Developer Team17 Digital Publisher Team17 Digital
Genre Action, Strategy Platform Played On Xbox One
If you have ever played a Worms game you know what you are getting with Worms W.M.D. It is a 2D, turn-based shooter in which teams of worms use all manner of crazy weapons to explode, machine gun, clobber or fire punch enemies in order to be the last team standing. The formula largely hasn’t changed throughout the franchise’s 20 years, rather, each new game has attempted to be a refinement of the core gameplay mechanics.
Worms W.M.D is marketed as a spiritual successor to 1999’s Worms Armageddon, returning to a gorgeous hand-drawn art style that makes the game great to look at whether you’re playing or waiting for your turn. Worm classes, and water physics are gone, creating a much more balanced gameplay experience. Worms W.M.D has turned its focus back to the core mechanics of the franchise, demonstrating that after 20 years they still have staying power.
Controlling your worms is simple, all you need is jump, shoot and weapon select buttons, as well as the left stick. If you are not as familiar with the controls, increase the turn time limit, or make it shorter for a frantic, fast-paced experience. The simple controls make the game accessible for players of all skill levels, as well as the fact that skill only contributes to a little bit of success in Worms; luck contributes to the rest.
Watching someone aim a grenade throw that ends up rolling towards their own worm is hilarious. It makes successful turns fulfilling, and sees fails laughed about regularly. Worms W.M.D is best enjoyed with friends, locally or online, but if you’re playing solo the AI has been balanced well enough that it still makes human errors like failing to jump out of the way of its own explosions or narrowly missing a crucial bazooka shot.
What differentiates Worms W.M.D from its predecessors is the new vehicles, turrets, buildings and crafting system. The vehicles and turrets are the standout, adding more destructive tools for players. Each vehicle has a different weapon, for example the mech stomps on worms and the helicopter rains down machine gun fire from the sky, so I enjoyed going out of my way to jump into vehicles on the map. They are also well balanced with the other weapons so you don’t need to control the vehicles to win a match, but I wanted to anyway.
The buildings were a nice edition to map design, with worms able to hide inside them and only be visible to any other worms in the buildings. They offer a form of shelter, although buildings can be destroyed like everything else on the map. They don’t change tactics completely, but are a nice new addition to the franchise.
Crafting, on the other hand, is not as revolutionary. Materials can be gathered from crates on the map (replacing coins), or by dismantling other weapons. There are some really cool weapons that can be crafted, adding to the chaos, like a dodgy phone battery that launches a chain of electricity through worms. However, many of the upgrades you can craft for existing weapons don’t change them enough to be worth the investment, and some of the newer weapons feel too overpowered to be satisfied when using them during a match. One weapon, for example, rains asteroids on the map, destroying everything in sight. It feels like an instant win, ending games too quickly. To make the crafting system worthwhile during matches, an extended period of time has to be spent customizing the game options to fine tune what can and can’t be crafted during a match. It could be that there is already such a great variety of powerful weapons that have been balanced over years of Worms games.
My biggest complaint with Worms W.M.D is the single player offering. The 30 mission single player campaign is very light on story elements, largely existing as a series of short scenario based introductions to the new mechanics. The challenge mode, however, offers some unique puzzles utilizing worms mechanics in different ways such as using mines and oil drums to destroy an enemy worm. It made me stop and think about how the mechanics actually work.
Worms W.M.D is a great addition to the Worms franchise. The core Worms formula is at a stage where it so well refined that it would be easy to let it speak for itself. However, Worms W.M.D adds new mechanics to the formula in vehicles, turrets and buildings which should become mainstays to the franchise. The crafting system is an interesting new feature, but it needs tweaking to become a worthwhile alternative to the standard weapons available like an airstrike or holy hand grenade. With its return to a 2D hand-drawn art style, Worms W.M.D is a great redirect for the franchise.
- 2D hand-drawn art style
- Same great balanced Worms gameplay
- Vehicles, turrets and buildings add more destructive options
- Lacking interesting single player content
- Instant win craftable weapons