In many ways, LittleBigPlanet was ahead of its time. While PC users had been enjoying mods and other user-generated content for decades, before 2008 console gamers were generally stuck with whatever developers gave them. LittleBigPlanet changed that, giving PlayStation 3 users a robust game creation suite and online sharing capabilities. For the first time, the focus wasn't on play; it was on creation.
But since then, the rest of the world has caught up. User-generated content isn't a novelty any more. Games like Disney: Infinity include expansive "sandbox" modes, letting users customize and create to their hearts' content. And then there's Minecraft, which has done pretty well for itself.
In a world where even competitive titles like Far Cry 4 and Super Smash Bros. include level editors, what sets LittleBigPlanet 3 apart? In a behind-the-scenes video, Sumo Digital Technical Director Sean Davies says that the point of LittleBigPlanet 3 isn't customization, it's choice. Sumo hopes that gamers find LittleBigPlanet 3 "open enough to play however they want," no matter where their interests lie.
This means that if someone would rather just play LittleBigPlanet 3's pre-made levels, they'll still get their money's worth. The on-disc experience is on par with any other AAA title, right down to the celebrity voice actors. It's not simply a demo of LittleBigPlanet 3's creation suite, but a complete game in its own right.
However, if users do want to make their own games, Sumo's tried to give them as many options as possible. LittleBigPlanet 3 introduces a host of new materials, including snow, dust, and fog. In addition, each level now sports 16 levels of depth, allowing users to create complex backgrounds and other neat effects. More advanced designers can tweak Sackboy's physics and animations, and over 100 new tools aim to make game editing easier than ever before.
Sumo's making good use of some next-gen features, too. Obviously, everything looks gorgeous on the PS4. Sumo plans to use Twitch streaming to provide in-depth tutorials about LittleBigPlanet 3's editing suite, while the PS4's video capture button can be used to create trailers for custom levels. LittleBigPlanet 3 is backwards-compatible with creations from previous entries in the series, meaning that over 8 million additional levels will be available at launch.
That sounds nice, but it does speak to the video's one downside: if Sumo's done anything to make exploring LittleBigPlanet's catalog easier, they didn't mention it. Anyone who's ever delved into LittleBigPlanet's custom content knows that a lot of the user-made levels aren't particularly well done, and locating the good stuff can be extremely tedious. User-made content is great on paper, but it's no good if you can't find it.
LittleBigPlanet 3 comes out November 18, 2014 for the PS3 and PS4.