Worms Rumble Review — 25 Years of Armageddon
Worms Rumble comes just in time to celebrate the franchise's 25th anniversary with a fun and chaotic albeit very bare-bones entry.
Any franchise reaching a 25-year milestone is a big deal in the games industry. As of this year, we can add Team 17’s Worms series of popular tactical action games and its various spinoffs to that list with the release of Worms Rumble. While it’s more of a fast-paced battle royale experience than a traditional Worms game, it still manages to embrace those differences with a lot of fun and chaotic action. Unfortunately, there ultimately isn’t enough variety in its game types and modes to keep you glued to it for more than a handful of hours.
When I talk about Worms, the first thought that more than likely comes to mind is a turn-based tactics game on a large destructible map where you control your individual units to be the last worm standing. Worms Rumble is a bit of a departure from that particular formula. While not the first entry in the series to venture into new territory, it is the first to be a largely real-time action game.
No longer are you taking turns to strategically maneuver your worms into offensive or defensive positions. Instead, Rumble has you on a large map covered in weapons while everyone is running around trying to take you out. So if you’re expecting a traditional Worms experience then you might be disappointed. It definitely would have been a nice addition to include a mode that resembles that traditional gameplay style. Especially for a 25th-anniversary release.
Fans of the series will also be very happy to know that the weapons that Worms series has always been known for have come along for the ride in Rumble. Everything from the autonomous exploding sheep to the devastating holy hand grenade are present and at your disposal. The weapons are what make this series, so it’s nice to see them return in this new format. Their presence just adds to the overall chaos that is assuredly going down on the already very weapon-saturated map. Dispatching an enemy with a strategically placed banana bomb while grappling upwards to make your escape is extremely satisfying.
The biggest addition in this installment is of course the battle royale mode. It’s a first for the series and it functions more or less as you would expect. 32 players drop onto the map. The last worm or team of worms standing at the end are the champions. It checks all of the necessary boxes for the genre and generally plays it fairly safe. However, the team still manages to imbue the experience with the signature humor and personality that Worms is known for.
Like other battle royale games, you drop in with only your one melee weapon. From there, you have to quickly stock up or you’ll be easy prey for your nearest opponent. But unlike something like Apex Legends or Fortnite, there is very little time to get your bearings. You can quickly find yourself in a sticky situation if you’re not adequately armed. And the map being fairly small and contained makes that even more crucial.
Surprisingly, the destructible environments (another series mainstay) also make a return. Being able to blow up walls or platforms to your advantage was not only strategic but extremely satisfying. Especially when you’re able to knock the ground out from under an enemy and have them fall to their doom. However, with Rumble, there isn’t really any doom for you to fall into, and even fall damage is virtually nonexistent.
Omitting that aspect, which could be deemed as series mainstays, from Worms Rumble feels odd. Unlike the old games, it makes for an experience that is more action than strategy. Previously, your opponents’ moves were just as much of a threat to your safety as your own choices. So removing the strategy of having to be mindful of your surroundings does feel detrimental to the experience a bit. The team could reintroduce it with a patch, but it’s strange to not include this aspect of the franchise upfront.
Worms Rumble shines brightest when it’s at its most chaotic. However, that excitement does fizzle out quickly due to a lack of content and new ideas for the already very packed battle royale landscape. It does capture a similar feel to classic Worms even if it is a big departure. Still, it would have been nice to have a mode that was in the classic turn-based style. After all, that’s what made the series so successful in the first place.
This absence does feel like a massive oversight especially for a release commemorating the 25th anniversary of the franchise. Overall, the package is kind of a mixed bag of really fun frenetic gameplay and just as many missed opportunities that could’ve been something special for longtime fans.