Worms Rumble Review: A New Twist on a Classic Franchise

Team17, creators of the Worms franchise and purveyors of vermis-related carnage, are back with another entry in the series, Worms Rumble. This time the developer is taking a different approach and free-for-all mayhem is the focus instead of tactical, turn-based combat -- though sheep and holy hand grenades still play a prominent role. The release-day version is entertaining and filled with laughter-inducing moments, but the limited number of maps leads to burnout during long playing sessions.

Worms Rumble has three primary modes at the time of release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC via Steam: Deathmatch, Last Worm Standing, and Last Squad Standing. Deathmatch is the standard free-for-all that pits 32 worms against each other in a large, multi-level map filled with a variety of weapons and hidey-holes. There are basic weapons — shotgun, handgun, assault rifle — as well as bazookas, rocket shields, sentry launchers, sheep launchers, and the high-tech plasma blaster. Each worm also has a baseball bat for close combat scenarios, which is capable of dispatching opponents when reloading is not an option.

This basic mode is the quickest and easiest way to level up and acquire new clothing items and coins to spend on weapon skins. Matches take fewer than 10 minutes and provide plenty of opportunities to rack up kills. Team17 also shows off its ability to keep the game running buttery smooth even when there is a large amount of chaos. Some battles during the review process featured up to 10 worms in a very small area firing guns and throwing grenades at the same time. Despite the number of explosions on-screen, there were never any performance issues on a base PS4.

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(Photo: Team17)

A major part of past Worms games is the traversal, and Worms Rumble adds even more options. There is a grapple gun for swinging across large gaps, zip lines for quickly crossing the level, and a jetpack that turns the common worm into the Rocketeer. The worms also have the ability to climb up the sides of walls or air vents, making it easy to escape battles when necessary. Quickly making it across each map is very easy despite the overall size, and the various traversal options provide the opportunity to sneak up on and ambush other worms.

While the action is entertaining, the lack of map variety is a problem. Worms Rumble launched with a limited number of maps, which tend to repeat. One session featured the same map seven times in a row before another entered the rotation. The levels are well-designed and feature a variety of spots to conduct battle, but seeing the same environment over and over can become tiresome. Though Team17 is launching a new map on December 17th and promises even more in the future.

Fortunately, the battle royale-style Last Worm Standing and Last Squad Standing take place in a much larger arena featuring a multitude of starting points. Players can join the action in a food court, a parking garage, a storage area, or several other options and try to survive and become the final worm — or squad — alive. Each starting point can only hold two or three worms at a time, so it’s critical to immediately find a box of gear and load up with banana bombs, jetpacks, and other handy items.

If the standard modes grow tiresome, Team17 is offering another way to entertain players. The developer just launched the first in a series of seasonal events, the Lab. These timed modes tweak the gameplay and provide unique rewards. The first is a Western-inspired mode, Pistols at Dawn. There are 32 worms armed with handguns. They only have one bullet to achieve a one-shot kill. Those that find success in the first Lab event will earn a golden skin for their character.

Worms Rumble is fairly limited out of the gate given the small number of maps that tend to repeat with irritating frequency. However, the gameplay itself is an entertaining twist on a classic formula and still features the signature Worms touches. It remains to be seen whether the promise of new maps, seasonal modes, and outfits is enough to keep players engaged for long stretches of time.

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Rating: 3 out of 5

Worms Rumble is currently available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC. The PlayStation Plus version was used for the purpose of the review, and it was reviewed on a base model PS4.