LEGO created its own 'Minecraft' and you can play it right now

Ben Gilbert

The enormously popular video game "Minecraft" is often described as "virtual LEGO." That description's going to get awkward quickly after today's announcement of "LEGO Worlds," a very similar looking LEGO-based world creation and exploration game. 

Can you tell which is which?

We can't either.

The game's publisher hilariously talks around the similarities between "LEGO Worlds" and "Minecraft" in its press release:

"Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games and The LEGO Group today announced 'LEGO Worlds,' a limitless collection of procedurally generated worlds made entirely of LEGO Bricks, where players build unique environments and define their own experience. Developed by TT Games, 'LEGO Worlds' allows players to use LEGO building sets digitally so they can build and create wherever their skills and imagination roam."

In "Minecraft," players collect resources in block form, which correspond to various devices and structures that can be created. Chop down a tree to gather wood blocks; craft wood blocks into wood planks; craft wood planks into a wooden door to your wooden house (for example). Each time players start a new world, it's entirely different – the levels are "procedurally generated," which means they're randomized within a set of parameters.

In so many words, no two "Minecraft" worlds are the same.

In "LEGO Worlds," players manipulate LEGO blocks to the same ends. Each time players start a new world, it's entirely different – the levels are ... you get what we're saying. These are very similar games, albeit one has the (strong, well-respected) LEGO brand behind it.

The major difference here, aside from licensing, is the signature LEGO charm that's associated more and more with LEGO games and films these days. There are plenty of fourth wall-breaking scenes in the game's debut trailer (seen above), and goofily self-deprecating humor abounds. Moreover, world creation takes place both on the small scale (brick-by-brick) and the massive scale (whole buildings at once) – a distinct difference from how most people play "Minecraft."

And yes, the inclusion of vehicles – vehicles used in terraforming, no less – is a major difference from "Minecraft," albeit one that only the most serious "Minecraft" players will notice.

Most importantly to LEGO fans, the game's announcement notes that commercial LEGO sets will appear in-game. Don't be surprised when a LEGO version of Batman shows up and helps you build The Batcave. Fingers crossed for a LEGO version of Alfred!

"LEGO Worlds" is being released in unfinished form with a focus on community, in hopes that player feedback will lead to a better game (another nod to "Minecraft" – a concept largely popularized by the incredibly popular creation and exploration game).

That means that those most interested in "LEGO Worlds" can play the game starting today. It's already live and available for purchase on the world's largest game platform: the computer-based Steam service. You can pay $15 today and start playing "LEGO Worlds" today, in Steam's "Early Access" program – a service for releasing unfinished games on Steam ahead of an "official" launch. 

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SEE ALSO: It looks like Lego is creating a 'Minecraft' competitor called 'Lego Worlds'

AND: Lego made 3 changes to become the world's most powerful toy company