation to 2K for final approval if you want to use it in multiplayer matches.

Lego 2k Drive Brings Your Colorful Building Brick Creations To Life Garage
“One cool thing is that every vehicle added to the player's collection in the game, either as a reward or bought in the store, can be edited in the Garage. You will never mess up the original one, but you can edit a copy of it to make quick changes, like a paint job, or swapping the tires, or adding a spoiler, rather than building a vehicle from scratch.

“It can be pretty intimidating to be in front of a blank chassis and to start building, and that's why you can always make small, or large, modifications to existing vehicles.”

The developers also included something called the Instruction mode, which allows players to rebuild a collected pre-built vehicle, layer by layer, in a kind of puzzle game.

“The Garage was made by true LEGO fans, which played a huge factor in polishing the experience and bringing what we felt were essential tools to give players an incredible amount of freedom,” Msika  said.

This is the first major console and PC LEGO video game released since TT Games dropped their massive game LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. But development on LEGO 2K Drive actually started about five years ago.

Lego 2k Drive Brings Your Colorful Building Brick Creations To Life
Glenda Galliano, a producer with LEGO Games, said the LEGO Group recognized that despite the significant success they’ve seen with action-adventure games, that there were other genres that might be a good match for them as well.

“A few years ago, we decided to explore new themes that aligned with LEGO Games priorities. Vehicles came up at the top,” Galliano said. “We approached several exceptional partners, including 2K, and received pitches from each.  However, the pitch from 2K stood out as the best. Developed by a highly passionate team at their internal developer, Visual Concepts, the game showcases their world-class expertise in AAA gaming and brings it to the LEGO games experience. “

It helped that the pitch was for a driving game.

“It’s hard to imagine how long it has been since the last native LEGO driving game,” Galliano said. “Vehicles as a passion point being a priority for the LEGO Group did influence the reason we are seeing the birth of LEGO 2K Drive

“We wanted to surprise our players with something that would underline the uniqueness of this partnership and respond with one of the most-loved genres by the LEGO audience with a partner that has a solid reputation in creating quality and successful titles. “

While LEGO Games has a deep history with driving titles – including the popular LEGO Racers franchise and more recent Forza Horizon 4 LEGO Speed Champions DLC – the team at Visual Concepts decided they wanted to create something entirely new in the space.

“One of the biggest conceptual pillars of LEGO 2K Drive is that it’s a driving game, not a racing game,” Msika  said. “It means that we would use the game’s driving model to promote more adventure-based features, like exploration and discovery. We also wanted to tell a story across various landscapes, and we wanted to create new gameplay experiences that take full advantage of what the vehicles can do, like jumping, boosting and drifting. The game vehicles are acrobatic, nimble, and fun to drive around, but they also are very fast, so when you take all those elements, it made sense to create a large sandbox to allow for them to thrive.”

Lego 2k Drive Brings Your Colorful Building Brick Creations To Life Coop
Brian Silva, Visual Concepts creative director on the game, added that from the beginning the team knew it wanted to make a big, open-world, LEGO-themed driving adventure.

“We wanted the car to feel accessible, fluid and fun to control like a hero in an action game, which is one of the reasons we applied a jump feature to the vehicles, as well as gave them the ability to turn into an invincible wrecking-ball of fire while boosting throughout the world,” he said. “We, also, wanted to capitalize on the fundamental assemble/disassemble component of LEGO bricks by allowing our vehicles to automatically rearrange their parts to accommodate any driving surface as they travel unhindered from one terrain type to the next.”

When played, it’s clear that this is a racing game that wants you to lean into the destructive side of driving. While the ground itself isn’t made of LEGO bricks, nearly everything else is and can be blown apart with abandon. In fact, in races, tearing through the LEGO elements environment helps to recharge your boost ability. Add to that the ability to freely roam across the game’s biomes, and how your vehicle seamlessly and automatically morphs from car, to off-road vehicle, to boat when needed, and this racing game becomes about something more than simply seeing who is the fastest.

“As we were making it, the game evolved into a play space where we found ourselves making rules up on the fly while playing in the open world with a bunch of friends,” Msika said. “ For instance, trying to stay right behind a friend who’s trying to lose you in the open world, or trying to be the first one to thread the needle between the girders of a bridge while jumping from a cliff. The power of LEGO building is to unleash your imagination. I could see you with a cube made out of LEGO bricks in your hand, and to me, it’s a cube, but to you, it’s a castle, it’s a spaceship, it’s an ancient artifact. Our open world is what you want it to be. We’re giving you some guidance, a lot of activities, stuff to find, people to talk to, but the rest of the time, it’s your world.”

As you play the game, exploring the colorful locations, you get a sense of some of the rich history of racing games that the developers tapped into when creating this title. The off-road racing delivers the adrenaline of monster jumps across canyons and tearing around loose dirt paths. The rolling waves of LEGO 2K Drive’s water sections can throw your boat off at odd angles as you try to bank around corners. And of course, the street racing offers quality drifting and tight controls. All of these forms of racing also include power-ups that shoot off rockets to turn competitors into a pile of bricks, or drops webs filled with spiders on the screens of other players. 

The attention to detail the team spent on the game is clear in its brick models. Emmanuel Valdez, art director for the title, said the team used the LEGO Group’s internal digital brick creator – LEGO Digital Designer – along with a proprietary import tool to bring those amazing replicas of bricks into the game.

“The result is accurate and efficient, including details like displaying the LEGO logo on each stud,” he said. “ The result were LEGO creations that can be built in the real world.”

LEGO 2K Drive is now available on Epic Games Store.