Release Date September 18, 2020
Genre Sports/Fighting
Platforms PS4/XBO/PC/Switch
Developer Saber Interactive
Price $39.99 US
ESRB Rating Teen
Players 1-8 Players

 

**A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by 2K for review purposes**

It’s been a long time since we have had a WWE game that wasn’t simulation-based. The last couple of games that I can remember were WWE Wrestlefest and WWE All-Stars in 2011 and 2012. Of course, 2K had to go a different direction this year while they right the ship with the main WWE 2K series that ended up being quite a mess when WWE 2K20 released late last year. It sounds like a good idea, right? Make a game that is all about fun and less about all the tiny nuances of wrestling. The videos and screenshots all looked promising but I’m here to tell you that beyond the flashy animations, there is just no substance.

One of the main things that makes a decent wrestling game is that each Superstar has its own specific moveset. This is what sets each Superstar apart and what gives them their own unique personality on top of their appearance and mannerisms. WWE 2K Battlegrounds gives you the same tiny moveset for anyone within the same class of either Powerhouse, Brawler, All-Rounder, Technician, or High-Flyer. That means most of your heroes will play the exact same with very little variety. Sure, each Superstar still has its own specific Signature and Finishing move and some have moves tailored only to them but that’s hardly enough to stop you from getting extremely bored while playing through this game.

WWE 2K Battlegrounds Review
The moves are all over the top.

The class system does save things a little bit because these classes matter a lot and play very differently. Brawlers can create weapons and have extra power in their strikes. Technicians can cause limb damage (leading your opponent to stagger around) and have powerful throws. High-flyers can get to the top rope fast, use running throws, and jump off the ropes. Powerhouses are slow but can power through an opponent’s strikes. Then there’s also an All-Around which is a mix of everything. I like this system but I felt like there could have been a few more thrown in there to make things a bit more varied.

The weakest part of WWE 2K Battlegrounds is the gameplay. It’s far too easy to reverse and you can literally just strike the CPU over and over again without them ever really getting a chance to hit you. The moves are easy to execute and anyone can pick this thing up and play it no problem. I just can’t see any adults really wanting to spend too much time with it with the lack of depth and general ease of the game. Strike a bunch, hit your finisher, pin. It’s a win 9 times out of 10.  

There’s a power-up system that works quite well with this type of game. These are basically temporary buffs that give your character a competitive advantage when you activate them. An example of this would be one that makes your opponent have to work harder to escape out of the pin. There are plenty of buffs to unlock and you’re mostly getting things like increasing your damage, increasing your health regeneration, or making it so the other player can’t block your attacks. I liked this system but because of the lack of depth, it didn’t feel like it mattered as much as it would in a normal game of this nature. 

WWE 2K Battlegrounds Review
Part of the comic style storyboard in the campaign.

Battlegrounds has a campaign that looks promising when you start out with a comic book storyboard where Paul Hayman convinces Vince McMahon to let him start his own brand of wrestling. This sees Paul traveling around the world recruiting wrestlers and having them fight on their own home turf. It’s a weird little story and you aren’t given much of a reason to care about these new characters you’re introduced to because they don’t receive much more than a page or two of a comic strip to get you familiar with them. 

The campaign is pretty straight-forward. You have the main series of matches you have to complete to get to the next areas but you can also play extra matches to earn extra unlockables like new power-ups, characters, and battlegrounds. As is the issue with the rest of the game, there just isn’t a whole lot of substance here and you’ll find yourself bored and trying to get through this as quickly as possible. 

Battleground Challenge isn’t much better than the main campaign. This one doesn’t have any story and you can use a created character. The issue with this is that this progression system is riddled with microtransactions. There are actually way too many microtransactions for a game like this. Each character that you want also costs between 75 cents and 3 dollars. You can unlock a lot of them through the campaign but the attires are also locked behind a paywall so this game can get pretty pricey. King of the Battlegrounds was probably my favorite mode as you’re working to eliminate players from a Battle Royale gauntlet-style (a new player enters each time you eliminate someone).  

WWE 2K Battlegrounds Review
Unlockables are stored in clamshell packages…too bad they’re all so expensive.

What I did like about this game is that there are different match types and not just singles matches. Steel Cage matches require you to frantically grab money on the sides of the cage before you can escape the cage which is strange but it was kind of fun to do. You get Triple Threats, Fatal 4 Ways, Royal Rumbles, and Tag matches as well. The main issue I ran into with multi-person matches is that trying to get that pinfall is so difficult because these characters pop right back up in seconds. Even if you keep someone down, one of the other characters is likely to break that pin and keep things going for a long time. 

I loved the art style of WWE 2K Battlegrounds. There’s a lot of colors and effects and the characters look like caricatures of themselves that have been drawn at a fair. The atmosphere and art style are probably the best parts of the game. It’s perfect for this type of game. What isn’t perfect? How about the commentary? Jerry Lawler and Mauro Ranallo sound great but the commentary is almost always off the mark, delayed, or just plain nonsensical. It’s bad and that’s a sad thing because Mauro will probably never do another WWE game considering he just left the company. 

WWE 2K Battlegrounds just isn’t what I expected. It’s just not very fun with barely any depth or reason to keep playing beyond a couple of hours.

Pros Cons
Plenty of match types Microtransactions galore
Cool art style Boring gameplay/story
  Bad commentary

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