I can still remember fondly my first experience in taking my team of Worms in to the battlefield. It was back in the golden era on one of the best computers, the all singing and all dancing Amiga 500. I remember the awesome – at the time – pixilated graphics of those wriggly worms and the multitude of landscapes where friendships were put to the test. Since then I have played just about every Worms game from the very talented Team17. The franchise has gone through many transformations since then some highly entertaining and some maybe just missing its mark. In the last couple of years we have seen some of the biggest transformations for the series including Worm classes being introduced. However Worms W.M.D is not only looking to be the most refined title in the franchises history but also introducing strikingly game changing features giving the most amazing Worms experience yet. I have had the chance to get some hands on time with a preview build of Worms W.M.D and I like it, no I bloody love it. I don’t think I have ever been so hyped to get my hands on the full release this much before, it really is that good and it has a great old skool feel to things.
Ever since Team17 announced that latest in worm warfare I have kept this firmly on my radar, and with good reason to, since there are going to be a few new features that are a first for the franchise. These new features really do alter gameplay like never before and offer a variety of new strategies to learn to survive out on the battlefields. Before I delve into the new features a little background for new recruits to the Worms world – Veterans can miss out this paragraph. Worms is a turn based all out warfare title where you control a team of worms against another team and hope you kill them off before they do the same to you. This is done using a variety of methods using weapons and utilities over many different maps. The core gameplay hasn’t changed since the games first outing and has stood the test of time like no other game. Yet if you go off and play a large chunk of past titles you will find that they will offer different experiences and this is what makes Team17 and their Worms franchise quite unique. So history lesson taught lets get stuck into what you can expect from Worms W.M.D.
The preview build gave me access to five training missions and five campaign missions as well as local multiplayer. The full release however will have twenty training missions, thirty campaign missions and ten challenges. The training missions in the preview build teaches newbies the basic controls and introduces you to three of the new features. The navigation level introduces you to the new buildings that you can enter. When you enter them the outer building fades to show you what’s inside and contain a layout which resembles the forts style. Another training mission introduces you to the new mounted guns, on offer was the laser sniper and a mounted machine gun. There was also a mounted flamethrower in one of of the landscapes in the multiplayer. These are very deadly and have certainly added extra challenge as to how you survive the war. Another new feature you are introduced to is vehicles and in this training mission it is the tank you will control. I have to say it is super fun hijacking one of these bad boys to navigate the scenery, just remember to exit it as they can be destroyed. Think you are safe from the mines when in a vehicle? think again as there are mines specifically to detect any vehicle.
When it comes to the campaign missions I feel these have been refined and makes the single player much more appealing. Don’t get me wrong Worms has always been about the multiplayer, but it is nice to kick back and chill sometimes. With each campaign mission comes multiple bonus objectives to complete making each level quite a challenge. They start off easy but the bonus objectives begin to get harder to achieve. In the Church and Destroy mission the three bonus objectives are to keep all worms alive, finish the mission with all your worms inside a building and kill three or more worms in a single turn. In other missions you are asked to kill a specific worm with a specific weapon getting you to use the crafting system. So you can see how things will chop and change. Overall this mode just feels much better than previous single player modes and lets not forget there are also challenges which were not available in this preview.
That’s the single player preview, let us now get stuck into the multiplayer side of things. As you would expect Team17 have done things bigger than ever and doesn’t have W.M.D in the title for nothing. There is something that was missing in Worms W.M.D from the off which is the Worm Classes from Worms Battleground. This omission is made up for in every single other area of the game. As I said at the beginning of the preview this looks and feels much like old skool Worms, both in looks and in gameplay and this is an excellent thing. Something that was sorely missing from previous titles was the classic ninja rope which I can confirm is back and works as it should have always done. Team17 have went ballistic with the weapons and blowing up your friends – or in my case my own team – has never felt so rewarding. A lot of the classic weapons make a return so have your side splitting with the Banana Bomb, go herding with your Sheep or start a carpet firm with the Carpet Bomb.
One of the newest features that brings even more fun to the multiplayer mayhem is the new crafting feature, which I got plenty of time to test out in this preview. Crafting couldn’t have been simpler and you will pick it up straight away. I know what you are thinking, “How can they keep things fair?”. Well to craft you need a certain number of resources from the selection you have available. The resources you can collect are Boggy’s Special Sauce, Sticky Donkey Paste, Banana Bomb Seeds and Tears of a Warm. These are obtained through creates or by breaking down any current weapons you may have. For example the Bazooka Pie requires four of Boggy’s Special Sauce and two of Sticky Donkey Paste. The resource you can obtain from dismantling is weapon dependant. You can craft during your turn but the new weapon will not be available until your next turn. If you are quick enough you can craft during the enemies turn so the weapon is available on your turn. There are four empty slots available for crafted weapons so things are open to becoming much more strategic then in previous worms games. Do you go for the resources and have the chance to take out a team in one go? Or do you play as normal hoping to gather enough resources during the round? You decide and its this that breathes new life into an already superb franchise.
Thanks to the crafting system in the preview version I was playing, it brought the weapon count up from twenty-six to sixty-one. Now that is one hell of a jump in arsenal and most if not all will have you in fits of laughter. Is that Bazooka just not powerful enough? No problem, craft the Bazooka Pie and watch everyone burn upon explosion. Now I have to admit the Armageddon never felt as powerful as when it was once introduced all those years ago. To be honest it is better than it was in Worms Battlegrounds but still needs that extra kick. Well now you can craft the Wormageddon which explodes into fire on impact to cover much more landscape. The sheep have seen upgrades thanks to crafting. Not only do you have an Electric Sheep now you also have the Super Flatulence Sheep to name just a couple. It’s not just weapons that you can craft, there is also utilities you can craft ranging from the Tunnel Kit to the Newbie Rope and a Safe Teleport. I won’t go through every weapon but rest assured there are plenty and are all a joy to use to humiliate your opponents with.
When it comes to the graphics this has to be the best looking Worms title to date. While Worms Battlegrounds was all about landscape depth, physics and water, Team17 are kicking it old skool this time around. The landscapes have got such fine detail in them with the 2D artwork, it’s a much welcomed return to the more original art style of the early worms games. There are some great little animations during gameplay like a worm emptying his bazooka and a sausage falling out. When I had a worm on the ninja rope he had that massive teeth baring smile that they are known for. Last time the focus was on water and now this time its all about the fire baby! There is even just the subtle changes that make this game a looker like the shrapnel from the grenades and bits of landscape falling into the water. The water looks more life like with its rich blue tone, just keep the worms out of it.
In the preview there was access to six landscape locations which are Rainforest, Downtown, Frontier, Motherland, Countryside and Orient. Each location has it’s own uniqueness and as you would expect a host of various layouts from two islands to multiplatform landscapes. They also feel larger than in previous titles and so they should since you can now have up to six players with eight worms each resulting in comedy filled mayhem like never before. What would make things even better is if Team17 would bring back the Hell landscape location from the original Worms, I just loved that location so much. I can just prey to the Worms God that it may be included as DLC in the future.
Worms W.M.D emphasises on what makes Worms the ultimate in multiplayer mayhem and the fact that Team17 are going back to the old skool way of worms is a very much welcomed step. We have the good old fashion ninja rope back and the physics are more like classic Worms titles. Team17 have also injected a range of new and exciting features that bring a whole new strategy to the way fans can unleash havoc in the battlefield. The gun turrets make traversing the landscape more dangerous than ever before. I am absolutely loving the introduction of building which are a great defence against the newly introduced vehicles. It is with the new crafting feature that things get really interesting and adds more than double the weapon count. Going buy this preview version we have the perfect mix of old skool with some fresh game changing features that is on course to make this the best title yet in the Worms franchise for both long term veterans as well as new recruits.