LEGO 2K Drive

Geek Interview: ‘LEGO 2K Drive’ Steers Creativity Powered By Innovative Driving Model

First revealed near the end of March, LEGO 2K Drive certainly caught many people by surprise. After all, developer Visual Concepts has been focused on the sports vertical for quite some time now, but now, it will be taking on the competition in the racing space with the help of everyone’s favourite building bricks. Naturally, there are going to be some worries, but after speaking with the team, there is more of a sense of optimism that this could be a stellar project awaiting to be unleashed.

Geek Interview: LEGO 2K Drive

At the heart of the game is its driving, and it is something that the folks over at 2K Games and Visual Concepts are keen to get right, albeit with a level of creative fun and flexibility.

“In a game like this, where players can literally build their vehicle, brick by brick, in any shape they want, we had to come up with a proprietary system that can analyse the build of the vehicle,” shared General Manager Steven Ranck, a veteran of the classic Cruis’n USA for the N64.

That means if players build a really tall vehicle, it will teeter more, while a long vehicle has a wide wheelbase, steering will change, and the number of bricks used will affect collision too. The system then “adjusts the physics parameters on the fly to adapt to that” to make sure all the physics work as they should, even if players go crazy on creating their dream vehicles in LEGO 2K Drive.

Geek Interview: LEGO 2K Drive

“We tried to find a nice balance between arcade racers and simulation driving games. And I think we hit a nice sweet spot where players have the freedom to build all sorts of different vehicles. We want them to build crazy vehicles and still be able to drive them and take them into the world,” added Ryan Kehlenbeck, Senior Engineer.

That commitment to giving players the freedom to create in LEGO 2K Drive doesn’t come at a cost to competitive fairness, with the team stressing that there is nothing that would force players to build a certain way to gain an advantage. Vehicles with particular characteristics might help with some mini-games but in a race, it truly comes down to player skill and their preference for how driving should feel, be it nimble with smaller cars or larger ones that have heft.

In addition, the foundation laid in place is also critical in helping the team design the many different courses that await players, with the ideas of drifting, quick turning, and boosting being the most important cogs in the machine. Players will get to enjoy various parts of the races in different ways, all tuned to make sure that it is always well-paced and exhilarating to be a part of as they go off-road, into the water, and back onto the asphalt.

Another interesting way in which LEGO 2K Drive is trying to switch things up is its take on open-world design. While generally racing games have players moving forward towards the finishing line, the team continues to look at other ways and directions that can provide fun gameplay scenarios.

“So one of the great things in making an open world and driving model that works in an open world is that you need to have it work really well in a race setting where it feels like very competent. But at the same time, you also need to feel extremely flexible, to allow you to scale the environment and go wherever you want because it’s not just about crossing the finish line,” shared David Msika, Design Director.

“It’s about, finding things and exploring and going places and turning quickly because it’s it’s not just racing. And the driving model that Ryan engineered allows us to really tune it in a way that makes it work in every context, which is really the magic behind it.”

Geek Interview: LEGO 2K Drive

The actual design of the world also folds into the gameplay, with the environment not just there as window dressing. Ranck pointed out a specific quest that involves mowing weeds that can be part of race courses, and doing so can help magical crystals grow, which in turn provides players with more boost fuel and health. Completing quests and exploring the world in LEGO 2K Drive have more incentive for players beyond their immediate rewards, it would seem.

All of these wouldn’t be possible without passionate people behind the scenes, and having gotten LEGO onboard, that meant Visual Concepts had to deliver when it mattered most, and they seem to have the teams for it.

“That’s the great thing about this game. It’s first, imagination and creativity, not just not just for the players, but also for the people making the game. Every day that we play, it’s very inspiring,” added Msika.

From surprise designs coming from all avenues within the development team, the way real LEGO creations bleed into the game, to the realisation of a driving model that works both for the fun parts as well as the science behind it all, there is very little doubt that Visual Concepts is fully committed to the idea of LEGO 2K Drive and ensuring players will enjoy the game no matter what.

For a game that will likely be judged by how well the driving is being handled, it is also reassuring to see that the element of creative enjoyment would not be lost. Here’s hoping that it all comes together nicely when LEGO 2K Drive hits the road on 19 May for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.