I don’t know what’s more disappointing about WWE 2K20: that fact that underneath its shoddiness is a game that’s actually quite, or that I haven’t experienced any of the hilarious glitches that have been liberally posted online.
Granted, I started playing it one week after it launched, just after a major patch landed that took care of many of its issues. But WWE 2K20 is going to need more than one big patch to make it the game it should be: the game that wrestling fans, and gamers, actually deserve.
On the content front there’s not much to complain about. There’s a plethora of modes, so aside from engaging in entertaining exhibition matches you can waste plenty of time completing towers or taking part in showcases in 2K Central, while Universe allows you to pretty much manage WWE, setting up events and the like. Brand new to WWE 2K20 is 2K Originals, a mode which offers yet more more towers, showcases, and other goodies. Don’t get too excited about it though; each episode has to be bought separately. As usual, MyCareer is likely to be the biggest draw for many, with players taking control of both a male and female custom created superstar this time around.
Following Red and Tre, reminiscing about their journey to WWE stardom as they prepare to enter the Hall of Fame, WWE 2K20‘s MyCareer story is extremely goofy but also quite endearing because of it. You’ll battle against some of the greats while building up the duo’s stats, turning them from WWE wannabes into bona fide superstars. It’s here that WWE 2K20 is at its most compelling. Deciding everything, from what your character looks like to how they enter the ring, is as appealing as ever. And seeing them go from weaklings to true championship contenders is wonderfully rewarding.
But as entertaining as WWE 2k20‘s MyCareer is, it’s brought down by horrendous presentation. Story scenes are full of environments that look like they’ve been ripped out of a PS2 game at best, and the WWE superstars that you converse with during static scenes between matches don’t have any lip syncing and shift around awkwardly between lines of dialogue. MyCareer just feels unpolished. Unfinished. And it’s a real shame.
A lack of polish is an issue that permeates WWE 2k20. From its menus to the in-ring action, nothing feels particularly refined. WWE 2K20 has a huge roster of wrestlers, and while some of them look like their real-life counterparts, others look terrible. I guess 2K is stuck between a rock and a hard place: better character models means more time spent on them, but that likely means less wrestlers in the game. And a small roster than last year’s iteration isn’t really a selling point, is it? What’s really lazy, though, is that when multiple versions of a wrestler are available from different periods in time, often the only thing that’s different about their appearance is their hair.
When it comes to the actual act of wrestling, it’s the immersion-breaking inconsistencies that really sour your time with WWE 2K20. Sometimes you go to hit your opponent and your attack completely misses for no reason whatsoever, leaving you wide open for counter attack and making you look like a drunken fool. Also, commence an attack or grapple while you’re near the ropes, and it’s not unusual for characters to magically slide further into the ring to give them more room to pull off their manoeuvres. It looks strange when you’re both stood up, but when one of you is on the floor it’s downright comical.
If you can overlook WWE 2K20‘s poor presentation and combat inconsistencies, then you can have a fair amount of fun with it. While the controls are awkward and sluggish like in past entries, there’s weight to the action. And the reversal system does give a real flow to combat. With one well timed press of a button, a match can be turned around, creating drama and tension; two things that any fan of WWE is sure to be searching for. But WWE 2K19 also offers largely the same wrestling experience and that can be picked up much cheaper now. As does WWE 2K18.
The highlight of WWE 2K20 for me is its character creator, which alone I’ve spent hours with. For Halloween I created a quite an authentic model of Nosferatu, making him suitably creepy and vampire-like. I then proceeded to beat a number of WWE superstars with him and loved every minute of it. Needless to say, I’m bound to return to character creator time and time again to create yet more monstrosities. It’s in moments like this that WWE 2K20‘s issues are mostly cast out of your mind, but they’re not unique to this iteration of 2K’s wrestling series, and that’s a problem.
Despite what you might have seen or read on social media, WWE 2K20 isn’t unplayable or broken. Or at least not in my experience. But it also doesn’t push the series forward in any way, nor is it polished. MyCareer mode has an entertaining story to tell, but it’s not worth the price of the game alone, and other modes don’t really offer anything groundbreaking or truly new. So overall, while WWE 2K20 isn’t terrible, there’s no reason to pick it up if you already have WWE 2K19 in your games library. Not unless you like throwing money away, that is.
WWE 2K20 is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. We reviewed the Xbox One version.
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