If there was one thing I enjoyed growing up, it was LEGO.
I’m not talking about the countless movies with all their animated greatness and comedic value bursting from the seams, and I’m not talking about the games that have appeared in recent years, covering almost every licensed and valued series known to man. Instead I’m talking those little, physical blocks, the ones you’d lose and spend hours searching for before finding them embedded in your foot as you blindly stood on them.
In the years since my childhood, LEGO has somehow become even bigger than it once was, with the aforementioned movies, TV series and games, not to mention the continued selection of physically buildable toys. They’ve become that successful in fact that on several occasions we’ve seen multiple different games appear and try to emulate the brick building phenomenon and capitalise on that success. Trailmakers, a brick builder of sorts, is a game that has spent the best part of the last year on PC with many players appreciating it’s LEGO-esque creative opportunities. With a Game Preview version now available on Xbox One, I decided to jump in to see if we were looking at a simple clone/wishful thinker, or if Trailmakers has what it takes to set itself apart from the crowd.
The idea of Trailmakers is simple – you play the role of an engineer/racer whose job is to create a vehicle capable of completing and competing in various different rallies across a series of planets, using nothing but a selection of building blocks and an assembly tool to stick them all together.
From the off you only have access to a few different parts but as you progress more and more parts become available, allowing your creative options to expand. In its present state Trailmakers does feel surprisingly in-depth, there are a vast amount of building items already available for players to be going on with, and visually it looks fantastic with large, open-world planets to explore and various different challenges set out in the form of checkpoints for players to try and reach – all with the help of their created vehicles.
The type of vehicle you can manufacture is pretty much tied down by only your imagination, with flying vehicles, floating vehicles, transforming vehicles and just about any other vehicle you can think of, all possible by utilising the many parts available. At time of writing, my best efforts have resulted in little more than simply attaching multiple powerful engines to a very flat-bodied vehicle to see how fast I could make it go – nothing spectacular – but I was proud to see my little speed machine ripping it up across the sandy desert area I was occupying all the same.
As far as story goes, and as it stands very little is currently shared with players, with the tale told being one of a once occupied tourist world that was deemed too dangerous and unfit for purpose, leaving the planet a lonely and abandoned site rife for exploration. It’s empty and clutching at straws for the moment but you must remember we are talking Xbox Game Preview here, and that doesn’t mean it will be that way when the full release eventually rolls around. With the building proving meaty enough, there’s not exactly much more needed in that area anyways.
Besides the narrative and the creative possibilities, Trailmakers on Xbox One does a fantastic job with its effects in both the audio and visual department. Audio wise and the different parts you attach to your vehicle do a fantastic job of sounding as you’d expect, with different engines making unique noises, whilst even the suspension parts have their own believable sound too. To go alongside that, and visually, with things such as smoke particles and dust trails already included, it’s easy to assume that Trailmakers shouldn’t really require much longer in the Xbox Game Preview Program with many features already included rarely seen in full retail titles.
Trailmakers is currently doing a fantastic job of setting the bar high for Xbox Game Preview titles. With many positive features already flourishing and countless possibilities already available within the game, Trailmakers has a real sense of becoming an incredible game. With more features expected to drop before full release, this is one I’m sure many will appreciate when update 1.0 launches on Xbox One, for this could well be a game that is shaping up to be a true competitor to that of the mighty LEGO franchise.
Many thanks go out to Flashbulb Games for providing access to the hands-on time with Trailmakers in Xbox Game Preview. We’ll be sure to follow this piece up with a full review as and when the game launches for real. For now though you can grab the game for £16.74 from the Xbox Store.