Blood Bowl 3 Review
The Warhammer universe is nothing if not immense, with spinoffs and sequels too numerous to count. As tabletop gaming fans know, Blood Bowl is a popular Warhammer-themed parody of American football. Fantasy races go head-to-head in hilariously brutal matches. Forget spiking the ball. What about mounting your opponent’s head on a spike? Transitioning the board game to video game format was, and remains, a no-brainer. The issue at hand: does Blood Bowl 3 gain or lose some yards?
More of the Bloody Same
Just like its tabletop cousin, Blood Bowl 3 is a turn-based game that vaguely follows the rules and external trappings of televised football. So, you’ve got play-by-play color commentators — Bob the ogre and Jim the vampire — and their banter is amusing, at least for a while. There are cheerleaders, and the camera pans and zooms in homage to our favorite Monday night pastime. Most of the best-known Warhammer fantasy races are represented as playable teams and there is a new team called the Black Orcs. Some teams have a very limited number of player types. Those who play the tabletop version of Blood Bowl will see the traditional rules now more faithfully represented. If it wasn’t for its football trappings, Blood Bowl 3 comes down to being a squad/team-based turn-based tactical RPG with various races and units. The roll of the dice still determines the outcome of moves, for better or worse. There are skill trees, buffs, and other RPG mechanics, but with a football theme.
For players adverse to matching up against humans, Blood Bowl 3’s single-player campaign will be the place to start. It’s a decent enough tutorial. The mini-campaigns do a good job of teaching the rules and introducing the races. There’s an amusing narrative about corporate greed, star players with backstories, dramatic plot turns, and a lot of brutal Warhammer color. Some will call a foul on the atrocious AI, occasionally buggy scoring, and some potential glitches that stall progress.
Outside of the campaign, there’s lots of typical sports game team management. You can create dozens of custom teams and leagues, made up of your favorite races and unit types. The downside is that you can’t play a season against AI. You either need to match up with friends or chance a match and against — shiver — random strangers This restriction definitely sacks single-player replayability.
Players of Blood Bowl 2 will notice some enhanced, more detailed graphics but overall a lack of polish. After seven years, the third game is only a small gain of yards. Blood Bowl 2’s Legendary Edition has more races and after a steady stream of bug fixes and add-ons, is much the same experience. So similar, in fact, that Blood Bowl 3 recycles some player animations and jokes from the prior game. Blood Bowl 3’s campaign includes some matchups with teams from the earlier games. In other words, expect to feel a bit of deja vu if you’re a fan of the series.
There are a handful of reasons to dive into Blood Bowl 3. Maybe you’re a fan of the tabletop version. Or maybe you just can’t get enough of all things Warhammer. The market is choked with turn-based RPGs, but at least Blood Bowl 3 has a sense of humor and a unique sports theme. If you’re picking it up for any of those reasons, you won’t be disappointed. As a tactical Warhammer RPG, Blood Bowl has some exciting action and some spot-on moments of hyperbolic parody.
Where Blood Bowl 3 fumbles is in its lackluster forward motion from the previous game. Its offline play is pretty limited, and too much has been recycled from Blood Bowl 2. It’s very rough around the edges for a game so long in the oven. All that aside, Blood Bowl 3 can be amusing, tactically engaging, and still great fan service for tabletop players and the Warhammer faithful.
***PC code provided by the publisher for review***
- Amusing moments of parody
- Warhammer fantasy races
- Can be an engaging tactical RPG
- Lacks polish
- Lots of recycled elements
- Limited single player content