Team17’s Worms franchise has been a tried and true gaming franchise for the past two-decades (21 years to be exact). The series has over 25+ titles that span over consoles, mobile devices, a Facebook game, and portable systems. Without question the Worms series has built a large base of fans due to the availability & and consistency as a result of that history. I myself have been a fan of the Worms games since Worms Armageddon debuted back in 1999 on PC. My personal favorite Worms game is none other than Worms Crazy Golf, available on Steam and Windows Store in 2012 and Worms Open Warfare 2 on DS back in ’07. Worms W.M.D marks the series’ 2nd release on gaming consoles, the first being Worms Battlegrounds which released back in 2014.
Compared to its console sibling Worms Battlegrounds, Worms W.M.D sets out to update the Worms formula by returning to the series roots. The most notable change with the W.M.D installment is the game’s visual art style. Gone are the animated-3D styled worms found in Worms Battlegrounds and Worms Revolution and enter a beautiful hand-drawn 2D art that feels more at home with my favorite installments in the franchise (Worms Crazy Golf and Worms Open Warfare 2). With this new Rayman Legends-like aesthetic, the maps in Worms W.M.D feature sharp textures with crisp edges over the rounded appearance from previous installments. Each map also includes animated particle effects such as falling snow or blowing leaves that adds life to each environment. Needless to say, Worms W.M.D is a treat to stare at on the big screen TV.
While the destructive environments & familiar turn-based artillery strategy remains, Worms W.M.D adds an extra strategic element in the form of buildings & vehicles. Buildings often contain valuable resources needed to craft new weapons in addition to providing shelter from the chaotic mayhem outside. Buildings also provide a platforming challenge to the player as they’ll require precision to reach all the goodies contained inside within the 45 second time limit of each turn. Helicopters, mechs, and tanks provide the otherwise slow worm the ability to quickly travel around the map in addition to their superior fire power. These new additions combine to bring a new level of fun and strategy to the Worms franchise. Being overly critical – I’ll add that the addition of vehicles can at times trump most other items and tactics in play. In an attempt to challenge myself in battles against my son, I set several of our matches so he could access the advanced weaponry. These scenarios proved to be difficult obstacles for me to overcome unless I too joined in the arms-race for vehicles and resources. Classic items such as the ninja rope can quickly be over-matched when a player obtains access to a helicopter or tank. Rarely did I encounter a situation where he had a tank and I had nothing so W.M.D is balanced, but players with more knowledge of the maps will hold a distinctive advantage over newbies.
Crafting is also new to Worms W.M.D. This new mechanic provides an avenue for the player to customize their weaponry to complement their strategy provided they have gathered enough resources found in crates scattered around the terrain. Crafting was a favorite during my son’s (age 5) play sessions. He thoroughly enjoyed dropping air strikes and bunker bombs as they provided an effective alternative to the precision needed for lining up lob grenade throws and firing the shotgun. As a father I appreciate this capability to scale the gameplay and can attest that Worms W.M.D would be a fine choice for any parent of young gamers.
Any fan of a Worms game knows this; You buy into a Worms game for the charm that results from the many impressions and one-liners. Worms W.M.D definitely delivers on that end. Each team of worms is customizable down to the name, outfit, animation, and voice. Voices in particular provided many laughs during my time with the game as we always select new voices each time we play the game. What’s our favorite so far? That goes to the “Budding Streamer” voice saying funny lines like “if you like what you saw, subscribe” while raining down air strikes on the opposing worms. Campaign cut-scenes too are full of silliness providing a mock-infomercial vibe in the style of a Saturday morning cartoon.
My major complaint with Worms W.M.D is the amount of time spent when trading turns. Ranging between 5-10 seconds at the end of each turn depending on the weapon last used, I found myself constantly pressing buttons in an attempt to speed up the process. Those seconds begin to add up over a 6 player online match or when trying to complete more than 2-3 campaign missions at a time. And more than once I leaped off a ledge or off my perch trying to skip through the phase before I regained control of my character. Its possible future Worms games could be improved by adopting a fast-forward control like the one found in similar game Codename S.T.E.A.M on 3DS.
So far in my hours playing Worms W.M.D, online matchmaking has been challenging with lobbies failing to locate opponents at times. My belief is that this can be attributed to my playing W.M.D before release day and not an indication of the game itself. I’ll provide an update on multiplayer connection and status after the game is officially released.
Worms W.M.D will run you $30. The single player mode features 20 training missions, 30 missions in the solo campaign, 10 challenge levels for those seeking more challenge, and 7 special themed bonus levels. The local multiplayer allows for 1v1 competition and the online multiplayer provides a beginners room, private matches, and quick matches for up to 2, 4, and 6 player matches.
Those having pre-ordered the game received the Worms WMD ‘All-Stars’ DLC pack containing in game aesthetic items to include a Rocket League battle-car, the ever-amazing Dubstep gun from Saints Row IV, Goat masks and a new Goat-on-a-Rope weapon inspired by Goat Simulator, and even masks for your worms from The Escapist and upcoming Banjo inspired indie-darling Yooka-Laylee. Those playing on Xbox One will get access to the Rare All-Stars featuring content from Perfect Dark, Jet Force Gemini, Killer Instinct, and Battletoads.[to see all of the pre-order pack content click here]
I could attempt to complain that $30 is maybe $10 too high, but there really isn’t much competition for Worms W.M.D on Xbox One. Tower defense games like Defense Grid 2 and the forthcoming Halo Wars sequel offer a comparative style of gameplay, but those games do not offer the chess-like, turn base strategy that Worms W.M.D provides. Not to mention those other games are not what I would describe as “fun for the whole family” or offer that great couch coop opportunity that’s becoming harder and harder to find these days.
Worms W.M.D was reviewed using an Xbox One code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.