Yarr mateys, ye be wanting to know more about LEGO Universe (LU) do ye? Well NetDevil has seen fit to lift the NDA veil for the Gnarled Forest, one of the worlds in LU. We were recently invited to check out the LU beta and as of today we’ve been given the go ahead to post information about our experience in that area with everything ranging from pirates to ninjas to trigger happy monkeys.

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title=""> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/86956" alt="Ship in a Tree" width="250" height="154"
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style="font-style: italic;">The pirates have been beached thanks to a Kraken.

The Gnarled Forest has a simple theme. Pirates have been stranded here due to their ship being beached. And by beached I mean a Kraken lifted it up and launched it out of the ocean and onto the island. Once you arrive in the Gnarled Forest you can begin to explore the multiple themes of the area, encountering a number of Maelstom afflicted pirates, giant apes, and normal pirates seeking help. Throughout the forest, players will find small placards that give details about some of the story about the area and some even provide hints on how to defeat certain enemies.

The first area you will stumble upon is an area afflicted with the Maelstrom, a dark energy force that has corrupted certain parts of the LEGO universe. Some of the beached pirates have managed to get themselves infected by the Maelstrom and the remaining normal pirates need your help in weeding out some of the infected.

Don’t be fooled by these afflicted pirates. While some might seem like pushovers, the Admirals can make quick work of you and blow your small LEGO-made body to pieces if you’re not careful. Luckily, you can find some help on the island. One quest you’ll undertake will be to build certain block configurations you’ll find lying around. This will be a familiar task to anyone that has played other LEGO games such as LEGO Star Wars, Batman, or Indiana Jones. These blocks can sometimes release a Mermaid Siren, which can distract the pirates and make them easy targets.

There is one difference to building random block piles in LU than from other LEGO games. You’ll need imagination, which functions like the game’s mana or action point system. This can be obtained by defeating enemies, buying certain vendor expendable items, or by shaking the posts with skulls on them in the forest. Building random block piles and using certain skills will consume your imagination but it’s generally simple to replenish.

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title=""> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/86953" alt="Maelstrom Affliction" width="250" height="154"
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style="font-style: italic;">The Maelstrom is affecting areas within the Gnarled Forest.

This small Maelstrom infected area is but the first section players will have the chance to explore. As you proceed deeper into the forest you will find other quest hubs and different themed areas. One of the largest is a prison section, which is currently under siege by a pistol wielding monkey swinging high in a tree above. The only way to appease this little trigger happy tree swinger is with a bundle of bananas.

What kind of prisoners will you find here you ask? Why ninjas of course. The lower grounds of the prison are also afflicted with infected Maelstrom Pirates, so it makes for a fun little area with plenty of challenges to overcome, especially since you’ll be using certain LEGO launch pads to reach some of the prisoners for a quest. So to recap: you’ll be fighting off zombie-style Maelstrom afflicted pirates, finding a way to appease a gun toting monkey, and using LEGO launch pads to deliver bananas to hungry ninja prisoners.

Eventually you will run into one of the hardest enemies on the island, the Stromling Ape. This is a very moody, very hard hitting ape that can blast you into block oblivion with a hulk-like ground pound. So this particular encounter is best tackled with a group, but it can be done alone. You just might see the great block maker in the sky before you manage to bring this ape down. However, the death penalty for falling to this big ape isn’t too bad. Currently the only thing you seem to suffer is the loss of a few of your coins, which can quickly be regained and some can even be reclaimed if you get to your point of demise quickly enough.

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src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/86957" alt="Shooting Gallery" width="250" height="147"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 250px; height: 147px;" /> style="font-style: italic;">The Shooting Gallery is a one of the minigames that players can to take part in.

Continuing into the forest you will find a few side paths but most notably you will eventually come to the main pirate encampment easily identifiable by the giant pirate ship sitting atop a tree. This encampment contains a couple of merchants, more quests, and a fun little minigame called “The Pirate Shooting Gallery”, which requires you to complete a short quest to play. The minigame itself is symbolic of an old carnival shooting gallery in which you will use a canon to blast three waves of targets moving in the background ocean such as ships, submarines, sea monsters, and even a rubber ducky. Blasting ships in the minigame can earn you some models for building. As for the rest, there are quests here that can get you some nice pirate-style swag like a Captain’s Hat and even a hook that you’ll need to help move a few things on the island.

The developers show their sense of humor in the Gnarled Forest by including subtle little things like the pirate vs ninja saga and the trigger happy, pistol wielding monkey is always good for a laugh. While the quests are generally the same fed-ex, kill x amount, or retrieve a certain item type quest standard for MMOGs, they are simplistic and fun. They are presented with an entertaining environment and at times comical story elements. And how can you really go wrong with pirates, ninjas, giant maelstrom infected gorillas, and a trigger happy, pistol toting monkey swinging from a tree? Be sure to check back with us later when more of the LEGO Universe NDA is lifted.

title=""> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/86952" alt="LEGO Ape" width="200" height="125"
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title=""> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/86955" alt="Pirate Camp" width="200" height="125"
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title=""> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/86958" alt="Stromling Pirates" width="200" height="125"
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title=""> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/86950" alt="Exploring the Maelstrom Affliction" width="200" height="125"
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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

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Stacy "Martuk" Jones was a long-time news editor and community manager for many of our previous game sites, such as Age of Conan. Stacy has since moved on to become a masked super hero, battling demons in another dimension.