E3 2014: LittleBigPlanet 3 Hands-On Preview – A Sackboy and His Friends

Although its future seemed to be in jeopardy, LittleBigPlanet is back. Though, this isn’t a game by Media Molecule, but rather Sumo Digital, the studio that made the well-received PS Vita game. We had a chance to play with three members of the development team during this year’s E3 and check out what the next addition to one of Sony’s most prized IPs has to offer.

There’s no doubt about it, this is another LittleBigPlanet game. The characters and environments are adorable, and the music can perk up anyone in a bad mood. Playing on the PS4 version, I was relatively happy with how the visuals have translated to next-gen. It’s worth noting that there will be a PS3 version, and you can tell that cross-platform development has impacted the presentation slightly. However, it’s a great-looking game, and the fabrics of the LittleBigPlanet universe have never been more detailed.

LittleBigPlanet 3 has a couple things in-store that are huge game-changers for the franchise, the first of which are the three new characters: Oddsock, Swoop, and Toggle. Each of these new playable characters have the cute qualities of Sackboy, but have unique capabilities. Oddsock is relied on for running fast and wall jumping. Meanwhile, Toggle can switch between between being overweight and miniscule, allowing him to weigh down objects or go into tight spaces where nobody else can. Lastly, Swoop is a bird that can fly around, and even pick up Toggle when he’s tiny. 

For many games, adding new characters is a formality. In LittleBigPlanet, which has managed to be incredibly successful with Sackboy only being able to really jump and grab objects, it allows for seemingly limitless new potential. With LittleBigPlanet 3‘s expanded level creation toolkit, the sheer amount of things that creators to do is beyond any other game I’ve seen.

The demo map I played was a great tutorial for utilizing the four different characters, and was also a ton of fun. In previous games, coordination was achieved through only a few different ways, primarily using switches. Now that there are different characters that have very unique attributes, co-operative play is going to experience a huge boost in quality and variety. If you need a local multiplayer game for your PS4 (or PS3 for that matter), this could end up being this holiday season’s premier co-op game.

One thing to take into consideration is if you design or play any maps that require all four characters, you’ll need to be playing with four people. That isn’t necessarily a hurdle given the game’s easy matchmaking and support for up to four players in local co-op, but it’s something to keep in-mind. There will be maps that are designed for one particular character, or any combination of the four, which adds some great diversity to the play environment, but also will place restrictions on if certain levels are playable to you.

For the first time ever, LittleBigPlanet won’t be stuck in a single layer. Instead, multiple layers of depth can be  into the world. Although this wasn’t demonstrated well during my playtime, it undoubtedly will have huge implications for content creators. You’ll be able to build multiple layers that can be toggled, adding another dimension for level design. You can see an example of a level with two layers in the image above.

For those that were never sold on the platforming mechanics, LittleBigPlanet 3 doesn’t seem eager to change your mind. There are tons of new features, but the feeling of floatiness during jumps is the same as it’s always been. That said, there are a few months of development so Sumo Digital could change its mind, although it’s likely they won’t. I think LittleBigPlanet is set on trying to differentiate itself from Mario and Rayman, and I guess having a different feel is part of that.

Not only is LittleBigPlanet 3 coming to PS3 and PS4, but it’ll support all the maps from the first two games. In other words, over a million user-created levels will be unlocked on day one, some of which are downright amazing.

If you were a level editor in either of the previous games, you’ll have access to your work. Not only that, but you’ll be able to edit it to take advantage of the new feature of LittleBigPlanet 3. It might just be time for you to make a sequel.

LittleBigPlanet 3 will release in November 2014 for PS3 and PS4.