Lego Dimensions - how to get started, what level packs to buy, and everything you need to know

What is Lego Dimensions?

Lego Dimensions is WB's entry in the toys-to-life market - a genre that combines real-life toys and digital video games in a variety of interesting ways. In the case of Lego Dimensions, that means taking the tried-and-true framework introduced in games like Lego Star Wars, and mashing it up with dozens upon dozens of different films, television shows, video game properties, and more. It's a game where Gandalf from Lord of the Rings can go on adventures with Batman, Mr. T, Harry Potter, and more.

It's kind of incredible, and easily one of TT Games' best works yet, but collecting everything can be an expensive and somewhat confusing proposition. Each set you buy grants you access to a variety of different modes of play, as well as the tools you'll need to solve puzzles in the single-player campaign, stand-alone level packs, and the sprawling Adventure Worlds. It's a lot to take in, especially if you're new to the game, let alone the entire toys-to-life genre, but this guide should get you up to speed and building in no time.

How does Lego Dimensions work?

Lego Dimensions works like a cross between other toys-to-life games and TT Games' other entries in the Lego video game series. By placing a toy onto the included Toy Pad, you can play as that particular character in-game and unlock its associated Adventure World. You'll also be able to buy and place vehicles and specific items, which you'll use to move around larger levels and solve specific puzzles. You'll guide your toys through a variety of different campaign levels - which acts as sort of a giant mash-up of different pop culture franchises, similar to The Lego Movie - as well as take on a variety of smaller quests in the more free-form Adventure Worlds.

Unlike other toys-to-life games, your relationship with the figures doesn't end when you plop them on the Toy Pad - you actually have build them from scratch. The characters are pretty basic - simply connect a few bits, attach them to the base, and you're off - but the vehicles are much more involved. These Lego can be upgraded with the studs you earn in-game and can be spent to transform them into different configurations, both in the digital realm as well as the physical, as Lego Dimensions gives you step-by-step instructions on how to use the same set of included pieces to build vehicles into one of three different layouts.

Parts of the Toy Pad itself are even built out of Lego bricks, and as you work your way through its campaign, you'll add to it in some interesting ways - and larger Story Packs let you completely change up the Toy Pad entirely. It's a simple touch, but it's effective in making you feel like the structures you're building have an impact on the game, and vice versa.

Lego Dimensions also doesn't follow a yearly game cycle like Skylanders and the now-defunct Disney Infinity. New toys, levels, and additional modes are being introduced every few months, but if you bought the Starter Pack last year, you won't need to buy another game to access the new content. As long as you've purchased the necessary packs and downloaded the required updates, all of this year's new content is available on a single disc.

How much is Lego Dimensions, and what comes in each pack?

So, there are a few different price points on Lego Dimensions products, each one offering a different set of Lego to build and play with in-game.

The biggest upfront cost is the Starter Pack, which gets you the game, the portal, Batman, Gandalf, Wyldstyle, Supergirl (who is exclusive to the 2016 edition of the PS4 Starter Pack), and a Batmobile vehicle. It retails for $89.99/£99.99 - though it's regularly on sale for much less - and is available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Wii U. In order to enjoy the rest of what's listed here, you need to buy this pack.

Then there are the Story Packs, new to Lego Dimensions this year. These add full-sized campaigns with several individual levels (similar to the one that comes with the Starter Pack), as well as a handful of characters, vehicles, and themed Toy Pad pieces. Currently, the only one available is based off of the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, though additional Story Packs based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Lego Batman Movie are scheduled for the coming months. Each Story Pack retails for $49.99/£39.99 and, like all the other physical toys, are platform agnostic.

Level Packs are a step down from Story Packs. These add additional stand-alone levels based on different franchises, as well as give you additional characters, vehicles, and items to use throughout Lego Dimensions. They're a bit pricey for what you get, as each level can be finished in about an hour or two, but they're still a ton of fun. Each Level Pack retails for $29.99/£29.99.

Team Packs are slightly cheaper, and trade out in-game content for more physical toys. You won't get additional levels, but each Team Pack comes with two characters and two items or vehicles, which you can use to solve puzzles in the different campaigns or to unlock their specific Adventure Worlds. These retail for $24.99/£29.99.

Last up are the Fun Packs. These are cheap ways to add additional characters to your repertoire and unlock Adventure Worlds, as they come with one character and one vehicle or item. These retail for $11.99/£14.99.

How do I get started?

The best place to start is with the Starter Pack. Not only is it the only way to access the game, it gives you everything you need to enjoy a fairly sizeable amount of content within Lego Dimensions both in solo and multiplayer co-op and competitive modes. 

The Starter Pack gets you access to the main Lego Dimensions story mode - a highly entertaining romp through most of the different movie, TV, and video game properties introduced in the first year Lego Dimensions toy releases. You'll hop between stages based on The Wizard of Oz, The Simpsons, Portal 2, and even a level based around 1980's Midway arcade classics. You won't be able to solve all the puzzles with the included figures (though an in-game Rent-a-Hero option lets you spend a rather large portion of studs for a very brief amount of time with a required figure) but you'll be able to finish it from beginning to end. 

The included Starter Pack figures also unlock Adventure Worlds for Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, and Lego Movie. These are larger, less-guided hub worlds filled with side quests and hidden secrets, and are unlocked by entering them with single figure from its requisite world. Once unlocked, you can use any figure you want from any other property inside them - and you'll likely need to, as they're filled with all kinds of puzzles and challenges to overcome.

To set up Lego Dimensions, all you need to do is plug the Toy Pad into one of your chosen system's USB ports, assemble the three characters, and start the game - it'll instruct you on how to build the rest of what you need while you play.

Which Lego Dimensions packs should I buy?

Once you've decided to take the plunge with the Starter Pack, the rest is really up to you. Most of the levels and Adventure Worlds all share the same base level of quality, so if you just want more Lego Dimensions content, you really can't go wrong with picking your favorite characters or worlds and going from there. Remember, if you want more content, you want Story and Level Packs, and if you just want more characters and Adventure Worlds, you want Team and Fun Packs.

When it comes to unlocking everything the story modes and Adventure Worlds have to offer, delving into all the abilities and puzzle types here would take way too long and be far too complex for a simple buyer's guide, but here are a few things to keep in mind. Each character has several abilities available to them, and puzzles can often be solved by a handful of different characters or vehicles from a variety of franchises. Most of the time when you approach a puzzle, a help block will appear, telling you which characters are able to interact with it and highlighting the ones you currently own. 

Luckily, if you don't own a particular minifig or vehicle, a Rent-a-Hero option will let you spend a few thousand studs to briefly take control of the Lego you need to solve the puzzle. It's not an ideal solution as you only get about 30 seconds before the rented Lego character disappears, but it gives you a lot more flexibility in how you approach buying Lego Dimensions' various packs, as it takes a lot of the pressure off having to own everything just to get past a specific obstacle.

There are definitely some packs that stand out, though, so if you want specific recommendations, here are a few:

Portal 2 Level Pack

Portal 2 is pretty short compared to some of the other Level Packs you can buy, but it's a pure distillation of the humor, wit, charm, and challenges you'll find in the actual game itself. Chell's found herself back in the test chamber with Wheatley, GLaDOS, and Space Core, using her portal gun to launch herself across huge chasms and solve brain teasers. While nowhere near as challenging as the real Portal 2, its puzzles are still a ton of fun to figure out, and you'll even get to build physical versions of the talking turret and Companion Cube.

Midway Retro Gamer Level Pack

The level included in the Midway Arcade Pack is fine, but the real treat is what you unlock while you play: over 20 emulated Midway Arcade classics, including Gauntlet, Joust, Spy Hunter, Klax, and more. A few of the games don't translate all that well, considering they were originally built for special steering wheels or joysticks, but for the most part, this is a solid collection of retro games, and the only way to play many of them on modern consoles. As a bonus, the Midway Arcade Adventure World even recreates a few of these games in full 3D, playable within the context of Lego Dimensions' action and platforming controls. 

Ghostbusters 2016 Story Pack

Whatever your opinions are of the 2016 reboot, put them aside, because the Lego Dimensions Story Pack is pretty dang good. It follows the plot of the film, but it largely gets out of the way to let you run around big spooky (but funny spooky) environments and capture ghosts. It even weaves missions from its sprawling Adventure World into the story, often hopping back and forth for added variety. The physical Toy Pad Lego setup is pretty cool, too, replicating the Ghostbusters' home base - complete with sliding doors in the back.

Mission: Impossible Level Pack

One of the longest Level Packs I've played, and also one of the best. It essentially follows the plot of the classic 1996 spy thriller, taking you through all of the important beats from the film and Lego-izes them, complete with Ethan Hunt sound bites provided by Tom Cruise's actual lines. You'll infiltrate the American embassy in Prague to recover the NOC list, access the CIA's computer terminal via bungee wire, fight a helicopter on the roof of a moving train, and more. It opens with a Top Gun joke. It's awesome.

Harry Potter Team Pack

I haven't had a chance to mess with the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Story Pack, but if you want immediate (and cheaper) access to the Harry Potter Adventure World, this is the way to do it. You get Harry and Voldemort, as well as the flying car from Chamber of Secrets and the Hogwarts Express as vehicles, and you get to run around lovingly crafted versions of Diagon Alley, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and more. It's pure Harry Potter fan-service at its best.

What properties are available to purchase?

As of today, you can buy various packs based around:

The A-Team
Adventure Time
Back to the Future
DC Comics
Doctor Who
Ghostbusters (original)
Ghostbusters (2016)
Harry Potter
Jurassic World
Legends of Chima
The Lego Movie
The Lord of the Rings
Midway Arcade
Mission: Impossible
Ninjago
Portal 2
Scooby-Doo
The Simpsons
The Wizard of Oz

On November 18th, WB will release:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Story Pack

This Story Pack will coincide with the release of the film, and include six levels, figures for protagonist Newt Scamander and the rodent-like Niffler, as well a replica of the Magical Congress of the United States of America to build on top of the Toy Pad.

Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack

Includes a Sonic-themed level, a Lego version of the hedgehog himself, the Sonic Speedster, and The Tornado. Why Sonic needs vehicles when he's the fastest thing alive is anyone's guess, but who am I to judge?

Gremlins Team Pack

Comes with Gizmo and Stripe, an R.C. Racer and Flash 'n' Finish gadget. Unlocks the Gremlins Adventure World.

E.T. Fun Pack

Includes E.T. and his Phone Home device, and also unlocks the E.T. Adventure World.

Adventure Time Fun Pack

Includes Marceline the Vampire Queen her Lunatic Amp, and will unlock the Adventure Time Adventure World if you don't have the Level or Team Packs. In North America, it'll be available first at Toys "R" Us.


2017 will see the release of the rest of Lego Dimensions' second year of content. February will see packs based on:
Knight Rider
The Lego Batman Movie

And packs based on these franchises will arrive in the months following: 

Beetlejuice
The Goonies
Lego City
The Powerpuff Girls
Teen Titans Go

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Roberts lives in Everett, WA with his wife and two kids. He once had to sell his full copy of EarthBound (complete with box and guide) to some dude in Austria for rent money. And no, he doesn't have an amiibo 'problem', thank you very much.
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