Worms Rumble may not please every fan of the franchise, mostly as it completely changes things up from the usual Worms gameplay of traditional turn-based strategy. However, if you keep an open mind, it’s actually a very competent and often fun deathmatch-styled shoot ’em up.
In terms of the essentials, it’s got them. The weapons are fun, the maps are well-designed, and there’s a good sense of progression. However, despite that, it’s not particularly exciting. There are many games that have done this exact thing before, and have done it much better. In fact you can’t help but think why use this much-loved franchise, as we see what was a niche but original game series morph into a generic 2D shooter?
The basic gameplay is easy to pick up and understand. Worms Rumble introduces us to a 2D camera set in “ant farm”-style maps. It looks very similar to other Worms games, but the differences are quickly revealed. You see, instead of waiting for your turn to move, you can crawl freely across the map. Weapons are spread around the arenas, so you crawl, grab weapons, and shoot other worms. All with a big emphasis on controlling the spawning weapons. Imagine a classic shooter mixed with Worms and you’ve got it.
As you would expect to hear, the weapons are unique, filled with the staples from the franchise. You’ve got everything from a machine gun to the classic exploding sheep bomb, and every gun feels sufficiently powerful and comes with its own specific use cases; it’s here where they really shine. For example the sheep bomb may not work perfectly in a straight gun fight however it’s excellent for getting around crevices and cover.
The game modes are also what you would expect, with deathmatch and team deathmatch being the bread and butter. There are also two Battle Royale-style modes, complete with permadeath and a map which is slowly filled with poison gas. That comes in a solo or squad variety. Honestly the deathmatches are fine, but “Last Worm Standing” is truly the highlight of Worms Rumble. The Battle Royale style totally works and I couldn’t help but imagine how good it would be with the traditional controls of the series.
The maps are varied, delivering everything from dual skyscrapers to a hidden missile compound stuffed in a mall. Each one is decently large with a huge amount of varying paths and chokepoints scattered throughout. However, with that said, none of them manage to stick out as spectacular, whilst few ever come across as particularly bad either.
As you complete matches, you slowly level up and this means you get access to new cosmetic items with each rank. This is a nice touch and in typical Worms style most of the items are pretty amusing to see attached to your little worm. There’s also, of course, the inevitable DLC which offers up more premium clothing items. That’s a little disappointing.
Despite Worms Rumble coming complete with all the essential building blocks for a game of this genre, the overriding feeling I’ve had throughout is that of disappointment. This could just be me, as a fan of Worms, but it feels weird that this route is the one the team behind it have decided to run with for the series. There’s no taking away that it’s well-made, but it’s awfully generic and as mentioned, it’s something we’ve seen hundreds of times previously. Worms was something that was unique, yet now it just feels like it’s trying to catch trends.
Thankfully, if you don’t come in with that mindset, or are new to the whole franchise, Rumble can offer up a pretty good time. I found myself really getting into the gameplay after just a couple of matches and I can especially see it working with a younger audience. It’s not particularly violent and it has a goofy appeal that could well help it find an audience. But then, there’s Fortnite for that. That therefore leaves the biggest question being who is this game for? There are so many alternate options that have done the whole thing much better.
Clearly I’m not the only one thinking that, because the player base for Worms Rumble on Xbox seems pretty miniscule. You may well find yourself having a hard time finding any matches at all. That’s not a good sign for such a recent release and it does not bode well for the future health of this title.
Worms Rumble is not a badly made game by any means, but it feels like a strange release and may well be a case of being something that nobody has really called for. If you keep an open mind there is plenty of fun to be had here, but whether or not this is able to gather up a player base with enough folk getting ready to rumble is up for debate.
Join the worms as they get ready to rumble, in the all-new Worms Rumble on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One