Over 8 million levels at launch.
I have to admit up front that I’m not a fan of LittleBigPlanet. I think the controls are too floaty to make for an entertaining and satisfying platformer and when a developer tells me to create my own levels I get a little frustrated. More often than not the tools stack up to the point where things become unintuitive and the endless tweaking gets mundane. I’m not paying $60 to do all the work myself. Of course, LittleBigPlanet has always come with a satisfying campaign to play by yourself for inspiration or to share with others. The brand remains exceedingly cheery and family friendly which makes it a very natural staple of the PlayStation platform.
There’s simply no denying LittleBigPlanet and Media Molecule’s importance. I’m not railing against the developer or the publisher when I say that I personally will never open up a level editor and create my own LBP level. It’s just not for me, but don’t tell the fans who shouted and hollered during the surprise announcement of LittleBigPlanet 3 at Sony’s E3 2014 press conference. Stating that the franchise’s user-generated content would carry over onto PlayStation 4 hardware certainly helped.
That’s the difference maker in my eyes. Even if I don’t care for the game, Media Molecule and LBP 3 developer Sumo Digital have the brains to make sure their little castle builders will be able to bring old projects into the new game and even update them to account for three brand new characters with their own specific platforming mechanics. Anthony Severino and I got hands-on with the level developers debuted on the press conference stage to try Oddsock the dog, Swoop the bird, and Toggle, who can change his size to activate switches. Oddsock has the ability to jump off of walls and Swoop can pick up other players to help them cross difficult sequences.
I controlled Oddsock while a developer controlled Swoop and Toggle. Anthony had control over Sackboy and the blow-gun that could open doors or push objects left and right and while this demo was criminally short, it provided a few ideas as to how LBP fans will update their levels to accommodate these new characters. While you might have featured a lot of bouncing sequences in a level you’ve spent hours on in previous games, you’ll want to remove them or give Swoop some hazards to navigate. Toggle players might like to face challenges that force them to flip back and forth between big and small and Oddsock could be challenged by wall-jumping.
Altogether, LBP 3’s new characters might force creators to try new things, but I’m worried that each character won’t have something entertaining to do at the same time. Four-player challenges give multiplayer fanatics a lot of options to work together, but you wouldn’t want to stand around as Toggle without an opportunity to use your unique ability. The best LBP 3 levels will give pairs of players the opportunity to tackle challenges at the same time before flipping to the other two. I also hope the developers will use pre-level menus to denote which characters players should use to tackle challenges.
Despite my own reluctance to ride the LittleBigPlanet hype train to the end of the line, it’ll be up to players themselves to create entertaining and totally unique experiences that completely outpace those of the developers. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been all that impressed with the franchise thus far. The single-player campaigns leave room for the creators themselves to make up all the fun and with four different characters the community will have to come up with even more inventive or themed gameplay.
I’d like to see Swoop races or Toggle launching competitions. For now, I’m still not sure what kind of mileage I’ll get out of this new LittleBigPlanet. I see clear value in these games and have reviewed a few positively, namely the Vita and Go-Karting sack-attacks. My personal preferences aside, each title has presented a willingness to leave room for your inventiveness. You don’t really need my recommendation to preorder now, do you?