STAFF REVIEW of Worms Battlegrounds (Xbox One)

Friday, June 6, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Worms Battlegrounds Box art It’s hard to believe that the Worms series has been around for almost two decades. Not many games companies can boast that they’ve been working on the same series, almost exclusively, for this long, making this many entries into the series. The time has come, and now we have a new entry into the series, a first on the now current-gen consoles titled Worms Battlegrounds.

If you’ve played a Worms game before, you can expect the same gameplay that gets slightly revised and improved with each new entry that always included single player, online, and local multiplayer. For those interested in the single player aspect, there are 25 story missions, complete with a story and reason, though you won’t care about the silly reasons. While the story element isn’t necessary for a Worms game, it’s appreciated that at least something is there for those that won’t be playing any of the multiplayer. There are also 10 Worm-Ops missions that are essentially time attack assignments which take place across a handful of different environments.

If you’ve played the last few Worms entries into the series then you’re going to feel right at home with Battlegrounds. Like most of the Worms titles, this one takes what the last game or two did and slightly add and improve on it. Battlegrounds draws its most features from the previous two games; the worm class system from Revolution and the clans from Clan Wars. Battlegrounds is fundamentally those two titles mashed into one with a few added weapons, twists, and improvements (the water mechanics in Battleground adds a whole new strategy layer to gameplay), complete with the classic turn based gameplay that we’ve been playing since 1995.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Worms games, there are teams that have a set amount of time to take turns shooting at the other teams until there is only one winning team left. The catch? Well, that you’re worms of course, hence the title. With your set amount of time per move you need to decide where to squirm to, what weapons to use, and to aim and shoot. Simple in concept, but given all of the abilities and weapons that you have access to, there’s a surprising amount of strategy involved to come out on top the victor. There are even random crates that will normally drop weapons and utilities, but instead will drop a box of coins, where if collected, they can be used to purchase a super weapon and be used in a match where you normally wouldn’t have access unless you got lucky with a crate drop.

The core gameplay is still unchanged in Battlegrounds but you do have access to a lot more weapons than usual. Topping off at 65 weapons and utilities, 10 of which are completely new, the majority of your time will still be roping, jetpacking, and drilling to where you want to go to shoot your bazookas and other weapons at the enemy worms. Battlegrounds uses the new engine that was introduced with the last game, Revolution, that allows for some completely new mechanics and hazards such as advanced water physics and other puzzles. This new game engine actually allows for water to flow and pool that’s above the normal baseline of water that is normally instant death.

Also returning from Revolution is one of the bigger changes that the Worms games has had in the past decade, the inclusion of the classes for the worms, allowing specific types of worms to have special abilities. You know the Soldier already, as this is simply the basic worm that we’ve been controlling for almost twenty years. The scout is very tiny and is incredibly nimble. Scouts can jump very far, fit into smaller areas, and won’t set off mines, but they are also weaker than others when using weapons. Scientists have a massive forehead and because of this, they know how to heal themselves 5 health per turn and have access to some enhanced weapons. Lastly is the Heavy who is very slow, can’t jump very far, and won’t be running any marathons, but the flip side is that he can’t get knocked back very easily and he will inflict more damage with most of the base weapons. As you can see, finding the right blend of worm types to suit your play style is important, and if you’re like me and know how much damage certain weapons do per attack, it’s almost like learning all over again as it can change based on which worm you’re currently using.

Topping in at 65 total weapons, there’s a lot of new ones here that you’ll have to learn how to use efficiently. The ninja rope seems to have been slightly changed, and as an oldschool Worms-er, I found it near impossible to use quickly and efficiently like in the older games. There is now a teleport gun though that help with the quick traversing when needed and also doesn’t end your turn either. Classics like the Concrete Donkey and iconic Holy Hand Grenade all return along with a handful of new super weapons, while cool, took a bit of getting used to since I’ve been using all these other weapons for so many years and know exactly how they work.

The now expected map editor is included for those that wish to create perfect levels for their customized worm team. There is slightly more customization for the worms themselves in Battlegrounds, as you can choose hat, face accessory, gravestones, and of course, the voices bank for your team. Playing the Xbox One version of Battlegrounds will also allow you to use your phone or tablet with Smartglass to see your team’s stats on the second screen. Nothing groundbreaking and I was hoping for more, but at least it’s being used.

The real Worms experience comes when you either play locally with friends or online against some fierce competition. Included in Battlegrounds is your typical deathmatch and fort modes and support for your clan, even including a very basic emblem editor. Up to four players can play simultaneouslyas per the norm, but you can even set how many worms on a team and then which classes you want to play with as well. Though I found this out by accident while I was playing with the buttons waiting for a match to begin. Not everything is clearly labeled in the menus and how to set things up exactly how you want (like turn time, match time, etc).

The new engine does make the game look better overall, but it also has a nasty habit of blending the background and foreground objects together, making it very difficult at times to see what is in the way of your shot or not. Many times I fell, took damage, and sacrificed my turn because the background looked like it was a ledge on the playing field. One new improvement I really appreciated though was the way that it shows you if you’re going to hit something in front of you or not. Previously, you had to simply know and learn how close to the ground or object you can shoot without damaging yourself; now if you’re shooting and the aimer goes red, that means you’re going to damage yourself instead of making your intended action.

That being said, Battlegrounds still has the same issues that the past handful of game have had as well. Playing against the AI, you’ll be waiting a very long time for them to take their turn, and when they do it’s either completely moronic or with robot precision that no human player could ever make. The other big problem that keeps occurring with each Worms game, is that it feels like a very small incremental update (aside from the big changes that came with Forts and Revolution) rather than its own big release. Because the Worms games release so often, the community for each becomes fragmented and trying to find a game for one of the older titles can be impossible unless you set it up beforehand. Players never seem to stick with one of the titles for too long and the online multiplayer can become a ghost town pretty quickly since none of the Worms games can play with each other.

Being the Team17 and Worms fan that I am, I’ll always purchase whatever the new release is, but even I was shocked to see that Battlegrounds was released at a $25 price point. If you’ve never played Clan Wars or Revolution, Battlegrounds is definitely worth it, as it’ll feel like a completely new game and have a lot of new mechanics and weapons for you to learn. For those of us long time fans that has played every release, it’s a much harder sell as it does just feel like a slight upgrade from Revolution.

Overall: 7.3 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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