Worms Rumble Review

Richard Walker

Since its inception in 1995, the Worms series has seldom tinkered with its tried-and-true formula of turn-based combat. Even when first adopting a 3D viewpoint, with 2003's Worms 3D and its sequels, things remained steadfastly turn-based, which is why Worms Rumble feels like a major sea change – the worm really has turned. Out go the tactical leanings and rampant environmental destruction that's been a Worms staple for 25 years, and in comes real-time blasting, viewed entirely from the classic side-on perspective. Rumble feels like a mash-up of sorts, part traditional Worms game, part scrolling 2D shooter, and, for better or worse, it mostly works.

A worm with attitude. A stupid-looking worm.

Like the Worms games of old (last seen in 2016's Worms W.M.D), you can customise your very own Worm, decking them out with a variety of skins, eye colours, teeth, voices, emotes, and other accoutrements like hats, masks, bandanas, and such. On that front, Worms Rumble feels familiar, but, upon entering the arena of combat, the action itself is an altogether different prospect. Worms has never been known for frantic, constant movement, but here that's very much the name of the game. As the brief tutorial amply demonstrates, you can wriggle and roll your way through confined spaces with ease, hiding in ventilation chutes and shafts, using your baseball bat to smash through obstacles.

Tactics are present in where you choose to go, and whether you opt to dive headlong into a fight or hang back, waiting for the best moment to strike. Often, the action can become very chaotic, very quickly, and encounters with enemy players can be rather messy, panicky affairs. It's a far cry from the careful consideration of angles, wind speed, and velocity that you'd normally associate with Worms. With up to 32 players all piling in, you're rarely left looking for something to shoot, and the usual crop of outlandish weapons – albeit a far narrower selection – are always at your wormy fingertips, ensconced in crates or dropped by vanquished wriggly rivals.

There are hallmarks of old Worms in using the right stick to angle your aim, donning the jetpack to whizz around, or the grapple gun (replete with cartoon red plunger) to adhere to walls and zip to precipices. Not that you really need such traversal tools. Your worm is now blessed with the ability to bounce its way up walls, roll into a ball to speed across the map, and leap like no real worm ever has (not that we know of, anyway). Each of the game's five maps is peppered with little hiding places and recesses, but the pace is such that there's never really time or opportunity to start camping – not that we'd ever condone that sort of thing, anyway.

Five maps and five modes might not sound like a particularly huge offering (it's two more maps and modes than the PlayStation and PC version launched with in December 2020), but it's enough to keep you occupied for a good few hours. The real problem here is that Worms Rumble can be a mite fiddly, especially in the thick of a gunfight against multiple annelid aggressors – moving with the left stick and aiming with the right is second nature in a first-person shooter, but here, it feels a bit like patting your head while rubbing your belly. Invariably, encounters devolve into jumping about frantically, mashing the trigger while attempting to aim accurately, then one of you squirming away in triumph, or expiring in a sad, squishy heap.

In the standard Deathmatch mode, you can respawn indefinitely, but in Rumble's battle royale modes – the team-based Last Squad Standing and solo free-for-all Last Worm Standing – you have a single worm, then you're out. Consequently, you have to play it a lot safer, using hiding places, cracking open item crates to find decent weapons, grenades, and gadgets, then making sure your shots count. The upside of having Missile Mall, Portal Park, Transforming Towers, Deadly Dockyards, and Spaceport Showdown as the only available environments is that you can quickly commit their various corners, open spaces, and hidden parts to memory, although you may find yourself simply rolling from place to place, without really worrying about where you'll end up.

Long-time Worms fans will, of course, be delighted to see familiar weapons – like the Hand Cannon, Shotgun, Sheep Launcher, Bazooka, Banana Bomb, and Holy Hand Grenade – remain present and correct, but then, those very same fans might find Rumble an unpalatable alternative to what one would deem a 'proper' Worms game. While developer Team17 has clearly gone to great lengths in ensuring the humorous and light-hearted spirit of the series persists, and the gleefully colourful and chunky cartoon art style is enormously welcoming, Rumble is a game that's really only enjoyable in short bursts.

The bazooka is back! And it's a bit weedy.

The lack of a local multiplayer option also seems like a major oversight, and those craving a more conventional Worms experience obviously won't find it here. It doesn’t help that acquiring XP and levelling up is painfully slow, leaving you waiting for rewards, which mainly come in the form of new cosmetic items, like weapon colour palettes or comedy glasses for your worm. As such, the impetus to keep playing isn’t really there, at least not as much as you might like. There’s nothing substantive or exciting to work towards and unlock, and there’s an absence of anything to play offline, beyond a rather bare-bones tutorial course, with targets to shoot against the clock.

Nonetheless, Worms Rumble is far from a bad game. In fact, it's actually quite good, and something of a bold experiment for Team17. Does it pay off? Sort of. Can it inhabit the same affectionate space as the Worms games of old? Not really, but then, that's not the point. This is something new and different, though unlikely to spell the end for classic turn-based worminess. As an Xbox Game Pass title, it's a perfect fit, and while it may not achieve enormous success, there is the nugget of something appealing here, that will hopefully expand in meaningful and interesting ways. Worms Rumble is a whole new can of worms, then, and for the most part, it's enjoyable stuff.

Worms Rumble

Credit where credit is due to Team17 for trying something different. While not necessarily a roaring success nor an abject failure, Worms Rumble guarantees enjoyment in the short-term, but its long-term prospects don't seem as promising. After a few hours, Worms Rumble does prove a bit wearisome and may not worm its way into your affections.

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The usual squeaky worm voices, this time joined by an exuberant, sometimes annoying announcer. All of the explosions, ricocheting bullets, and other stuff is precisely as it should be.


A perfectly pleasing, bold, colourful and cartoony game, with worms that are full of personality. Everything is cleanly drawn and nice to look at – there's not a whole lot more to say, really. A brightly coloured chunk of candy.


Forget everything you know about the previous Worms games – it won't help you here. Rumble is a straight up 2D side-scrolling PvP shooter, unabashedly frantic and non-stop. It can be a tad fiddly, but it does work.


Five maps and five modes means it's not long before Worms Rumble grows a mite tiresome. This isn't helped by a glacial sense of progression and little in the way of interesting rewards for levelling up. Long-term, Rumble simply doesn't deliver, even taking into consideration that it's a budget-priced release.


A solid enough achievement list that may encourage you to keep playing once you've inevitably grown slightly bored of what's on offer. Reaching level 50 will be a torrid slog, but the rest of the game's list is entirely doable.

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