Asking players to buy a new Blood Bowl is always a tough proposition.
With traditional sports games based on real-world teams, the pitch is obvious — it’s a new season, so come back to for updated stats for all your favorite players! However, Blood Bowl has no famous ‘stars’ that players will want to see simulated as they would with football or basketball.
Graphical improvements aren’t enough either. While they’re nice, they aren’t especially vital to fans of a tabletop game that famously came with a shoddy styrofoam board.
No, the key thing that brings people to a new Blood Bowl game is something major that they can’t get anywhere else — a feature they’ll have to upgrade for. Fortunately, Blood Bowl 3 has just these types of innovations to offer in the form of two new team types to try out, and an extremely robust team creator!
The new races are both strong additions — the Black Orcs have strong orc linemen along with cheap and plentiful goblin runners, but no real passing game to speak of. Imperial Nobility (read: upper-class humans) are all about building an impenetrable defense at the cost of moving players quickly down the pitch.
In addition to their unique characteristics, the new teams also have great cosmetic options which the player can get the most use out of by employing the team builder feature.
Putting together a team isn’t just about picking the right players — a major focus is placed on the aesthetics. Picking team colors and modifying each player’s uniform with a variety of accessories gives the chance to build the exact team desired. Given that Blood Bowl, like most of the Games Workshop titles, is born out of the world of fantasy model building, this level of customization is completely welcome.
Unfortunately, the build of the game I played for this preview with didn’t have the tutorial yet, so I can’t say how welcoming it will be to newcomers. Despite my familiarity with Blood Bowl going back decades, I always play the tutorial to check on any rule updates. While I didn’t run into anything confusing during my test period, I don’t doubt that there are some finer points that are going to need to be explained down the line.
Likewise, this beta was lacking a bunch of bells and whistles — players can’t skip animations to save time, and the window showing the dice rolls and player moves is something of a mess. Of course, Blood Bowl 3 is still months away from release, so there’s plenty of time for the devs to polish this solid base into a beautifully-finished product.
On one level Blood Bowl 3 sells itself — there’s a new console generation, so of course it’s time for a new Blood Bowl! Beyond the expected level of technical improvement, the developers have included enough new features to make it a ‘Day 1 installed’ kind of game for fans of the franchise. I just hope that the tutorial gets worked out before launch so newcomers can have the complete Blood Bowl experience.