WWE 2K Battlegrounds review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: 2K
Developer: Saber Interactive
Medium: Digital/Disc/Cart
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

In a very untraditional year we are being introduced to a very untraditional WWE game. After the critically panned (including yours truly) WWE 2K20, 2K decided to take a break from the simulation WWE franchise and finally give us something different. WWE 2K Battlegrounds is an arcade wrestling game, with wild moves and over the top caricatures of WWE Superstars and we haven?t seen anything like it since WWE All Stars. I need to preface this review with saying that this release is somewhat of a budget title (remember that ?somewhat? for later), coming in at $39.99. Also as the resident Raslin fan I can be a bit harsh with these releases (see my WWE 2K20 review).

Lets start with the game?s roster, which prelaunch showed a ton of included wrestlers (70!) with even more planned as DLC. Seeing the likes of Yokozuna, Mankind, Jake the Snake, and most of the current WWE superstars had me pretty excited. Then seeing all the planned DLC wrestlers, really raised my expectations of having a gigantic roster to play quick, easy to play action with some buddies. Unfortunately, upon booting up the game you?ll notice you?re extremely limited as far as selectable characters. There are approximately 12 male and 12 female selectable wrestlers right off the bat, with some strange choices as to whose unlocked immediately. Want to play as the WWE Raw World Heavyweight Champion, Drew McIntyre? Sorry he?s locked. Want to play as the Woman?s Raw World Champion, Asoka? Sorry she?s locked as well. Why play as either of them when you can play as the Big Show or Stephanie McMahon (who hasn?t wrestled in at least five years). But don?t worry you can unlock many wrestlers? if you?re willing to pay the price.

Nearly all of the initial roster is locked behind some form of currency (except for some that are unlocked through the campaign, which I will detail later). There are two forms of currency used to purchase items in game. Wrestlers, create a wrestler parts, ring parts, even additional create a wrestler spots all have to be purchased. Microtransaction-mania is running wild brother! So let’s use Brock Lesnar as an example; you see Brock is locked and you can unlock him with 12,000 Bucks or 300 Golden Bucks. The Bucks can be obtained by playing the game, doing matches, challenges, and campaign. The Golden Bucks is only obtainable by spending real money to purchase in game money (you see, everybody?s got a price for the Million Dollar Man). In a regular match, I was getting between 200-400 Bucks on average. So if you want someone like Brock, it can take quite a while. Now there are daily challenges that jump up that Bucks a bit if you complete them daily, but it will still take plenty of grinding to unlock the full roster without investing more actual money into the game.

It?s also worth mentioning that each wrestler is broken down into a different category; Legendary, Rare, Common, etc. Brock is under the Legendary classification so he cost more than the other superstars in lesser categories. So if you want someone like Cesaro, it will ONLY cost you 3,000 Bucks or 75 Golden Bucks. Once someone is unlocked you get that character but not their other costumes. Want to play as Bray Wyatt but not his Fiend persona? That?s gonna cost you! Costume costs are also based on character classes, so the higher the tier, the more Bucks or Golden Bucks it will cost to unlock their other attires. Are you overwhelmed yet with the work (or money) that?s involved in making this game fully playable?

Each wrestler is not only defined by a class category to purchase, but also with a fighting style. So you have High Flyers, Technicians, Brawlers, etc. The reason I mention this is that everyone in a given fighting style has identical moves with the exception of a few signature moves. While this might seem lazy, it?s also an arcade brawler with a very large roster, so I can give it somewhat of a pass. My problem is some of the taunts I witnessed. Having signature moves and finishers are almost as important as taunts, in my opinion. When you see the same leg shimmy (don?t know how else to explain it) with multiple fighters, including the deranged; Mankind, you start to rub your head. Each wrestler has one main taunt, is it really too much to ask that they have something more recognizable? While we?re on taunts, there?s the entrances; your fighter bursts from a box in the entrance way and kind of taunts in the entranceway for about 20-30 seconds. Some are fine (Nikki Bella, Baron Corbin) while others don?t fit at all, I?m looking at you Stone Cold Steve Austin. Arguably the greatest WWE Superstar of all time, Stone Cold breaks out of a giant ice brick (because he?s cold?), but then goes on to put his hands in the air with his fingers up, almost doing the YES taunt. What?! I know they wouldn?t put the typical Austin flipping the bird but why not give the signature Austin swagger walk with the closed fists in the air? Playing through a bunch of matches and the campaign makes it seem like some of the staff were big wrestling fans while others were not and they divided the roster among the staff, so some are well represented, while others are head scratchers.

I?ve already went on and on a lot more than I expected, especially for the $40 release, but let’s talk a bit about the campaign. Paul Heyman has Mr. McMahon?s approval to build a new brand, with new superstars fighting in their home field or BATTLEGROUNDS (real creative right?). The campaign is told through laughable comic book stories and you play as new fighters created just for this game. The comic book storylines are very campy in a ?so bad they?re good? kind of way, in my opinion. Beyond the repetitiveness of the gameplay, I really enjoyed the campaign. You?re constantly unlocking new abilities, cosmetics and even WWE Superstars. While gameplay tends to get repetitive, as I mentioned above, there are a decent amount of playable match types, including steel cage, Royal Rumble, gauntlet and more. I did experience some gameplay hiccups when the ring filled with four fighters, but it was sporadic and quickly corrected itself.

Honestly, to me WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a good start for a new engine and possibly a new franchise from 2K. Many of my issues can be corrected with patches or game updates. The gameplay is fast, fun, and easy to pick up. I really wish the game wasn?t so microtransaction heavy as this could have been a stronger recommendation, but that could change over time depending on fan and critic feedback. At the release price of $39.99 I?m still hesitant to recommend, based on how much content is locked behind grinding or buying in game currency. However, if you can grab Battlegrounds on sale or if you are planning to have some buddies over and you?re looking for a quick and easy to pick up brawler, you could definitely do worse.

Note: 2K provided us with a WWE 2K Battlegrounds Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C+