Did you know Team17 are celebrating a major milestone this year? Worms is 21 years old! To mark the 21st anniversary, Team17 wanted to take the Worms franchise to the next level by building upon all the greatness they’ve delivered already and adding fresh features into their newest title – Worms W.M.D. Does it really bring anything new to the standard strategic Worms experience? Is Worms W.M.D a big enough step up from the games we’ve already seen and played for many years? Maybe you’ve never played Worms, so let’s take this one step at a time.
Worms W.M.D sticks to the core turn-based gameplay objective of destroying an opposing team, or teams, of worms in all out warfare across a randomly generated map. Each worm has a limited amount of health which can be depleted using many different kinds of weaponry, and the last worm(s) standing wins the match. It’s a simple, strategic concept that’s worked for years, and so it’s understandable to not see these core elements being tinkered with too much.
It’s in the Training missions where the clever nuances are initially highlighted for all to see. Here you can not only get to grips with the standard weapons such as the grenades and bazookas, but also the newly incorporated vehicles. Some of the missions are pretty easy in order to break you into the Worms way of life comfortably, whilst others ramp up the objective difficulty like the Pro Sheep-on-a-Rope mission – the sheep will explode if they don’t arrive at the target quick enough. The entire set of Training missions track completion times for global leaderboards which is rather cool; I was number one in the world on a certain mission for a short while and it felt darn good.
After that there are 30 Campaign missions to tackle, placing you in various situations and setups on different landscapes with both main and side objectives, against the A.I. worms. Players will have to overcome the odds and awkward terrains to lay waste to the opposition in ways that allow newcomers and veterans to steadily put the training into practice, as well as being shown the art of crafting. One of my favourite missions early on involved a solitary worm, a helicopter and lot of enemies next to explosives; if done accurately, the whole load can be taken down in one swift turn – epic killing spree.
Those two modes will keep you busy enough for a good while but there is another in the form of Challenge. Only eagle-eyed gamers will unlock these though because each challenge is unlockable by finding the corresponding Wanted Poster within the Campaign levels. What gives the challenges an edge is the fact that they’re created in a way which turns proceedings into more of a puzzle than just all-out war. The layouts are designed really well and it tests the brain in a completely different way. I am terrible at them, but I can still appreciate the variety offered by the challenges.
Even the newcomers will be up to scratch in the tactical arts of Worms W.M.D by the time they’ve worked through all the solo content. This mean there’s only one place left to go – Multiplayer.
Now, I have good news and bad news. The good news is there are so many ways to play Worms W.M.D with others, thanks mainly due to the sheer amount of customisable options ranging from the landscape design to the amount of rounds, health and match times. You can even choose the weapons to make available for a local match or if you’re hosting an unranked online match. Want to play locally with five other friends, each with a team of eight worms? You can do it, and all using the same controller should you wish to. This is a massive plus point because controllers are darn expensive and having that many worms in play is pure awesome carnage.
For the more serious competitors, there’s a 1vs1 Ranked mode online too, where players can win and lose rank points. I’d love to tell you more about it, however, at the time of writing Worms W.M.D hasn’t been released yet. Therefore, the online side isn’t particular populated and I haven’t been able to find an opponent. Without a doubt though, come launch day it will offer plenty of multiplayer options to suit the masses.
Whether the game is a success or not relies a lot on the newly added features and I am pleased to announce they bring a completely fresh dynamic to the tactical battles. Wiping out a worm from afar is made easier, if you can find a mounted sniper, just one of the new mounted guns. Hiding out in a building works really well too, giving a slightly safe haven after you’ve taken your turn or whilst you wait for crafting to finish. It takes a turn to craft a weapon, but it’s totally worth the wait to be able to use a flying flatulent sheep or a mega bunker buster. There are far more weapon variations than ever before, and crafting them is actually pretty simple, despite the idea of having to gather ingredients from crates, it’s not complicated at all. You can also garner the necessary materials by dismantling the weapons already in your arsenal which is handy.
The real game-changers, in my opinion, are the vehicles. There are very few things in warfare that give me as much satisfaction as I get from smashing down the arms of a Mech like a robotic Hulk. Flying the helicopter is a real treat too and the tank is armoured as well as being powerful, hence it becomes a race between opposing teams to get in one first and cause havoc on the battlefield. If there were to be a criticism, it’s that the tank and Mech look awkward during movement across the generally bumpy land.
Now, I’m not the kind of person to bother too much about a game’s looks but, the overall design for the environments is a hell of a lot crisper than those seen in previous entries. The step up in quality is instantly noticeable.
Worms W.M.D almost delivers a perfect package that’ll suit both solo gamers and those looking to show off their tactical nous in a multiplayer setting. All the new additions bring an extra layer to the gameplay, whilst the high level of customisation for matches and the worm teams themselves are welcome. The only thing holding it back is that the movement can be frustrating on occasion when navigating a worm or a vehicle. I’ve sent many worms to sleep with the fishes by pure accident because of a combination of wrecked terrain and annoying bounce-backs after failed jump attempts. Fortunately, the silly worms humour wins me over again within seconds.
All in all, it might be Worms’ 21st birthday, but Team17 have given us a real gift in Worms W.M.D!