STAFF REVIEW of Worms Rumble (Xbox One)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
by Adam Dileva

Worms Rumble Box art I still remember the day a friend showed me the original Worms back in the mid 90’s. A tactical turn based strategy shooter game that featured worms had me hooked from that very first game I played, and I’ve been a fan ever since, going on about two and a half decades now. Since then I think I’ve purchased or played every Worms game since, even the terrible foray into 3D gameplay, but we won’t talk about those. So I guess you could call me a hardcore Worms-er (if that’s a word).

Depending on who you ask, most old school Worms fans would probably rate Armageddon or WMD as when the series peaked, as many since those have felt very redundant without really adding much new to the formula aside from new weapons and level templates. But times change and so must franchises if they want to stay relevant with what gamers want. A handful of years ago it seemed zombies was all the rage, so tons of games coming out was set within that genre, but in the last few years popular games in the Battle Royale genre have exploded in popularity like Fortnite, PUBG and Warzone, spawning countless others. The latest to enter the Battle Royale is Team 17’s take with their longest lasting franchise, Worms Rumble.

That’s right. Gone are the traditional turn based tactical gameplay Worms is best known for and in are the Battle Royale rulesets that have you trying to be the last team, squad or worm wriggling. It’s a very drastic change from the classic gameplay we’ve come to love for decades as you now play a single worm in real time trying to shoot your enemies. While many things do translate well to the genre shift like the classic jetpack, bazooka and holy hand grenades, it’s also played in that classic Worms 2D view and there’s always tons of chaos, so it can be a little much at times to take in and figure out what exactly is going on. Just know that Worms Rumble is absolutely and completely different from any other Worms game that came before it and you’ll be able to keep your expectations in check.

Before you begin you’re going to want to customize your worm to your liking. You’ll only have a few options at the start from skin patterns, hats, accessories, eyes and more, but as you level up and earn coins you’ll be able to unlock more. The more you play the more XP and money you’ll earn, allowing you to purchase more skins, emotes, unlocks and more. While the gold comes quickly enough to purchase almost anything you want, sadly the coolest looking skins, outfits, emotes and more seem to be locked away behind a paywall.

That’s right, Worms Rumble has microtransactions riddled throughout. Yes, they are all cosmetic and won’t affect gameplay or balance, but the in-game unlockables are nowhere near as cool as the sets you can buy for real money. This wouldn’t be much of an issue if the cost wasn’t too bad with a low price or able to earn in-game from lots of playing, but expect to pay roughly $5 - $10 per DLC offering. PER, not all. It really feels like being nickel and dimed for all the skins and emote packs which, for a first impression, wasn’t a great start.

Before you jump right in you’ll first want to decide what mode you’ll want to partake in. You have Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Last Squad Standing and Last Worm Standing. Certain modes have level suggestions but you are able to jump into them right away if you desire to lose quickly. I’m not sure why Last Squad Standing has a level suggestion of 5 and Last Worm Standing of 10 since you can simply jump into them regardless, and there are no ways to upgrade your worm’s stats or weapon damage, but I guess those modes tend to be a little more competitive compared to Team Deathmatch or Deathmatch and developers may not want players to become quickly discouraged.

The other issue that I noticed was that the matchmaking isn’t balanced very well. Nearly every match had fresh level 1 newbies paired or pitted against higher level players. Sometimes my squad wouldn’t even be completely filled out before the match started either, so you can guess the general outcomes of mis-matches like this. It is worth noting that Worms Rumble utilizes 32 player cross platform multiplayer, so filling matches generally doesn’t take too long and you’ll be able to play with friends on PC or other consoles. 32 players all playing a single worm at once can lead to some very chaotic matches, yet still retains that ‘worm-ness’ about it even with the drastic genre shift. I do wish that you could muti-queue modes to make it quicker if you don’t really care what mode to play though. While most players will likely stick to their favorite mode of choice, I found myself sticking with the Last Squad standing, as it’s fun to play alongside other teammates and try and utilize strategy when the maps starts to fill with poisonous gas blocking off certain areas.

You begin with a random weapon, usually a pistol, assault rifle or shotgun as well as your trusty baseball bat, each of which looks and sounds like it’s straight from any of the classic Worms titles. Since Worms Rumble is a Battle Royale you’ll need to find crate drops which vary in colors denoting if they contain regular weapons or the more unique ones you’d expect to find in a Worms game like a sheep launcher, rocket shield or a sentry launcher. Each weapon type is best suited for different situations and play styles, as I tend to prefer the assault rifles given how hectic and jerky player movements can be when in a firefight. There’s also no slow paced jumping to maneuver around, as you can climb up walls with ease or roll to ‘run’ for a short time. Makes sense in the quick paced Battle Royale genre, but simply doesn’t feel like classic Worms in the slightest.

While the classic Ninja Rope is gone, you can instead find a Grapple Gun, essentially a plunger with a rope tied to it, to zip around the stage in and our of danger wherever you like much quicker. The classic jetpack also returns, allowing your worm to fly in any direction for a short time. Since this is a Battle Royale, you’ll find health kits to replenish your HP or Energy Drinks to boost your shield meter. Some of the classic Worms staples are missing though, like concrete donkeys, girders, destructible environments and others. There’s also no way to buy back teammates who have gone down either other than a brief few moments to revive them before they’re finished off.

The heart of Worms is still there with banana bombs, holy hand grenades and sheep but the change to real-time combat and Battle Royale genre swap does take quite some getting used to. While I’m not normally a Battle Royale fan and admit I wasn’t very fond of the idea of a Worms game switching genres so drastically, I did give it an honest shot and it begin to grow on me, though probably just because of my affinity towards the Worms series more than anything else.

I’m trying my hardest to not be a Worms elitist, as I’m sure Worms Rumble will find its audience and fans, but for a longtime Worm fanatic like myself, I’m not sure how much longevity it has for someone that isn’t into Battle Royales. The best part though is that Worms Rumble is on Game Pass for Xbox and PC, so there’s no reason to not check it out regardless if you’re a Worms or Battle Royale fan to decide for yourself.

**Worms Rumble was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 6.7 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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