It’s been a long time since I’ve last played and enjoyed a WWE title. So going into WWE 2K Battlegrounds, my hopes were high. Its cartoon styled aesthetics and flashy fight scenes, combined with some of the more popular wrestlers breaking out of crates before the start of each match, had me thinking that this is going to be a blast. And it honestly was…at first…and then it hit “The Rock” bottom, and I just could not smell what The Rock was cooking any longer.
When booting up the game, players will be received by an explosive title screen with some of the more popular characters going head to head in the ring. A title screen that really captures the essence of Battlegrounds. The menu then proceeds to the game’s menus that include a “Play” selection window with the various modes of the game. A news area, the store, daily challenges and a character creator. The character creator which is quite fun at first but then becomes a little more frustrating when you learn that a lot of the more fun or entertaining skins/costumes are locked behind microtransactions. Jumping into the Play menu, players will be greeted by the different modes offered by the game. Exhibition modes, a Battleground Challenge mode and even a Tournament mode. Many of which can be played against the CPU, other local players in couch co-op, as well as online players. And of course, players will be able to select from the different match types: One-on-One, Tag Team, Triple Threat, Steel Cage and even Royal Rumble to name a few.
However, it is the career mode that I think many would be interested in. The career mode is tied together by a shallow story about Paul Heyman tasking Stone Cold with a mission to travel across the world and recruit new wrestlers who then compete against WWE’s pro wrestlers but on the recruit’s turf or rather Battlegrounds. Undiscovered talent if you would, alongside undiscovered locales. Although, if you think that you’re going to be receiving a deep and meaningful backstory of these characters, think again. Once you play through a couple of matches as these characters, the game will push you forward and start you off as another character thereafter. Forcing you to develop a new playstyle as each character possesses a different fighting technique.
The different fighting techniques or rather classes offered to players does throw in some good battle mechanics. Characters with the class high-flyer can perform high jumping techniques and are a lot more agile. Whereas characters with the Powerhouse class are a lot stronger, however, they do sacrifice their speed. And then there’s the all-rounder who can basically perform a variety of techniques but just not as well as a character who solely focuses on one ability such as strength or speed. A jack of all trades if you’d like. Character classes aren’t the only thing that will differentiate your character though. The game does also offer players the choice of power-ups. Some which increase attack, while others that’ll increase your defence. However, the power-ups are limited to three per character. And when activated, can only be used for a limited amount of time. So choose wisely and use swiftly.
All in all WWE 2K Battlegrounds is an arcade-style game that you’d pick up and play for a short evening with friends. And even then, you may want to switch up the game after a few rounds. The cartoon-style art design is fun to look at and some of the flashy animated fight scenes are a joy to experience in the beginning, but after some time, just like the matches, it too will become boring and monotonous, more so if you’re looking for more content from this game, you’ll be knocked down and counted out with the devil of the game that is microtransactions. Especially if you’d like to unlock some of your favourite wrestlers. Although you’ll be able to earn the in-game currencies from some of the other modes, it’s just not worth the grind.
The game does have its charming moments though, such as the comic book story in its career mode, which basically takes players through comic book panels and introduces them to the different characters and a tiny piece of their back story and where they’re from. Or each wrestler breaking out of a crate or special type of box before entering the ring (disclaimer, some of the fancier boxes here too have to be unlocked via microtransactions). And once all is said and done, there’s just not much for me to go back to…until another evening of friends coming over. WWE 2K Battlegrounds, in essence, is honestly an arcade title that would thrive just there…in an arcade.