There have been a lot of Worms games in the last twenty-one years, and most of them have stuck to a familiar formula. It's a 2D artillery game starring cartoonish creatures that have a high pitched voice and endless pockets filled with baseball bats and holy hand grenades. Worms WMD is going to break that mold, but it does feature visual upgrades and gameplay additions that are long overdue for the franchise. I had the chance to play through several levels designed to give me a feel for these changes, and I walked away excited about a Worms game for the first time in a while.
First things first, Worms is an old franchise and most games before WMD have looked like it. The art of the 2D installments is classic, but it was showing its age years ago, and we were due for new assets that take advantage of the modern resurgence of 2D games that we are living through currently. The new Worms may get a bit of getting used to, but I found the style much easier on the eyes, and I loved some of the subtle tricks that were afforded by the upgrades, including gravestones for fallen soldiers that fit in with the environment rather than popping up and getting stuck floating above terrain.
Worms is known for its multiplayer, and WMD adds several new features to the procedurally generated maps that make each round of the game a unique challenge. Vehicles such as tanks and helicopters can spawn in, giving you a one turn boost to your firepower that can overwhelm an opponent's fortified position. The game will also generate stationary turrets that can be manned for a turn and rip through enemy forces. Using the sniper turret's huge laser sight to pick up opponents almost felt like cheating, which is the hallmark of a good power-up.
The other huge addition to the gameplay is a crafting system. When I first heard that Worms was getting a crafting system, I almost lost it. Virtually every game that I demoed that day had crafting of some sort, so to see a game like Worms continue the trend was almost funny in an insane way. However, if there's one type of crafting I can get behind, it's weapon crafting, and that is exactly what Worms WMD allows you to do.
Once you find a box of materials on the map, you can go into a crafting menu and choose to create upgraded versions of every weapon in the game. Why unleash one Bunker Buster when you can drop three in a single move? Why use an Uzi when you can fire off rapid-fire laser rounds that ricochet off walls? Adding to the variety of Worms in this way is a great move, and there were a huge number of alternate weapons to experiment with.
Like I said before, Worms WMD made me excited to play Worms again, and that's an accomplishment onto itself. The developers have made smart additions to the sandbox and given players more toys to mess around with, all in a world that has never looked better. Coming out later this year on PC and current generation consoles, Worms WMD looks to be a treat for veterans of the series and newcomers alike.