- Game: WWE 2K19
- Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, PC
- Publisher: 2K Sports
- Developers: Yuke’s, Visual Concepts
A WWE 2K19 review code was provided by the publisher.
2K Sports may have finally gotten the hint. Ever since they acquired the rights to publish licensed WWE games, they’ve delivered sub-par wrestling simulators that have been lamented for their numerous glitches and half-baked modes. While there have been commendable aspects of the entries within the WWE 2K franchise, they were still unable to provide a long-lasting experience for wrestling fans to truly enjoy. But with the arrival of WWE 2K19, things are certainly looking up. A key aspect of any game (especially wrestling games) is the element of fun. That simple premise has been put front and center here, which in turn helps this release stick it out in several positive ways. Problems are still abound, but there’s enough good within WWE 2K19 to celebrate.
When it comes to new features and enhancements, WWE 2K19 offers a boatload of them. The Women’s Royal Rumble is the newest match option, which is awesome to see. Welcome adjustments have been made to legacy matches, such as the Steel Cage, Hell in a Cell, and multi-person battle royals. Big Head Mode and silly screen filters embrace the whacky attributes of wrestling games from the past. Custom wrestlers can be outfitted with blocky bodies reminiscent of Minecraft avatars. And the new Payback system gives players more match-saving options to work with when the going gets a bit too tough. The developers behind this new entry did their best to ratchet up the fun factor and it shows. WWE 2K19 sits in that comfortable space between wrestling simulator and arcade fighting game.
Another fresh aspect of WWE 2K19 is its inclusion of Towers Mode. Like the fighting games of the past, you’re set up against a lineup of pre-set opponents until you defeat your final foe. This simple yet infinitely rewarding mode gives players more of a reason to actually utilize each Superstar outside of random Play matchups. With such a massive roster put in place in each game, an issue arose once players didn’t have anything worthwhile to do when it came to exploring the entirety of the featured cast. With Towers Mode, there’s enough challenges put in place that take advantage of the presence of your custom wrestler and any of your favorite Superstars. Striving to reach point milestones, getting in-game currency, and simply pitting your favorite wrestler against an ever-rotating lineup of opponents never grows old.
Fans regularly lamented the omission of Showcase Mode from previous entries and the weak presentation of MyCareer. In the case of this year’s Showcase Mode, it makes its grand return with a set of matches and cutscenes that chronicles the harrowing journey of Daniel Bryan. The high production values this mode is known for are still present – sit-down interview segments with the man himself offer a deeper look into the featured Superstar’s thoughts on each career defining moment. For diehard fans of DB, this year’s Showcase Mode is a special treat. Actively participating in legendary moments, such as Daniel Bryan’s triumphant victory over Triple H at WrestleMania XXX, looks and plays quite well. It’s awesome to witness the return of such a fan-favorite mode and it’s even more awesome to see it cover a story worth retelling.
MyCareer takes a different route this time around. Instead of allowing players to map their own journey to the top of WWE, WWE 2K19 features your custom wrestler in a new scripted storyline. It’s an incredibly interesting and lighthearted plot that follows your wrestler’s rise from indy wrestling darling to bonafide WWE Superstar. There’s no need to worry about wandering through backstage hallways and getting into boring prolonged feuds with nobodies anymore – this new take on MyCareer features voice-acted cutscenes, simple yet efficient storytelling, and a fulfilling dosage of fun.
The way it delivers unlockable goodies is still an issue, however. New apparel, moves, entrances, taunts etc. are still locked behind card packs that essentially act like loot boxes. Having your preferred attire and favorite signature/finishing moves locked behind a paywall is a huge annoyance that never should have returned. The skill tree progression approach to upgrading works just fine, but having to constantly purchase card packs just to unlock a new pair of wrestling boots simply sucks.
At its heart, WWE 2K19 is still a solid wrestling game. The in-ring action is still magnified by the inclusion of OMG Moments and special abilities. The gameplay is still largely the same, though. Hopefully, more substantial changes are made to next year’s entry in order to freshen up the encounters within the digital squared circle. The gameplay behind WWE 2K19 is still a joy. Awkward glitches and bugs are still apparent, sadly – pieces of wrestlers’ hair clips into their clothing, body parts morph into parts of the environment, and custom clothing simply wigs out of control during entrances and matches.
A bit more quality assurance is sorely needed in that department. And when it comes to the roster, there’s far too many puzzling omissions. Where’s the current NXT Champion, Tommasso Ciampa? What about everyone’s favorite madwoman, Nikki Cross? And let’s not even speak on the multitude of legends left off of this year’s roster. Downloading these Superstars and more remedies that problem, but it’s still odd to see such prominent Superstars missing in action.
WWE 2K19 Takeways
2K Games, Yuke’s, and Visual Concepts may be back in the good graces of WWE video game fans. WWE 2K19 stands out as the strongest wrestling game in the series since WWE 2K14. And that’s due to a multitude of reasons – the return of Showcase Mode, the all-new storyline plotted out for MyCareer, the addition of Towers Mode, the inclusion of new match types, and the newer elements that harken back to the more fun aspects of classic wrestling games.
These positives don’t exactly outweigh all the negatives (strange bugs and glitches, loot box progression within MyCareer, repeated commentary lines, and missing talent on the roster), but they do enough to keep WWE 2K19 in a decently strong spot. This year’s installment of digital WWE action helps the franchise climb to the position of an upper-mid card talent.
Our WWE 2K19 Review Score: 8 out of 10