Review – Blood Bowl 3

Blood Bowl 3

In the time between the release of Blood Bowl 2 and 3, I have actually played the real tabletop game. I’ve actually got really invested into the extremely expensive hobby of Warhammer wargaming. And while Blood Bowl wasn’t the sole reason, it being my original introduction to the IP is partly to blame. So I definitely made sure to pick up the boxed set and see how it played in real life. My findings were that it plays almost exactly the same, and is still a blast to play. Likewise, Blood Bowl 3 is a blast to play. Regardless of its many many issues, it’s undeniable how strong the ruleset is. Especially this latest version, which has evolved to put more emphasis on passing plays, making running games viable. If only the rest of the game could stand on the same footing. 

Stunties all nice and lined up, ready to be put on administrative leave.

For those who don’t know, Blood Bowl is a turn-based parody of American Football. Although you’d be forgiven for thinking that American Football was already turn-based, given how they stop plays every five seconds. Combat, by which I mean totally fair play, takes place between two teams made up of Warhammer Fantasy characters. Sadly there’s no Age of Sigmar or 40K versions yet, which I do admit I find off. Just like in American Football, the goal is to get one of your guys to carry the ball into the other team’s endzone. Unlike American Football (at least most of the time), there’s a big chance your whole team won’t make it through the match. 

It’s called BLOOD Bowl 3 after all, not Peace and Love Bowl. Fouling players up to and including murder, bribing officials, and using witchcraft to influence the game are all tools at your disposal. Also, much like traditional American Football. Possibly except for the witchcraft, though I feel like someone has already tried. All in all, it turns a game of throwing around a ball into something reminiscent of ancient Mayan soccer. Although I have to say that the game is brilliantly balanced, and the Blood part never does outshadow the Bowl. It’s definitely the most fun part, no doubt about it, but you need to be smart about it. Sometimes, winning the game will cost a few skulls, but it’s a rare game where just crushing skulls is enough to win. You’d be fooled by the premise, but Blood Bowl is actually a masterful strategy game, especially in multiplayer. 

The spikey pointy gang is back in town.

Which is why it’s such a damn shame Blood Bowl 3 was released like this. The core game is great, and faithfully adapted. Which means that Games Workshop technically did all the heavy lifting, but at least Cyanide knew not to mess up what works. Which isn’t at all apparent when you see what they did with everything else. The UI is messy, unintuitive, and now takes longer to learn than the rules. The performance is poor, and the game loves to crash. It may not be as bad now as it was at launch, but this is their third time doing the same game. We’re past the point of talking about an acceptable number of crashes, or playable stuttering versus unplayable. The game doesn’t look good enough to justify performance issues of any kind either. Not that it would have been a justifiable reason, but it would have been a reason.

Then there’s the monetization. At this point, it’s been talked to death, but for good reason and it’s worth repeating again. What Cyanide tried to pull was disgusting. We’ve known since before launch that this game would be supported by Seasonal Battle Passes and a Cosmetic Store. They even charged a budget price to compensate, which I thought was a good sign. Naïve me. What we didn’t know what that each cosmetic item was intended to be a single-use item. You use a hat on a player, and if you wanted to use it on another player you needed to buy it again. With real money only. This has since been changed to unlimited uses per purchase. As it should be, but that it was ever attempted is disgusting. Had the backlash not been as fierce, Cyanide wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Blood Bowl 3

The high light of all board games, loads of dice rolling and maths.

As much as I hate to admit it, I really enjoy playing Blood Bowl 3. The launch was an utter disaster, but Cyanide was able to put out the fires very quickly. Server issues, game-breaking bugs, and the microtransaction debacle were all handled reasonably quickly. Short of not happening at all, I can’t really find much to complain about there. The UI is still terrible, but playable. And the AI is again absolutely braindead, but we all know the real game is in the mutiplayer anyway. And Cyanide has already posted a comprehensive roadmap, which should fill in a few missing gaps as well. Still as fun as it is, Blood Bowl 3 is a warning of what some developers and publishers are willing to try to make a quick buck. It may be fixed and fun now, but we can’t forget when it wasn’t. 

Graphics: 6.0

Once you get past the stuttering and graphical glitches, Blood Bowl 3 is actually a nice looking game.

Gameplay: 8.0

The Blood Bowl ruleset has been constantly refined over the last 30+ years, and this edition is the slimmest, sleekest, most easy to process version yet.

Sound: 7.0

The music exists unoffensively, but the real magic is the commentators who manage to be genuinely humorous, a rarity in video games.

Fun Factor: 5.0

While the gameplay itself is great, everything around it from the performance to the insanely predatory microtransactions do nothing but bring it all down.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Blood Bowl 3 is available now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PS4, and PS5.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Blood Bowl 3 was provided by the publisher.