Following its ’90s heyday, the Worms franchise has tried to reinvent itself several times. Most of those attempts have been successful enough to offer a few hours of fun, but not enough to rebuild the series around, resulting in Worms burrowing underground for a few years, then re-emerging with a new idea.
Worms Rumble is that latest new idea, and it already feels like it will suffer the same fate. It certainly provides the few hours fun of previous Worms reboots, but is similarly lacking in the depth of its ideas and its overall structure.
There’s a simple target shooting offline mode, but this exists to serve as the game’s tutorial, not as a substantial game mode on its own. Instead, Worms Rumble brings three different game modes, all to be played online: Deathmatch, Last Squad Standing, and Last Worm Standing. These are all tried and tested online shooter modes, and while Worms Rumble doesn’t mess any of them up, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
That’s the first of many times you’ll find yourself asking: “why am I playing this?” It’s not to say Worms Rumble is bad, but online shooter is probably the most crowded genre out there right now, and the two biggest – Fortnite and Call Of Duty: Warzone – are not only absolute juggernauts, they’re free-to-play.
While deciding to make the reboot a battle royale destined to be overlooked for competitors might have been a poor choice, that doesn’t influence Worms Rumble’s average score here. That can be attributed to substandard weapon implementation, overly eclectic map design, and an oversight of what a Worms game is supposed to be.
First, the weapons. There are a handful of different ones, from the typical shotguns to the melee baseball bats to the more eccentric sheep launcher. You start off with a weak, boring gun and then grab better ones as you open chests or take down other worms. This is probably the only thing the game gets perfect, as it encourages movement, rewards offensive plays, and offers a decent range of weapons without becoming overwhelming.
The problem is, however, that most of these weapons are only useful in specific situations, and with a huge map with a lot of locations – which often don’t really fit together – you can end up with the ‘wrong’ weapon through no real fault of your own. For each kill you get with a weapon, you can level that weapon up so it’s more useful, but as I get into more below, this system isn’t the best either.
Then there’s just the fact that this doesn’t seem like it should be a Worms game. At its core, Worms has always been about tactical chaos. There were a million and one things happening on screen at once, but after a few rounds, you understood why they were happening and how to make them happen. Worms Rumble is just pure chaos.
The sprawling map could be interesting, but the camera is so tight that you don’t really get the benefit of the big map moment to moment. When you die in Deathmatch, the respawn location seems entirely random, so it just feels like you’re being thrown across to different, tacked together locations, rather than on one cohesive map. There’s zip wires, trampolines, and elevators, so it’s certainly not boring, but there’s not much substance to each location. The map has a lot of floors, but not many layers.
The value of this game is its quick pick-up-and-play carnage. Unfortunately, it leans too much into the carnage that it often forgets to be fun.
This admittedly is better in the elimination games rather than Deathmatch, as there’s more of a sense of the hunt as the battles go on. But the game recommends you level up before trying these, to Levels 5 and 10. They don’t sound that high, but it will take a fair bit of playing to get there with some paltry XP rewards.
In my first game I finished 20-something out of 32, and got zero XP for placing, which is probably fair enough. Next round though, I placed in the top 8, and was rewarded with just 20 XP, meaning after one bad game and one pretty good game, I only just reached Level 2.
Poor choice of genre is the big, overarching issue with Worms Rumble, however, certain mechanics, like the levelling system for example, dampen the experience too. The game expects people to stick around for it to open up, but doesn’t really give them much reason to.
Worm’s Rumble is now available on PS4, PS5 and PC.
Worms Rumble is a fairly average online shooter, and in such a competitive genre, fairly average isn’t going to cut it. Going back to Worms’ roots might have been more fruitful, but it feels like a very by-the-numbers game with a nostalgic franchise painted over the top of it to make it more appealing. It’s good for a few hours, but no more than that. Even then, you’ll probably still be on Level 3, the game still advising against playing it’s more interesting modes.
- Good range of weapons
- Map has lots of variation
- Map is too big with too close a camera
- Brings nothing new to the crowded genre
- Leveling up is too slow with too few incentives
- A few connection issues while playing