August 22, 2016
21 years of Worms is long enough for Team 17 to understand exactly what players want from the game. They know that when their audience boots up a game, there are a few very specific things that need to happen: firstly, players want weapons, as many weapons as possible. Secondly, they want destruction and mayhem. And thirdly, they want maneuverability. Worms W.M.D offers all this and more - from a gameplay perspective; it’s a wonderful little experience, but there’s a few issues with the stuff that surrounds those core mechanics that let the final product down a bit.
Let’s start with the positives, though: the gunplay is solid. There are over 80 weapons to work your way through in the game, as well as a new crafting mechanic that gives old favourites some fancy new effects. Take the (now classic) Concrete Donkey, right - it’s a ridiculous, heavy slab of a weapon that bounces on enemy Worms until they’re practically just pink mush.
But with the right component parts (you can get these from breaking down surplus weapons or harvesting crates on the battlefield), you can turn the Concrete Donkey into an Angry Concrete Donkey - which is the same weapon, but with added fire effects to any part of the map it touches. Most craftable items are the same: your basic weapon with either poison, fire, or sticky properties, sometimes with a larger explosion radius or more bomb clusters.
This makes matches more dynamic, certainly - we played a lot of W.M.D in local multiplayer (the way all Worms games are meant to be played, right?) and getting the upper hand with some of these enhanced weapons is satisfying and plays into the tactical mindset the developers want you to adopt in trickier play. Depending on what scheme you pick in the options, too, you can give yourself (and your enemies) access to better tiers of weapons, a la past Worms titles. So far, so good.
We don’t know whether we were unlucky in our seeds, or whether the generation systems in this game are a little sparse, but a lot of the maps we played on were very, very similar in shape and layout. Even if we altered the settings to put us on one island, two islands or in caverns, when the match booted up, the Worm distribution often seemed a little too random (teams in clumps, more often than not) and the newly added buildings typically just tended to get in the way.
That said, it’s hard to add new stuff into Worms - the Amiga game of 21 years ago set a strong precedent for the franchise and that ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ adage comes into its own in reference to this franchise. The buildings that have been added for this game are structures that you can wriggle your way inside of, typically multi-layered, that connect parts of the map and offer shelter from certain (in)famous weapons. It’s a great way of avoiding God-tier attacks like Air Strikes and Carpet Bombs, and there’s the Bunker Buster that’s the anti-game for any Worm hiding inside them.
It changes up the minute-to-minute gameplay quite nicely, but that’s counteracted by the other new addition in W.M.D: vehicles. There are tanks, mechs, helicopters and - if you get the All-Star Pack - Rocket League cars you can use to your advantage. They’re handy for traversal around the battlefield, but we found them mostly redundant, to be honest: an extra mechanic that feels superficial and undercuts the fun of ‘blindsiding’ your way around the map with Ninja Ropes, Girders and Jetpacks.
The games looks great - as Worms always does. We’d have enjoyed a few more types of landscapes, because once you’ve seen the props and details of the few terrains on offer once, they quickly become repetitive. Weapon effects, animations and damage effects all look great, though - as you’d expect of a Worms game on the new generation. Hitboxes are clear and work as you’d expect them too, but sometimes the ‘pressure’ bar that appears when you’re aiming/throwing a weapon can be a little unclear. The UI isn’t as detailed as we’d like either, but maybe we’re just stuck in the days of Worms Armageddon.
The music is superb: subtle and atmospheric. Each track suits the terrain it’s paired with, and we didn’t get bored of any of it (even in some of the lengthier campaign missions). The voice banks for the Worms, though… that’s a different story. It’s all well and good having an insane number of voice banks, but we’d probably have preferred less with more than a few samples each… there’s only so many times you can hear a Worm say ‘the huskies ate the bandages again’ before it gets incredibly tiresome.
It’s a nice package, though: we spent a good amount of time in the well thought-through (and not too challenging) training modes, getting to grips with the game, before heading into campaign. It’s tough, but fair, and gives you a good tour of everything Worms W.M.D has to offer. We recommend training yourself up before you head into online play, though, because there are some seriously skilled individuals out there… who knew you could take Worms so seriously!
W.M.D is a solid addition to the Worms franchise - a well-rounded addition to the roster of local multiplayer titles available on the current generation of consoles. Despite our few grievances with the content on offer as far as variation goes, there’s a solid game in the middle of it all, and one we can see ourselves enjoying with a pass-the-pad mentality for weeks (if not months) to come.
A nice soundtrack and some genuinely funny sound banks, it's just a shame there are so few voice samples for each.
Exactly what you'd expect from a 2D, cartoon-style game on the current generation - it looks nice, we're marking it down a bit because there's just not an awful lot to look at.
There are a lot of modes to keep you busy if you're only into single-player stuff, and even more if you want to take it online. Crafting everything and using every weapon is enough to make you keep coming back.
Worms W.M.D is a good all-round package, we're just a little dubious about some of the new mechanics and the whole 'what you get for your money' question is sure to come up for some players.
We got a big achievement within the first hour or so of our playing (by gaining Gold rank on all Training missions). Largely, they're fun and achieveable; just beware of online-based ones.
A worthy continuation of the Worms franchise, a nice return to form after deviating to 3D for a few years. Worms W.M.D gets everything right from a mechanical standpoint, but we can't help but feel a few of the design choices were unnecessary. The big new additions are hit and miss, but in the middle of all the fluff there's a solid, very playable game - especially if you're into couch co-op/multiplayer.