Every single year, there are three things every wrestling fan can’t wait to do when they get their hands on the WWE 2K game. Get straight into Universe mode and give their favourite underutilised talent all the belts (in my case Samoa Joe). Play with their friends to spam all the finishers. Make their boss in the character creator and give ’em a good kicking.
Compadres, if this is you, then I bring good tidings, for WWE 2K20 is shaping up to be everything you want it to be. 2K recently invited myself and bunch of my fellow journalists to spend some time getting to grips with the game ahead of its release on Tuesday the 22nd of October. The very first thing I did was check out how detailed and true to life the entrances are. When I was choosing what character to pick, I realised that (as has happened in previous games) some Superstars get multiple entries for embodying different characters. There’s Bray Wyatt and then there’s Bray Wyatt The Fiend, but instead of choosing that, (because I’m no slave to the zeitgeist) I took a look at NXT’s latest signing, Finn Balor, but instead of the sexy leather jacket-wearing dude, I jammed on The Demon.
This was incredible. The black and red strands of the headdress seem to move independently according to the physics, which is an impressive feat even if the animations are canned. The detail on the paint is impressive and the smoke he walks through might not be the most convincing, but the art direction ensures that what it lacks in realism it makes up for in atmosphere.
For his opponent, I chose Daniel Bryan, and while I was fully expecting his trademark arm raises, instead we got the entrance of the ‘New’ Daniel Bryan, the eco-warrior, who shoves his lifestyles down people’s throats. This was an intriguing development as this game would have had to be months’ deep in development by the time Bryan turned heel. It takes more than a year to make a game, even in an annualised franchise. I can only imagine what it must have taken to implement the relative newcomer The Fiend into the mix. It must have been all hands on deck when it made its debut, just a little over two months before the game is scheduled to release.
The gameplay is not only what WWE 2K’s games have always been, but in my opinion what they should be. A perfectly balanced, deep fighting game would be hard to mesh with the sport’s entertainment fantasy. Rather, the gameplay creates a space where you can replicate your favourite spots and have a laugh with your mates. One thing I didn’t check out, but really wanted to, was the brand-new control scheme for new players. Regardless, that’s a fantastic idea more games should take on, as it’s getting harder and harder for newer players to break into the hobby, as it seems even the simplest of games in 2019, need you to be fluent in gaming vocabulary. This will help simplify things for younger or merely inexperienced players and should be thoroughly encouraged.
The MyCAREER mode is goofy as hell and that’s one of the best things about it. This time around you make two characters, one male and one female. One thing I did wish I could do, though, was to know a bit more about the character’s personality in the story mode before I made them in the creator. I made my male character look like some kind of Jeff Cobb-esque, all-business badass, only to realise in the story, he’s going to be the comic relief.
I didn’t manage to go too deep and get into some of the more surreal scenes as promised in the trailer, but I did play the opening match where the female lead has a fight with the captain of the high-school wrestling team. In this scenario, your imaginative player character fantasises about beating her in front of a hundred baying fans at a local indie show. Hopefully, this will ease players into the idea of fighting with Papa Shango in the WWE boiler room, or the Undertaker in a graveyard.
WWE 2K20 may not be a revelation in terms of WWE sims, but it looks dedicated to delivering the laughs that the majority of fans are looking for.
WWE 2K20 is available on 22nd October on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.