WWE 2K20 has arrived and this year we see a departure from long-time developers Yuke’s, paving the way for in-house developer Visual Concepts to take the helm. Visual Concepts, who have a long history of developing sports games, have assisted Yuke’s in making the WWE 2K games since 2014, and now have been given the full commission to put their own stamp on the legacy of the main wrestling game that gets released annually. We’ve seen some amazing advertising featuring current superstars and legends alike, and for the first time female WWE superstar ‘The Man’ Becky Lynch is on the cover. WWE 2K20 is fresh, it’s invigorated, and it’s attempting to try something new.
The main menu this year is a basic list which offers a host of different gameplay options from quick play modes to 2K Central to the in-depth Universe mode and online play, WWE fans will find plenty to do in WWE 2K20. With planned WWE 2K Originals stories coming post-launch, and fresh 2K Towers coming over the year, Visual Concepts is looking to keep the game fresh for fans over the next 12 months. How this all pans out, however, will depend on some key patches that will be rolling out for the game very soon.
From the quick play menu, players will find every option under the sun to the extent of having custom matches where you can customise to your heart’s content. Once choosing the type of match you can then choose a stipulation which once again varies from everything from a backstage brawl to a last man standing match, as well as having the option of customising your own unique stipulation. The WWE 2K20 customisation game is strong, and everywhere you look there is something else you can modify or create.
2K Central mode is where you will find the game’s stories. At launch, The Four Horsewomen is the only scripted story available. It contains over a dozen memorable matches from the Women’s Revolution, and features plenty of cut-scenes between each match to help explain how the women were feeling about kicking down all those doors backstage and breaking through glass ceilings at different arenas each week. This is also where 2K Originals lives, which is the post-launch DLC episodes. If you pre-ordered WWE 2K20 you can now access the first episode featuring Bray ‘The Fiend’ Wyatt, and people who purchased the Deluxe and Smackdown Anniversary Edition not only have access to it but also the following three 2K Originals stories planned.
A huge issue we have with the scripted stories in 2K Central is that some matches can go on for 10-15 minutes where you’ll be dominating your opponent(s) only for a cheeky last-minute reversal and pin to occur, costing you the match. We struggled to complete the final match in The Four Horsewomen to the point of getting up to the last scripted move several times, only to have Ronda Rousey or Charlotte Flair steal the win with what’s basically an unavoidable reversal. While this can happen in any mode of the game, the fact that you have to spend a decent amount of time in each scripted match performing 30+ specific moves and combinations only to have the match stolen from you was really annoying. Perhaps Visual Concepts can look at adding in a checkpoint system which saves your progress mid-match, or a rewind system like what we see in racing games. Either way, something needs to change because a lot of these scripted matches end up far more painful than fun.
Create-a-Wrestler continues to get more customisable every year, though in WWE 2K20 Visual Concepts have simplified the first few steps. Players can now more easily choose from styles and moves, choosing a class for your wrestler with an easy to follow guide of what payback abilities they will get. All created wrestlers can be used in WWE Universe mode as well as get uploaded to the Community Creations mode. Furthermore, you can now download not only other players’ created wrestlers, but also unique championship belts and arenas.
WWE 2K20 has several online modes, though the WWE 2K Originals mode is not yet active. Quick Play is the fastest way to get you into a match, while the game also offers lobbies and a unique type of match that gets changed routinely called Tonight’s Match. Online is where the hardcore matches are fought, and you had better bring your reversal game if you want to survive against the pros you’ll face around the globe.
Every match rewards you with the in-game currency which can be used to buy a variety of locked WWE Superstars, Arenas and Championships from the past. We found that by simply playing through The Four Horsewomen story that we earned enough credits to buy a lot of the key WWE legends like The Rock, Stone Cold and Goldberg, but players are going to be playing WWE 2K20 for quite some time if they want to unlock everything available at launch, and we expect much more to be added post-launch. From what we could tell, there doesn’t appear to be any microtransactions and/or pay to win elements in WWE 2K20 which is just as well because that could have been the final nail in this game’s coffin.
While each year the WWE 2K games look just that little bit better, this year it’s only present at face value. A lot of the character models look fantastic, the crowd continues to improve, and we can’t fault most of the WWE Superstars’ entrances, taunts and in-ring maneuvers. If only the rest of the game was presented as well as the effort that the Superstars have put in to ensure their characters are as realistic as possible. What we got at launch though was a glitchy, buggy mess. Costumes would stretch from one side of the ring to the other. Hair would fuzz up like a demon cloud. Limbs would randomly glitch on the ropes or on other wrestlers. By now you’ve probably seen the GIFs. You’ve seen the funny screenshots. It’s all true. This is how WWE 2K20 is currently presented, and therefore we can only suggest that you hold off on buying it until critics are happy with the patches and updates.
There have been several games this year which have had shaky launches. Some recovered well after early patches while others never really survived the initial blow and criticisms from fans and critics alike. WWE 2K20 was not ready when it launched last week, and Visual Concepts have said a patch will not be ready until at least next week. The future of WWE 2K20 balances on this patch and whether they can fix a lot of the frustrating bugs and glitches that must have been present in alpha and beta testing. While there’s plenty to do in WWE 2K20, it’s just too painful to bother trying right now.
We reviewed WWE 2K20 on an Xbox One X console in 4K. The game is also available on PlayStation 4. For more information, head to the official WWE 2K website.
- Plenty of gameplay and customisation options - Has the potential to be a solid game - A great focus on the new era.
- A buggy and glitchy mess - Clearly not ready at launch - Frustrating reversals in long scripted 2K Central matches