If you’ve ever been a fan of the Worms franchise, you’ll know that it’s difficult to deny the game’s quirkiness and insanity. The franchise has been a constant in the video game industry for over two decades, and developer/publisher Team17 has been with the series all along. My first experience with the series was Worms 3D, which released roughly 13 years ago. In that span of time, the worms have crawled their way onto almost every computer, console, and smartphone known to mankind, bringing along their funny voices, hilarious outfits, and explosive turn-based gameplay.
Worms W.M.D. is the return of the series on major consoles, and the core gameplay is still very much intact. If you’ve been living like a worm under a rock, the gameplay of Worms is built around battleground warfare between two teams of (what else?) worms. The worms duke it out with a wide range of weapons and explosives on destructible landscapes, attempting to kill all of the opposing worms. Battles are turn-based and each turn is timed, so players must move a worm, select a weapon, aim true, and attack an opponent before time is up. Of course, then it is the opposing team’s turn, and you must be strategic in order to avoid leaving yourself open to chaos.
It sounds violent (and it can be), but the comedic premise of little pink worms with funny hats and squeaky voices blowing each other up keeps things lighthearted. In fact, the balance Team17 has built between light-hearted comedy and dynamic, strategic gameplay is what continues to bring fans back to Worms every year or two. Modern features such as 6-player online matches only increase the chaos and laughs, though losing a close match still has a way of making you want to throw your controller across the room, as any good battle strategy game should.
[What does W.M.D. stand for? This is one of the first questions I had, and it appears that it might mean anything and everything: Weapons of Mass Destruction, World Mass Destruction, Worms Mutual Destruction, Where’s My Dominos?, We’ve Massive Discounts, We’ll Make ya Dangerous, Worms. Must. Die., Well, that’s Me Dead!, etc.]
I’ve played a couple of the 3D Worms games, and it’s clear that 2D is probably the best place for Worms to live. Worms W.M.D. features a unique and colorful 2D artstyle and, though it probably won’t visually “blow your mind,” the art direction here feels very intentional and works well to make the game feel cohesive and supports the comedic aspects of the game. All of these elements equal a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is always refreshing.
In many ways, Worms W.M.D. is a return to what the series is known for. Team17 has claimed that they have listened to fans and are bringing back some of the “classic” feel of the older Worms installments by “recreat[ing] some of the key physics and gameplay that made the previous games so popular!” In reality, it’s more Worms. Some new features have been added, such as buildings to move through, vehicles such as helicopters and tanks (which are quite enjoyable), some new weapon crafting elements, and there is even DLC which offers costumes and other gameplay elements based on other game franchises, but underneath it all is the same tried-and-true formula.
One of the points that Team17 appears to “brag about” most is the number of weapons and vehicles available to players. There are over 80 various weapon types available to players along with weapons, vehicles, and even mechs scattered randomly across a variety of maps. Most of the weapons blur together into a cacophony of destructive chaos, though selecting the right weapon for a job can be a major aspect of the strategy. The controls can be a bit clunky, particularly when trying to sort through a large amount of weapons and organize a large team, but things work for the most part. [The Holy Hand Grenade is still my favorite.]
This newest Worms entry sees the return of a single-player campaign alongside the multiplayer components. Single-player is fun when you need a fix, but it is never quite as satisfying as diving into multiplayer. The tutorial is also expansive and lengthy. Thankfully, you have the option to skip it and come back to it at any point. That being said, the controls can be complicated, as there is a lot of content here including everything from weapons to parachutes to old ladies. Players unfamiliar with the series may find themselves initially overwhelmed, though the gameplay is slow enough that most players will find themselves capable after only a few attempts.
Worms W.M.D., just like all of the best Worms games, is at its best when a battle has devolved into madness. Single-player matches rarely reach the same level of excitement and intensity that multiplayer matches do, and progression in the Single-player campaign is fairly unrewarding. For the ultimate Worms experience, hop on with some friends (or some experienced online players) and battle it out until the map has completely dissolved around your last little pink worm with a jester hat on.
Here’s the main point of this review: If you’ve enjoyed Worms in the past, Worms W.M.D. is really just more of the same. There are a couple new features, but overall, this feels exactly like what another entry in the series should feel like. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. There are many elements of the Worms series that are still engaging and funny as hell, and W.M.D. has no shortage of them. If you’ve been craving some classic Worms gameplay on your PS4 or Xbox One, Worms W.M.D. is here for you.
A PS4 review code for Worms W.M.D. was provided by Team17 for the purpose of this review