Some of my absolute favourite multiplayer sessions have been thanks to Worms 2 and its immediate sequels Armageddon and World Party. After Worms World Party though, it felt like the Worms games had lost their direction. Moving to 3D made things needlessly complex, losing the simplicity that made Worms accessible and deceptively deep. The series returned to 2D after a few unsuccessful 3D titles but I never felt like it quite recaptured the joy of the earlier games. Worms WMD might be the closest the series has come to recapturing the essence of it’s origins.
There’s not much in the way of story in Worms WMD. It’s never been a series about establishing lore, with narrative taking a back seat to strategy and humour. The closest thing to a story you’ll find in single-player will be the Campaign missions. These are set scenarios with specific levels and teams built around a theme, often very loosely around historical conflict. If you play with friends though, there will inevitably be stories forged in the heat of combat. A perfectly aimed and strategically bounced grenade going off at the perfect time or a wonderful accident setting off an unbelievable chain reaction of chaos and destruction, there is the potential for some truly memorable moments.The visual style of Worms has necessarily changed over the decades. It begun with the worms being made of a few pixels and became much more expressive with larger character sprites in future editions. WMD’s characters and environments are entirely drawn in 2D. Worms are expressive and emotive through their movements, reactions and joyous victory dances. The worms’ voices are as enjoyable as ever too. There is a wide range of classic voices (I’m particularly attached to Angry Scot and Soul Man) along with completely new voice sets. There are a bunch of voice sets based on well-known online video personalities too that I won’t pretend to be familiar with but I’m sure will be a nice bonus to fans. Environments are varied and destructible. Landscape themes don’t change much of how the game plays but can help give the randomly generated battlegrounds some individual character.
Worms pits two or more teams of worms onto randomly generated environments, gives them a pile of weaponry and lets them take turns to shoot, explode and crush the opposing teams until only one is left standing. Explosions can destroy parts of the environment, creating hiding places or forcing worms out of cover. Your basic weapons consist of bazookas and grenades, but there is a large range of other traditional and less traditional implements of destruction. Sheep will bounce around the landscape and explode on command. The Old Lady will walk back and forth between obstacles passing gas, making worms sick and finally exploding once her time runs out. Holy Hand Grenades come to a stop, summon a chorus from the heavens and create an almighty explosion destroying huge chunks of the environment. The irreverent humour of Worms is definitely still here. You will play countless matches before seeing all the weaponry on offer and yet more before you master how to use each one.Worms WMD adds a pile of new features to the Worms formula, with varying levels of success. Crafting seems to be almost an inevitability for games this generation and Worms doesn’t escape this fate. During turns you can pick up crafting materials in crates around the landscape. Using these materials you can craft weapons during your turn as well as while your opponent is moving, and these weapons can have special properties depending on the materials used. Personally, I found this crafting to be more tedious than anything. It acted as a distraction from the flow of gameplay and seems included for the sake of keeping up with current trends rather than as something that genuinely improves the gameplay.
Other new additions include mounted weapons and vehicles which can be commandeered during your turn. Mounted weapons might be a single shot sniper, or a rapid fire machine gun and can change up a match’s dynamic and create competition to reach and use them, or to destroy them before another team can get there. Vehicles include an armoured tank, helicopter and a mech. These vehicles offer some unique firepower and movement options but also don’t feel unreasonably overpowered considering some of the more ridiculous weapons on offer.
Matches can be played online or locally with up to six players, with local games allowing every conceivable option to be tweaked to suit your preference. If you’re all in on the new crafting system and vehicles, you can control which materials and vehicles appear during the game. For people after a classic Worms experience, a Classic option is available which disables weapons and features introduced more recently for a more back-to-basics match. Custom rule sets and options can be set up and saved as a scheme for later, making it simple to create a set of house rules with friends. Local matches can be played with multiple controllers or simply by passing the controller between turns, meaning that you can have a whole bunch of people playing without investing a small fortune in controllers which is a nice bonus.
Worms WMD is a whole bunch of fun. It adds some questionable new elements to the core Worms formula, but matches are so infinitely customisable that you can completely ignore them for a traditional experience if you want to. There’s not a lot of compelling content here for the lone player with the Campaign and Challenge modes really just acting as a training ground for the core multiplayer game, but if you have a few friends to play with Worms WMD is a hoot.
The PS4 version of this game was used primarily for the review