I got to play through a level that was created specifically for E3 and show off each of the character's abilities. Sackboy is the same old lovable bunch of yarn and zippers, though this time he's sporting an air gun called the Pumpinator, which he can use to do things like turn wheels or push walls. It's just one of four new power-ups he'll have access to, though Sony wouldn't tell us what the others might be. His famous floaty jumping has been tweaked, making Sackboy a much more precise jumper, which made navigating the layers of the environment much easier than it's been in past LittleBigPlanets.
OddSock, on the other hand, is a bit floaty (think more Princess Peach, not original LittleBigPlanet), which adds a lightness to his wall-jumping that doesn't make it more difficult, but does make it feel somewhat different from other characters that have similar abilities. There's a lack of thump that feels slightly...well, odd...at least until you've used him for a bit. I didn't get to try Swoop, instead choosing to spend more time with Toggle, the huge lump of fabric with the dopey grin. Big Toggle can shove heavy obstacles out of the way, or use his massive bulk to weigh down switches. With a quick tap of L1, however, he can transform into the baseball-esque Little Toggle, who can squeeze into tiny tunnels and also apparently walk across water, though the level I played didn't showcase that particular ability.
The main focus of the level was coordination between the four characters, creating several barriers that could either be passed several different way. In one area, for example, Sackboy could clamber up a cargo net (a new ability), while Oddsock did acrobatic wall jumps to get up to the next ledge, while Swoop simply flew and Toggle used his size-shifting abilities to spring a weight-triggered launchpad. Other areas require one character's special ability to clear the way for the others, such as Sackboy using his Pumpinator to lift a spike wall out of the way so that the others can safely run past. (Or not, if you feel like griefing one of your pals.)
The new characters open up all sorts of fun level creation ideas, but I was disappointed to learn that once again, certain parts of the game will be closed off to you if you don't have the appropriate number of play partners. You'll be able to complete the game by yourself, of course, and you'll eventually play as all four characters, but unless you've got all four running through the game, you just plain won't see everything. Well. Guess I've got to round up three Sack-loving buddies to play with me this November, when LittleBigPlanet comes out for PS4. I call Toggle!