by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Those invertebrates are at it again...
Think of Team 17 and you think of its hugely successful Worms franchise. Those militaristic invertebrates have been having games made about them for eighteen years now, and I was invited to take a look at the latest one, Worms: Clan Wars at Rezzed 2013. The team has brought in some fresh faces who are looking to bring something new to the Worms formula. The game will be taking cues from unlikely sources such as MMOs and eSports to create an exciting new experience for the multiplayer.
Responding to fan expectations
The developers have been trawling the forums to see what the fans want from a new Worms game. As a result, Clan Wars will be a PC exclusive, and will have a bunch of benefits associated with that. For example WormNet is making a comeback, allowing an IRC chat type experience for users. All sorts of different chat rooms will be open, meaning you can search for like minded individuals who want to play the same sorts of games as you do. You can find a group of people who want to play the same game type with the same options, and launch into a game straight away. There will of course be traditional matchmaking for those looking for a quick fix.
Single player isn’t something you would normally associate with a Worms game. However, there is a full-fledged story mode in this latest title. It has a script voiced by Katherine Parkinson, continuing the IT Crowd connection after the previous game was voiced by Matt Berry, for those of you familiar with the British TV series. It will feature twenty five missions, and will introduce the idea of Contraptions. These are mechanical objects like see-saws to cross over and hot air balloons to ride upwards. In the launch window, full Steam Workshop support will be implemented, allowing users to create their own contraptions and so on. There is no DLC planned for the game, but players will have access to the full mission creator toolkit soon after launch.
Major improvements for multiplayer
Multiplayer will undoubtedly be the main draw for Clan Wars and with the new mechanics in place it seems as though it will keep people coming back. You can now create and join Clans, groups of players who chat and play games together in the same style as guilds in MMO games. Clan matches are separate from the normal multiplayer, but features a more robust ranking system. Your team will compete in placement matches, eventually putting you onto a ladder with similarly skilled teams in the same way as StarCraft or League of Legends. You will climb or descend the ladder based on your results and at the end of each month the teams at the top of each division will be promoted or relegated.
Your clan will have its own chat channel, and you will even be able to level up your clan based on performances. This will unlock various cosmetic upgrades for your worms. None of the boosts will be gameplay related, so the ranked system will always be to do with the individual skill of your players. There are plans for a website and companion app allowing you to see everyone’s own player profile containing tons of stats to do with their play. In this way, clan leaders can vet applicants to their group if the clan is private to see if they are up to the right skill level. There will be more casual, open clans for players who just want to have some fun.
There are plenty of major changes to the way the multiplayer works, but under the surface this is still a Worms game. From what I saw, Clan Wars certainly looks better than previous titles graphically, with a lot more detail going into the levels, and some more interesting backgrounds. A handful of new weapons are being added, bringing the total up to sixty five. New additions include the Teleport Gun, a Portal-esque weapon allowing you to quickly move around the map. This new game will feature dynamic water systems, facilitating the introduction of new tools like the Aqua Pack. This is another way of getting round the levels in the same way as a Jet Pack, however it can also be used to fill in pools of water, unlocking potential for some sneaky drowning kills. The Winged Monkey will fly off and bring you back a physics object which you can put to good use.
A step in the right direction
Team 17 are often accused of not making any meaningful additions to what has become a yearly franchise. There are not many gameplay changes here, but the introduction of clans and the new ranking system are certainly a step in the right direction. There is not a solid release date yet, but Worms: Clan Wars will be out sometime in Q3 this year.