New Gunbound, a free-to-play turn-based artillery game similar to Worms, is set to launch on PC, Tablet and Mobile later this month. It’s a blast from the past for anyone who played the original.
As someone who played the first Gunbound, I’m very excited about New Gunbound’s release. But before diving into its history, many potential new players are probably wondering what the hell it’s all about.
New Gunbound is like worms, but better
Have you ever heard of the game Worms? It’s a popular franchise by Team17 that spans seventeen PC and console games, five handheld and mobile games, and five spinoffs.
I’m a massive fan of the Worms series. But New Gunbound is a lot like worms, and in my opinion, it’s better.
The premise is the same. It’s a two-dimensional turn-based artillery game that revolves around ballistic warfare on different maps and terrains. But New Gunbound has a cooler and more vibrant aesthetic, similar to games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
More importantly, New Gunbound is streamlined for online play. A player only needs to control one character rather than an entire team, and they don’t need to worry about picking from dozens of weapons. Everything is simple.
Players create or join lobbies and organize themselves into two teams. These teams can be 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 or 4v4. The host player picks the rules, maps and items available.
Once everyone has picked a side, each player needs to select a vehicle and three useable items. The usable items are supplementary and limited to things like double-shot, teleport and additional blast radius. The vehicles are far more critical to gameplay, and there are many different ones available.
No two vehicles are the same. Each one has a unique look and a different set of weapons. These weapons are known as S1 (Shot 1), S2 (Shot 2) and SS (Special Shot).
Generally, Shot 1 is the weakest, followed by Shot 2 and Special Shot. But the downside to the more powerful shots is that they cause more delay, a kind of time-penalty imposed between turns.
For example, a player who keeps using Shot 1 against an opponent who keeps using Shot 2 will eventually jump them in the turn queue, earning themselves an additional shot. Ideally, you want to use Shot 1 to find the right angle and power, and only use Shot 2 when you have an enemy lined up.
It’s also worth mentioning that some vehicles are better than others in different scenarios. And likewise, some shots are better than others depending on the circumstances. It is knowing what to do and when that separates the wolves from the sheep.
But there’s more to a battle than vehicle and shot choice. Factors like terrain damage, wind speed and direction, and other phenomena come in to play. Players need to change their aim and trajectory power all the time while being mindful about health and strategy.
It’s worth mentioning that New Gunbound also introduces a ‘real-time mode’, which adds an extra element called ‘action power’ that allows players to move and dodge in the middle of an enemy’s turn. But more details will be revealed closer to its release.
There is also a progression system built around ranks and gold. For every shot, high skill shot, kill and victory, players earn skill points and gold. The former is like experience points used to rank up, while the latter is a currency used to buy cosmetic items and sets and add some flair.
Gunbound was a smash-hit back in the day
Back in 2003, there weren’t many free-to-play online multiplayer games available. But Gunbound was among the best at the time. It was polished, fun, addictive, and very popular, especially in South-East Asia, South America, and Oceania.
I remember the day I first discovered Gunbound. It was way back in my first year of high-school. A classmate handed me a burnt disc, pale-white on the top and multicoloured on the bottom. It even had that unique metallic smell. But what stood out the most was the word ‘Gunbound’ inked onto its surface with a permanent marker.
“This game is like a better version of Worms,” he said. “And we can even play it online. Install it tonight and join us for a game.”
It sounded like black magic. I grew up playing all kinds of different games and consoles. But I didn’t know online multiplayer on the PC was a thing.
Needless to say, that one game ended up being hours worth. I didn’t even start my homework, let alone finish it. And I went to bed way later than I should have, but it was worth it.
The next day, I skipped school and played Gunbound all day. Seventeen years have passed since then. I’ve changed, life has changed, and the world has changed. My passion for online gaming never faded. But unfortunately, Gunbound didn’t survive the test of time.
I suppose it was inevitable. Online games became the new craze. They got bigger and better every year. A small studio like Softnyx couldn’t keep up, no matter how passionate the community was. Gunbound’s popularity continued to wane and the servers eventually shut down on July 24, 2009.
Gunbound found a new home on Android and iOS
Although the game died, mobile gaming eventually became a thing. It seemed like the perfect fit for a simple game like Gunbound.
Sure enough, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it relaunched as a mobile exclusive on Android and iOS devices. It was rebranded as GunboundM, and it became a smash hit.
GunboundM had some new features, namely a visible bullet path to make it easier for players to aim and a training mode. But it remained true to its predecessor.
It’s success sparked interest in re-creating the game properly, and that’s where New Gunbound comes into the equation.
New Gunbound’s release isn’t too far away
No official release date has been set. But a developer named ‘bauwow89’ dropped some hints in a discussion thread on Steam.
From what he said in the comments, a closed beta will be happening sometime in early June. It will be a short one, and the game will be released soon after. Still, if you’re like me and you can’t wait, all you need to do is comment in the thread and ask for a beta key, and you’ll get it.
So what are you waiting for? If you’re an old player like me, it’s a no brainer. But if you’re curious to see whether New Gunbound lives up the hype, you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s free-to-play and worth a shot. Who knows, you might even get hooked.
Update (June 11, 2020): In their first official announcement, the developers said the release has been pushed back until July. It’s good that they want to get it right, but let’s hope there aren’t any more delays. Tonnes of people are desperate to play.
Alex is a freelance writer based in Adelaide, Australia. He finished a law degree but realised it wasn't the career for him and decided to follow his dream of becoming a writer. Since then, he has finished two postgraduate writing degrees at Swinburne University of Technology. Now he writes about his other passion; esports and gaming.