WWE is successful on several fronts. We know how successful they can be with TV shows, movies, and merchandise. But think an equally important factor to their success is their video game offerings. WWE video games have been entertaining fans since back in the NES days. In a way, the surprisingly lackluster WWE 2K20 was shocking to fans. Not just because it was a glitchy, awful experience, but because successful WWE games are important to the WWE brand. Why would they let such an awful experience hit storefronts?
So what do you do when a staple of your business flops so spectacularly? The only logical thing to do is take a break and do something different. And that is where WWE 2K Battlegrounds comes into play. I do not doubt that we will see a return to realistic wrestling games. But for right now, fans needed a fun, entertaining, and functional game. Above all else, Battlegrounds gives us these things despite some noticeable flaws.
Battlegrounds is a throwback to simple arcade wrestling games. It features some of your favorite wrestlers, wacky arenas with environmental hazards, create-a-superstar mode, and a story campaign that features 6 created wrestlers as they try to make it to the big show. If the campaign doesn’t do anything for you, then you have a variety of exhibition matches you can go through, from one on one matches to Royal Rumbles.
Since this is an arcade game, the action is very over the top. Wrestler’s throw opponents around with the greatest of ease. They get crazy amounts of air as they jump from the top turnbuckle and smash their opponents. The controls are pretty simple, where you have a dedicated punch and kick button along with a grapple and Irish whip button. Picking a specific direction on the joystick while in a grapple will let your wrestler pull of a specific move. And, if you time things right, you can counter and turn the tables on your opponent.
The control scheme isn’t too complicated, which is helpful for a fast-paced brawler like this. Going through the single-player campaign will give you tutorials on how to use your abilities and pull of specific moves. And the moves are wildly entertaining. Some of my favorite moves come from the high flyer class, where you do insane hurricanranas while at least 20 feet in the air. It’s absolutely chaotic when you get 4 players in the ring at the same time. There can be frustrating moments when you can’t counter fast enough and get completely demolished by your opponents. However, by studying and learning the button layout, you can be aggressive and defeat opponents rather easily.
The single-player campaign is pretty amusing. It is rather quick and helps you net a lot of XP and in-game currency to be used. The wrestlers created for the campaign are amusing, and it’s necessary to play if you want to unlock more superstars and arenas. The downside is the transitions between matches. Instead of having proper cutscenes, we have comic book pages that are kind of boring. I was hoping for over the top cutscenes to go along with the over the top action, but that’s just my personal preference.
A highlight of Battlegrounds has to be the create-a-wrestler feature. It has your typical features like the ability to change facial features, clothing, hairstyles, and tattoos. However, it has a really neat class system where you can create a wrestler that fits your play style. High Flyers are obviously small in stature but have more aerial attacks. The powerhouse is bigger and slower but has more devastating moves. The class you pick will determine the moves at your disposal, which is pretty cool. Specific superstar moves are associated with their class, and you can purchase these and other customization options.
This brings me to the biggest issue with Battlegrounds. You must be prepared to purchase EVERYTHING. You want a specific outfit, move, arena, or maybe a superstar? It’s all locked behind a paywall. Hell, you have to unlock more create-a-wrestler slots if you want to make more than 5 wrestlers! Unfortunately, you can’t unlock more superstars and moves, especially since it feels like the roster is a bit light. Sure, more wrestlers will arrive in the future, but what will they cost?
Because of the paywall, it is crucial to play the campaign. You will earn a lot of in-game currency by beating the campaign. You net some currency by playing exhibition modes, but you will need to play a ton of matches to get enough money. You are more than welcome to use real currency to purchase gold coins that you can use for unlocking things, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds is stylish, fast-paced, and fun. However, it’s pretty light on roster and options for create-a-wrestler. I wish there were more options to unlock things instead of hiding it all behind a paywall. Despite that, Battlegrounds accomplishes what it intends to do, which is entertain wrestling fans as we wait for the next-gen entry into the WWE 2K series.
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Over the top action
Colorful art design
Fun with friends
Light roster and game modes