For years, fans of the squared circle anxiously awaited the newest wrestling video game release. Much like the product on TV at its peak, there were several different games to choose from on any given night. Now, outside of the beloved Fire Pro Wrestling franchise, there is only one game at the top of the mountain.
The WWE 2K franchise was changed forever when Yukes and 2K decided to team up to make the most realistic wrestling game on the market. Bugs and other issues have hindered recent installments and left gamers wanting more, but there’s a different feeling around WWE 2K19, and it appears to be the wrestling game that many fans have yearned for.
What I Like
The core of every great video game relies on its gameplay. If the gameplay isn’t fun, realistic and enticing, there’s really no need to play the game. From the moment your music hits, and your wrestler makes his way to the ring, you become lost in the WWE universe. As you watch your opponent walk down the ramp, you have the opportunity to interfere. This doesn’t always go exactly as planned, but it allows you to do some damage pre-match and get the upper edge on your opponent..
Overall, the gameplay flows seamlessly and — albeit a bit arcade-y — remains true to the product we see in the WWE today. The grapple/strike/reversal system continues to be a strong aspect of the franchise, and allows you more control than ever before. There are times when the timing seems a bit off, but aside from a few hiccups here and there, the gameplay is great.
Players’ movesets continue to improve, and some of the animations leave you in awe throughout the match. Nothing feels better than reversing your opponent’s finisher, only to hit him with yours before winning the match.
For me, the best wrestling game to date is WWF No Mercy. This may not dethrone the king of kings, but the game reminds me a lot of that wrestling juggernaut.
It is safe to say the gameplay is the core foundation of any video game, and the folks at 2K and Yukes have delivered.
There’s a little something for everyone in WWE 2K.
Showcase mode documents the story of Daniel Bryan, and allows you to play through some of his biggest career milestones in the WWE. If you’re familiar with the 2K series, you know this is one of the premier game modes and one that many fans look forward to each and every year. Team up with Kane to win the Tag Titles, defeat the Miz for the United States title, and out wrestle HHH for the chance to main event WrestleMania, all while listening to Daniel Bryan narrate? It’s pretty incredible.
2K’s customization suite remains one of the best in any video game, and the same holds true in this year’s edition. The possibilities really are endless. You can scan your Face ID if you’d like, or spend countless hours customizing your wrestler from head to toe. Once you’re ready, 2K’s MyPlayer mode finally feels like one of the better stories in sports gaming.
You begin in the indies, wrestling in high school gymnasiums in front of a few hundred people. Through much adversity, you must work your way up to NXT and prove to HHH that you deserve a chance. As you move through the WWE ranks, you will be tasked with some improbable matches, but keep fighting and you will someday hoist the WWE Championship. Real player voice overs make this feel more like an immersive story than the disconnected dialogue we are used to. It’s not perfect, but will definitely have you playing through to the very end.
WWE Universe remains very much the same, which is a good thing. This game mode gives you the opportunity to create your own WWE world. Create feuds on each show, book matches and play through an endless amount of possibilities.
Towers are new to this year’s game and should keep things fresh for the months to come. Each tower has a different objective, with some being more difficult than others. Gauntlets are by far the toughest, and depending on the difficulty and tasks, could feel nearly unbeatable at times.
These “towers” are set up pretty well, and similar to what you may be familiar with in the recent Mortal Kombat. Some will have you face off against some of WWE’s all-time greats, while others may run you through a specific time period.
This is the most realistic wrestling game to date. The roster alone is drool worthy, except for the omission of Tommaso Ciampa and Nikki Cross, which is extremely disappointing. Here is a look at all 200+ superstars in this year’s game. If there’s a wrestler you’d like to see in 2K19, don’t fret, there are roster creators making some of your favorite superstars daily.
Beyond the roster, the player models, entrances and player-specific moves keep you coming back again and again. Hearing Finn Balor’s music hit and watching him strut down the ramp as if it were a live WWE broadcast remains pretty special. Wrestlers not only look like their real-life counterparts, but they play like them too. Everything from their looks and their attire down to their skill sets mirrors reality.
Arenas look photo realistic as well. Everything from the ring, to the entrance, to the apron around the ring really do key in on looking true to life. I immediately feel immersed in a special PPV or a Monday Night Raw event when playing this year’s game. The fans also appear much improved from year’s past. Sure, there are some that look repetitive and may or may not just be wearing a different shirt, but they way they react during a match is something you don’t see much from a sports video game.
Replays during the match, as well as after, add a TV broadcast effect. This is usually well executed and will show you a finisher or match-altering move immediately after it happens. Once the match is over, a quick recap will play. These could be done a bit better, as sometimes an arm bar or a pin finds its way into the highlight film. Overall, WWE 2K19 nails the realism, and makes you feel as though you’re part of an actual WWE taping.
What I Don’t Like
Like most sports video games, the commentary in WWE gets stale rather quickly. Sure, there are some insightful key points they have about each wrestler, but overall the commentary from match to match remains the same. Title matches do feel a bit different, but not as much as you would like. I think it would be beneficial if throughout the year 2K could bring the commentary team in to update things to keep it fresh, similar to what EA does with Madden.
New to this year’s game are pay backs, which allow wrestlers to get a last jolt of energy during a match. This definitely comes in handy when doing Towers and other game modes that may result in lots of damage to your character. However, having the ability to smash a button and have a second win, seems a bit unrealistic and adds on to the arcade aspect. However, that doesn’t mean I turn them off, because I don’t. I have currently become more and more familiar with the game, so I rely on these at times. But it’s something that feels out of place in a seemingly stellar video game.
Again, 2K has introduced microtransactions for those who don’t want to play through the entire game. Many of these microtransactions can be earned by completing a tower or other game mode, and unlocks a special wrestler, CAW item or more. Things like this are not ideal for gaming, but nonetheless, if you want to unlock everything the fast, easy way, micro-transactions are for you.
I never really think of wrestling video games as an online juggernaut, so I wasn’t entirely disappointed when I tried 2K19 online. That being said, the game felt sluggish and I always seemed to be one or two steps behind. The ability to play just about any game mode and match type online is impressive, but if you’re looking to buy WWE 2K19 strictly for the online play, you will be severely disappointed.
Make no mistake about it, WWE 2K19 is not a flawless representation of what we see every week from the WWE. The game can feel arcade-y at times while riding a fine line between simulation. Like most of the WWE 2K games that came before, there are glitches and issues that make you scratch your head, and can ruin key moments throughout a match. But with the addition of Towers and a much improved career mode, WWE 2K19 appears to be one of the better wrestling games in years. This might not be the World Champion of wrestling video games, but the foundation is there to build a championship contender for years to come.