Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Sean Warhurst
Blood Bowl 2 PS4 Review
Summary: The game may not immediately show its appeal but once you get into the meat of the experience you may find yourself enamoured by this brutal fantasy sport and gaining a newfound appreciation of turn-based strategy games.
Blood Bowl 2 really shouldn’t have been as enjoyable as it was to me. I’m not a huge fan of table top gaming nor sporting titles for the most part, so an amalgamation of the two should have been like gaming kryptonite to me.
Admittedly, the learning curve was incredibly steep, even after working my way through the basic elements of the gameplay, and I had my butt handed to me multiple times before fully getting to grips with the intricacies of the game, but once everything clicked Blood Bowl 2 proved itself to be an invigorating take on a literal fantasy football league.
Drawing its cast of characters from the revered Warhammer franchise, Blood Bowl 2 offers up a varied roster including your prerequisite Orcs and Elves scrabbling for the ball alongside Humans, Minotaurs, Skaven and many more.
Each team has 11 players and the gameplay goals are basically identical to that of actual NFL- Pass the ball past the offensive line and run it into the end zone to score. This is achieved via a turn-based system that sees you tactically moving your players into position and attempting moves such as tackling your opponents or passing the ball to an open player.
These actions are achieved by making a successful role of the dice, with the element of chance making it hard to predict whether or not things will unfold exactly as you’d planned or if that giant Orc you were attempting to take down resists the attack and then straight up murders you instead. A majority of these dice rolls, excepting those that are tackle based, occur behind the scenes , with a text notification letting you know what happens in conjunction with the action unfolding on your screen.
The random nature of this system may not be for everybody, especially the times you methodically map out a series of moves only to have one dud roll derail the whole affair, but the addition of percentage indicators of success and a quick preview of the likely outcome of your choices go some way towards mitigating this.
Experience points are doled out for effective manoeuvres, which can then be used to level up players in order to give them more of a fighting chance. These RPG-like stat building elements allow you to customise your team to fit to your personal playing style and adds an extra layer of depth to how you approach each game.
Depending on how you perform in each game, you can also affect the stats of the opposing team, reducing their strength or tackle resistance or decreasing the amount of spaces they can move during their turns.
Blood Bowl 2 boasts a very British sense of humour and the commentary is absolutely my favourite thing about the game, deep strategic gameplay aside. One major difference between Blood Bowl and its real life sporting counterpart is that players can, and most likely will, die during a match, usually in hilariously gruesome ways.
The main campaign doubles as an introduction to the basic elements of the gameplay, having players take control of an underdog human team, the Reikland Reavers, and take them to the game’s equivalent of the Superbowl. With a nefarious corporate sponsor to contend with and players who would rather cower in the stands than take on the rampaging, hammer wielding Orcs, the narrative behind this mode is actually quite engaging and makes for an entertaining experience as well as teaching you the ropes.
There’s also your usual selection of modes, such as quick match and online multiplayer, which even allows you to trade members of your team with other players to build the ultimate team.
Graphics and Audio
Blood Bowl 2 isn’t the prettiest game available on the PlayStation 4 but the graphics more than do the job, with the design of the players exuding character and the overall fantasy aesthetic making for a surprisingly good fit against the sporting stadium backdrop. The animation is serviceable, if a little stiff at times, but overall visually Blood Bowl 2 is a fairly accomplished effort, especially as the budget was far lower than many of its sporting contemporaries.
The audio department is where the game truly shines, however; from the sickening thud of a hammer crashing down on a Dwarf’s skull to the chanting of the crowd, every aspect of the game sounds as true to life as you would imagine. The voice acting is also top of the range, with the Vampire and Ogre commentary duo being the clear stand out.
This inspired pairing of the Warhammer universe with American Football works surprisingly well, although it has to be said that fans of more straightforward sporting sims may not take to the game as well as those who prefer tactical, turn based titles, as Blood Bowl 2 definitely leans towards the latter.
The story based campaign mode is a great tutorial for newcomers and before too long you’ll be making coordinated efforts across the sporting field with ease, a task made much easier by responsive and intuitive controls that never threaten to overwhelm the player despite the wide array of moves on offer.
It’s certainly not perfect – There are some balancing issues, with some teams clearly outclassing their opponents, and the inability to skip animations can get a bit tedious after waiting an age for your opponent to diligently place and then execute the moves for each individual player – But the unique aesthetic of the game is charming enough that these minor issues can be overlooked.
If you’re a fan of the Warhammer table top games or, indeed, the first Blood Bowl, then picking this up should be a no-brainer. For the rest of us the game may not immediately show its appeal but once you get into the meat of the experience you may, like me, find yourself enamoured by this brutal fantasy sport and gaining a newfound appreciation of turn-based strategy games.
Primary Format – Games – Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Game Genre – Sport
Rating – M
Game Developer – Cyanide Studios
Game Publisher – Focus Home Interactive
Reviewer – Sean Warhurst