Blood Bowl has a long and storied history that stretches back to 1986 when Games Workshop released the original version of the miniatures board game that parodies American Football. While not the first company to adapt Blood Bowl into a video game, in 2009 Cyanide Studio made the first version that was actually good. Then, in 2015, the developer made a sequel that was even better. Now in 2022, Cyanide is preparing to launch Blood Bowl 3.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s some good news and some bad news to look forward to. The most recent Closed Beta, which ran between January 25th and February 2nd, wasn’t exactly what I expected.
Despite being a huge fan of Warhammer Fantasy games, I haven’t looked into how Blood Bowl 3 was progressing in quite a while. I guess lately I was just too busy daydreaming about the impending launch of Total War Warhammer 3. And how I will likely end up spending an ungodly amount of time playing that game.
But in any case, you’re not here to listen to me daydreaming about Warhammer 3. You’re here to learn about the current state of Blood Bowl 3. So let’s get to it.
Blood Bowl 3 Makes a Poor First Impression
The first time I logged into the Closed Beta I was hit by what seemed to be an endless flood of cutscenes and tutorials. The tutorials were needlessly split into sections and absolutely mind-numbing for anyone familiar with previous games in the series.
It’s genuinely infuriating when games feel the need to explain the minutiae of even the simplest mechanics. Especially when the explanations come accompanied by huge arrows, highlighting, and text that covers a good portion of the screen. The UI is already busy enough as it is in this game even without all that stuff. Tutorials are certainly useful for new players, but there should be an option to skip them.
In the case of Blood Bowl 3, completing all the tutorials will apparently be mandatory for unlocking access to campaign competitions. I haven’t seen any of those in the Beta, though. So I imagine they will be added at some point further down the road.
As far as other game modes are concerned, you’ve got Hotseat, Online PvP, and Versus AI. I had trouble finding opponents online and didn’t have anyone to play Hotseat with, so I settled on spending most of my time with the Beta playing against the AI. Much like I did back in the day with Blood Bowl 2.
Better AI Since the Last Beta
The AI in Blood Bowl 3 used to be pretty terrible based on what people who tested the previous Beta were saying. But in my experience, it wasn’t too bad this time around.
I did notice that the AI focused significantly more on punching my players than actually trying to score a touchdown. Whenever the AI had the ball, it didn’t seem to know what to do with it and was content with beating my players to a bloody pulp instead. It’s hard to complain about that, though, considering I was doing pretty much the same thing.
At the end of the day, this is Blood Bowl. Watching the races of the Old World beating the snot out of each other is way more entertaining than trying to play traditional football.
It’s also a lot easier to resort to fists when a good portion of your players are so incompetent that they can’t even run from A to B without slipping and falling. Let alone get them to catch the ball or throw a good pass. I’m happy to say that the Blood Bowl 3 Closed Beta did a good job at capturing the ridiculousness of it all.
Technical Issues Galore
Unfortunately, it was difficult to enjoy much of it because of all the technical issues still plaguing the game. One of which literally prevented me from completing even a single match. Yes, it was that bad. And I wasn’t the only one who experienced the problem based on what other testers were saying.
The issue in question caused the game to essentially freeze while waiting for the result of a Block test during the AI’s turn. This happened seemingly at random. Sometimes it would happen a few minutes into the game, sometimes after 30 or 40 minutes. The mouse cursor itself wasn’t stuck but all the buttons were greyed out, preventing me from clicking on anything.
Blood Bowl 3 features a timer designed for making things feel more dynamic, but even that froze when the issue occurred. As a result, I had to leave the match and start a new one every time that happened.
Needless to say, being forced to quit every match prematurely because of this issue put a damper on my enjoyment of the Beta. Hopefully, Cyanide Studio will fix the problem before announcing another playtest because it doesn’t reflect well on the state of the game as a whole.
I also ran into a couple of other problems during the Closed Beta. Such as visual glitches, players clipping into each other, broken player name generator, and more. But I’m not going to dwell too much on these because you’re likely to encounter those sorts of issues in any game that’s still in development.
More Variety Than Previous Entries
Technical issues aside, let’s talk a bit about the playable races and the customization options. Cyanide certainly made some interesting improvements in those areas. While the Closed Beta only featured four playable races, Blood Bowl 3 is set to launch with no less than twelve of them. By comparison, its predecessor only launched with eight.
Warhammer games are famous for getting so much post-launch content that you need a DLC guide to make sense of it all. So expect even more races to come further down the road.
In terms of team customization, there will be quite a few options to look forward to. Blood Bowl 3 will let you customize everything from your team’s banner and colors to your cheerleaders, dice, and more.
Players can be customized as well, of course, though mostly in terms of their names and skills. And you can also add a bunch of optional staff and abilities to enhance your team.
Some of these options were not available in the Beta, but Cyanide already laid out the groundwork for them. I expect we’ll have a lot more customization options to work with once the game officially launches.
Blood Bowl 3 Closed Beta Final Thoughts
The last thing I want to touch upon before wrapping this up is the comedic element, which has always been a major component of Blood Bowl.
Blood Bowl 3 is just like its predecessor in terms of humor, for better or worse. The Closed Beta mostly used commentary from Blood Bowl 2 during matches, but there were some new recordings and intro sequences to look forward to as well.
The commentary and cutscenes were some of the best parts of Blood Bowl 2, but I didn’t particularly enjoy seeing them rehashed in Blood Bowl 3. Here’s hoping Cyanide will expand upon that by the time the game officially launches. Which should be some time during 2022. Maybe.
Blood Bowl 3 was already delayed once and its developers canned the PC Early Access phase last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the game ended up getting pushed back even further. Blood Bowl 3 definitely needs more time in the oven if it wants to live up to its predecessor, let alone surpass it. And I think both Cyanide Studio and publisher Nacon know that.
Nacon has a bunch of other interesting projects in the works, including an amazing-looking Soulslike known as Steelrising. There’s no reason they should rush Blood Bowl 3 out the door so here’s hoping they give Cyanide as much time as they need to work on it. They’re definitely going to need it.
If you’re looking for something else to play until Blood Bowl 3 launches, check out our list of crazy sports games for people who hate sports.
You can also check out the video version of this article down below.