If the Worms series of games was a person, it could now buy you a drink – as of June it’s been 21 years since the original release. From the original Worms’ humble release on the Amiga in 1995, the franchise has become a staple on almost every console that has ever released. Worms W.M.D. promises to bring in some fresh ideas. But does it do enough to give this long-running franchise a boost to new heights? Find out in our review.
Team17 no doubt was hard at work trying to come up with new ideas for its popular series. After 21 years and at least 25 entries, coming up with new ideas without ruining the core of the game is bound to be a hard task. Well, Worms W.M.D. brings not one but three new ideas for the franchise, and they do each add something unique to the game that we haven’t seen before.
First up are vehicles. As you engage in worm-on-worm combat, you’ll find vehicles such as tanks, helicopters, and mechs. The tank can roll over most types of landscape, and can even jump. Firing its cannon results in three sets of two shells being fired, so it can deal out a lot of damage. The helicopter gives you free reign over where to fly, however its weapon is a rather inaccurate minigun. Still, the combination of being airborne and moderate damage can be powerful in the right hands. The mech warrior features a powerful ground pound, and it can also jump. Holding up on the d-pad/analog stick while airborne results in the use of a rocket boost, which allows you to glide over longer distances. Each vehicle can be found either already placed on the battlefield, or one will occasionally be airdropped into the level in between rounds. This is a cool mechanic that makes battles unpredictable.
Next in Worms W.M.D.’s new repertoire of toys to play with is emplacements. This can include machine guns, sniper rifles, flamethrowers, and artillery. These are more traditional weapons, but don’t have to be crafted, and obviously don’t use any of your team’s ammo. These emplaced weapons can also be destroyed, which can help if one spawns near your enemy, since they explode when destroyed, much like most everything in a proper Worms game.
Last but certainly not least is crafting. Following one of the hottest trends in gaming today, Worms W.M.D. employs a crafting system that makes sense in the Worms universe. Using materials that you find throughout the level and in resource dumps between rounds, you can navigate to the Crafting tab before you take your turn and also between rounds while the opposing teams are playing out their turns. Any weapon in the game can be crafted, for the right resource price of course. The usual turn requirements apply as well – some of the more powerful weapons, such as the Airstrike, cannot be used until a certain number of turns have been taken. You can still craft as many of those weapons as you like, however. Every weapon takes one turn to craft. This idea seems so obvious for the Worms series that it is genuinely surprising that crafting hasn’t been in the game up until now.
Graphically, Worms W.M.D. has returned to the series’ roots, and presents in a great, cartoon-like 2D render. Effects such as fire and smoke do not cause any noticeable slowdown, and the game runs very smoothly on the PlayStation 4. Zooming in and out with R2 and L2 doesn’t slow any of the action down, either. The camera can be controlled with the right stick, though you may fight with it from time to time when you’re trying to line up a long shot, which can not only be annoying but may actually cost you a turn if you miss.
One area that Team17 didn’t really touch is gameplay. At this point, the formula works very well, so why mess with a good thing? Each turn lasts 60 seconds by default, and you have that time to look around the map, move into position, and fire a weapon or gadget. If you get hurt by a big fall, environmental hazard or even by shooting yourself, then your turn is over. Otherwise, you have an extra five seconds to move, and then your turn is over. Play continues until there is only one team left standing. This is a deceptively entertaining game, and games can last anywhere from five to 30 minutes or more.
Customization is here in full force in Worms W.M.D. as well. You can create custom team names and members, choose the funny voice banks the worms use, choose their grave markers which are left behind when the worms die, use funny hats, and more. You can create custom maps using the series’ stalwart random terrain generator, and customize its behavior. As you play through the game’s 35 campaign missions and challenges, you collect experience based on performance, and can unlock a multitude of new collectibles, such as voice packs, victory dances, hats, and more. For instance, each campaign mission has a main objective to accomplish, as well as secondary objectives such as crafting a certain weapon, or not using emplaced weapons. These all earn additional experience and will get you leveling up that much quicker. There’s plenty here for those completionists out there to hunt for.
There is a multiplayer component to Worms W.M.D. as well, both online and off, with support for up to six players in a single match. Matches can be ranked and unranked, as well as with custom parameters. The population of the servers was exceedingly low during our review time with the game, but considering the asynchronous nature of the game it’d be really hard to get this portion of the game wrong. We will continue to attempt ranked games, and will update this review if the results are less than satisfactory. Offline multiplayer can be a blast, however, with pass-the-controller functionality ensuring that even if you have a full house, several gamers can play across multiple teams, even if you don’t have enough controllers.
Worms W.M.D. has all the fun of the older games, combined with some genuinely unique vehicle and emplacement mechanics to see that this game feels different enough from previous entries to warrant a purchase. With a budget price of $29.99, Worms W.M.D. is a great value for fans of the series, and for those looking for a light strategy game with some humor.
Worms W.M.D. review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.