First Impressions of Blood Bowl 3

Blood Bowl 3 is the latest offering in the Blood Bowl series, based on the old tabletop game "Blood Bowl" formerly published by Games Workshop. We recently had an opportunity to try a beta version so the game isn't yet complete and still lacks a full-fledged campaign. This is just a quick write-up with how it's going so far.

Blood Bowl 3 plays like American football with a high fantasy twist. Imagine a football team composed entirely of elves or orcs, or having monstrous players out there to literally kill opposing teammates. Like everything Games Workshop, it's plenty violent and bloody, though it's got plenty of humor in it that makes the violence feel very cartoonish and not as graphic as one might think. The commentators during gameplay are funny and the feel of the game is one of humor as modern elements of watching an NFL game are replicated using Renaissance-era technology... Like a scoreboard with wooden tumblers instead of a digital screen.

The player creates a team and is essentially the General Manager. In this version one gets to play through a tutorial season of three games to learn by doing (which in the humble opinion of this reviewer, is the best way.) The options for team creation are fairly limited at this stage, but there are still a few options for hiring players to create the desired lineup (or one can go with the suggested defaults) as well as choose team colors, a name and logo.

Blood Bowl 3 plays very much likeĀ Blood Bowl 2, though this reviewer found it to be slightly less intuitive and streamlined, not that it was very different. In fact, the game in general really felt like Blood Bowl 2 with tweaks, so if you've played that and liked it, you will certainly like Blood Bowl 3. If you didn't, then there isn't much here that's different enough to lure you in.

The visual style of Blood Bowl 2 is retained and the graphics aren't changed drastically. That isn't a criticism. The cartoony look and feel doesn't benefit much from more graphics detail and I respect a game that doesn't throw in unnecessary extra stuff onscreen just to show off. In short, it looks fine just not very different.

Moral concerns are typical of Games Workshop licensed offerings, such as violence and occult imagery, with the unusual addition of some scantily-clad cheerleaders. They seem to have less on than they did in Blood Bowl 2, so be aware of that particular trajectory. No foul language was noticed during the beta playthrough, though there will certainly be more dialogue when the complete game hits, so who knows?

Would I buy Blood Bowl 3? Well, honestly if I were already having fun with Blood Bowl 2 I don't see a lot of reason to switch games. If I were just coming into it or if I had played the tabletop game back in the old days, I'd probably give it a chance.