We go hands on with an early build of Worms W.M.D., the upcoming Worms title from Team17 that promises to be the best Worms experience of all time.

This week we had the chance to play an early build of Worms W.M.D, the latest franchise offering from Team17. The studio made the claim that its upcoming foray into the series has resulted in the ‘best Worms experience ever’, which is a bold statement. After spending plenty of time with the Worms W.M.D. preview build, however, we’re inclined to agree: this is the game Worms fans have been waiting for since Worms Armageddon.

Sensibly, Team17 has moved away from 3D gameplay like in Worms Ultimate Mayhem, and built a complete 2D experience from the ground up, with smooth landscapes to boot. As is the norm, every inch of the landscape is destructible, and by the time matches reach their conclusion the levels will look like true warzones. In a series first, the hand-drawn buildings now also have interiors, so players can seek refuge in destructible structures to gain an advantage over worms left out in the open. It’s a small change to the formula, and just one of the many that Team17 takes in its latest title.

Worms WMD Gameplay

One of the largest additions to the game is the introduction of vehicles and turrets, which randomly spawn around the landscape. Players can hijack tanks and helicopters from other teams, both of which provide easy transport, damage protection, and plenty of firepower. While the helicopter makes navigating the map a cinch, its machine gun turret is extremely hard to aim while moving. The tank offers less maneuverability, but is a capable artillery device that can fire 6 timed shots to devastating effect. Should the enemy team destroy any vehicle, however, the hapless Worm pilot inside it will take extra damage – making piloting one of the vehicles a risk versus reward move.

By comparison, turrets offer no mobility bonuses to those who use them, but the damage outputs make up for the high risk it takes from manning such a high profile target. Flamethrower bases jettison flames across a frightening distance, while heavy machinegun turrets deal waves of massive damage and sniper posts allow for a laser sight to make each shot count. Turrets can change the direction a battle is going dramatically if used well, and they lend themselves into the classic Worms formula with ease.

The staple Team17 humor returns in full, and gamers hoping for more unique team voices can rest assured that the likes of Bob Ross impersonators and cheese-pun-spinning combatants should satisfy most fans. Players can join the fray with up to 48 worms entering each round, a number which all but guarantees chaos and a high kill count from super weapons. Classics like the Concrete Donkey make a return, while new weapons like the OMG Strike (an orbital laser satellite) and a charged phone battery (which can chain its electric shock against multiple nearby worms) combine to breathe a breath of fresh air into the franchise.

Worms WMD Crafting

The crafting element also adds a surprisingly deep element to gameplay, and causes a much more intense level of strategy to the average Worms match. Players can disassemble non-infinite inventory items for scrap (or pick supplies up from crates the hard way), and can use these crafting supplies to assemble one improved weapon each turn. Whether it’s adding a laser scope to a shotgun or poison gas to a bomb, the crafting mechanic adds a unique meta-game element to Worms as players plan out which items to break down in order to get an improved item in time for a clutch turn of increased devastation.

All of these new gameplay aspects compliment the classic Worms formula exceptionally well, and the result is a chaotic and fun experience that both veteran fans of the franchise and newbie players can pick up and play with ease. The result is exactly what we said earlier: Worms W.M.D. is the game fans have been waiting for since Armageddon.

Now that Team17 has focused on its strengths in 2D gameplay and evidently put some thought into new gameplay additions – which are more satisfying than the features Worms Revolution attempted years ago – the franchise has returned to its roots in a big way. Between the new crafting mechanic, vehicular combat, deliciously destructible building interiors and terrifying turrets, we can’t wait to see the full scope of what Worms W.M.D. has to offer. It’s been a long time coming from Team17, but the studio has finally conjured a sequel worthy to stand alongside – or even surpass – the fandom of both Worms 2 and Worms Armageddon.

Worms W.M.D. releases August 23 on Steam for PC and Mac. Game Rant played an early PC build for this preview.