The WWE is a titan of live entertainment. With fans all over the world, it continues its bid to expand its brand of wrestling into a global empire. Now you can feel what it’s like to step into the squared circle with WWE 2K19, available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
WWE 2K19 Details
Sports games often have to walk a fine line between true simulation and fun gameplay. On paper, the idea of a game being as close to reality as possible seems like the best outcome. In practice however, sometimes too much realism can take away from what makes a game exciting to play.
This is one problem that WWE 2K19 grapples head on. Many fans of the series were expressing dismay over the sluggishness of recent entries. That style of gameplay is borne out of trying to make a pure simulation experience however. Again, it sounds like a great idea until you realize that watching a match and playing one are very different.
For this reason 2K elects to lean more heavily into an “arcade” style of gameplay, and the game definitely benefits from it. While the graphics and animations of WWE 2K19 still push the boundaries of realism, the combative action takes on a more fluid, speedy pace. It finds a better balance between full immersion and enjoyable action.
So many wrestlers to choose from
WWE 2K19 features a full roster of over 250 pro wrestlers from past and present. There are even variations on some participants from different eras in their career. For example, on top of present-day Undertaker, you can also parade him around the ring circa either 1991 or 2002.
I have to own up to not really following pro wrestling since my early teens. The cast I’m familiar with have long-since left the rotation. Names like Bret Hart, The Ultimate Warrior, Jake The Snake, and The Rockers are the ones that resonate with me.
Luckily many of these legends are playable in WWE 2K19. The downside however is that so many characters are locked behind a paywall. Many players need to be unlocked by purchasing pricier versions of the game, or through in-game currency.
Much like its venerable NBA 2K series, developer 2K leans heavily into micro-transations with its virtual currency. Yes, you can earn currency simply by playing the game, but it’s a real grind if you want to unlock most of the content the game has to offer. As it always seems to be in these games, the balance of rewards compels you to spend more cash whenever possible.
A bevy of game modes
A disappointing amount of the games playable characters may be on lockdown, but WWE 2K19 spoils players for choice with its plethora of game modes. It features at least 20 new match-type combinations alone. There are so many new variations on five, six, and eight-man matches including ladder matches, “Hell in a Cell”, and tornado tag. A female Royal Rumble is now an option as well.
This is all on top of a slew of core game modes such as tournament towers, online play, a WWE showcase mode featuring Daniel Bryan, and MyCareer mode just to name a few. Truthfully the main menu screen is so crowded with different ways to play that I didn’t really know where to begin.
For gamers looking to streamline their experience, this could be an issue. As a newcomer to modern wrestling games I found it absolutely overwhelming, and it took some time to find my way around and decide what modes would best suit me starting out. On the other side of the coin however, if you are a big fan looking to get tons of hours and enjoyment out of WWE 2K19, I can’t imagine you’ll find the spread of content lacking.
Learning to fly (from the top rope)
In spite of all the different features of WWE 2K19, one thing it really does lack in my opinion is a proper tutorial. It does feature a comprehensive codex of moves and actions, and how to perform them. The odd thing is that, as a codex, it only unlocks after the move action has been performed.
Again, this is certainly not an issue for those with experience. As a newcomer however, I found it extremely odd that I had to fumble my way through most of the controls prior to learning what I was doing.
Sure, every time I serendipitously activated a new facet of the game, I’d unlock a more detailed tutorial on how that aspect of gameplay worked. But I would much rather have a guide offer me some assistance prior to jumping in. I feel like there are probably actions in the game that I am entirely unaware of because I’ve never come across them through trying to learn on the go.
I probably got the most enjoyment from WWE 19 out of the MyCareer mode. Similar to MyCareer Mode in the blockbuster NBA 2K series, here you get to create a custom character. You’ll then guide them through a number of matches, navigating through narrative story beats in between.
It may not be up to the level of career story modes in bigger sports titles such as NBA 2K, but it’s still a very fun way to experience the game while climbing the ranks from local wrestler to WWE Superstar. The MyPlayer character you create also carries over into multiple other game modes, including online competitive play.
WWE 2K19 offers a lot, but pins down character selection
WWE 2K19 packs in the variety in gameplay, so much so that it can be daunting to navigate its menus. However the value is there if you’re looking to put a lot of time into enjoying the fast-paced combat across many different types of wrestling action. Just prepare yourself to grind out a lot of the characters you may wish you could play as from the start. Either that or pony up a bit more of an investment at the onset.
+ Improved fast-paced action
+ 250+ playable characters
+ Plenty of modes of play
– So many characters locked behind a grindy paywall
– Lack of proper tutorial
– Menus need to be better streamlined
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF WWE 2K19
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5