I’ll admit, I was late to the party when it came to playing the original Blood Bowl game. In fact, many years late. That being said, once I finally joined the party, I had an absolute blast with the game. For those who haven’t played the original or the sequel, the premise is simple enough: Build a team of Warhammer-Universe ‘American Football’ players and take on opposing teams in a brutal all out brawl to win the match, usually with some casualties along the way. In a way it’s a bit insane; INSANELY FUN!
While the premise of the game is mixing Warhammer and American Football, the game itself plays out more like a game of chess or extreme rock paper scissors. Each unit has a more defined role and ‘strengths and weaknesses’, but still in a format that includes some football. Each game is broken up into moves, where you can move all your players in each move based on their ‘class’ and type. You can even push the boundaries of a player’s movement distance, but risk them stumbling and essentially becoming useless for a turn. The two people playing, whether it’s you against an AI or you against another player, take alternating turns moving and utilizing actions. As such, at the end of each turn you must properly position all of your players due to the fact that your opponent will be going immediately after you. This puts a larger emphasis on tactics and positioning.
Each player also has a set of attributes based on their class which factor into everything while playing out a match. Attributes are in place to offset the RNG factor of some actions, as well as an increased chance to reduce RNG based on positioning to increase or decrease stats of you or your opponent. Each race has unique core skills as well as strengths and weaknesses. One unit may be able to traverse long distances at the expense of being very weak while another may be slow but durable.
The game introduces a league mode this time around which starts with you picking a team name, race and ‘main character’ that is managing the team itself. This is essentially the career / campaign mode, while also acting as a detailed tutorial for anyone who plans to go online. I felt as though the league mode was a bit easier / softcore than some of the other modes, however. The game was much more complex and difficult when playing against a real person, though this can usually be said with any tactical game.
Blood bowl is two halves of eight turns where you try and prevent the opposing team from getting the ball in your end-zone and scoring, while aiming to get in their end zone and score when you have the ball. You know, football. Along the way you will dish out some hard hitting blocks and attacks on the opposing team while taking some of your own that can result in injuries, being temporarily stunned, or even death. Players who have fallen over can be stood upright very easily while stunned players will randomly come to at the start of a turn. Dead players, however, are…well, dead. If a player dies, they are dead for good and will need to be replace in between games!
Blood Bowl 2 even introduces a story this time around. Basically, a team of Humans called the Reavers, who are absolutely abysmal, appoint you as their coach. They also take on a sponsor who appears to have a shady second agenda. As the story progresses you will uncover conspiracies, backstabbing, and even some plot twists along the way. The story is progressed only in the career mode and even has some cutscenes to help progress the story. This was certainly a change of pace for a game like this, and a welcomed one!
Graphically, the game looks beautiful on Playstation 4. Each different player / race looks very detailed and each stadium looks exactly how I’d picture a football stadium in a fantasy-based world. Attack animations flow nicely, as does the many sound bytes for the different clashing and thuds when engaging in some physical contact out on the field.
I was a bit skeptic of trying Blood Bowl 2 on the Playstation 4 as the original was PC-exclusive, and felt as though it would only work on PC. I was definitely wrong–I think I enjoyed playing on the just as much, if not more, as I did on the PC. The controls are perfect and navigating the interface as well as each action during an actual match seemed natural and functional.
Overall, if you are a fan of the Warhammer series, football, or even tactical-combat oriented games, I definitely recommend picking up Blood Bowl 2. While the game is certainly a niche one, the introduction of a story mode as well as a plethora of new features and modes over its predecessor surely expands the playerbase that would enjoy this game. Anyone looking for a strategically focused multiplayer experience should definitely give the game a go as well. While I was no match for most players online, I still found each match fun and extremely competitive; even moreso than I expected.
Blood Bowl 2 is currently available on Playstation 4, Windows, and Xbox One for $49.99.