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The pantheon of great videogame weapons is dominated by shotguns, rocket launchers, and the odd sword or hammer. And it makes sense, these tools are responsible for the large majority of blood you’ll spill in most games. It’s a shame though, because there’s something wonderful and elegant about a perfect grenade toss—that graceful arc through the air before unleashing untold, instant destruction. If the rat-a-tat of a gun is the string section of an orchestra, grenades are that ear-splitting crash cymbal. Pound for pound, grenades can be every bit as satisfying—and there’s no shortage of wacky grenades that rival the most absurd guns.
In honor of these little death dealers, we’re rounding up the best grenades in PC gaming—from the satisfying shockwave of FEAR’s frag grenades to the divine chorus that spells doom for your team in Worms. If you like watching things explode (or implode!), we’ve got some good ‘nades for you.
Few grenades are capable of triggering horrific childhood memories quite like Worms’ Holy Hand Grenade. I vividly remember the dread of seeing one plop down next to several of my worms, a chorus of angels singing a triumphant “Hallelujah!” before blasting them all straight to hell. It’s the enormity of God’s holy wrath contained in the tiniest of weapons. Compared to Worm’s other assortment of absurd weaponry, the Holy Hand Grenade is elegant and simple: You throw it and count to three—four shall thou not count, neither count thou two, accepting that thou then proceed to three—and revel in the obscenely large explosion capable of destroying a huge portion of the map. And if the initial blast doesn’t finish off your enemy, you can always rest easy knowing it’ll send them soaring through the air to a watery grave. Monty Python might have invented it, but Worms’ hilarious variation is what really made this one of PC gaming’s most iconic grenades. — Steven Messner
I generally don’t like a damage-over-time ‘nades, but until these were nerfed they were straight up broken in Destiny 2. Pulse Grenades are arc-powered pineapples that are exclusive to the Warlock Stormcaller and the Titan Striker subclasses, the latter of which could carry two at once with the top skill tree. Toss a Pulse Grenade down and the initial impact sends enemies pinwheeling through the air. Anything not killed instantly is then flash fried by repeated bursts of electrical energy that look like a fire in a sparkler factory. The funny thing is that Pulse grenades were absolutely garbage in Destiny 1, but for the sequel they were buffed to be good enough to melt bosses, whilst almost every other grenade got reduced to water balloon effectiveness. But that’s Bungie’s sandbox balance team for you. The daft bastards. — Tim Clark
*Slow motion voice* Get dowwn!
I don't know what porn is, but watching a N6A3 fragmentation grenade explode in slow motion is grenade porn. The explosion bends the air into a visible concussive bubble, a shockwave that sends office supplies flying and men's asses to the ground. There's a half-second of quiet as everything floats away from the grenade's center, and then pop, fire and shrapnel fill the screen and dissolve the men and their asses into errant blood spatter textures and goofy little giblets. It takes some time for the smoke to clear. Exhale with it as you try to convince yourself FEAR came out over ten years ago. — James Davenport
Killing Floor 2 is so focused on shooting and blowing stuff up that even its medics get to shoot you (with love) and blow you up (with vitality). I love that KF2's medic class doesn't have to slow down or weild a Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch-like proton pack to do the job: just alt fire to stick a teammate with a healing dart, or throw a medic grenade to pop a cloud of blue smoke for everyone to suck into their lungs. It’s not the most impressive visual effect, but nailing a toss and capturing your struggling teammates in the cool, healthy embrace of your medicinal gas, which also damages Zeds, can prevent a team wipe—and I love saving my teammates by violently chucking metal at them.— Tyler Wilde
Would you rather your digital avatar be torn limb from limb by bits of shrapnel or would you rather lose control of it altogether, forced into some stupid boogie nights wiggle as your executioner watches and laughs? Sure, Fortnite Battle Royale's Boogie Bomb is cute, but the reality is a horror show, a tool built for humiliation. Death by one such mirror-plated 'nade is like being taken to the influencer gallows, where you're forced to tromp around and bash cymbals together for a meme-hemorrhaging audience before the floor gives out. I'll take the shrapnel, please. — James Davenport
The best grenades don’t always have to have to do something wacky, sometimes it’s all in the presentation—and in that regard the Thermal Imploder is unparalleled (except by FEAR’s N6A3 ‘nade, maybe). EA’s Battlefront stuck relatively close to Star War’s canon when it came to weaponry, but the Thermal Imploder is an exception I’m willing to make. The blast effect is gorgeous, but it’s really the bwah-bwuuuuh! of its detonation that makes this grenade stand out. If FEAR's frag grenade is grenade porn for the eyes, then the Thermal Imploder is grenade porno music for the ears. — Steven Messner
The fanciest flash grenade in video games, Ying's 'candela' spits out not one but six independent flash charges in quick succession, making it hard to shield yourself from. It also has strangely nuanced throwing behavior. If you cook it, up to three LEDs will illuminate on the candela before throwing. The more lights that are lit, the further the tactical light ball will roll along a floor. And separately, you can simply affix the thing to any 'soft' wall in Siege to flash through the wall. It's fun to hurl into a bombsite or hostage room, knowing at the very least you've sent anyone inside scattering. — Evan Lahti
I played most of Borderlands 2 solo as Maya, so singularity grenades, which suck enemies into a little black hole before exploding, were my best friend. I sampled a few other grenade mods in the early hours, but once I found my first singularity, I never looked back. I'd actually hold onto low-level singularity mods instead of using higher-level bouncing betty mods and the like. They're that good, especially for Maya, whose super skill preys on clusters of enemies. They're also fabulous with rocket launchers, and I have fond memories of gawking at their Geforce PhysX particle effects. Remember when that was still novel? Where do the years go... — Austin Wood
On the surface, frags in XCOM are not that impressive. You can cause more damage by shooting someone, their range isn't great, they destroy equipment so you can't salvage stuff off anyone you do manage to kill with them, and lining up that bubble showing where they will land can be annoying. It's not flashy, it's not special, it doesn't draw attention to itself. It's the Jimmy Stewart of handheld explosives. But the humble XCOM frag grenade is in everybody's inventory from mission one, they destroy cover, and you don't have a percentage chance to miss with them. They always lands where you want and cause enough damage to kill a baseline sectoid. The number of turns where I've messed up every easy shot and found myself in a situation where someone's fucked unless I can cause precisely three points of damage to that one guy over there are beyond counting. In those situations, the XCOM frag grenade is the best.— Jody Macgregor
If the twenty first century has taught us anything, and so far it probably hasn’t, it’s that blowing people up is bad. But for real transgressive thrills you can’t beat setting (pretend) people on fire. I think my love of immolating NPCs began with TimeSplitters on PS1, because Free Radical Design went the extra mile to code in really scared HOLYFUCKIMONFIRE screams. But it was with The Division that my pyromania took root. I main the Firecrest gear set which is built around setting dudes on fire. Mostly with the rinky dink flamethrower turret, but also with the extra Incendiary Grenades the gear grants. Pop one of these spicy little peppers and it spills liquid napalm over a satisfyingly wide surface area. Enemies caught within the nade’s roast radius start flapping around like, well… like their arses on fire. With the Wildfire talent enabled the burn spreads to their colleagues in that satisfyingly organic way that Ubisoft games seem to have nailed. I dunno, man. Burning is just the best. — Tim Clark
Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.>
A long time ago, deep in the cyberyear 2000, came a turn-based multiplayer war game called Hogs of War [Steam page]. It was essentially Worms in 3D, with pigs. But whereas Worms spawned an undying horde of sequels, to the extent that the franchise is now a bonafide industry joke that nobody knows how to address, Hogs of War never saw a sequel. Perhaps it’s just as well, fond as it was of puerile humour and cheap national stereotypes. (more…)
People still remember 1999's Worms Armageddon fondly, and in some ways developer Team17 has fought against that nostalgia as it continues to develop the series. As a lifelong Worms fiend, it s been hard for me to enjoy the most recent Worms games on PC Worms Revolution in 2012 and Worms Clan Wars in 2013 because they just seem so different. They are both good games, but Worms with varying stats and the cheesy 3D graphics kept it at arm s length from the Worms experience I remember.
But the next installment, Worms WMD, is a love letter to Armageddon. It s a homecoming for a series that may have strayed a little too far down the path of modernizing for the sake of modernizing. Team17 has stripped out the different worm stats and fancy water physics, and returned to 2D art that looks the way you (incorrectly) remember Armageddon looking. Digitally painted environments and characters that are downright gorgeous, especially compared to the 3D models of the games that came before it. The whole game looks stunning for its simplicity, and it feels like Worms.
Despite being made on a brand new engine, jumping, ninja roping, and carefully firing bazookas into the wind all worked just as I d hoped. And the cheeky sense of humor present through all the games is still there, now updated with even more references. The voices available in the preview build I played included one that sounded like Bear Grylls, a cheese-obsessed character that sounded like Wallace of Wallace and Gromit, and (I imagine a recent addition) a worm clearly meant to be Bob Ross who would tell me there are no mistakes, just happy accidents every time I whiffed a shot.
Despite its reverence for classic Worms, WMD does introduce a handful of new mechanics to shake up the formula. The best of these new additions are buildings areas of the map that look solid, but are actually mostly hollow. When one of your worms enters a building, the facade disappears to reveal the area inside. It s pretty much just normal terrain, but the health bars and names of worms in a building don t show up unless it s your turn, and even then only if you are controlling a worm in that building. It s a unique moment in a game of Worms where all the information isn t clearly laid out in front of you, and remembering who's indoors is key.
Unfortunately the addition of vehicles doesn t add nearly as much to the game as buildings do. The preview build I played had pilotable tanks and attack-helicopters scattered around the map, and they felt like a weird sidestep for the series. When jetpacks have such limited fuel and expert ninja rope skills can get you to otherwise unreachable locations, it seems wholly out of place to be able to spawn right next to an infinitely flying helicopter, entirely undermining both of those items. Additionally, each vehicle only has one mode of fire, which makes them a predictable set piece in a game that s otherwise about variety.
Something I'm still undecided on is how the addition of crafting fits into Worms. A second tab in the weapon select screen reveals the crafting menu, where you can construct most of the weapons in the game. You can even make special upgraded variants of weapons, like a flame-launching bazooka or a proximity mine version of the iconic Holy Hand Grenade. Crafting requires crafting materials which drop from the sky in specially marked crates, similar to health packs and other supply drops.
It s actually a pretty cool way of letting players tailor their arsenal to their needs mid-match. If you see the enemy is turtling up, craft more (or better) bunker busters. If they re exposed, craft napalm air strikes and homing missiles. You can open and use the crafting menu while you are waiting during an opponent's turn in an online match, but I worry the feature was created entirely with online play in mind. In local games the best ways to play Worms you can only craft on your own turn, and those who can t craft quickly will be at a pretty big disadvantage, especially considering turn time is usually of the essence for inexperienced players.
But even with these new changes, playing Worms WMD felt like familiar in all the right ways. I wasn t able to play around with customizing my team or changing the ruleset of a match at all, so we ll have to wait until the game to see if you can do things like turn off vehicles or alter crafting options, but WMD is a whole lot of fun. It brings back the Armageddon experience while still feeling like a fresh take for the series.
In the 21 years Worms has been in existence, the turn-based strategy-cum-murder playground has spawned over 20 main series entries and a smattering of supplementary spin-offs. Over 3,000,000,000 worms have met their maker in that time, says developer Team 17, which is a number sure to rise further still when Worms WMD arrives on August 23.
Expect new additions such as tanks, rocket-launching choppers and concealable buildings when it does; not to mention huge falling Concrete Donkeys because, well, this is Worms.
Should you wish to commit to the frontlines early, WMD s All-Stars pre-order edition adds a whole host of familiar war-faring faces to your ranks too - from rocket-propelled cars, to raging orcs; from prison escapees, to dubstep gun-wielding saints. Check out highlights from the All-Stars pack ensemble below:
Fancy that? The All-Stars Pack will be available to everyone who pre-orders before August 23. The Steam pre-order is set to go live at 6pm BST/10am PT today, and will cost 19.99/$29.99/29,99 .