I got bit by the wrestling bug at an early age, thanks to my grandfather. He was a hardcore fan, and had tapes of all the old school matches shown on TV. Hell, he even had Wrestlemania 1 on tape! My love of sports entertainment has waxed and waned over the years but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t looking forward to WWE 2K Battlegrounds!
In fact, I can honestly say it’s been one of my most anticipated WWE games in years!
Finally, an arcadey wrestling game in the vein of WWF Superstars, WrestleFest and of course, In Your House! Hot damn!
Now that I’ve finally have the game in my paws, what do I think of it?
Keep on reading to find out!
What is WWE 2K Battlegrounds?
WWE 2K Battlegrounds is an arcade-style wrestling game starring real life WWE Superstars, delivering over the top moves and combos. Think of this as a wrestling version of NBA Jam, with crazy moves, insane arenas and wacky gameplay.
Developed by Saber Interactive and published by 2K Games, it’s out right now for the PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Our copy was graciously gifted to us by the awesome folks at 2K Games Singapore!
I went in to WWE 2K Battlegrounds expecting a shallow brawler that I can use to play with my family. Something fun that doesn’t require you knowing the intricacies of a game.
I’m happy to say that’s pretty much what WWE 2K Battlegrounds is.
Matches are quick and brutal. There’s no referee, so anything and everything goes. Weapons and ringside gadgets (you can control a goat to fight your opponent in one arena) are all legal. You don’t need to know complicated combinations to execute flashy moves and combos. All of them are handily mapped to face buttons, the shoulder buttons, the right stick or a combination of them.
It’s really pick up and play and anybody can get in, dish out massive punishment and have fun doing it. The bar for entry’s so low, even Dink the Clown and Hornswaggle have no problem clearing it!
With reality (and fair play) thrown out of the window, WWE 2K Battlegrounds embraces its wacky side with tons of over the top special moves.
It’s a refreshing change of pace honestly, a far cry from the usual methodical and plodding gameplay recent WWE games have been known for.
Yes, the gameplay is rather shallow, but that’s exactly the draw here. It’s all mindless fun for when you just need a quick gaming fix!
Impressively, while the gameplay might be mindless (in a good way!), there’s actually a lot of meat in other aspects of the game.
There’s a full-fledged campaign (118 stages total), with its own comic style cutscenes and all. The campaign mode’s done rather well, with stage by stage progression and even side events you can take on to unlock new stuff.
Hell, there’s even a custom mode to build up your Custom Wrestler called the Battleground Challenge. It’s functionally similar to the campaign, just without the cutscenes. Unfortunately, the mode isn’t as deep as the one found in the main WWE games, which is a shame.
Luckily, all this is just a stepping stone to the main event; the matches. Presentation is a bit lacking in this aspect too. Wrestler entrances are gone, replaced with a short intro featuring the fighters before a match.
During the matches, Jerry ‘the King’ Lawler commentates though his lines are mostly relegated to quips here and there. They repeat a bit too much for my liking, though I found that I didn’t pay them any attention when I’m engrossed in the matches.
All the fighting has a purpose too.
You earn currency for every fight, win or lose and XP. Level up and you get more currency and other unlocks. The cash you get can then be used in multiple ways; upgrading your skills, unlocking new traits for your avatar or spend it in the in-game shop to unlock new wrestlers!
Finally, a game that doesn’t make you buy DLC for extra characters. There’s a fair number of unlockables, from Hulk Hogan (and Hollywood Hogan), to Triple H and Shawn Micheals. All in all, there are 70 wrestlers in the game at launch.
Needs More Wrestlers!
I’m a bit disappointed at the rather mainstream selection though. I’d love to have some of the more obscure wrestlers from the WWE stable, especially in a game like this.
Bob Backlund, the Iron Sheikh, Scott Steiner, Nikolai Volkoff, the Legion of Doom, the Bushwackers and a ton more seem like the perfect fit but are somehow left out in the rain. Hell, I think it’s sacrilegious that Chris Jericho isn’t in the damn game!
That’s the bad news, the good news is that there will be a ton of wrestlers coming as DLC and all of them will be free!
If there’s one thing I don’t like about the game, it’s that the wrestlers are weird. I don’t know how else to describe the game’s tacky art aesthetic other than a weird mishmash of chibi-style and midgets.
Some of the wrestlers look decent (even in light of the horrendous style) but others look nowhere near their real life counterparts. Still, those that do look the part, really look the part. Samoa Joe looks like he’s out to kill somebody and Hulk Hogan actually looks like a miniaturized version of the big guy himself.
The Bottom Line.
To say that WWE 2K Battlegrounds lives up to the WWF arcade legacy is an understatement. It’s certainly a much better game than I was expecting (though I wasn’t expecting much to begin with).
The unique blend of simplistic gameplay, flashy moves and recognizable superstars mixes well, producing a game that pretty much everybody can pick up and play. It’s mindless fun, perfect for a party game or a quick unwind session after a hard day slaving away at work.
Sadly, there are some missteps here and there. The roster is lacking in old school faces…and the faces themselves can be unrecognizable due to the weird art.
I really hope that WWE and Saber Interactive go back to the drawing board and rework that.
Overlook those minor nitpicks, and you’ll find that WWE 2K Battlegrounds is great game, even if you’re not into wrestling.
The best arcade style wrestling game since WWF Wrestlefest!
- Lots of stuff to do and unlock.
- Fun, easy to learn gameplay.
- Flashy moves.
- The art style.
- Not enough old school wrestlers.