Worms Rumble is quite the departure from the usual brand of chaos that the series is known for. In most Worms games, teams take turns to try and usually fail spectacularly to blow up the other teams’ worms, but Rumble takes all the trappings of invertebrate warfare and twists it into a fast-paced multiplayer shooter. It doesn’t exactly feel like Worms, but it’s still pretty good.
Instead of taking charge of a whole team, Worms Rumble has you controlling a single worm in a multiplayer match with 31 others, all of you running, shooting, and dodging around a pretty large map all at once. Your worm can now also scrunch itself into a ball and roll around Samus from Metroid-style to get around a little quicker and jump a little further, and there’s also wall jumping skills for reaching high places without the use of a grappling hook. You’re quite a bit more manoeuvrable than you might expect and this is good news considering you now need to aim and avoid incoming gunfire, and Worms weapons in real time are incredibly dangerous.
A ton of fan favourites return from previous Worms games, such as a sheep launcher, banana bombs, shotguns, and the trusty bazooka, but there are a few new additions too. One launcher fires a volley of rockets that just turns any room into fiery, wormy death, or an assault rifle, which is also kinda fun, I guess. You spawn with a weapon, but anything particularly explode-y needs to be found in the map, as well as grenades and utilities like the jetpack and grappling hook to help you get around even quicker. Crucially, the weapons all handle differently, so if you expect your shotgun will handle like a hand cannon, you’re probably going to die.
As mentioned, it doesn’t really feels like a Worms game. In fact, it feels a lot like Crash Commando, which isn’t exactly a bad thing because I loved Crash Commando. It helps that Worms Rumble is also a lot of fun. When you’re in the thick of things and fighting off people from multiple sides with banana bombs and a sheep launcher it’s hilarious, but it plays well too. You can pull off some pretty impressive shots, often whilst dodging sheep and balls of plasma, and it becomes very satisfying once you get used to rolling around to maintain momentum while also sending rockets in the direction of your enemies. The maps have plenty of areas that are covered until you enter them, so you can pop out and ambush unsuspecting enemy as they’re entering the area blind.
It all looks and sounds like you’d expect from the series, with a 2.5D aesthetic and some nicely detailed 3D backgrounds. When four players meet and all cause different explosives at each other, the difficulty seeing what’s actually happening is curiously mitigated by how entertaining watching everyone explode was, especially with no frame rate drops on PS4.
Worms Rumble goes all in on customisation and unlockables, so you can tweak the look of your worm and guns with various paint jobs. You can also choose between some of the usual Worms voices for both your worm and the game announcer.
It isn’t perfect though. There are some really lengthy loading times on PS4, to the point where I almost restarted the game once or twice because I thought something had gone wrong. The maps in the game are also quite large, which means you can to spend a lot of time running across a map looking for someone to shoot. Sometimes you immediately get exploded when you get there and have to do it again.
Worms Rumble is shaping up to be a pretty fun multiplayer shooter. There aren’t many (any?) games where you can jetpack above a bunch of warring worms and rain banana bombs on them, or drop a holy hand grenade on an enemy and grappling hook out of the door. When you’re in the thick of things the game is hectic and hilarious, but more importantly, it’s satisfying to play as well. Coming out for PS5, PS4 and PC on 1st December, this has a lot of promise, so long as you’re not here for the turn-based sort of mayhem.