Finally... play LEGO Universe for free

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LEGO Universe Massively Multiplayer Online Game

From the LEGO Universe site: "Coming this August a Free-to-Play version of LEGO Universe will be available for download from LEGOuniverse.com! This new, Free-to-Play version of the game will make the game more accessible to new players. Free players will be able to create a character, explore two zones, and build on their own property –giving them a taste of the LEGO Universe experience."

While it might smack of desperation and a last-ditch attempt to get people playing what has obviously not been a success, I think it's actually very sensible and something they should have done from day one. People are far more likely to play, and then pay to play if (a) they don't have to buy a physical product to start and (b) they can see what it's like before paying out for it. This model is hugely successful in the mobile game arena (think Smurfs Village on iPad) and will, hopefully, get more people on board. Now all we need is an iPad version then even I might consider playing...

When I post LU stories, I always ask: are you playing it? Is anyone still playing it having started doing so when it was launched?

Thanks to Alemas for tipping us off on this!

56 comments on this article

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By in United States,

It just doesn't make sense! When would we (as lego builders) have time to invest in an online game that takes just as much time? You're either a gamer or a builder, there is no time to be both...

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By in United States,

I fear this might be too little too late, which is unfortunate for Lego.

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By in Australia,

i have an account because i was a beta tester but i stopped playing because it was gliched i still have an unplayed account tho

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By in Canada,

I think I will definitely give this game a shot once it's free to play. 40 dollars plus a monthly fee always put me off from this game, as it's hard for me to invest in an MMO without knowing if I actually like it or not.

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By in United States,

I do, actually, play the game, and from what I've noted a significant amount of players are TFOLs, like myself. And, in truth, they did put some effort into targeting our age group- there are several minifigures/gear from minifigures that originate from the late 1990s/early 2000s, a time period many TFOLs find sentimental. Another reason there are more of us is that the game generally has no appeal for AFOLs, and its a tad to difficult for younger fans.There's also the fact that we are, in general, a very technology-oriented generation. Lego's biggest problem is that, while the game appeals to us, there are very few of us. :P

Even after all of that, though, I would say that the majority of players are 9-12 year olds. I guess there just aren't enough of them interested either.

Oh, yeah, and I did beta test, so I guess I have technically been playing it since it launched.

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By in United States,

I still kind of want to play. Trying out the beta had its ups and downs, I'm just curious as to what problems they have fixed and what still persists in the game play. And maybe its just me, but there was something very calming about playing the game, maybe its the youthful music of funny looking characters.

Still my biggest problem is the game is too short, unless they added some incentive like player vs player battles, its really hard to keep playing once the game is over.

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By in Canada,

Yuck. I still think the game is too directed for children... so yes, I'm never giving it a chance. I love Lego games (from the regular studio) and own many of them. Watching the game sink like a brick (haha) doesn't exactly make me want to play either.

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By in Belgium,

I predicted this a long time ago. It happens to quite a few MMO's, but this one particularly was doomed from the start.

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By in United States,

I kind of agree with Fred ( a few posts up), the only people that would really play this are TFOL's. Not many of my friends still have legos, but they are all into gaming. I think that this game is too...childish(?) for AFOL's, and for little kids, their parents don't want to pay $15 a month for this. From the very start of LU, all i've heard is complaints about having to pay $15 a month. I have no idea is the graphics are good or not, but I could buy a fairly nice set every month for the price that i'd have to pay to play this. If they had a F2P version (like runescape), then I would jump right in and try it out, and possibly pay the monthly fee (again, like runescape)....Unfounrtuneatly, I feel like TLC has completely crashed and burned on this....their overal prices have been rising conciderably (less bang for my buck), and I think that they came on too strongly with the price of this game....and it may be too late to save it, and that wouldn't just upset the people who HAVE paid if they have to shut it down from not getting enough money, but that would be a HUGE financial set-back

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By in United States,

This does not change my appraoch. I would rather spend money on physical lego and time spent designing and building physical lego.

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By in United States,

I am an AFOL, long-term MMO player (back to early EverQuest days), and parent. I LOVE this game! I don't have the kind of time needed to properly invest in a more "mature" MMO, and LU provides a great chance to play around and have fun in an MMO environment, without requiring too much of a time commitment.

I don't think they are doing poorly, i think it is just not as successful as they hoped. With an MMO the sales of the game pay for the initial development, it usually doesn't take a whole lot to cover that, and the subs take care of continued content and server upkeep. It is pretty normal for the initial game price to drop as the game gets older to attract new customers once their systems are stable and they have a decent player base. Plus, their sub rates are quite reasonable, $13 a month for even a few hours playtime is great compared to the cost of movies, television subscriptions, etc. Also their support is amazing, I can't ever remember a time I got responses for issues in a MMO so quick.

I always see plenty of characters in all area, at all hours, which means their player base is pretty solid. They also continue to update the game and provide features and content that keeps current players interested. I think almost every major complaint I had from early on in the game has been addressed or fixed and they continue to surprise me with new quality content.

MMO's might not be for everyone, and thats what LU is. They are nothing like a traditional LEGO console/PC games and shouldn't be expected to fit those single player models.

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By in United States,

Two words for Lego: Epic. Fail.

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By in United States,

What's a TFOL?

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By in United States,

^ Teenage Fan of Lego, y'know they don't want to be called kids anymore, but they aren't really adults either ;-)

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By in United States,

Cartoon Network's "Fusionfall" was their first MMO, and they started out with free-to-play membership (only could gain 4 levels, etc.) and a subscription membership (5.99 USD/mo), and now because of its huge success (1 million players after a year or so), the game is now completely free.

@LEGOlas1, Teenage Fan Of Lego, or some such similar.

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By in Canada,

@jonbuddy-That's quite interesting, LEGO is already making enough money, so why didn't they do that, eh?

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By in United States,

@Thomson: Yeah. Looks like someone got a little greedy, huh?
BTW: I never bothered to buy LU because it costs (Negative) and it bombed (Negative) and the price was cut twice (Double Negative (Haha)). I may try it free, but There's otehr MMOs that I'm in already, so I will probably still not buy it.

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By in United States,

Anyone who has played the game recently: Is there a substantial amount of creativity and thinking involved in LU? From what I've seen, it looks like it is focused on fighting rather than building and creating. The idea of being able to build and be creative was what really got me excited when I first heard about it back in 2007 or 2008.

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By in United States,

This comes down to one thing. There is no room on my neck for another monthly vampire. mortgage, insurance, electric, water, Internet, satellite TV, netflix, sirius radio., etc. I do not want ANY more monthly Exsanguinations. Little mini figs could leap out of my computer and do tricks for me and I still would not pay a monthly subscription for Lego Universe.

When I drop money on a nice Lego set, along with have fun WITH my kids, I have a time test collectible that holds or appreciates in value. With a lego online, when your month is over your money is gone. Online game do the opposite of what collecting Legos do.

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By in Philippines,

It just boils down to either you are a Gamer or NOT. If NOT then the chance of you going to join the Universe is very unlikely.

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By in United States,

If Lego wanted to charge for the game in the first place, it would have to be for a single fee that lasts a lifetime. What if I get bored and want to play something else? Video games were meant to be played with, just as much as they were meant to collect dust until we decide to dust it off.

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By in United States,

@freeze992: That's one of the major flaws of the game, actually.

For the longest time during the production of the game (and Lego has been looking into making an MMO since 1998, I've heard), the game was intended to be building and creativity centered. When kids started testing the game, though, they rebuked it because it was just too happy- think smiles and rainbows. The developers kind of overreacted and unbalanced the game in the other direction- dark and battle centered.

You can still build on personal properties, but to be honest it has the same options as the full LDD and you have to buy bricks with coins you earn from battling if you run out of them. I still enjoy the game, but it would have been nice if they found a sort of balance between fun and creativity, and battling the darkness.

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By in United States,

As an AFOL what little time I have to build LEGO I would prefer to actually build with LEGO. I have never bought any sort of video game, as all my friends have them, so I can just play their consoles if I really want to game. Bottom line, I don't have the time or money, and what little I have I'd rather invest in REAL LEGO!

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By in United Kingdom,

We just have to wait a few months and then they'll give us the whole game for free :P

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By in Denmark,

This is the way it should have been from the beginning.
The days of WoW are over. The future holds little for those online games where you have to purchase the game and pay a monthly fee.
Just think of LeagueOfLegends which has grown massively since it's release.
Download the game and pay for certain in play features - good job.
I tested LEGO Universe, but the game never caught me, so I haven't purchased it - nor do I intend to, even if they threw the game at me for free.

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By in Israel,

I was thinking about trying it, but decided that my money and time would be more wisely spent actually BUILDING with real LEGO. Now that its free, I'm planning on at least trying it once. We'll see!

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By in Australia,

It's a shame that Australia / New Zealand was left out from LEGO Universe (LU) when it came out of Beta (i.e. LU subscriptions were not available to Australians). I know of many people who would've loved to have had an opportunity to play LU here in Australia.

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By in United Kingdom,

Too little time already, i'm afraid I would not be giving up physical building time for online play regardless how cheap they make it. I think the only thing that caught my attention about LU was the characters featured in the advertising appeared to have some new accessories that I was hoping would be manifested in ABS sooner or later.

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By in United States,

My wife and I each have our own accounts. We played since BETA and then at launch. We are AFOL ourselves.

Really does depend on what you are looking for, like any other MMO or game. We like the pace, there really is no rat race to see who can level up the faster, as there are no character levels. You can do what you want, stand somewhere and chat, team up or solo creatures for loot, build on properties, focus on collecting the rare gears, etc etc. So we like the variety and the pace. My oldest did enjoy playing but stopped in favor of job, social life, and school (which is fine with me) but the free play account my speak to him heh. The other boys are too young. I think most players are kids 10up. I know there are many adults and teens as well. Not sure the exact numbers of subscriptions, I would like to see that released.

You get rewards and/or loot for battling "aka smashing" creatures and objects, Missions from NPCs, achievements to unlock Rewards include a variety of coins, bricks, models, and loot (some rare). Minigames for fun and rewards as well. Like any other game developed its own economy for money, loot, and gear. All using LEGO as the medium.

Characters do not level up. Achievements and missions can get you more health or imagination (a pool of points to build things). Armor comes directly from your gear. There are "classes" in the game under "factions". You pick a faction to join, then a class to start with. Faction choice (so far) is permanent. But you can play any of the classes under. There are 3 levels of gear for each class you need to earn token and money to buy up. There are also faction on gear when you get to the tower area.

You get properties you can build your own or place store or loot models on. You can add some behavior to give those models actions or responses to actions, such as smashing when hit, then rebuilding later. I find some flaws and lack of but still had fun build on my Props. Tamed pet animals you collect can also be placed on properties for more flare.

There is a story running, aka the reasons you are running around. Cut scenes are few but "live" so creatures have beaten up on my while looking in the binoculars, for example.

The weekend contests can be fun. There are real life rewards for being the top winners that weekend in the chosen contest (which are published). No idea if you'll be eligible for those under the "free play" though.

Still some small bugs and annoyances, but nothing keeping us from playing.

After taking some harsh action on cheater and speed hackers those players seem to be gone as well.

Like most MMO there are some scammers (like having you put something in trade window then they try to get you to click "trade" before they put anything in), and other annoying players. LEGO does have a reporting system and is pretty responsive. The also have the "block" if someone is getting on your nerves.

Sorry a little much but wanted to do a thorough review for those who are interested.

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By in United States,

I have some pity for LEGO that LEGO Universe didn't do very well, considering they've spent years making it.

I think the game could've done much better if it maintained the core LEGO values of building and creativity throughout production. Instead, it ended up a LEGO-themed version of an average WoW-style MMO with just a small plate of building on the side.
The majority of LEGO Universe gameplay centers around Factions and combat, rather than creativity. Even the Faction about building is combat centered, because most of the powers in that Faction are related to using a pre-fab model to fight for you.

Hopefully the game will eventually have more creative features to balance out all the combat.

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By in United States,

YES! FINALLY! This is what Lego should have done from the beginning, free, and on Lego.com. But unfortunately, they didn't, and have been lowering the price frequently. But, it seems many people have bad memories of the games release with the subscription cost. It's really a shame.
P.S. I believe that if Lego released LU on consoles (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii etc) more people would play.

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By in United States,

I saw this on LEGO.com. I think it's pretty cool, but you'll only be able to go to Avant Gardens and get a property, nothing else really. I don't think you can trade or anything either. And Huw, I think someone actually did manage to rig the game onto an iPad... if you wish to, you can check it out here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OADeZyF0Ksc

IDK how the guy does it, but considering I'm only a pre-teen I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out.

As for the game, it is tons of fun- but when it comes to building, it's often somewhat frusterating- you have to buy each and every brick or find them, you have a limited amount. Though there are a lot of great builders, which you can find in the LEGO Universe Hall of Fame.

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By in New Zealand,

Free LEGO Universe eh? too late for lego. LU is STUFFED!
LEGO should have made LU COMPLETELY FREE from the start.

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By in United States,

Now I might try it, but definably won't buy it. I like the hands on bricks :) I wish there was a single player simcity like LEGO game

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By in United States,

Wow, there are a lot of naysayers! Though, it looks like they are mostly speaking without actually having tried the game (or if they did play, it was back during the beta testing stages).

I agree with those commentors who actually do play the game. I have played LU since the beta testing days, and can say that the difference between now and then is huge! As one who pays serious attention to customer service, I can say that the service and development team that works to listen to players and then fix problems is unequalled. I have been amazed at how quickly they resolve problems and fix glitches.

I find LU to be lots of fun. I love adventuring and going on missions and collecting loot, but I also really like the building I can do on my properties.

Although it seems LU hasn't done as well as TLG probably hoped, they are making it better and better all the time. New content is added frequently, with a lot more that has been revealed or hinted at for the future.

The building aspect of the game (on properties) is only in stage 1, and they have announced that there is a lot more to come in that regard. But even now, the building possibilites are huge. I have seen some amazing creations and some very clever behavior programming. Of course, virtual building will never replace building with actual LEGO bricks, but seriously, who hasn't wanted to be a minifigure that can actually interact with the buildings and vehicles, etc., etc., that they build. And then to share those creations and have your friends be able to experience them as well (and not just through pictures) is a fun aspect of virtual building.

I'm glad that there will be a free version of LU. It sounds like free players will only get a taste of what is available (they will only be experiencing 2% or so of the game), and I hope that all of these negative people will finally have some actual experience on which they can base their opinions. This decision by LEGO to release a free version is, in my view, just one more example (out of too many to count) of how they are listening to fans when it comes to LU.

By the way, I am an AFOL. I agree with the analysis that there are a lot of TFOLs who play, as well as quite a few younger kids, but I have also met a lot of other AFOLs as well. At any hour that I have played, there always seems to be a lot of other players on as well. Since I have played a lot ever since the beginning, if anyone has specific questions about LU, I would be happy to answer them.

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By in United States,

i beta tested it almost from the begining and there wasn't much to do they should've let us beta testers play the whole game for free after it was released scince we tested it

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By in United States,

I think this could be the thing that brings LU back! When people see how much fun it is, they will want to do more. Now, all they have left to do is lower the subscription fees. If they do that, more people will be able to afford them and more people will pay them. The money will take care of itself and LEGO will probably make even more money.

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By in United States,

I agree with everyone who thinks TLG is getting greedy. I mean, we brought them out of their personal ression. And how do they repay us? By moving their prices up 110%! Thank God it looks like its ending.

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By in United States,

i really wanted to play LU, but the pay before you try thing didn't appeal to me.

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By in United States,

I love LU! It's, at least to me, the best game I have ever played. It is the most customizable MMOG to date! Heck, I can't see why you wouldn't play it now. The game never gets old, has tons of achievments and is having a huge community event run by me! Tsk tsk.

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By in United States,

Still not interested - too many better games out there worth playing. This just seems pointless - kinda' like those hokey free games (Atlantis, PQ...) you can play on the Lego website already. Hey Lego Group, quit wasting your money and resources making products like this, keychains, magnets, etc. and then maybe you can quit gouging us on the price of your sets.

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By in United States,

@zb2 - Yeah, then the game would have to leave due to a lack of money a month after release. :p

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By in United States,

I think if LEGO and the company that made LU went the way as DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) they would have fared better.
You basicly get the game for free online, but half of the content is locked unless you buy "DDO Points" with real money then use those points to get more stuff in the game. This way has propelled DDO to continue to be a great game and survive in these hard fiscal times. Plus they still allow you to be a regularly paid monthly member as well.
A lot of people spend points on potions, weapons and armor and what not. Stuff you will use a lot. The game has been going strong and has recently added two new updates this year with two new adventure areas. I did the beta for LU and it was fun, but It wasn't enough for me to pay for it each month.

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By in United States,

I was waiting until they made it for free to play. I had the option of Beta testing, but I didn't. Hopefully it's good.

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By in Australia,

Assuming university hasn't resumed by the time said free version is released, I figure I'll give it a shot. I wouldn't mind trying it at least once - as with so many others, my problem has been that I REALLY don't feel like following a regular MMO pay scheme owing to the fact that my wallet is already constantly at breaking point as things stand (and I /really/ need moneys for when they finally decide to ship Alien Conquest sets here). However one slices it, such a free to play version is a good idea and it's what LU needs, especially considering the target audience of children, but here it's arguably a bit too late.

Point is, I'll gladly give it a shot - I've only ever played one other MMO, Digimon Battle, and despite my absolute adoration for the source material it was meh (and poorly translated!) and failed to hold my interest for particularly long. That may well be the case here too, particularly based on what I keep hearing of LU. But hey, by the same token it could well be a pretty okay game, and at the very least maybe it'll somehow help to get me back in the mindset where I feel like MOCing with regularity.

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By in United States,

It'd be worth looking into.... if much like other game sites, where you can play for free and then if you want exclusive content/downloads/add-ons, pay for those. A lot of games on Face Book are like that, play for free and then an exclusive item you can pay for. Or Neopets, there's stuff that can be gotten with outright hard cash.

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By in United States,

@Bricknave, agreed completely. Even the faction supposedly focused on building, Assembly, just gets combat-related abilities - like building turrets to blast the heck out of enemies. The factions supposedly effect your play style, but when you stop to look at what they get it's all about combat. And Sentinel, the faction that's actually SUPPOSED to be focused on combat out of all of them, actually has some of the worst combat abilities in the game. I wouldn't even mind the factions if they weren't so forced, there's really no way to progress past the second main world until you join a faction. Then once you get your faction gear, you'll probably end up using it throughout nearly the entire game, because the faction gear is best at combat (as said before) and 90% of the game is combat (if you could call it combat, it's more like "click the mouse button as fast as you can to hit anything that glows purple and has a health bar"). The only customizable aspect of the game that doesn't have some form of faction-related content are properties, and before you can claim a property you have to - surprise! - kill waves of enemies. All the other customization elements in the game - character customization, custom rockets, and custom race cars - are dominated by faction outfits, faction rockets, and faction cars. Of all the players I've seen in LU, only a small amount of them don't use faction gear, which means that most avatars are just clones of eachother. Even the NPCs in the game also have faction-related logos plastered all over them. Another issue about factions is that they lead to faction wars - I've seen many arguments between players over which faction is "better", and some players just flat-out hating and harassing other players because they're in a different faction (Paradox haters seem to be the most common, as Paradox is the "half good guy half bad guy" faction).

In short, personally, I see factions causing more harm then good, as they're dividing players that would normally be getting along fine into little groups, cutting down on customization, and putting too heavy of an emphasis on fighting anything that looks purple. Sorry for the rant, but that's my thoughts on it.

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By in United States,

@jamesster: cool!

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By in United States,

i pre ordered it and i still play to this day

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By in United States,

I like Blockland more :), its awesome

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By in United States,

I said it before in other posts and I will say it again. I bet you that at some point LU will have a function where you can buy what you build in the game. Imagine mom and and dad being told to by little johnny or little sally that they built this really cool building and can we buy it please.

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By in United States,

@jamesster: Nice to know that there are people out there who agree that factions should be scrapped. That is one of the things I do not like about the game. The factions make it way too military oriented. By the way, I am Skywalker1966 on LEGO.com. Nice to see you here, too! Anyway, I just think that LEGO needs to add more free play zones or make Avant Gardens bigger (personally, I would prefer making worlds bigger instead of opening more worlds), have unlimited bricks and a build feature more like LDD (basically a grid and the ability to look under models to put bricks on the bottoms of them), make the game less military/smashing oriented (way over half the achievments are just earned by grinding). They also need to add more play dimensions to the game. Currently, the only fighting mode they have is on foot. I want to be able to drive my custom car to a launch pad from which I can launch a space ship and fly across the LU voids, shooting down enemies and forging a path of my own to new worlds. I do not count flying in ships and shooting down enemies to be the same as mindlessly slashing at anything that "is purple and has a health bar". Sorry about the speech, but, I just really enjoy LU and want to see it prosper. However, I know that that will not happen unless some things are seriously changed. For example, being able to access the game from a website and not needing to buy the disk. That is partly why Star Wars the Clone Wars Adventures has over a million players. The key for many people is "accessability". It is just sad that LEGO has not gotten that until now.

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By in United States,

I will defiantly try the game in August. Although even if its the funnest game in the world I'll still not pay 100$ for a year's subscription. I like playing games then putting them away for a while, then come back and start playing it again so its like a new game. Perhaps if Lego had a, "pay 200$ and get online access for life." They might get more sales then, because if you're going to play the game for 5 years, you could save 300 dollars. It seems Lego rushed into the MMOG world without any information.

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By in United States,

Now they need it on xbox live (and psn), then i would play it.

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By in United States,

I am going to quit playing for a few months once my year membership runs out. Then, I will buy another subscription and have even more to do. I will have even more to do!

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By in United States,

Still not interested. I have other games to play

EDIT: This might be off topic, but I need help on something.

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