A bit of inner turmoil always accompanies the purchase of the newest Worms game. Do I really need this? I just bought one last year. Ten seconds later: Okay, fine, I’ll get it. Despite the general sameness of each title with minute changes to keep things fresh, Team17 consistently makes just enough of those changes to warrant the yearly refresh. Worms Clan Wars follows in this mold, making lots of little updates, plus one big one.
The 3D-rendered, 2D-styled graphics are gorgeous, taking the colorful depth of Worms Revolution to the next level. The shadows and precision in Worms Clan Wars are striking, with an almost hand-drawn level of detail. Blowing a hole in the wall to reveal part of the background can be a costly distraction: remember, at the end of the day, we’re here to kill worms, not sightsee.
And kill worms we shall. Clan Wars contains a whopping 65 weapons in its complete arsenal, featuring most of the gadgets from Revolution and ten brand new additions. These range from the explosive Mega Mortar and Bovine Blitz to the useful Oxygen and Teleport Gun. As someone who adopted mostly Scouts in Revolution just for increased movement speed, the Teleport Gun is my favorite new weapon: it transports worms to whatever location it’s pointed at, and can be used indefinitely so long as the worm has not touched the ground. Timing the aim does take practice, but the possibility of long-distance worm travel in a single turn is worth the effort.
Those weapons are available via a weapons panel that appears on the right side of the screen, with all 65 icons visible and the ones you have access to colored in. I do prefer the style of panel used in Revolution, which overlays the entire screen and allows for larger icons of each weapon. Icons in Clan Wars, and even the gear info below the weapons panel, are very small and tough to differentiate. And with every icon visible—not just your available items—you often have to scroll through an entire column just to reach your weapon of choice. This costs precious seconds of your turn that could be used for worming your way toward the enemy.
Of course, dedicated Worms fans will likely get used to the panel and onto killing quickly enough. Clan Wars features the physics objects system introduced in Revolution and enhances it to almost puzzle-platformer status in some places. Prehistoric talons need to be lodged in a hole to create a path for your soldiers; bones attached to rope-pulleys act as elevators that require careful jump-off timing. The new Oxygen item allows worms to breathe underwater and avoid the health penalty, while Winged Monkeys can grab physics objects and drop them in front of—or onto—unsuspecting worms.
All of these features, new and old, can be enjoyed in single-player as well as local and online multiplayer. Up to four teams, with as many as eight worms per team, can battle it out in the diorama-themed levels. Although I didn’t get to try multiplayer during this pre-play due to unfortunately empty servers, it’s obvious that Clan Wars is focused on your ability to go wormo-a-wormo against other human beings. With multiplayer ranked matches, Clan Wars (the title and name of the clan arena) league play, “Wormnet” chat rooms, and all the other goodies we’ve come to expect—like worm customization and level editors—readily available, there’s no reason not to throw down with your friends.
Unless you’re playing single-player, which is a good reason. Katherine Parkinson voices our new, spoiled “crypt-creeper” narrator, and brings the same snooty disregard for worm life to the role as Revolution‘s Matt Berry. One of her many great quotes: “My butler air-dropped a back up worm into this exhibit. Several actually. Then he remembered to give one a parachute. So there’s one living back up worm in here somewhere.”
There will be plenty of back up worms when we review Worms Clan Wars upon full release later this year.