Hands-on Preview – Blood Bowl 3
Although I had heard about the Blood Bowl franchise, I had never actually played them before. I know that the first two Blood Bowl games were met with generally favorable reviews, even if there were still some issues with some of its gameplay mechanics. Now Cyanide Studios is back at it again with the newest entry into the franchise, Blood Bowl 3, which I was lucky enough to check out during the beta testing.
For the most part, anyone who has played the other Blood Bowl games will know what to expect here. These are American football, turn-based strategy games featuring characters from the fantasy Warhammer world. They are are tactical, humorous, and above all, brutal. Fans of this franchise will be getting the same Blood Bowl feel, but with lots of extra content and upgrades.
Blood Bowl 3 has several new features from the first two games. For starters, there will be twelve teams to choose from when the game launches. However, only three of them were available to play during the beta. Players could choose from the Imperial Nobility, Elven Union, and Black Orcs. Just like in the other Blood Bowl games, each race has their own specific set of playstyles, strengths, and weaknesses.
For example, the Black Orcs are great with melee, are quite powerful, and inexpensive to hire on new players. On the other hand, you’ll have a very limited choice when hiring new team members and they tend to have a very poor passing game. The Eleven Union have superior agility, an excellent passing game, and are the best at handling the ball. As you might imagine though, they’re also very expensive. There are pros and cons to each race, which you’ll have to consider carefully before starting a match.
One of the biggest complaints with Blood Bowl 2 was the lack of a good campaign mode. While it did have one, it was limited to only humans. Blood Bowl 3 has taken the feedback from fans to heart and is offering a much more extensive story campaign that is now open to all races. The campaign was unplayable in the beta, but it’s nice to know they’re listening to their fans.
While the customization options were turned off for the beta, there will be a surprising amount of them available in Blood Bowl 3. There will be new customization options for your coaches, cheerleaders, teams, as well as every piece of armor worn by your players. This can give players a remarkable amount of personalization and control with shaping their ideal team. The only complaint I have here is that you can’t have every type of race on one custom team. In this area, it’s still limiting, but they’ve certainly come a long way in terms of representing the different races equally. In way it makes sense though. I can’t imagine things going over too well with orcs and elves on the same team.
Just like in the previous games, online multiplayer matches are still one of the game’s main focuses. It will have an improved competitive mode (including competitive seasons), with new league management features and an official ladder. Players can join a league and try out the new management options. You can even create and configure your own tournaments the way you want, making adjustments to the stadiums, pitches, timing, races, etc. No two matches will feel the same.
Blood Bowl 3 is shaping up to be the strongest entry into the franchise yet. I must offer a word of warning to new players though. This is not a simple football brawler like NFL Blitz. This is a very challenging turn-based strategy RPG. There is a lot to learn about how things work and as of right now, the game doesn’t offer tutorials. Fans of the franchise should feel right at home, but newcomers will need to be prepared to do a lot of studying to figure out the intricacies of Blood Bowl 3.
Blood Bowl 3 will come to Early Access for PC in September 2021, with the final release slated for February 2022, with console ports included.