Excitement…That’s the word I had when it came to checking out the new video game WWE BATTLEGROUNDS by 2K SPORTS. We first got wind of this new title late 4th quarter of last year after sales for WWE 2K20 were revealed to be so bad. Why were sales bad for that game? Very poor game mechanics combined with many bugs, lack of great features from previous WWE2K installments, and poor execution in staying on top of routine patches all made that title less desirable. So much so that it was deemed by many hardcore faithfuls of the franchise and reviewers as the worst title to ever be released under the 2K franchise.

Add into the mix Japanese developer Yukes, a Japanese was no longer going to be developing WWE games for 2K after making WWE games for 20 years. 2K confirmed this as beginning with WWE 2K20 and going forward, Visual Concepts will be the sole developer of WWE wrestling games. Visual Concepts served as co-developer on the WWE 2K series starting with WWE 2K14. Yukes simply got to a point where the grind to release a yearly title was too much. In addition, new concepts they wanted to have in a game could not be met because of budget and time restrictions. It seems at the end of the day they too cared more about quality versus quantity.

When screenshots were finally released of WWE BATTLEGROUNDS along with a trailer I was reminded of MTV’s CELEBRITY DEATH MATCH, and previous video games such as WWE ALL-STARS, and WWE MAYHEM from a visual aspect and gaming mechanics. I thought to myself maybe this is exactly what WWE and 2K needs is a shot of something entirely new as 2K announced they would be skipping WWE 2K21 and instead focus on WWE 2K22 in hopes of delivering a more polished and complete game for fans. Wrestling fans that’s pretty big into gaming have clamored for something new as AEW is carefully implementing a plan to release a game. Meanwhile Retromania Wrestling has already released tons of gameplay footage and an impressive roster as it’s due for a Fall 2020 release. Let’s not forget CHIKARA has a video game out as it features matches of every style you can think of with over 25 different playable characters, over 700 crafted animations and more. It’s lead by my friend Dave Horn who’s developed previous successful wrestling games for STEAM and PC. Recently it was announced that CHIKARA PRO would be discontinued so as result Dave and his crew would not be working with them any longer but you can always check out ACTION ARCADE WRESTLING which is pretty good. Virtual Basement is even getting into the mix with a pretty impressive roster that continues to be a work in progress as so far they’ve signed over 70 wrestlers from the independent scene that includes Rob Van Dam, EC3, Elijah Burke, Cryme Tyme, Lio Rush, Matt Sydal, PJ Black, Petey Williams Brian Cage, RVD, Alpha Female, ODB, and many, many, many more! If you havent been staying on top of this one you really should as it comes off most promising. As we wait for these promising titles to be released we had to settle on dusting off our favorite wrestling titles from yesteryear that was until WWE BATTLEGROUNDS came along. And the verdict? Promising but needs lot of work. Let’s start with the goods first…

GAME MECHANICS 

If you’re like me which is a hardcore gamer at heart but starting to get up there in age then you know the hands eventually will not be able to do what they used to do with a gaming controller when you were in your 20s or younger. With today’s controllers you need to be on point with reflexes. WWE BATTLEGROUNDS is a game in which if you haven’t been playing games in a few years or lost yourself along the way is super-friendly on gaming controls. A simple moving of the joystick and pressing the X button 1,2,3 times or switching it up with hitting the A button 1,2,3 times, countering occasionally with the RB or B button (when prompted to counter) and even your 89-year old Grandpa Joe will have the controls down in 5 minutes tops! They give you a nice tutorial layout upon playing your first handful of games but you have to read it sadly. The font size isn’t that bad but most gamers have come to expect reading while playing a video game on Android or iOS. They typically want to hear commentary on their games for PC or gaming consoles. Despite this it’s very easy to overlook and put to the side with the ease of understanding the controls. You will find though after at least a half hour you want something more challenging as you’ll own the A.I within this time frame. You can try adjusting the difficulty where really the only thing that will increase is the A.I’s countering mechanism which is easy to master. The real challenge may be going online to face actual opponents that meet your skill levels. Speaking of servers, good luck trying to connect as there’s constant crashes and unknown errors. More on this in a bit.

GRAPHICS 

I eluded to it earlier but the graphics are fantastic visually. Very cartoonish in such a way you’d swear you were watching something on TV for kids on a Saturday morning. Very comedic and outlandish how the WWE SUPERSTARS execute over-the-top moves that’ll have you in disbelief at the exaggeration in defying gravity. It has a serious lack of realisim in the funniest way possible that really hooks you into WWE BATTLEGROUNDS mixed in with watching a live comic book adaptation play before your very eyes.


ROSTER and other FEATURES ruined by Micro transactions

The roster is pretty impressive. You’ll find depending on if you pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition (which we’ll talk about more later as it ties into 2K’s poor marketing) is missing lots of Superstars. This will leave many thinking the game is broken or the developers gave fans an unfinished product. Not the case at all. Perfect example, I couldn’t find Brock Lesnar, Mickie James, Nia Jax or even Naomi to be available from start. Turns out these guys and other WWE SUPERSTARS are hidden behind either a paywall or by going through Story Mode campaign. There’s even a good amount of grinding and repetition of matches you have to do in order to unlock certain wrestlers, attire for your created wrestler, unlocking and customizing options for BATTLEGROUND arenas as it’s all tied into microtransactions called Blue Bucks and Golden Bucks. 

As you can see from the image above WWE BATTLEGROUNDS falls in line of similar micro transactions to that of WWE SUPERSTARS and NBA MOBILE. So when you actually break things down you’re roughly spending $4 to $7 a Superstar just to unlock. That gets extremely pricey with having very little to show for. At the end of the day it’s just a unique skin but with the same moves, maybe an original signature and finishing move but that’s it besides their own theme entrance music. Doesn’t sound to good right? You probably want to go for Blue Bucks currency as with that it involves not spending real currency. It involves serious grinding and repeated playing as you can pick some up easily in the DAILY CHALLENGES menu, also in CAMPAIGN MODE aka STORY MODE, playing any type of match essentially as win or lose you get Blue Bucks. I can’t stress it enough to those of you who are parents out there to make sure you check your game console’s settings to make sure your kids aren’t able to do micro transactions without your knowledge as this could get out of control pretty fast without monitoring.

CREATE A WRESTLER and Dreaded Errors

MY CAW VERSION OF MYSELF BEFORE EXPERIENCING UNKNOWN ERROR BUG

The feature that’s had many of us CAW makers for years upon years take rejoice in when all else failed has failed in my opinion with WWE BATTLEGROUNDS. It’s a significant step backwards. I appreciate the game developers helping CAW makers get in & out when creating a wrestler. We got to a point honestly where it felt like we were taking a college coarse as there was so many multiplayers that took over an hour for some. Here in WWE BATTLEGROUNDS you’re done in about 10 minutes. Great right? There is a catch however and that’s it’s very limited what you can do in creating. There’s no color customizations for attires as the default color is what you get. Take it or leave it. You’ll also find that if you want to push a nice, smooth and sexy bald head that it’s not an option however there is a glitch workaround. Speaking of glitches currently as it stands as of this review you’ll come across an error when saving your created wrestler. You’ll get an UNKNOWN ERROR OCCURRED WHEN SAVING message. As result you’re kicked back to the CAW slot menu where you’ll find nothing’s been saved. Many people on reddit and social media have expressed their frustrations with this bug including myself and yet 2K or SABER INTERACTIVE (game developer for WWE BATTLEGROUNDS as 2K is the PUBLISHER in case you need to know where to send that hate mail) has yet to address this almost a week later since the game was released. 

Oh but 2K and SABER INTERACTIVE sure as hell knew how to respond to a lawsuit from a photographer / artist coming their way for using his Tessa Blanchard piece in this game without permission! A patch was put out in less than 35 hours after its launch release date. Now I’m not sure about you but just let that sink in for a moment. You spent your hard earned dollars to enjoy yourself and your favorite pastime. You’ve bought a game that is not 100% fine out of the box and you’re left hanging wondering if and when the issues you’re noticing will ever be resolved so you can try to enjoy what you bought. You’re still left in the dark but someone who’s photos was used without permission got a response to their issues. Are you with me now people? Even the marketing strategy for releasing this game took many people off guard. With hardly any proper notice of at least a month, gamers find out barely three days before WWE BATTLEGROUNDS Street release that anyone who got a physical copy of WWE BATTLEGROUNDS got a pretty sweet WWE SUPERCARD QR code load of goodies worth about $40-$50 and that’s mainly cause of the two John Cena SUMMERSLAM 2020 cards you get to max out and pro to really get an edge over opponents. Let that sink in for a second folks…This was only available for the physical copies and not digital copies. So you paid the same amount of money but you’re missing all that extra content. Some of you may say I’m okay as I don’t play WWE SUPERCARD. That’s fine but you missed out on recouping some of the money you spent for this game as WWE SUPERCARD QR codes will pocket you some serious money through EBAY.

THE VERDICT

I went into WWE BATTLEGROUNDS with arms wide open and really wanted to love this game but I can’t ignore the glitches, error messages, and the screaming micro transactions. If you’re playing this by yourself you will be okay with the STORY MODE and doing a few DAILY CHALLENGES here and there. Once you’ve completed STORY MODE however the boredom really starts to kick in. Going online to try and play against someone results in becoming extremely frustrated. Reason being if you’re a XBOX owner you need to pony up an extra $10 USD to be able to play TOURNAMENT and KING OF THE BATTLEGROUNDS modes as it’s ONLINE. KING OF THE BATTLGROUNDS is a fantastic concept as you’re running a gauntlet and trying to stay alive in a battle royal as new players continue being brought in but there is a major glitch that’s being used for exploitation that lets you eliminate other players without ever going through the elimination mini game just by pushing them through the ropes. And BATTLEGROUND CHALLENGE mode screams micro transaction galore as you’re taking your created wrestler through an evolution system in this campaign mode without any storytelling.  Mauro Ranallo and Jerry Lawler bring the energy to the game but they come off not synced in perfectly when certain moves are executed. A lot of times they come in long after something cool happened or something or talking something that has nothing to do with what’s going on in the ring. Feel compelled to put them on mute. Playing with friends and family is the key to this game being truly fun as again playing by yourself you’ll find yourself burning out pretty quick before wanting to move on to something else. The game has lots of potential but it’s in need of some serious help in the form of patches and easing up on the micro transactions. WWE BATTLEGROUNDS is promising but this 180 for some may be the final kiss of death for the WWE video game faithfuls who clocked out many tiles ago but came back for this one out of curiosity. As the sang curiosity killed the cat…

GRAPHICS: 7/10

GAME MECHANICS: 7/10

AUDIO: 7/10

REPLAY: 6/10

ACHIEVEMENTS: 5/10

FINAL SCORE: 6.5/10 MEDIOCRE

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