Blood Bowl 3 takes fantasy sports to a whole new level, mixing classic turn-based strategy you’d find in the Warhammer universe with a high-impact game of American Football.
Generally, you can find some interesting combinations of genres all across video games—from dungeon-crawling Pokémon like you’d find in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series to the revolutionary idea to cross your standard fare of WWII shooter with zombies (of all things). These combinations have created some of the best games we have ever seen, and while that isn’t always the case, you’ll at least get to see something new in a landscape of similar ideas.
Blood Bowl 3 is one of those ideas that really take some sort of psychopath to envision. Taking the classic gameplay from the Warhammer franchise, with its fantasy setting and turn-based gameplay, and tossing that world into a football stadium is beyond wacky, but comes together in an experience that both Warhammer and NFL/Rugby fans could enjoy.
While each iteration of Blood Bowl has had the same basic premise, Blood Bowl 3 takes things to the next level with high-end graphics and performance, along with a vastly more interesting look into stadium design. Along with it comes competitive play online for friends and enemies across the globe, as well as matches against an AI for those just learning or looking for a more casual experience.
For my first match, I decided to jump into a game against the computer to get warmed up—as you do when you’re about to compete in sports-ball games. As I chose my valiant team of Earls I decided I would face some villainous orcs on the gridiron. After the kickoff I found myself running for my life down the stone field with my team doing their best to take down the opponents in what turns into more combat and less football.
I turned my attention to my front line, where I was noticing my team was getting beaten pretty badly, which I can only assume has to do with the unfair size discrepancy between an orc and a human, but nonetheless, I needed to change things up. Pitching the ball over to the other side of the field where things were less dire, I was able to skirt around the competition and make my way in for a score.
Similar to prior iterations, the real name of the game comes down to strategy, as the faster-paced nature of American Football gets slowed down even further, with each player’s movement decided by you. While you can obviously choose to simply ransack the other team with your equipped weaponry, you can also take a more subtle approach, perhaps using your larger characters to form a wall to the endzone or whatever other approach suits you.
Special abilities also add to the decision-making, much like you’d find in any of the other major turn-based strategy titles on the market such as XCOM. Different player types between the available races and specific characters also give all the depth someone who likes Warhammer titles would be looking for, regardless of it being a football crossover. When Blood Bowl 3 launches next year you’ll be seeing several teams and pitches available to play on with single and multiplayer options available.
What’s interesting about Blood Bowl 3 is that I don’t think you need to be an American Football or Rugby fan to find yourself enjoying this title. There isn’t any real reference to real-world sports, not many of the rules match up, and really, you’re just playing smaller, more bloody escort missions each time you run from one end of the field to the next. The versatility of it makes it more approachable for those unfamiliar with sports and does so while sticking hard to its strategic roots.
Blood Bowl 3 is currently set to release on consoles and PC sometime in February 2022 but is receiving a closed beta this week on Steam for those looking to get take a peek before the Early Access launch in September. That beta will run from June 3rd to the 13th, with registration available now.