The everlasting Worms series makes its debut on next-gen systems with Worms Battlegrounds and becomes the series’ biggest, most content rich outing to date. But has this zaney strategic brawler outstayed its welcome, or has Team17’s worm-warfare slithered to new heights? Read on to find out.
Game: Worms Battlegrounds
Developer: Team 17
Publisher: Team 17
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
Worms revisits its original 2D sidescrolling visuals after an attempt at 3D gameplay and is all the better for it. In fact, very little has been altered to the original formula that’s kept the game ticking for so many years. Whilst that might not infuse long-time players of the series with wild cravings to relive former glories, Battlefields has done well not to fall over itself trying to break mechanics that’ll probably never need fixing – as a result creating an experience that will most likely benefit those who haven’t played any Worms games for a while.
The ethos is simple as it’s ever been; throw down some garden variety worms, arm them with a huge assortment of artillery and daft weaponry, then have them blow each other into oblivion via turn based combat. Gameplay shows a number of refinements that certainly help bring something a little fresh to the table. The addition of water based weaponry mixes up the player’s approach by forcing them to plan accordingly; hitting an enemy with well placed water-balloons can cause them to skid off slopes into the fray or even slowly wear them down by submerging them in formulated pools.
The increasing amount of weapons at your disposal found in every new iteration might seem like a good thing, but with over sixty to choose from this time round it’s starting to render many as token humour rather than them hosting any actual practicality. A lot of the time you’ll simply find a bunch that you’re familiar and effective with and stick with them for the course. However, the bulk of the gameplay remains tight and enjoyable with tons of strategy and those special moments you can only achieve through multiplayer gameplay.
There is two single player modes that offer thin narrative and a grinding female narrator for you to instantly take a disliking to, despite Katherine Parkinson’s (IT Crowd) best efforts. The story and ‘Worm-ops’ modes only have any real benefit to those wanting to get to grips with the array of weaponry and new mechanics before approaching the multiplayer where the game shines its brightest. The reason for this being that the AI, that whilst serving its purpose, always feels flat and lifeless; some enemies will be unerringly accurate, others will miss relatively easy targets feeling like the game’s had pity on your plight. Multiplayer adds human error (and brilliance) which makes for a much more interesting time in-game all round.
The online modes include basic four player death matches and fort mode which has you attacking an enemy’s base. You’ll find these encounters far more enjoyable and variable thanks to different play styles and approaches going from one player to the next. One bugbear is the general speed of forts mode, which feels slow to get into any action due to starting points – negating in a game where turn based mechanics already slow a player’s interactivity down to a crawl. You’ll also be offered a ton of customisation options from naming to dressing up your worms which works in Clan creation, too. Edit your own logos, for example, to give you and your friends that personal touch to take online.
Visuals are smooth, albeit uninspiring. The backgrounds are bright and visually interesting but seem to blend too much into the foreground. This creates a busy pallet that confuses at times as you start wonder where one ends and the other begins. The graphics do a serve a gallant purpose, however. Explosions look cool and the way water moves throughout the level is slick and particularly worrying if you have a worm waiting to be drenched. The entire presentation will feel very familiar to fans of the series, without really benefitting from any of the next-gen tech in your shiney new systems. Clever integration with the DualShock 4’s front light and touch pad add a little something, but nothing you’ll be bowled over with or perhaps even find that useful in the long run.
Worms Battlegrounds maintains its familiar stylings and although there’s a few refinements, you’ll largely experience something that you might have several times before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because if you loved the series in the past, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here, especially when taken online via multiplayer where the game is at its very best. For those that struggled to get on with the slow, tactical nature of the Worms style gameplay, you’ll won’t find anything that’ll change your mind because Worms Battlefields plays on its strengths without innovating in the slightest, but it does so without remorse or regret – it loves what it is, and fans probably still will too.