22nd Sep2020

‘WWE 2K Battlegrounds’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

Over the years there has been a plethora of wrestling-related videogames, each game becoming more and more complex and more simulation-like. The early days of the button-bashing NES game Wrestlemania Challenge have slowly lead to the wrestling sim-esque 2K games. Well now 2K are taking things back to basics with WWE 2K Battlegrounds, with an arcade-style wrestling game, a la 2011’s WWE All Stars game, which will no doubt appeal casual gamers MORE than wrestling fans – for this is no sim, this is sheer pick up and play fun!

Featuring caricature recreations of some of the greatest WWE wrestling superstars, more focused on modern stars than classic wrestlers, WWE Battlegrounds is a who’s who of WWE wrestling history, with some 70 characters all rendered in a beefed-up, over the top hyper-real fashion. And with more characters coming via DLC, Battlegrounds looks like its going to allow you to pit old vs new and find out just who is the ultimate WWE superstar… Making this fanboys dream come true!

It’s not just the characters that are hyper-real, the gameplay is too… The game mixes traditional wrestling maneuvers with glorious OTT combos that wouldn’t look out of place in a superhero videogame. For the majority of the time WWE Battlegrounds wants nothing more than for players to bash away at buttons, but doing allows you to fill up the heat bar – think of it as akin to a special move bar in side-scrolling beat em-ups – which then lets players pull off special moves, boost health AND unlock bizarre power-ups such as LITERAL flaming hands… before building up to a devastating finisher! However once you play throught the story mode, you’ll be given hints and tips on new moves, so stick with it and you’ll discover that there’s actually a deeper element of skill required to truly progress through the games numerous matches. The easiest moves to learn are the punch and the grapple, both triggered by pressing a single button for each move. Then comes the various two-button combos – still easy to learn, but a lot more satisfying a result AND a lot more damage to your opponent!

Graphically I had zero complaints – this is not a perfect recreation of your favourite superstars and as such it allows for both more flexibility in the gameplay and in the quality of the graphics. However I dod wonder if the OTT graphics – the backgrounds, lighting effects etc. –  put a strain on load times because the load times are remarkably long pre-match, especially when you’re playing couch co-op. However when a game is this much fun things like slow load times and excessive amounts of loading can be forgiven (somewhat).

What is LESS forgiveable is the feel that Battlegrounds has been built around microtransactions. SO much so that this feels like it was originally planned as a free mobile game, eventually expanded to a console game – with console game pricing – but still stuck in that microtransaction, pay to unlock, style gameplay that annoys everyone about EA’s games! Which means, outside of the career mode, there’s a LOT of grinding to do to get enough ‘battle bucks’ to unlock characters, etc. Of course you can buy gold to quickly unlock everything in the game – but when you can literally spend more than this game cost to buy the largest package of gold that HAS to be seriously questioned. As does the fact that the pre-order bonus – an unlockable Edge – doesn’t work for everyone. Come on 2K, sort it out!

Otherwise, WWE 2K Battlegrounds has plenty of longevity and tons of match-modes to choose from – including “make your own wrestler”, a career mode, TONS of different match types for both online and couch co-op, daily challenges and more… Ultimately this is a fun arcade-style wrestlefest that re-captures everything I loved about 2011’s WWE All Stars, tweaking what didn’t quite work in the game to bring arcade wrestling back to the forefront. Forget the sim-like gameplay of the typical WWE 2K games, THIS is my kind of wrestling beat ’em-up!

WWE 2K Battlegrounds is out now on the Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One.


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