The Blood Bowl 2 beta has started, which is good, because dear god does BB2 need more time to bake.
Making BB2 should be the easiest game in the world to make. You go into it with all of the rules, balance, lore, art style, characters, etc done for you. Not started, but 100% done. All you are responsible for is creating an engine that can emulate the rules, creating the characters and stadiums, and making sure the expected features (online leagues, single-player mode, replays) work. Again, the normal heavy lifting of making a game is 100% done before you even start, so its mind-blowing that BB2 is in such a rough state right now.
The good: Graphics are much improved over BB1, and everything so far does look as you would expect. It also runs well, at least on a high-end machine. Sound is also solid, though the commentary could use more variety. Multiplayer works, doesn’t lag, and so far I haven’t run into any errors or crashes.
The bad: The UI related to everything but actually playing a match is subpar. It takes too many clicks to get into basic stuff like editing your team or viewing a league. I think this is due to the game also being released on consoles, but yea, it’s not good. Also disappointing is that you can currently only play four teams. I don’t know if this is just to limit the beta a bit or if the other teams aren’t ready, but either way pretty lame considering official release is right around the corner.
The ugly: The UI during the match is torture. At first I thought this was simply a learning curve thing to adjust, but I’ve now played 6+ matches and I still fight the UI more than I do the other team. It’s actually hard to describe the way you move units and commit actions because it’s so terribly insane, but here goes; you first left-click a unit to select it. Assuming nothing else was already selected, this will bring up that units movement range and tackle zones. You then right-click to a different square to show the expected action. Right-click again on the new spot to commit the action.
If you right-click on a different spot, the game will update the expected action. So if you clicked to move two squares up, and then right-clicked a square to the left, the expected action will be two up, one to the left. The major issue is clearing the actions to start fresh with a unit (something you normally do a whole lot every turn), because left-click does it sometimes, but not always. Also right-clicking the unit itself works sometimes, but not if you have a blitz or other possible action. I’ve easily spent half a turn time limit trying to just move one unit because the movement mapping and remapping is so terrible.
Dice are seen rolling on the screen, which is nice, but their location isn’t constant, so sometimes the dice will be dangerously near the ‘end turn’ area that is, horribly, located near the bottom-right of the screen. It’s very common right now for someone during a match to hit end turn by accident, either when clicking dice or trying to select a unit.
I could go on, but I’m actually growing frustrated just thinking about it. What really sucks about all of this is that Blood Bowl is a ton of fun to play online, as the game itself is awesome. How a group getting paid to make a video game takes such a good baseline and makes it so, so much worse is really beyond me. I’m hoping the beta leads to some major UI work, but I doubt it.
As fun as BB is, right now in its current state I just can’t recommend BB2.