When the new version of BB was announced, both the board game and computer version, I was apprehensive. My amateur knowledge of 40k and Sigmar made me wary as every new version seemed to add additional features and generally seemed to make the playing style just a little bit more complicated.
I was a huge fan of Football Manager over the years but when it got to the point where you could choose how long you wanted the grass and how wide the parking spaces were in the players car park, I lost interest. To me there’s a fine balance between playability and complication.
As an example, Skyrim is a superb game on PC or console, in as much as it’s huge but it can be played relatively easily. Grab a huge sword, some health potions and wander into any cave and vanquish your foes. Elder Scrolls on the other hand, was based in the same arena but just added in too many complications so I found it was far less enjoyable.
BloodBowl 2 on the console was the definition of playable. The style of play was straight forward, with lots of double clicking if you wanted something confirmed, throwing and catching were easy and visually there wasn’t too much going on at any one time to confuse my simple mind. That said, the AI teams were far too easy to beat regularly and there always appeared to be an algorithm that resulted in far too many 1’s being rolled in one half of the game, only to be reversed with a plethora of 6’s in the other. I liked the levelling up and the team selection, but with my football manager hat on I would have really liked to have been able to develop my team further and add in special players etc, which I never achieved.
BB3 is still in development with (at the date of this article) no confirmed launch date, with the targeted date already moving on a few times, it seems we could be in for a launch just in time for Christmas 2022.
First up, visually it is stunning. The opening graphics, introducing a goblin who is taking his first steps towards a BB career is smooth and entertaining (and a little bit humorous). The look and feel lets you know you’re still playing the same game but it just looks more modern with the stadium graphics (of which there are a few new ones to choose) bigger and better and the match environment much more pleasing to the eye.
The way you create your teams is similar, but better, with it feeling as though I was really in control of the kit choices, colours and overall customisations (although I can see GW having plenty of opportunities to take are well earned coin through additional options – new balls anyone?).
The special characters have a bigger role to play, but it was limited in the Beta version as you can add them into your team but they cost gold. You could do this in BB2 I know but it just feels like they’re more front and centre in BB3, with the special characters and journeymen being linked separately rather than one big pile of choices.
The playing options in Beta are limited to single matches v AI, hotseat or online. I played v AI.
The game play was very similar to BB2, but the views available of the pitch are slightly easier to customise, however the screen is cluttered. There is far more detail available on the screen and whereas previously a Blitz could be made by selecting a character and then double clicking on the target, you now need to choose action “2” beforehand. Similarly with throwing, rather than choosing your player with the ball and double clicking on someone to receive it, you now need to choose action “5” and carry out the actions. Look, it’s not World shattering, but it’s a little frustrating. Some of the indicators to “follow up” after a block are less easy to identify than previous. A few of these things may be PC reliant and may well be different on a console but they were frustrating.
The matches themselves are better v AI. In the previous version I don’t think I ever had a team throw a pass against me, so setting myself up for this with a high pressing defence caused me a loss against the free passing elves (pointy eared prima donnas). The AI tactics seemed to change as the match went on so I’m hopeful.
I had a couple of screen freezes and a few odd things happened, but I put this down to the game still being in development rather than a fault to be concerned about. Also, a large screen notification telling me of a death, appeared slightly earlier than necessary so I was aware my Black Orc had been killed by a Halfling (short arsed fool) before the actions had been completed, again hopefully nothing more than a bug that’ll be fixed.
All in all, I enjoyed it, but BloodBowl, for me, works in BB2 and the game play is fairly straightforward. Except for the rules change, the way to play the game is the same now as it was. Snooker has tried to reinvent itself numerous times to appeal to a newer younger market, but ultimately it’s still a game that goes on forever in relative silence.
BloodBowl is the same (not the silence and length of play; you know what I mean). Where you click in BB3 to do anything is different, the gameplay screens are laid out differently, the graphics and scenery is far better, but it’s still just playing BB.
From the earliest versions to this new reincarnation. The matches themselves are unchanged. The matter of playing BloodBowl has basically remained unchanged for years, and BB3 is no different.
It looks better, feels better and the interaction is superb, but ultimately will I buy it?
Assuming it sells for around £40. Does it offer enough new features to justify the expense?
As I play against AI mostly, will I be needing any of the new online features?
Will the ability to use Special Characters impact my style of play?
Will I buy it?
Of course I will, and I think you probably will too.