LittleBigPlanet 3 is adding a lot more to the franchise than just some new playable characters; in fact, my time with the game's closed beta was spent mostly messing around with Sackboy's new tools of the trade.
The preview video above shows off a few of these new tools and mechanics in action. Perhaps the most eye-catching change is the game's depth-of-field: Creators now have access to 16 layers to build in, a huge expansion over previous games' three layers. There are countless new tools that take advantage of this new depth, from slides, to new kinds of bounce pads to — my personal favorite — freeform rails that Sackboy can scoot around on like he's in BioShock Infinite.
It's easier to create characters with unique abilities, too, thanks to the game's new Broadcast Chip, which lets you beam custom-made logic to different objects with ease. The new "Blaster Handle" tool allows you to come up with new handheld power-ups for Sackboy to use, complete with their own logic and abilities; finally, users can make flaming swords or electrified fly swatters to toss into their levels (or into Sackboy's pocket, thanks to the new inventory system).
The new tools are an eclectic mix, opening up new options for 2D platforming designs and giving industrious creators the ability to go wildly off-genre, with levels that look more like endless runners, 3D action-platformers and isometric RPGs. But with the expanded tools comes a greater responsibility for users to wield them efficiently — some levels I played simply had too many layers, making navigation a much bigger hassle than it needed to be.
The beta also presented some significant technical issues, especially with regards to level loading. Certain levels had elements — like textures, objects or even game mechanics, like LittleBigPlanet 3's new quest system — that simply would not load at all. Hopefully, this is a problem with the game's early build, and is not indicative of a UGC toolset that has simply grown too big for its britches.
Check out the preview video above for more thoughts on what LittleBigPlanet 3 is bringing to the table.