Review: Worms Battlegrounds
The Worms franchise has more titles than you can count on both hands and feet on every gaming platform you can possibly imagine, and now here comes the first PS4 Worms game, Battlegrounds. Does it make any sort of advancement to the franchise or play it safe?
Worms at its core is an artillery game, where you have a variety of wacky weapons to give to a team of 4 Worms, to beat the snot out of another team of enemy worms. You get four different worm classes with their own unique abilities to play with, and the 60+ different weapons help to add a fair bit of strategy to the 2D artillery nonsense that usually comes with this series.
The base Worms game is still fun, with the strategic weaponry and tactics combining to be at least enjoyable as it has been in previous installments. However, it feels like Battlegrounds makes more of an effort to distract from the base gameplay as much as possible with big and small issues throughout the game.
One big example is the worm customization – the custom team of Worms you build can be customized, but only slightly with a surprisingly low amount of objects, less than in previous iterations. In fact, the entire game shows less steps forward than any other iteration in recent memory – other than the new Clan Wars mode, any real steps forward are reserved for the tiniest improvements to the game. There hasn’t been any real “revolutions” since the PS3’s Worms Revolution, and it’s immediately noticeable.
The main piece of content is a single-player mode, narrated by yet another cast member of comedy The IT Crowd, Katherine Parkinson. Unfortunately, while some of the writing tends to be funny, it seems to be jokes we’ve all heard in previous Worms story-focused games, and the readings sound so dull and uninterested it’s hard to get engaged with the paper thin excuse to kill worms.
Story missions don’t seem to be much better either. Most of the missions are heavily scripted affairs with a couple of pre-set worms, moving through pre-built obstacle courses with such obvious solutions that they feel more like a chore than a Worms game with any sort of actual strategy. I can understand wanting a tutorial for the newer elements of the game, but they’re not hard to understand – what really needs to be taught is the strategic mind needed to excel in a Worms game, and it’s not on show here.
The other single player addition is Worm Ops, a series of time trials based around one skill or weapon usually lasting around a minute. These skill tests are often a lot of fun to complete and test your skills. Unfortunately only ten of these Worm Ops challenges are in the game, meaning they’ll be over within about half an hour if you don’t like replaying missions more than once.
With the boring story mode and the short Worm Ops single player feels really insubstantial, with combat vs AI being the last resort – and the AI in this game seems to have taken the coin flip method of being amazing one turn and brain dead the next, much like the last handful of Worms games. So of course the mainstay of the new generation Worms games is going to be online multiplayer, but this seems to have been about as mishandled as the single player game. Multiplayer is split into two different modes – the typical multiplayer matchmaking, and the new clan wars mode ported from the previous PC iteration.
Clan wars is a new system to Worms multiplayer – you can be part of an 8 person clan winning matches for your team and proceeding up the leaderboards. While this might be great for a tight knit group of friends, most clan matches I managed to find (and I didn’t find many) ended up being two on one. The clan system has 2 on 2 battles normally which means you might end up being forever alone if you’re playing by yourself. Normal multiplayer is just searching for ranked or friendly simple deathmatches by yourself or against up to 3 other players. Thankfully what multiplayer matches I did play seemed to be reasonably stable, outside of the strange effect of how players fall off the map entirely when they disconnect.
The main problem with the multiplayer is that the clan wars mode segments the normal deathmatch, meaning a light multiplayer community is probably going to be spread even thinner by needless segmentation. It’s hard to find a match in either mode to begin with, which makes it even more painful. If the Clan Wars mode was the main mode, or if it was more in the background so that a singular multiplayer experience could be maintained, the multiplayer would be much more accessible.
It’s hard to recommend Worms Battlegrounds to anyone. It feels like Battlegrounds was rushed out to capitalize on the new console generation, with a serious lack of engaging single player content, poorly designed heavily segmenting multiplayer, and no real steps forward in the formula. If you want to play a Worms game you lose nothing from picking a previous game over this one.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Base game is still some fun at least
What I Dislike:
- Heavily scripted story, unengaging humor
- Worm Ops way too short for a good idea
- Needlessly segmented multiplayer
- Lack of customization
- No real evolution of the series