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I recently saw one of the LEGO City Missions sets:

60355 Box Photo

According to the box, these sets are "built with stories, not instructions". How does this work in practice?

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I saw these on the shelf recently and wondered how they worked. TLG was kind enough to send me a copy to explore.

The experiences for this set are available in the LEGO Builder app. The box itself does not come with any form of paper instructions aside from a single page directing builders to access the app:

30355 Leaflet

The app allows you to select a set and explore its missions:

App set select screen

The build and play experience is driven by a series of "missions" inside the app:

Mission selection

I initially expected these sets to be a bit like a Creator 3-in-1 sets with app-based instructions and light "story" elements between certain steps based on this image from the box:

Possible space models

I was pleasantly surprised that there is quite a bit more opportunity for creative building here than I initially assumed. The first mission allows builders to create a couple minifigs with a few accessories. There's not a huge amount of creativity involved here, but you can mix-and-match minifig parts.

The second mission provides the build for the core element of the set and is built using regular in-app instructions. This provides the structure for future missions and steps. Here's the completed core for the space set:

Shuttle Final Step

The core elements for the sets feature a few play features and numerous attachment points for accessories and modifications.

Subsequent missions provide short video and text descriptions of challenges to overcome by adding or changing features of the core set. These missions may not include additional instructions:

No instructions this time

Build modify boosters

Builders are provided with extra pieces and high-level goals for the build (e.g. rescue an astronaut floating in space). There are also ideas provided for possible minibuilds that can be added to the main build:

Press Ideas button

Ideas buttons

Booster Ideas

Once the self-guided creative modifications have been completed, builders can finish the mission and participate in an imaginative play experience (test the booster, fly to Mars, look for clues related to a crime, rescue an animal, etc),

Play booster mission

The shuttle looks solid

Aside from a brief video, the missions do not include any digital play component. This isn't a series of digital minigames between building steps. There's not much to do in the app other than follow instructions, read, and watch short videos.

As far as I know, there are 3 sets available following this format. They are:

They each include a base model that can be customized with an array of parts:

Animal Rescue

Animal Rescue parts for modification

Possible Animal Rescue Models

Space

Space parts used for modifications

Possible space models

Water Police

Water parts used for modifications

Three possible water models

In terms of the play experience, these sets feel a bit like Education sets, Boost, or Robot Inventor where the builder completes a series of builds and tasks in an interleaved manner.

As far as parts go, these felt a little bit like the 2018 Builder Bigger Thinking sets, where builders are given a variety of imaginative parts and minifigs:

10405 Mission to Mars

For my child, it was helpful to have a base to build from and then have a palette of distinctive pieces to use for customization. Here's what they came up with:

Spaceship custom build

Submarine custom build

Overall, I appreciate seeing LEGO try something a bit different in the City line by making use of some of the techniques used in more educational sets. This seems like it could be a good way to get certain types of kids more involved in creative build and play experiences.

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    Animal rescue seems rather lacking in actual animals - there's a rabbit that looks like a glove puppet, and a fish, but a chicken drumstick? That rescue can't have ended well, at least not for the chicken.
    – Chris H
    Apr 24, 2023 at 12:56
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    @ChrisH The chicken is bait for catching a bigger animal. Although, now I'm worried about the bunny... Apr 24, 2023 at 16:04
  • @ChrisH Not to mention the generic bone next to the fish. I guess that's what the drumstick looks like after you bait said bigger animal? Apr 25, 2023 at 14:11
  • Good spot @DarrelHoffman, I missed that in white on white, and there must be dozens of them at my house (very common in Friends sets with dogs)
    – Chris H
    Apr 25, 2023 at 15:01

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