Initial release date: September 18, 2020
Developer: Saber Interactive
Series: WWE 2K
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: 2K Games, Take-Two Interactive
Modes: Single-player, Online and Local Multiplayer
Links to Buy
Nintendo Switch: https://amzn.to/342qxUt
PlayStation 4: https://amzn.to/3j94wJZ
Xbox One: https://amzn.to/2G4xNHs
"Review Code Provided By 2K Games"
Saber Interactive have done well with bringing the NBA games to an arcade format with their NBA Playgrounds series which brought back that NBA Jam style of Arcadey basketball goodness. With Saber Interactive and 2K working together on a new WWE game you’d expect the same result with them bringing in an arcadey feel to WWE games that hasn’t been seen since WWE All-Stars. We’ve had so many tried and true simulation WWE games and now it’s time for a return to arcade style. The question now is does it live up to the legacy of the 2K Playgrounds series and arcade gaming greats of the past or does it stay down for the 10 count? Let’s find out!
The game has a simple control layout with a button for punching, kicking, running, grappling, irish whipping, climbing in and out the ring/turnbuckle, interacting with items, and taunting. There’s a lot that goes into the combat system here that can keep you occupied for some time. There’s the combo system that has you tying together strings of punches and kick sending with you launching your enemies to the canvas.
Grappling is done by pressing one of the face buttons on your controller plus the left stick in any of the 4 direction areas will allow you to perform different moves from suplexes to back body drops, German suplexes and more. When paired with the shoulder button you’re able to do stronger variations of these moves which will have a camera cut to showcase the stronger moves which look pretty bruthal such as throwing your opponent into the air and dragon punching them in the gut followed by a brutal knockdown haymaker. You can also do special grapples with the right stick as well which do extra damage.
When your opponent is down you have the option of picking them up, pinning them for the 1-2-3, or putting them in a submission maneuver which will initiate a mini game where you and your opponent try to fill a bar to either escape the hold or tap out your opponent by alternating between tapping the two front shoulder buttons in quick succession.
In matches you can win either by pinfall, submission, and or count out (based on the match type). You can fight in and outside the ring and even in the audience and if you find items in the arena or under the ring then feel free to use it to take out your competition.
You may be wondering why I haven brought up a reversal or counter button and the reason is happens to be due to the fact that the reversal system is based around button prompts from the face buttons which will pop up from time to time and you have a few seconds to press the prompt to reverse the strike or grapple. Finishers are performed by way of pressing the two front shoulder buttons that will initiate said wrestlers finisher.
There’s a lot of options for when it comes to the different match types albeit not as much as a standard 2K WWE game such as 1-on-1, Tag match, Triple Threat, Fatal-4-Way, Gauntlet Match, Cage Match, Hell in a Cell, and Royal Rumble. The functionality of Cage matches are different than a traditional 2K WWE game in that during the match you will need to collect bags of money to fill a bar which will allow you to climb out of the cage as well as having the avoid the electrified cage which will knock you down and do heavy damage to you. The Royal Rumble matches are fun yet stressful because the enemy A.I. will gang up on you and once you’re out the match ends. There are also online modes that allow you to play with friends online as well as other players and what’s cool is that the game allows cross play which allows you to play against players on other platforms from PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
There are a few arenas to choose from and a few to create as well as a C-A-W mode or Create A Wrestler mode which is cool but incredibly limited compared to any wrestling game in the last 2 decades when it comes to customization, entrances, move set, arena building and more so don’t expect too much.
There are over 40 wrestlers to choose from with much of the roster not even being in the WWE anymore such as Rusev (now Miro), Karl Anderson and Luke (Doc) Gallows, and more yet for some reason you have to unlock a lot of these characters by either grinding in the game with story and matches to earn bucks to buy them or you go the incredibly controversial route 2K has become known for and spend real money to get money to unlock more characters. Do keep in mind YOU DON’T HAVE TO SPEND REAL MONEY TO UNLOCK EVERYTHING IN THE GAME, however, it is an option if you want to quickly get everything.
Last thing I’ll touch on here is the story mode which is presented in a comic book format with no spoken dialogue following Stone Cold Steve Austin as he is initially approached by Paul Hayman who is trying to do something new with the WWE and needs Austin to go and find some of the most rough and badass people in the world. Austin meets with this campaign original character and you end up going around the world and competing against various a wrestlers and original characters as you work your way up the ladder. It’s…..ok but it really isn’t anything to write home about
So I’ll be honest in saying this game is graphically a mixed bag with some good and bad looking character models and just graphics in general. Wrestlers run the gambit of looking semi-sorta like their real life counterparts to looking down right fugly to the nth degree.
The male wrestlers are hit or miss with the female wrestlers being a serious miss on all accounts. The super deformed chibi style of the wrestlers in some ways works and someways doesn’t with how disproportionate a lot of the wrestlers especially the women look (See Sasha Banks in game) and while I understand this game does borrow heavily from WWE All-Stars in its visual and gameplay aesthetics, however, I do feel that game pulled off its graphics and gameplay much better and smoother than Battlegrounds does.
Entrances are rather interesting looking with the fact that wrestlers will drop into the arena either in boxes or special items of which they will burst out of and then do one or two gestures and then moves on to the next entrance with very muted sounding entrance music.
Arenas are a mixed bag of low poly audience NPCs with slightly more detailed rings and ramps which all just don’t cohesively fit together.
The audio is another area of being a mixed bag as the music played during matches reminds me of the old N64 to Smackdown games with their generic rock alternative music which for some reason doesn’t fit well in this game as it did in the older titles which on top of that you have commentary from Jerry The King Lawler and Mauro Ranallo (No longer with the WWE) which while decent is hard to hear over the loud and uneven rock music.
The best sounding audio in the game is from when the wrestlers are hitting one another or when they are slamming each other into the canvas. The punches, kicks, and slams all sound incredible and bone crunchingly painful.
This game really suffers in the graphics department majorly with an artstyle that doesn’t always work and with enemy A.I. that is either bare bones dumb and allows you to stomp a mudhole in them or is a pain in the ass that reverses any and everything you do on the higher difficulties. Then you’ve got the unusual campaign mode which could’ve been great if it had cutscenes and voice over and not the comic book aesthetic and then you have the disgustingly low customization options for C-A-W and arena creation and to top it all off with the very 2K-esque micro transactions method of unlocking more stuff in a game. I don’t understand why 2K does this in their sports titles but it is something that they really need to get in check as they are treading upon becoming another EA in that category.
The game has a mountain of issues and yet even with all that it is still a fun game to play.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a breath of fresh air in what had started to become a yearly routine of simulation style wrestling games and delivers a very fun albeit flawed arcade style wrestling game that in takes many aspects from WWE All-Stars and incorporates a lot of the older N64 style games into a package that is very fun when you take the time to learn the ropes and run the ropes even with it’s many issues. Is this a MUST OWN game? No. It is a game worth trying especially if you catch it on sale for 30$ or less. 2K Battlegrounds has the foundation to build upon for another entry and I hope by then 2K will know what is and isn’t working and give us the ultimate arcade style wrestling game that we have needed for years.