Republished on Wednesday 30th June 2021: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of July's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
Honestly, there's something sinister about WWE 2K Battlegrounds. And no, we don't mean Bray Wyatt's creepy mask, or the grotesque character models that look like they were designed by somebody watching Wrestlemania through one eye after a big night on the gin. No, there's a nefarious aura surrounding this game because it feels like a free-to-play mobile title that has inexplicably found its way onto the PlayStation store with a £34.99 price tag attached to it.
That price point feels more like a hit and hope, maybe-mum-and-dad-won't-do-their-research than a genuine value proposition. We can't imagine there won't be at least a mild backlash from people who picked this game up assuming that it's meant to be played, only to discover that it's actually meant to be paid. But we'll get back to the economy later.
First up, the gameplay. WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a cartoony wrestling game in which your objective is to press square repeatedly until your opponent is dead and then you can pin them for the win. You can also press triangle if you want, or if you're feeling really feisty you can use the right analogue stick to do one of four different grapples. You don't need to do any of that though because the artificial intelligence is so stupid that just tapping square will see you through most battles.
The wrestlers are split into a handful of classes and all wrestlers of the same class have the same move-set, the only difference being their finishing moves. Essentially, each wrestler is just a skin that comes with a couple of special attacks. Unlocking superstars should be exciting, but since they all play the same you'll likely end up feeling like you've seen everything the game has to offer in an hour or two.
The short campaign is the most fun you can have on your own playing Battlegrounds. The story is told in a comic book art style, and involves Paul Heyman convincing WWE owner Vince McMahon to start a new, more extreme wrestling show set in different locales throughout the country. The story is occasionally genuinely amusing, although we're not sure whether that's by design. You can have the whole thing wrapped up in five hours or so.
You'll play through the campaign as a handful of fake wrestlers created specifically for the story, each trying to make their name in WWE. Considering there's a character creation suite in the game it seems like a missed opportunity for the campaign to star crummy, made-up wrestlers you'll have no affinity for, but then they'd have had to give you lots of character creation options from the start rather than locking them behind a paywall in the store, and that just wouldn't do.
The art style for the game is meant to evoke hyper-stylised WWE action figures brought to life, right down to the blister packaging that they pop out of when you buy new wrestlers from the store. They're kinda hideous looking, like a Toy Story rip-off about wrestling figures made on a shoe-string budget.
The wrestlers have their official entrance music, but they don't really have entrances - they just drop down from the sky in a crate at the start of the match and stand there weirdly while the first twenty seconds of their music plays.
As for game modes, aside from the standard one on one matches, you can also bash square to win in matches with three or four wrestlers, or you can spice it up by bashing square in a tag-team match. There's also a Royal Rumble mode in which you bash square a bunch, and then you can mix it up by bashing L2 and R2 to throw your opponent over the top rope to eliminate them before doing it to somebody else.
Cage matches are slightly different in that you have to knock your opponent down - by bashing square - and then climb the side of the cage to pick up money (we don't know why) and then once you've picked up enough money you can climb over the top of the cage to win. Maybe the wrestlers have just bought WWE 2K Battlegrounds and they're picking up the money to make themselves feel better before they leave the cage. Who knows?
You can play all of these match types with friends or foes in multiplayer, and this is where the game is at its best. Playing with another person is undoubtedly more fun than playing the game on your own, but only in the way that a blackout is more fun if you're with another person: it helps having somebody to talk to during the doldrums. We certainly wouldn't recommend that you convince any of your friends to buy this game so you can play together, as they'll probably not be your friend for much longer if you do.
We suppose it's time to talk about the economy now, since it's clearly the part of the game that the most thought went into.
You can unlock some extra wrestlers and power-ups just by playing the campaign, but rarely the best ones. You'll unlock Baron Corbin after a handful of fights in the story mode but then why would you ever want to play as Baron Corbin? He looks like a thumb with a beard, and honestly, we're not convinced he's even a legitimate baron. No, no, no, if you want to unlock the best wrestlers then you're going to have to grind.
There's an in-game currency called Battle Bucks that you'll earn by playing the game and you can use this to buy extra wrestlers, new outfits for wrestlers, or character creation items. Generating the Battle Bucks to pay for a wrestler like Andre The Giant or Brock Lesnar takes a chunk of time. If you can't be bothered to do that because that would involve playing the game, then you can just use real-world money to unlock them - it amounts to a few quid per wrestler.
There are over forty unlockable wrestlers with more to come as future DLC, so all told it's going to take lots of time or lots of money to unlock them all. It's real sleazy.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a game that seems like it exists purely to house its storefront, offering predatory microtransactions which would be overly pricy in a free-to-play game. In a paid title - even a budget one - they're offensive. The only silver lining here is that the game is rubbish anyway, so feel free to skip it without feeling like you're missing out.
First 2K20 now this one. Just give me a new Rumble Roses game. Nah, I’m serious. I’m done with 2K. I’ve said before that WWE games ain’t what they used to be but come on.
These wwe games needs to stop for 2-3 yrs until they come up with some type of innovation....
This sh*t needs to stop
Off topic, but have you played Crysis Ps4 (for review) and is it worth buying. Is there a disk version
@Ben8371 We're currently reviewing it — keep an eye out!
Sounds like a good reason to.....Push Square.... ahem. Right. Exit's over there...
LOL that's one news today I'm not surprised about
Great review only played it for 2 hours does feel like a mobile game all wrestlers locked behind grinding/microtransactions.
I sadly purchased this. I sadly played this. I sadly finished the campaign mode in a few very short hours.
Didn't lose a single match and the AI never even attempted a pinfall or submission during the entirety of the campaign. The biggest challenge in the game was trying to throw people out of the ring in a Royal Rumble match, because the Irish Whip command pretty much ignores your directional input.
On the upside, completing the campaign and playing one single 30-man Royal Rumble is enough to get yourself all of the trophies...so...yay?
Think about the last WWE game i played was 12/13 on ps3...& that was only due to the nostalgia factor recreating classic moments in wrestlemania matches!
Think I'm happier firing up Mame & playing the old Wwf Wrestlefest arcade games- they almost sound like they have more gameplay!
I had hoped it would be like WWE AllStars but sadly not.
@superkmx I sadly feel sad that you sadly feel sad.
@SuperKMx Doesn't have a platinum does it?
@johncalmc Maybe not. I played it on Xbox and got the full 1000 Gamerscore, so was making an assumption.
Interesting I saw a few comments praising this on here over the weekend.
I find it weird that companies used to get hit for cutting content to put in dlc, now they don’t even hide it behind that premise
omg nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 2k have finally joined the dark side lol. if anyone is shocked how this cash grab turned out. id just like to say im happy you got out of the coma.
You'll unlock Baron Corbin after a handful of fights in the story mode but then why would you ever want to play as Baron Corbin? He looks like a thumb with a beard
I love this a thumb with a beard ha ha this was clearly aimed at the little kids who just want to use daddies CC, it will sell for the trophy hunters too of it's an easy platinum. My last wrestling game WWF Warzone (Raw is War) on PlayStation 1 before that Royal Rumble on Sega Mega Drive
@Nakatomi_Uk Royal Rumble was great. Wish they would re-release that.
I will just wait for AEW game to come out. I am done with WWE games.
@Robocod. Keep your eyes out for Retromania Wrestling. It's basically the spiritual secessor to WWE Arcade games.
Honestly, I actually enjoy this game.
Playing it online with mates is genuinely a right laugh.
Tried to get into the more realistic wwe games few years back and found them way too complicated.
This game is simple but really enjoyable with friends
Agree that the micro transactions are appalling but you get so in game coins so easy so not that much of grind.
3 seems generous.
"your objective is to press square repeatedly until your opponent is dead" - I'm dead after that line 😂
Also @johncalmc you wrote press square, tapping square and bashing square, did you go out of your way to not write push square? 😅
Great write up, had me laughing until the end but I'm sad you had to put yourself through this game to entertain me. Shame this game is rubbish, a light wrestling game would be perfect to get me back in to the genre but those blood sucking mtx really turn me off. Maybe if it goes down to a pound in the sale like NBA 2k20 almost did.
I've said this before and I know it's so unlikely but it would be awesome if netherealm made a full console version of their WWE Immortal game. (I think it was called that, maybe it was WWE Icons or something)
@MJKatana nintendolife did the calculations in their review and it was shocking. I think they said they got 66k battle coins playing what they did for the review and worked out it would cost something like 770,000 battle coins to get everything in the game, 240k of that for the characters alone. Check their review for the accurate numbers. I think that was for what is currently available too, I don't think it included the DLC but I might be wrong
But glad you are enjoying it! I'd like to try it some day, but probably at a steep discount!
@anon_pel222 just like all the FIFA, PES, NBA, NFL, NHL, COD, etc...
2K games and microtransactions? Well I never! Who'd have thunk it?
So half of this "review" is just making fun and puns out of the game, whereas some other popular websites praised it and mentioned it doesn't need any grinding to make!!
I was really looking forward to this game but it has mixed reviews, so who should I listen to? Who's right?!
Just a quick one, as I have no interest in this game or, indeed, wrestling. But isn't this effectively the same as NBA Playgrounds in terms of art style and game etc. That game got a 6 or 7 out of ten and that is the biggest grind fest ever for unlocking players as well. What's so different about this?
I’ve unlocked everyone in this game without a single MT…. It’s not as bad as it’s been made out and you can have fun with it in quick sessions. I’m not claiming it’s GOTY but it’s ok
The best one is Here comes the Pain on the PS2. And i probably played 1 or 2 more but i dont toch 2K garbage anyway.
But then again everything 2K touches is a MT gambling palooza.
This looks so bad, definitely won't waste time downloading it.
honestly what was I thinking saying yes to reviewing this game :')
@Stocksy that's good to know, think I'm alone in actually looking forward to this one 😀 are characters mostly unlocked through the campaign?
@Deljo no. Only a few are locked in campaign - most are in the shop. It seems daunting at first - but daily challenges and playing the mode with a create a wrestler you can unlock extra coins. I got it day one so there were a lot less wrestlers and then I unlocked most the week they came out. You’ll be starting with them all there. It’s a lot…. They do packs that save coins. My advice is unlock a few guys you like but on the main save up for the discount packs in the in game shop.
@Stocksy ok sweet, appreciate the tips 👍
I put 40 enjoyable hours on the game. Never paid a dime to unlock anyone. I unlocked everyone and tons of costumes with minimal effort.
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