Lego 2K Drive will soon be reaching the starting line later this month, bringing players to a whole new brick-made open world full of various Lego vehicles. We were lucky enough to sit down with the game’s Art Director Emmanuel Valdez who told us more about creating the different biomes in the game’s open world: Bricklandia, as well as the vehicles, and mini-figures of Lego 2K Drive.
Emmanuel Valdez is the art director at the Lego 2K Drive developer Visual Concepts. He has over 30 years of experience working as an artist and art director, having held positions at High Noon Studios, Appy Entertainment, MZ, and DayBreak Game Company. He is also the creator of the Ready 2 Rumble Boxing franchise with Midway Entertainment. Needless to say, Emmanuel knows how to make a game feel alive with fleshed-out art, worlds, and characters, all of which he brought to Lego 2K Drive.
An Introduction to The Art of Lego 2K Drive
Emmanuel began our interview by giving us a quick overview of what players can expect in Lego 2K Drive, and what his goals for the game were as the Art Director:
“The game is called Lego Drive because there is more than racing. We have this big open world where you can do mini-games and challenges, and destroy things, I mean destruction is like its own feature in the game.
As for my position, I’m the Art Director. My goal is to provide the artistic vision of what this game should be and we came up with a unique concept for it. There’s been a lot of games based on Lego properties and we’re the newest one out of the gate so what can we do with our game that can be distinctive and meet people’s expectations of what a Lego game should be?
What we did is that we combined real-world elements with all the Lego creations you see in the game. A lot of it had to do with the fact that we wanted visceral action with the different terrain types. You know there’s real dirt, there’s real water, and every terrain type in between, we wanted that real kind of interaction almost as if this was a kid playing in their backyard with these toys.
That’s been the starting point, but then we started leaning into the fact that this is Lego and you can build anything out of Lego, we really tried to push the wackness of the designs. This was not only for the mini-figure characters but also to give vehicles a little bit more charm and personality since they really personified each character. You can really see that in some of the vehicles like the Spider Car or the Chicken Truck”.
What would you say is the most important aspect of creating a Lego open world with Bricklandia?
“The first thing is really getting a feeling for the driving dynamics. We wanted to create a space with an open world that gives players the ability to drive as fast as they can, try and do different things that they wouldn’t necessarily expect like jump and fly off things, and create a space where players can explore. I mean it’s a big open world, there are a lot of different things you can do with the vehicles, and in our game, you can get to just about anywhere and everywhere with a vehicle.
You can get to mountain tops, you can go through canyons, you can go through rivers and everything in between. We wanted to create this world where the vehicle feels really nice, the driving feels really natural and then have this space where players can let go and get that real visceral feeling of driving on the different terrain types”.
This is the first collaboration between 2K, Lego, and Visual Concepts, What would you say makes Bricklandia different stand out compared to past open worlds in Lego games?
“Well, I look at the art style first as I am the art director. Especially in a driving game, I think it’s having that sense of scale that provides a really good sense of speed. Players also fly throughout this game so we wanted to have elements not just in the environment but also in the architectural choices that we made and how we set up all the different props and areas to complement that sensation of speed. I think that’s something in our games that makes us feel a lot different from other Lego games.
I think a byproduct of everything being made of Lego is that the vehicles are of course destructible. Having the opportunity to run into a gas station and slam into fire hydrants with the vehicles, I think creates and wholly new and different experience for the game”.
Could you tell us more about how the physics will work in the game? Will different bricks have different amounts of weight to them, especially with the different terrain types?
“Vehicles have stats attached to them and they will affect things like acceleration and handling. So when you go to the garage and build a vehicle, you’ll have to look at the scale, and how it is weighted. You could build a car that is front or back heavy or heavy on the left or right side. That will affect the performance of the vehicle a little bit but it should still be drivable enough so players can experiment with how far to push the different options.
But as they play in the game they [the players] can build up those stats in their cars and that will affect how they drive so every player can take any vehicle and customize those modifiers. Then of course just going into the garage and being able to build anything they want, we offer almost unlimited creativity based on the fact that it’s made of Lego right? You can build just about anything you want”.
Was it difficult implementing the different terrain for the vehicles, especially as they all have to be destructible?
“Yeah so, going back to driving mechanics, if you’re in an off-road vehicle and your off-roading it will work better than say using a street car which will be a lot more unwieldy. It’s kind of like what you’d expect in real-life terrain.
The boats are their own thing, you can actually drive an off-road vehicle in the water if you wanted to but it’s probably not going to move quite as fast as you want it to in the water [laughs]. You can also jump out of the water and slide a little bit as a boat and then transform into a car if you want to get a little style in there. A lot of this was about getting the right feel between the advantages and disadvantages of the different vehicle types if you’re in a race.
Our game gives you the option to auto transform so it changes between vehicles automatically with different terrain or you can manually do it. When you get to the manual option and you’re in a race, driving in the boat, you can get right up to the edge dirt and you wanna transform into a land vehicle, you can optimally do that if you have control over it which can give you an advantage over the other racers in the game.
So those were some of the things we were really cognizant of, that sort of agency from the player. Some of the advanced players will be able to use that skill to give them a little bit of a boost, a little bit of extra time”.
There’s a Lego line called Technic where you made cars with more complex car-like pieces like gears and pistons. Will we see Technic pieces in Lego 2K Drive or will it mostly be system bricks?
“It’s mostly system bricks but we do have a handful of technic parts that we use like some of the pins and some of the wheels for our assemblies. Many of these technic pieces look really cool with the Lego bricks. They give the bricks some really cool detailing.
But our scale is really more to the mini-figures scale so it’s more compared to a Speed Champions [Lego Theme] sort of car. A lot of technic vehicles are built at a larger scale but we do use some with the brick elements, not a whole lot but we use a handful”.
Lego has all these different IPs and themes that they’ve made over the years, we’ll we see any of these familiar IPs in the game and be able to take pieces and characters from them and place them on the cars?
“We do have some Lego City vehicles, and some from Lego Creator, some from their 3-in-1 line. We do work closely with Lego and we do plan on getting more official sets in the game in terms of the different themes. That’s still left up for discussion.
That also includes more licensed vehicles. We’d love to have more licensed vehicles in the game, the only one we currently have at launch is our partnership with McLaren so you’ll see some McLaren cars in the game”.
Could you tell us more about the Mini-figures and the kinds of designs, expressions, and customization they’ll have in the game?
“Yeah, so we don’t allow players to customize them yet. What we do supply are entire figures and we have a whole line of different mini-figure characters that have been added to our game. All of them right now are original and when you select them you’ll see them all emote. You can spin the camera around, and you can see them react, you can see them moving around in there, and see their expressions”.
One thing that has been advertised is that the game will have a full single-player campaign. Could you tell us more about how the story and story-oriented characters have been integrated into the world and gameplay?
“We do have the single-player experience. As a player, your goal is to be a racing legend and win the final race which is called the Sky Cup Grand Prix. One of the main characters is called Clutch Racing Pin. He’s sort of your mentor and he’s a legendary racer in the circuit. So as you progress through the different biomes you unlock checker flags to open up the Grand Prix arenas per biome, those are like the final races. If you come in first place or get the checkered flags in all of the biomes and they unlock the final race”.
“The game also has a certain number of rival characters that you have to compete against. As you defeat each of them, you make your way to The Grand Break Arena you’ll get to race all of the rivals per biome. We had a lot of fun with those characters because they’re full of personality, not only with the mini-figures but their vehicles. There’s this one character in the horror-themed biome that is based around spiders. She has a whole slew of different spider-types of vehicles, it’s great”.
Speaking of the biomes, could you briefly go through each of the different biomes and their features?
“Players start off in our sort of introductory biome, it’s called Turbo Acres and it’s really like a racing culture playground. Players basically go there just to learn everything there is to do with the vehicles. You’ll how to participate in different quests and mini-games as well as different activities you’ll find throughout the world.
Then they’ll move over to the desert biome called Big Bute. Here players will be doing a lot of off-roading but we do have small desert towns and there are some waterways throughout there.
And there’s a much different environment from there as you move over to a lusher green environment we call Prospector Valley. It’s like a mining haven where there’s this giant gold nugget that’s on top of this mountain and you have all these mining buildings throughout this old west sort of towns.
The final biome is Hauntsburrow where we went with a total haunted horror world. You go there and it’s perpetually nighttime with a full moon. When you look at the different types of architecture, the characters, the rock formations, and the foliage they all speak of a more scary sort of environment.
So those are the four different worlds that players will get to experience in the game. This last one was fun because everyone loves horror but it is a Lego game so we had to be careful with how much we pushed it”.
Out of all of the many types of vehicles in the game is there any in particular that is your favorite or you’d really like players to try out?
“That’s a good question. I do really love Professor Fusion’s Steam Punk Vehicles, especially with the street car, it’s like these drills, a giant monstrosity of a car, with tesla coils on the back and it has that sort of distinctive long head. That was a whole lot of fun to make with that Steam Punk theme, you know it’s Lego and with Lego, you’re able to use your imagination and build things anything you can imagine in your mind and that particular vehicle is exactly how I envisioned it. It just came out right”.
Lego continues to be popular among kids and adults alike for allowing you to make anything your mind can imagine. It’s clear that this was the central thought when making the art and world of Lego 2K Drive. It’s always fun playing a more wacky racing game and with the various vehicles you can make in Bricklandia, this game is bound to be among the wackiest.
We thank Emmanuel for speaking with us for this interview and wish him and his team to best of luck as they make their final lap to the release of Lego 2K Drive.
Lego 2K Drive will launch for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.