GameCentral reviews this year’s new WWE wrestling game, which has already become infamous for its bizarre collection of bugs and glitches.
WWE 2K20 is a mess of a video game. That may feel like a cold opening statement, but it’s important to state just how far the franchise has fallen with this latest iteration.
Last year’s WWE 2K19 wasn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was probably the best game so far under 2K’s stewardship of the franchise. After acting as understudies to Japanese developer Yuke’s, this is the year that American studio Visual Concepts took over sole control of the franchise, with this supposed to be a year of transition, where they nailed the fundamentals and laid a foundation to build upon next year.
Unfortunately, WWE 2K20 is the exact opposite of that, to the point where it’s difficult to know where to start. We’ll begin with the visuals though, whose character models don’t seem to retain anything at all from last year’s creditable effort. Even The Rock, who’s been part of video games for the last two decades, feels almost unrecognisable here. This makes the impressive roster of over 180 superstars feel entirely pointless, because so many are lacking in accuracy and personality.
Much has been made of the rigid hair physics, but the problems go much deeper than that. Clothing clips through characters at an almost comical rate, while it’s not uncommon for title-holders to store their belts inside their torsos like some kind of horrific magic trick.
Of course, visuals aren’t everything but gameplay suffers just as much. Targeting wrestlers has never been simple in WWE 2K titles, but here it feels comical. We lost track of the amount of finishing moves unloaded on the poor referee, while seeing a dropped weapon burst out of the ring mat like something from the canteen scene in Alien is hilarious and unsettling all at once.
Superstars struggle to get in and out of the ring, often skating along the ring apron and beyond it like some kind of superhero. Or rolling in an endless loop unable to stand up. After the refinement of WWE 2K19 (which we played again recently for comparison’s sake), jumping into a match of WWE 2K20 feels like a huge backwards step.
This is made all the worse by a strange remapping of the controls. In previous WWE 2K titles, reversals were mapped to the shoulder buttons but in 2K20 they’ve been switched to the face buttons. There’s no real justification for this given the way other moves are arranged, so it just feels like change for the sake of change – especially given that the combat otherwise feels very similar, even if it is a lot glitchier.
One of the best things about last year’s game was the impressively presented MyCareer mode, but this year only seems interested in carrying the worst parts forward. Loot boxes (thankfully still only earned with in-game currency) are still the main way of improving your character’s move-set, unless you want to spend more of your hard-earned coins on a new move at a massively inflated cost.
The skill tree feels like a step backwards too. Set up in a similar way to Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid, it feels almost impossible to build your superstar into an archetype; if you’re aiming to be a high-flying luchador type you’ll need to select dozens of attributes between each of the nodes you want, just because there’s no way of looking and planning ahead. The new system removes all the strategy of character creation, leaving custom creations feeling cookie-cutter and bland.
Thankfully, visual customisation remains excellent… when it works. WWE 2K20’s creation suite is full of layers with which to create your very own larger than life grappler, but the game’s full of so many terrifying glitches it almost feels like special Halloween DLC. It’s not unusual for a character’s head to explode, with eyes ending up on stalks, while people’s hair looks like Darth Vader’s helmet being lowered onto his head – except it got stuck halfway. You can still download excellent community creations, which makes up for things to a degree, but maybe next time 2K should hire fans to edit the roster from the start.
On the plus side, if you can get it working, MyCareer does tell a fun story. It follows lifelong best friends Tre and Red, who both dream of making their name in the WWE. The mode starts with them being inducted into the hall of fame, as their stories are told in flashback. You then get to see them rise through the ranks and while everything is fairly predictable (especially since we know how it ends) it’s good natured and views the industry with a wistful enthusiasm. Aside from some PlayStation 1 era cut scenes and woeful voice-acting on the part of many superstars, it does offer enough fun to be worth a playthrough.
What’s also definitely worth jumping into is this year’s showcase, which finally focuses on the WWE’s exceptional women’s division, via the Four Horsewomen. It feels like it’s been a long time coming but, despite more disappointing character models, it’s nice to see the growth of the division over the course of the story.
WWE 2K20 may have plenty of features but that does not make it a great game, especially given the terrible graphics and equally horrendous bugs. It’s an embarrassment that it was launched in this state and while a patch has been promised within two weeks (but only after a significant outcry from the fanbase), reviewing what’s here at launch was more painful than the ending to Hell in a Cell 2019.
WWE 2K20 game review summary
In Short: After several patches and months of waiting this may, possibly, become a halfway decent wresting game, but at launch this is the gaming equivalent of Doink the Clown.
Pros: When it’s not glitching out the character creation suite remains impressively deep. MyCareer’s story has a lot of heart and there are plenty of modes and a huge roster…
Cons: …where almost everyone looks terrible. Horrendous glitches, awful targeting
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Developer: Visual Concepts
Release Date: 22nd October 2019
Age Rating: 16
By Lloyd Coombes
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