It’s been a while since I really thought about Worms. This strange series from Team 17 started on the Super Nintendo, a 2D, side-scrolling and turn-based strategy game featuring a bunch of Lumbricidae blowing each other up with military-grade weaponry. Worms Armageddon, which was a multiplatform hit, was where Worms really landed, thanks to its colorful visuals and goofy humor. Worms has still been kicking, but not at the same level it used to. So now, we’re trying something new.
Worms Rumble eschews the careful, tactical side of Worms in favor of real time action. Worms rumble eschews the destructible environments, in favor of things like wall-jumping, elevators, vision-blocking tunnels, corners, and ziplines. But make no mistake about it, there’s still a rocket launcher that fires exploding sheep. This is still a Worms game, with the cheeky, weird, and noticeable European sense of humor. So how does this game work?
The older turn-based style gave players multi-worm teams to maneuver across the battlefield. In Worms Rumble, you are a Worm. You get to customize your wiggly warrior Fall Guys-style, with a collection of unlockable cosmetic items such as hats, teeth, profile options and more. This is the worm you’ll take into the game’s various modes of play, the one you’ll be leveling up, in typical online game style. And speaking of modern gaming, yes, this is partially a battle royale experience.
I got to play Worms Rumble for roughly an hour, during a brief period that the open beta servers were turned on for media ahead of this weekend’s wider access. I was able to play three different modes: Deathmatch, Last Worm Standing Squads, and Last Worm Standing. All of these modes play similarly in terms of mechanics, so the big difference is what the rules are. I played two rounds of Deathmatch and one each of the others, and from very much a first impression, I had a lot more fun with the battle royale mode.
Either way, the core gameplay loop works well, feels good, and is a lot of fun. You aim your weapon with the right stick, shoot and roll with the triggers, and can do various obvious things like lob grenades with the bumpers. The Worms are a lot more mobile than they’ve ever been, without compromising the premise’s gag too much. You still inch across the ground, making that familiar squawking noise. You can just control your jumps more, and your stamina-based roll move helps you close distances fast.
The battle royale stuff is pretty standard. You choose a drop point, then find items in crates or scattered in the map. Get a kill, and you can grab their stuff if you can afford to stop moving. But the big identifiers here are things like elevators you can ride to quickly move across the map, and there are various tunnels or hiding spots you can bash in with your dedicated melee button. Unless someone is in there with you, you’ll effectively be invisible. This sounds like a way to encourage turtling, but it actually makes firefights pretty intense as worms desperately try to maneuver around each other, ducking in and out of cover and firing wildly.
There are all kinds of weapons, with the demo containing the basics. You get familiar Worms staples like the Sheep Launcher or the Holy Hand Grenade, but there are also new weapons like a plasma rifle you can charge and fire around corners. Either way you’re effectively playing a twin-stick shooter from a 2D perspective. But while you're only moving in four directions, items like the jetpack and grapple gun give you even more ways to get around. It’s very fast-paced!
Worms Rumble hits the PS5, PS4 and PC on December 1, 2020 and there will be cross-play between all platforms. An Open Beta will run over the weekend, starting on November 6 and running through the weekend. Check it out and let us know what you think over on the Prima Games Facebook and Twitter channels!