Tag Archives: Warhammer

Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr unleashes on console come May 11

In production for three years, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr will finally unleash its fury on consoles come May 11. The core mission for NeocoreGames has been to release the studio’s first action RPG set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe – and it’s great to see the developers showing some love to console, even more so by releasing the game at the same time as the PC release.

In the game you play as an Inquisitor, deep in a sector of space that’s sprawling with heretics, mutants, and Chaos Daemons. But you aren’t alone in the Caligari Sector, or rather, you can choose not to be alone – playable in single or cooperative mode with three other players, you can tackle the game’s persistent universe as one of three classes and from the looks of the gameplay trailers, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr has a serious case of the Diablo vibes, which is certainly not a bad thing.

Vermintide – Karak Azgaraz DLC review

Fighting the Skaven horde is a highly enjoyable and challenging pastime that we at TiX Towers have enjoyed immensely. The Karak Azgaraz DLC gives us precisely the excuse we need to dive back in, providing a short, three mission adventure where players attempt to warn the dwarven hold of Karak Azgaraz of the approaching vermin horde.

Indeed, the thousands of vicious and bloodthirsty rat people that you’ve slain so far in Vermintide has failed to stop their attack against the civilised folk of Warhammer, namely the humans, elves and dwarves. The exhilarating and immensely satisfying medieval slaughtering must continue if you stand a chance at saving the dwarven hold of Karak Azgaraz. Therefore, you and up to three allies must gather again to slice, dice, shoot, and set ablaze the vermin in intense objective-based combat scenarios, first to the outlaying settlement of Khazid Kro then the Grey Mountains.

Khazid Kro places you in a narrow, claustrophobic settlement. It’s dark and dank and ideal for the waves of Skaven to come careening towards you and your party, as you frantically try to work your way through tunnels, all by the guidance of NPC dwarf Halgrim Halgrimsson. He tasks you with taking out the Skaven tunnels with some explosive barrels in order to obtain a keystone for use in the later missions.

With the tunnels destroyed, it’s up to the mountains in search of The Cursed Rune. A gruelling ascent through snowy terrain provides a nice variety of location to the majority of other missions in the base game, with a good old fashioned Skaven onslaught awaiting you at a vault that holds a crucial casket you need.

The DLC concludes at the peak of the mountain, where you must light a beacon to warn Karak Azgaraz of the Skaven threat. It’s a terrific little side-story with the same excellent intense and highly enjoyable combat of the base game.

Indeed, Karak Azgaraz is another excellent adventure for Vermintide players to enjoy, but it’s hurt by the surprising lack of players. For a title we celebrated as a game of the year last year, it’s baffling why we aren’t seeing more players in matchmaking. Perhaps a complete edition including all previous DLC will help mend this issue, and we hope it does, because this is some of the most fun you can have in a multiplayer title, and this DLC is more of a good thing, if a little short.

Thanks to Xbox and Fat Shark for supporting TiX

Vermintide 2 announced

The cat’s rat’s out the bag, Swedish developer, Fatshark are developing Vermintide 2.

“On October 23rd, 2015 we introduced the world to Warhammer: Vermintide, and since then it has sold over 1.5 million units.” says Martin Wahlund, CEO of Fatshark and continues “Now it’s time to introduce the upcoming sequel – Warhammer: Vermintide 2”

Details are currently thin on the ground with the full reveal taking place via a live stream on October 17 at 10:00 PST/19:00 CET. That’s quiet the wait for a full announcement, but I’d imagine the team will build upon the first game rather than revolutionise it.

The team here at TiX had a lot of fun with the first game, you can check out what Greg made of it here.

 

 

Warhammer Fantasy Battles Announced

Bigben Studios and Games Workshop have today announced a collaboration for the development of a console and PC game based on the Warhammer Fantasy Battles IP.  The game is planned to be the first Hack and Slash game set in the Warhammer world.  It will take place in the Old World, a dark continent devastated by the wars against Chaos.

French studio and creators of the How To Survive series of games, Eko Studios, have been entrusted with the adaptation of the Warhammer Fantasy Battles IP.

Benoit Clerc, Director of Video Games at Bigben said; “We are very pleased to work with Games Workshop developing a game which draws from the incredible potential of the Warhammer world. The Eko Software and Bigben teams have long been fans of this franchise from day one, including myself. Warhammer Fantasy Battles is well suited to offer players something quite innovative in the timeless hack & slash genre.”

“We’re really pleased to start this new partnership with Bigben, and this project will be an amazing opportunity for gamers to experience an epic story in the first Hack N’ Slash game set in the classic Warhammer Fantasy world. Eko did a great job with their How To Survive series and we’re confident they are going to do something amazing with our IP. I know the Bigben and Eko staff are massive fans of our lore and I can’t wait to see what they come up with.” declared Jon Gillard, Head of Licensing at Games Workshop.

Keep your eyes peeled on This Is Xbox for further news on this game as details are released in the coming months.

Warhammer Quest launches February 24

When a mysterious code landed in our inbox, we had confirmation of what the Internet suspected, Warhammer Quest would be making its way on to Xbox One and PS4.

While no official confirmation could be found, a leaked PS4 trophy list pointed to what might be included with the digitisation of the adventure board game, which is already available on Steam and mobile. As for the code? Well, initially it wouldn’t redeem with an error suggesting the code wasn’t live yet – but now it is…

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Interview: Martin Wahlund of Fatshark about Vermintide

We here at TiX Towers are big fans of Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide, Scoring it a whopping 9/10 in our review. Our Senior Editor, Greg Giddens, is a fan of not only the game but also the Warhammer table top games that inspired it, and he was fortunate enough to interview developer Fatshark’s CEO, Martin Wahlund, about their Skaven slaying multiplayer title. The interview took place on January 15th 2017.

Vermintide interview

This is Xbox: Can you tell us a little about Fatshark and its development background?

Martin Wahlund: Fatshark was founded back in 2007 and started as a consultant firm where we helped other studios that needed help finishing a project. Then in 2010, we released our first own IP called Lead and Gold, which is a third person multiplayer shooter in a wild west setting. After that, we released other co-op titles like War of the Roses, Krater, and War of the Vikings. Then, in 2015, we released our biggest success to date, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide.

This is Xbox: Why do you makes games – what inspires you?

Martin Wahlund: Fatshark is all about creating great cooperative games, where people come together to have fun and solve problems. We love the dynamic behind co-op games, and enjoy giving players the freedom to succeed or fail trying as a group.

This is Xbox: How did you come up with the concept of Vermintide?

Martin Wahlund: Being passionate fans of the Warhammer Fantasy IP, we’ve always wanted to create a Warhammer game that both stayed true to the beautifully dark atmosphere of the world and showed it off from a perspective we had not seen in previous games – first person. To be able to walk along the gothic streets of a city in the Empire or to slash into the enemy with one’s axe were things we ourselves were craving from a Warhammer video game.

This is Xbox: How involved were Games Workshop?

Martin Wahlund: We worked closely with Games Workshop throughout the development of Vermintide. Whenever we had new concepts, in-game renders, marketing assets and so on, we would send them to our contacts at Games Workshop for approval and feedback. Additionally, with the help of two of Games Workshop’s veteran writers, we were able to create our own lore for Vermintide while weaving it into the End Times’ official stories. We were even told that Vermintide would become a part of the canon.

This is Xbox: Have you played or collected any Games Workshop tabletop games before?

Martin Wahlund: Oh, most definitely. In fact several of the key people on the Vermintide team having been playing the tabletop games since the 1980s. Being such huge fans of Warhammer for many years, Vermintide is therefore a dream come true for a lot of us at Fatshark. Our office is filled with miniatures, both in the making and finished, and if you were to open a few of the cupboards lining the walls, you would find terrain pieces for Warhammer Fantasy Battle painted and ready.

This is Xbox: Were there any unique challenges to developing Vermintide?

Martin Wahlund: This is the first time we have been able to publish our own game with a budget that felt fitting for the size and scope of our plans. Having the freedom that comes with self-publishing was both liberating and terrifying. While we were considerably more in control of our schedule and had more creative freedom, we were also haunted by the prospect that if the end result wasn’t well received, it would be entirely our fault.

Our biggest take away was therefore that a little extra time can do a great deal for the quality, but give a project too much time and you risk working on it forever.

This is Xbox: What went better than you thought it would during Vermintide’s development?

Martin Wahlund: Looking back at the development of Vermintide, especially being our first self-published project, the fact that we were able to remain faithful to our original vision is something we are very proud of. By keeping the same core team throughout the project, we were able to avoid compromising the quality and could pay attention to details, both large and small. By keeping a constant eye on the ball and the core pillars of the game, we made sure we never lost the essence of what we wanted Vermintide to be.

This is Xbox: There’s a lot going on on-screen at any one time in Vermintide. Was it challenging optimising the game for Xbox One?

Martin Wahlund: Thanks to our experience with bringing previous titles to the consoles, we were prepared for the challenges we would face with Vermintide. That is why we made sure to give ourselves the time needed to optimize the experience and make sure our console players would have as much fun with the game as our PC players did.

This is Xbox: We know Karak Azgaraz is coming to Xbox One in the near future, but are there any other DLCs or features that will be coming to the Xbox Ones version that you can talk about?

Martin Wahlund: Karak Azgaraz will be coming to consoles on the 28th of February. At the same time, we will also be bringing Quests & Contracts to our console players, so they will now have a new means of acquiring loot for their heroes. As for future DLCs, the Skaven army is cunning and secretive, so who knows what they might be plotting?

This is Xbox: Is the Vermintide concept something you’d like to revisit with different enemy races, or perhaps with the Warhammer 40,000 universe?

Martin Wahlund: We adore the Warhammer Fantasy world with its rich and diverse factions, so who knows what enemy races might appear in the future. As for the Warhammer 40k world, it might definitely be something for us in the future, since both the gameplay style and the atmosphere would work great with the sci-fi settling as well. But it is not something we are looking into at the moment.

This is Xbox: Are there any plans to bring new playable characters to Vermintide?

Martin Wahlund: Vermintide was designed to be a 4 player co-op game with five heroes to choose from, to ensure that even if you were the last one to enter a team you still had two heroes to select between. Since these heroes can be tweaked to better suit the players unique play style through their choice of weapon and have personalities that play off each other, we currently don’t feel the need to expand the crew of heroes. But it might be something we pursue in the future.

This is Xbox: Was it intentional to skew perception and give the Elf a Scottish voice as opposed to the running stereotype that the Dwarf must have a Scottish dialect?

Martin Wahlund: At Fatshark we like to diversify our characters and go against established stereotypes. This is reflected in characters like our Bright Wizard, a crazy elderly lady with pyromaniacal tendencies, or in the fact that our elf Kerillian is the one with the Scottish dialect.

This is Xbox: What’s next for Fatshark – is there anything on the horizon or an idea you’re eager to work on next?

Martin Wahlund: We will continue to work with Vermintide, evolving and exploring the Warhammer Fantasy world we’ve established. As for other projects, mums the word.

Greg Giddens: I entered the competition you held to voice a character in Vermintide. Why wasn’t I picked? I would have been perfect  (Can only blame the jury. Have to have a better one for future events).

Martin Wahlund: Definitely the jury’s fault. We will make sure to cast them to the Skaven the next time we see them.

Vermintide’s Karak Azgaraz DLC dated for Xbox One

Fatshark’s Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide – which we adored in our review and end of year awards – will be receiving three new maps when the new DLC Karak Azgaraz release on Xbox One on February 28th.

Karak Azgaraz Screenshot 1

Set among the snowy peaks of the Grey Mountains, our heroes are once again tasked with foiling the Skaven’s devious plot. This time, players must fight through snow, ice and ancient Dwarfen halls to stop them before they get to the Dwarfs.

We are very happy to bring Karak Azgaraz to all console players

says Martin Wahlund, CEO Fatshark.

We double down on excitement, and also release the free Quest and Contracts DLC the same day

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The Karak Azgaraz DLC will feature three new maps: Khazid Kro, set in the outlying settlement of the same name; as well The Cursed Rune and Chain of Fire, both set in the snow-covered Grey Mountains. There’ll also be two new weapons: the Warpick for the Dwarf Ranger and the Falchion for the Witch Hunter. And we’ll have three new achievements to earn.

The free Quest and Contracts content will feature long term quests offering rare loot, and short term contracts offering temporary hero buffs in the form of boons.

We’re certainly excited for more Skaven killing action. We’ll see you amongst the Dwarfen ruins, fellow adventurers.

Mordheim: City of the Damned review

Over the years, I’ve played a few Games Workshop’s offerings. They’re based in my home town of Nottingham, so it sort of makes sense. From Warhammer to Space Hulk, the table-top nights of years past were always a little fun. I never got so much into it that I played the Mordheim series and in some respects that’s sad. The digital offerings have varied. Space Hulk on the Amiga was amazing fun, taking top-down, turn based gaming to another level at the time. Can we place Mordheim: City of the Damned in the same bracket for today’s consoles?

Mordheim is a tactical RPG based on the tabletop game of the same name. A twin-tailed comet has smashed into the Empire city of Mordheim, scattering magical Wyrdstone all over the ruins. Fight as one of four main Warbands, battling to control key neighbourhoods in this shattered city. The story is set during the intro of the game, which repeats every time you load the game up, irritatingly.

If you’re going to invest in Mordheim: City of the Damned, than I’d highly recommend running through the Training sections right from the off. This simply isn’t a game that you can launch yourself into. To put it in simple terms, you’ll get mullared from the off and from there it’s a downward spiral into frustration and misery. That being said, you sort of sleepwalk through the tutorials. There are so many elements to the game it’s a miracle if you don’t get overwhelmed by the number of things that you have available as turn choices.

Turn choices. There’s the biggest gripe I have with the game, right there. To get to the action, you first have to select a Warband to create. There’s four to choose from, being, Skaven clan Eshin, Human Mercs, Sisters of Sigmar and Cult of the Possessed. At the time of this review, the Cult was paid DLC only, which was a huge disappointment. Once you’re banded, you need to buy your members with your limited funds. There are several classes of warrior to pick and each one has different attributes, such as ranged attack, heavy attack, leadership etc. Its fairly standard for RPGs.

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When you’re finally ready to start your campaign, you sort of sit there, waiting for something to happen. The campaign launches a Map screen and from there you get to pick a mission that will lead you, eventually, to the streets of the beleaguered city. Here’s where it gets a bit sketchy. You get the opportunity to add warriors to your Warband here, but its not explained how you manage this, nor if you’ve been successful in adding them. This can result in you fielding a vastly under-strength group of warriors. Not that this would seem to matter. No matter where you start on the difficulty scale, your warriors will be axe-fodder.

I’ll explain. As you attempt missions, you’ll gain XP which can lead to skill upgrades, even if you were defeated, or as the game calls it, routed. During the course of the battles, if your warriors are debilitated or killed, you’ll get a report on their injuries and their chances of survival at the end of each mission. In one battle, my Hero received significant nerve damage, rendering him pretty much useless for the remainder of his warrior life. Despite this, you still have to pay the warrior upkeep, despite running very short on gold. Thus the downward spiral of Mordheim: City of the Damned begins.

Start a mission then, and you will start your ‘turn’. These are performed in rounds and I still struggle to follow the logic behind how they are playing out. Your Hero or Leader seems to go, thus exposing him as you’re never sure when the enemy will be moving, then the enemy start to move. After this, the rest of your Warband move. I still don’t understand why it happens like this. As with some classic games, like Laser Squad, Mordheim makes you think about the trade-off between moving great distance and attacking. The options that you have use some form of Action Points, but as I seemed to go through the Tutorial in something of a malaise, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you where these are on the display.

These turns allow you to choose a finishing ‘stance’ from your warrior. Choose from Hold Ground, Ambush, Dodge or Parry depending on whether you’re engaged with an enemy. The combat mechanic is, if truth be told, a massive disappointment in this game. I get that Developer, Rogue Factor, want to try to capture the essence of the tabletop game and the way that they inevitably run in turns, but this serves to make the digital version confusing and frankly tedious.

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Once you’re engaged with your enemy it’s a case of tap A then A again. There’s no feeling that what you’re doing after that isn’t down to anything other than luck. If luck is all that the game uses to score hits, misses, dodges or parries, then I must have completely lucked out in life. There’s no connection to the gamer, not like other tactical RPGs on the market.

Make no mistake, Mordheim: City of the Damned is, right from the outset, tough. I tried to stick with it, but I’ve not won a mission yet. I’ve been soundly routed every single time. After five or six of these and with you having run out of gold to pay for your warrior’s upkeep and medical needs, it’s pretty much capitulation each time, with no chance of completing missions. It’s like real life but more brutal.

The city itself is beautifully rendered and the characters are nicely drawn and well animated. There was something that didn’t really ring true with the city streets though, and it took me a few days to realise what it was. There are no citizens left in the ruins. No dregs of humanity or the remnants of occupation. No wildlife or mutants hiding in the rubble to try to catch you out. It’s simply unrealistic.

Mordheim

Mordheim: City of the Damned is a missed opportunity. The decision to make this a turn based RPG doesn’t really work as the turn order in each round doesn’t make any sense at all. There’s permadeath in the game as well as debilitating injuries suffered in battle. This adds to the atmosphere but makes the difficulty ramp more of a 50-foot wall than a gradual incline and the over-complicated, plodding tutorial does nothing to inspire the player to remember what you’re supposed to be doing and in what order. The game is over-complicated and far too challenging to be enjoyable. The Campaign is sectioned into days for example. Nowhere does it mention this. I flipped around the Campaign menus, looking to start another inevitable rout only to find that I needed to end the day and recover injuries before I could try again. It’s an awful decision from the developers. The game would have fared much better by being a traditional Hack ‘n’ Slash RPG. It’s not a game-changer in it’s field. It’s simply a frustrating, difficult, confusing mess.

Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide review

Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide immerses you in the Warhammer fantasy universe, arms you with melee and ranged weaponry, and unleashes the human sized rat force known as the Skaven on you and your party of adventurers. And with dozens of the vermin swarming you whilst blades, magic, arrows, grenades and bullets fill the air alongside the screams of battle and the cries of death, you’ll be forgiven for thinking this is Left 4 Dead with a different skin. It is, in fact, a great deal more than that.

Well, not a huge amount more than that. Vermintide shares more than a passing resemblance to Valve’s zombies slaying action titles. The core gameplay-loop is the same: you and up to three others venture off into a relatively linear level towards an objective whilst a variety of different Skaven foes flood your screen and try to murder you. The Skaven even have special units that neatly compare to the likes of Left 4 Dead’s, such as the hulking Rat Ogre that can absorb and dish out huge damage, the Poison Wind Globadier who chucks poison grenades your way, and the Gutter Runner who pounces on you and slashes away at your torso, plus several more.

Players also respawn further within a level if they are felled, and items can be picked up to help heal or buff you and your party, as well as offensive options such as bombs and grenades. Furthermore, an omnipresent AI director oversees the summoning of the Skaven horde in order to make your playthrough more dynamic and scalable. Indeed, it’s very much plays like Left 4 Dead. However, this is certainly not a bad thing.

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Vermintide is fast paced and intense, with dozens of enemies filling the screen forcing you and your party to wildly swing, bash and shoot to try and clear a path forwards. Meanwhile, teamwork is crucial in dealing with the number of foes and the aforementioned special units that mean to separate you from your friends and pick you off whilst you’re vulnerable. Vermintide is the best parts of Left 4 Dead, all packed up in a faithful, intriguing and beautiful Warhammer package.

Stunning visuals brings the city streets, sewers, forests and harbours to life, with character models for your adventurers and the Skaven looking tremendously detailed. Moreover, this visual fidelity doesn’t compromises the fast pace, regardless of the action unfolding around you. You’re party of four, swinging melee weapons or firing off projectiles against dozens of humanoid rats remarkable remains smooth and fast throughout.

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The rest of the presentation is also superb, with a fantastically thematic score accompanying your dance of slaughter, not at all listenable outside of the game but wonderfully fitting for the action and world whilst you’re immersed within it. Furthermore, the clash of steal, the swish of arrows, the roar of fire, and the boom of firearms all sound excellent amongst the equally terrific Skaven and party member voices. Vocal cues from the Skaven and your party aid you in preparing for upcoming battles, or point you in the right direction if you get lost, but are used sparingly enough not to grate or become superfluous. Additionally, the little elements of lore you glean from short snippets of dialogue between your party point to the larger world of the Warhammer universe subtlety but rewardingly for fans.

You can embark on a large selection of missions across multiple different locations either alone and supported by AI teammates, or via online coop with up to three other players. You choose a hero from a selection of five: a Dwarf Ranger with axe and crossbow; an Elven Waywatcher with dual daggers and bow; a Witch Hunter with rapier and pistols; a Bright Wizard with flaming mace and fire magic; and an Empire Soldier with great sword and pistol. You then gather within an inn, consult a map to choose your mission and are then briefed by the barman. It’s terrifically atmospheric. Moreover, the starting weapons can be swapped out for several more to modify your characters significantly.

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Securing new weapons requires an element of skill and equally luck. Once you complete a level, depending on how well you do, you’ll be given dice to throw. The more dice that land showing a face, the rarer your weapon loot will be. However, the weapons available during this dice game are random, sometimes not providing new weapons for the characters you prefer and potentially lumbering you with junk. Fortunately, you can combine unwanted weapons to form new ones or upgrade favourites at the forge, helping to alleviate the frustration of tackling a level and not receiving anything useful.

This random loot system certainly can compromise your fun. The levels are hugely challenging and conquering one only to receive junk can be disheartening. Furthermore, if you fail a level you receive nothing. The friendly AI is often responsible for such failures, unfortunately. Occasionally they’ll get stuck on scenery or fail to figure out the terrain to progress forward. Meanwhile, at times they’ll completely ignore that fact you’ve been downed and require medical assistance and you’ll die surrounded by the dumbfounded AI. Bringing friends along for the fight certainly helps, but the challenge remains stiff whether you’re backed up with AI or human comrades.

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Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide is great fun to play, with its hugely satisfying combat and its excellent feedback as enemies are knocked around and sliced apart, to the visually stunning environments, as well as the character and enemy models, which truly bring the Warhammer world to life. It’s difficult, and the loot system’s random element can get a little frustrating, but the gameplay-loop is easily compelling enough to keep you coming back for more Skaven blood.

Thanks to Xbox and Fatshark for supporting TiX

Blood Bowl 2 review

Competition is a compelling thing, and sports give us a safe, entertaining and regulated way to participate and spectate as two teams or individuals compete against one another. Games Workshop’s Blood Bowl is based on these same principles, minus the safe part, instead murder, loose refereeing and brutal violence – from both the teams and the crowd – allows Blood Bowl to truly earn its name. And with this ultra violent take on gridiron amongst a high-fantasy setting comes a fascinating and even more compelling competition, one where frustrations can be unleashed on opponents with bone crunching tackles and cerebral tactics and strategies for a highly satisfying challenge. Indeed the board game Blood Bowl is a superb game, and fortunately the digital version portrayed in Blood Bowl 2 is as well.

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Blood Bowl 2 allows you to take a team to the field from a selection of eight races – a couple more if you pre-ordered – and play a facsimile of American football with a heavy dose of blood soaked mayhem. Each half is made up of eight turns, with each team moving characters around the pitch with the goal of retrieving the ball and scoring at the other team’s end zone. This is anything but simple, but thanks to the brilliant core mechanics from the board game paired with the visual and audio splendour of the videogame, it’s a wonderful challenge with some excellent humour and potential for emergent gameplay.

Your movement is limited by your character’s stats and a grid that lies on the field during a turn. Within this movement grid is a safe area you can run within or you can risk it and ‘go for it’ adding a square or three of movement to your run but having to face the possibility of a trip knocking your character down for a turn. Indeed the majority of actions you can take are determined by an element of chance, often dictated on the grid as percentages. A ‘go for it’ run often has a success rate in the 80s, meanwhile, if an opponent is opposite you at any point during movement then you also have to deal with dodging their attacks, which sit in the 60s. Positioning your players next to each other also boosts stats and lowers those of nearby opponents, and this all comes together to help you strategise on creating clears runs for the ball carrier or blocking them, which is the crux of the experience.

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Positioning alone isn’t your only weapon though, a tackle, which essentially boils down to a fight between players, is another way to temporarily – and sometimes permanently – take a player out of action. When knocked down a player is no longer a threat, if you happen to stun them then they’ll miss a turn as well, meanwhile, an injury takes them off the pitch until they recover, and a death removes them permanently and hurts the team further along in the league.

Tackles once again play off chance, with your player’s stats and abilities modifying your odds. Dice are rolled on-screen to determine the result of a tackle, with more dice thrown in for larger discrepancies between the players’ strength stats. Abilities such as block can prevent your player being knocked down, encouraging you to think tactically about which players you use to attack and defend. Further strategies can be built on the other abilities and specific rolls your players have within your team, with some players more suited to catching a pass whilst others are better suited to blitzing opponents. Taking it all into consideration and the element of chance that seemed so prevalent can be minimised, yet enough of it remains to keep the game unpredictable and fun whether you’re winning or losing.

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The crowd like to get in on the action occasionally and will cheer on teams, which improves their stats, or storm the pitch knocking out and stunning random players. Push a player out-of-bounds and the crowd will descend on them, injuring and sometimes killing them. Additionally, tackles you perform or suffer from can injure or kill you. Meanwhile, negative abilities like an ogres stupidity can strike and take out your powerhouse player for multiple turns. It’s terrifically intractable, and can turn a one-sided game on its head at the snap of a neck.

Figuring out how to form strategies and understand the rules and UI is aided by the single player campaign, which sees you coach a team from rags to riches in a Mighty Ducks kind of fashion. Each game gradually introduces new elements and shows you the ropes as far as team management goes off the pitch, with buying, selling and transferring players as well as improving stadiums. It’s a fairly lengthy campaign as well, largely due to matches tacking a long time to complete. 16 turns can run for a good 40 minutes or so, which, when playing against the AI, can get a little frustrating.

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For the most part the AI is smart and aggressive but doesn’t seem to be concerned with the number of turns left, often setting up a touch down play that would come to fruition a turn or two beyond what’s available. Certainly human opponents offer a better experience, and thanks to leagues and persistent teams Blood Bowl 2 offers a superb multiplayer component, one that’s especially enjoyable amongst a small group of friends playing in a private league.

Indeed Blood Bowl 2 is a brilliant sports title, one that brings together cerebral strategy with mindless violence in a beautiful Warhammer themed package. It’s a fair few races short of the monstrous amount from the ultimate version of the previous game, the animations frequently repeat, and the commentary can get on the verge of insufferable, but the satisfaction of beating an opponent into the ground and running the ball into their end zone with a superbly formed strategy is utterly fantastic and can overcome the minor issues splendidly.

Thanks to Xbox and Cyanide for their support 

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