Preview: Worms Rumble

The original title in the Worms franchise is one that may well have saved developer/publisher Team17 from closing up shop in the early ’90s. At the time the Amiga focused indie developers fell into all sorts of bother when console manufacturer Commodore was forced to file for bankruptcy which resulted in the Amiga market’s collapse, forcing them to drop their, at the time, current project King of Thieves and pull together something entirely new and to do it with a view of another platform in mind.

The resulting game, Worms, was of course, a massive multi-platform success, both critically and in sales. It’s a franchise beloved to this day 25 years later, and one that Team17 is constantly keeping relevant with newer releases.

And while there have been spin-offs and asides from the game’s core design most entries have followed suit to the originals turn-based strategy focus. Though, upcoming entry to the franchise Worms Rumble is trying something entirely new.

Worms Rumble ditches the turn-based element of the franchise and instead opts for a real-time competitive focus, housing up to 32 players in deathmatches, or Battle Royale type affairs. I was pretty sceptical on the announcement of the open beta which was hosted on PC and PS4 believing this to be a game mostly designed as a way to get in on gaming’s biggest modern inclination, microtransactions.

And while, yes – there’s room in the game for that to be a thing, what I wasn’t expecting was there to be a competent, fun and exhilarating game ontop.

The only thing that could suck you in faster than Worms Rumble’s hectic arena like 2.5D gameplay is if you were a line of cocaine on a hooker’s arse in a Hunter Biden hotel suite. With brilliantly smooth gameplay, fast and tight controls, and every bit of the charm of a regular Worms entry, Team17 have managed to bring all the enjoyment and fun of Worms, while leaving its main gameplay element behind.

You would think the switch from turn-based to real-time would result in some jankiness and teething troubles but what results is a fast-moving, fluid experience that delivers all the thrills and edge of your seat gaming that its competitive contemporaries manage to deliver.

The map available within the beta was sizable and varied in its many ways to traverse, ziplines allowed you to zoom throughout the maps vertical nature in seconds, while elevators would do the same, but allow you a brief safe haven or escape route when it all kicks off.

There are vents and passageways that block line of sight, allowing you to get the drop on those who wander by obliviously, and the spawn locations are well placed, allowing you to avoid all of that spawn camping nonsense while also being placed close enough to the action that you won’t spend half your worm’s lifespan waiting to get stuck in.

The typical Worms arsenal is on show here, from banana bombs to bazookas, and not forgetting your trusty baseball bat. You’ll start each round with a lower tier weapon, able to quickly roll your way to nearby crates and see what goodies are inside. Everything feels familiar and true to the Worms experience, even though it’s about as far removed from the methodical slow-paced nature of its predecessors.

To replace the familiar slow crawl of your worms from previous entries, you can now effectively sprint by barrel rolling yourself along the map, paired with a jump will result in your worm flinging themselves into the air to clear more ground. You can wall jump and gently slide down walls, allowing you to break the impact of a large drop, which can cost you precious seconds as your worm is left giving his noggin a brief shake afterwards.

A grapple hook and a jetpack can also be used to traverse the map should you need a speedier route from point A to point B, giving you a real tool-set to make the most of the new style of play.

After a weekend of Worms Rumble, I’m left twiddling my thumbs a bit about having something so unabashedly fun to play, its blazing fast rounds allow you to jump in and out of the action with little delay, and its manic twitch shooting will leave you, at times, feeling a few bpm shy of a heart attack at times.

The real kicker for me was that while the game is competitive, it’s so enjoyable that often dying results in laughter than frustration as worms throw out one-liners to deride or jest, leaving you feeling like you could totally win that next gunfight, or that you should’ve just thought ahead to throw that Holy-hand grenade into the fray before you jumped in.

Seeking a December 1st release date on PC and PlayStation, expect to hear more from Team17 about Worms Rumble as the month goes on. It’s a game you can pick up and play, and become fairly competent at in minutes, and should you be feeling a little burnt out on competitive games, don’t feel like this title is simply more of the same, its a more casual approach to the competitive that will keep you amped-up for the next round each time.