WWE 2K19 Review

Xbox One/ Wrestling

I've been playing WWE games since Wrestlemania back on the NES. And while wrestling games obviously peaked at No Mercy for the N64, I decided I needed to give 2K's latest foray into the squared circle a try. Does WWE 2K19 stand tall like Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 12 or baffle and disappoint like Brodus Clay's grandma dance at Wrestlemania 28?

Story & Flow

Wrestling games exist in this weird limbo between "sports action" and "story driven". At first glance, this is a competitive sports title. WWE 2K19 offers a huge roster, tons of match types, online tournaments and more. On the other hand, no WWE title would be complete without a story mode, and this year, 2K dug deep to create a compelling story about a wrestler making his way up to the WWE roster, complete with stat trees, experience, talents, and decision trees.

If you've played any of the 2K wrestling games, the controls are roughly the same. You build up momentum, earn your signatures and finishers, and then nail your opponent. Certain wrestlers have extra talents that let them recover, cheat, steal moves, and much more. The game settings are very customizable, so someone like me, who hates the normal submission mini-game can change it to a button-masher friendly type of style. Furthermore, the roster is huge. If you include the DLC, you'll have everyone from AJ Styles to Rowdy Roddy Piper, which is a ton of fun for aficionados of the "sport".

2K19 uses an in-game currency system, and while I'm relieved that it doesn't directly let you pay real money for anything (assuming you aren't counting the DLC), I'm not fond of having so much of the game locked from the beginning. On top of this, the main way the game has you unlock moves, clothing, animations, and more is through loot packs - basically digital trading cards.

As for the story, it has a few issues. Don't get me wrong, I loved big parts of it, but there's just something about pro-wrestling story modes that make it hard to get it right. It starts off with your character as an indie wrestler living out of a van, and as expected, you slowly make your way up the ranks until you are eventually working for the illustrious WWE. What I love most is the amount of charm the story has in the early stages; it's genuinely hilarious and filled with pro-wrestling fan humor and references. Furthermore, the game does something that WWE is very hesitant to do: acknowledge that other wrestling promotions exist. You'll tour Mexico and Japan, fight at high schools and super domes, and all the while the game makes thinly veiled references to wrestling that WWE generally avoids.

But, unfortunately, it quickly grows stale. A few chapters in, the humor disappears and it becomes a tedious drudge. The "surprises" are easy to see coming and the choices feel less and less important. So many of the story mode matches are dependent on fulfilling objectives that lead to cutscenes - cutscenes that often force you to lose. And while the game seems to be going for an RPG-like experience, there just isn't enough content to fully explore the potential. When you beat the mode, you're given the opportunity to grind matches and get more stats for your character, but without a goal or a story, what's the purpose? It's a lot of potential, but there's very little to do with it. It's almost like getting all the options to craft your character in Skyrim, but then being given Pac-Man's world to play in.

On top of this, the ladies are still underrepresented. While there's a healthy roster of female wrestlers to use, they still don't have a story mode. I understand they'd need to craft a completely separate story mode and that may not be attractive to a game developer's budget, but it's really a shame when women's wrestling is getting such a big push in real life.

Sound & Graphics

Surprisingly, I didn't find the graphics to be all that much better from last gen's WWE titles. In fact, with the very static wrestler poses the roster uses, custom wrestlers often look better. The arenas on the other hand – from the ring to backstage – look great. The crowds are more expressive than ever and the little details about the ring are beautiful... but you quickly forget about them. The wrestlers are the focus and while their animations are usually spot on, they occasionally have some serious clipping issues with clothing, the ropes, and sometimes just deciding if a character is physically in the ring or not.

The soundtrack is great, but it's a shame none of those songs are usable as entrance themes. Music is a huge part of pro wrestling and, while the options are varied, the quality of the choices seems lacking.



I love wrestling, and I love wrestling games. I had a lot of fun with this title and I'm sure others will, too. But the game's main problem is it stretches itself so far that it exposes its flaws. You can tell that 2K tried really hard to appeal to pro-wrestling fans (and succeeded with me), abut as far as gamers, I'm not sure who they're going after. With a not-quite-an-RPG story system and a not-quite-UFC fighting system, it seems to split its attention. The game is more than worth a go if you're a fan of the franchise, but if you're on the fence, it may not be for you. In that way, it's not unlike the 16-time world champion John Cena – divisive to the fanbase, but ultimately entertaining.

Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Published By: 2K Games, 2K Sports

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