Worms. Worms Never Change.
Worms is part of the classic ‘canon’ of multiplayer gaming. It’d stand up against Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Quake and Fifa as an archetype of a brilliant multiplayer game. Two or more teams, four worms each, an array of crazy weapons, fully destructible terrain and a strict turn taking system is apparently a recipe for great fun. While the game could be passed over as a slapstick joke, ever since the 1995 debut players have found a surprising amount of depth and strategy to the game; good players can pull off astounding tricks and tactics that amateurs can only dream of. For years Worms was local-multiplayer only, in the past decade it has moved to online. Now it’s going competitive with Worms: Clan Wars.
Clan Wars is keeping the classic gameplay of Worms, but adding a matchmaking and stats-tracking system that will allow and encourage gamers to take it much more seriously. As seriously as you can take warmongering invertebrates.
High on the list of new features is the clan system. Players will be able to form and join clans, with stats being tracked and leagues being held between competing clans. When you join a game you’ll be able to represent your clan and control all four worms, or you could join up with 2, 3 or 4 clan-mates to represent and receive bonuses for playing as a team. Team17 are pushing players to work together and this will hopefully lead to a real community and a buzz about the game as people devise strategies and practice ready for big games. There’s even a lobby system similar to SpyParty where players will be able to chat with other clans and challenge them, launching games right from the lobby. In SpyParty this has led to a wonderfully positive atmosphere, with new players being helped by veterans and post-match discussions being more educational than boastful.
With competitive gaming taking off (see the launch of Meltdown in London and the huge tournaments taking place all over the world) there’s definitely a market for this kind of experience, and using Worms as a platform nearly all gamers over a certain age know and love is a good move that opens up this world to a whole new audience. While DOTA and Starcraft may have impossibly high difficulty-walls to scale in order to compete online, Worms is much more accessible. While you’ll still get destroyed by the experts, by splitting clans up into leagues as Blizzard have perfected, clans will be able to compete on a level without getting demoralised by constant losses or bored by constant wins.
The core game is much the same. There’s new fluid dynamics to allow water to take an even greater role than before, there’s even a new jetpack that uses water as a fuel and while expelling it, can push worms around the map or to their untimely deaths. The game looks beautiful, with a consistent art style harking back to the original and other 2D entries, but then sharpening everything up to make sure it doesn’t look out of place this generation.
Single-player is receiving some love too, with a real campaign tied into a story featuring a museum. The IT Crowd’s (and from the Maltesers advert) Katherine Parkinson providing the voice-over for a tale that will include more than just matches against progressively harder AI teams. Puzzle-based encounters will mix with skill challenges to give new players a tutorial and experts a new challenge to hone their skills with.
Worms: Clan Wars could potentially be another hit with competitive gaming if it takes off. Only time will tell as to whether the community will get behind it, but the game is already looking amazing polished and the social features have obviously been well thought-through and planned to support the building of a clan system that will persist. We can’t wait to start up the TPReview Clan and we’ll see you on the battlefield.