I recently saw one of the LEGO City Missions sets:
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:
The app allows you to select a set and explore its missions:
The build and play experience is driven by a series of "missions" inside the app:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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),
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:
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:
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:
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.