So bad was the reception to last year’s broken mess that was WWE 2K20, that the game was scrapped this year in light of the ongoing pandemic and replaced it instead with the NBA Playgrounds inspired WWE 2K Battlegrounds.
Of course, the original inspiration behind this kind of over the top, arcade-style twist on sport comes from the brilliant and iconic NBA Jam series. But, unfortunately, brilliant and iconic WWE 2K Battlegrounds is not.
Easy to pick up and play - but lacking something
For those who don’t know, Battlegrounds is a fast-paced, arcade-style take on wrestling - a world apart from the realistic main entries to the WWE 2K series. Its fighting style has been compared to WWE All Stars from back in 2011.
The game has received mixed to poor reviews so far, and I can understand why. Firstly, though, it must be taken into context. The game is not a full priced release, so you very much get what you pay for in that respect. And there are extremely fun elements here for all to enjoy. It is easy to pick up and play too.
The graphics and art style are awesome, and the crowning achievement is the co-op gameplay. That’s where WWE 2K Battlegrounds really comes into its own.
But, overall, there is just too much lacking for this to score well. The over use of micro transactions is a concern, and there are not enough gameplay features. But, again, remember you are not paying full whack here, so expectations must be tempered somewhat.
A short-lived distraction
The roster is impressive and includes some wrestling legends, as well as many current superstar favoruites.
The online mode generally is great fun and works well. It is fluid, easy to use and very much saves the game in many respects.
Career mode is boring, though, and there is not enough depth to the controls and gameplay. The focus instead seems to be on getting players to spend more in game which left a sour taste, to be honest.
The fighting mechanics are just too shallow to be rewarding or make it interesting to play. The roster is separated into classes such as Brawler, High-Flyer and All-Rounder. And these classes determine all your wrestler's moves, except their finisher.
As a result, it means that - beyond how they look on screen - instead of no two fighters being the same, it is more like one in two fighters are exactly the same.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds was meant as a distraction while the main game gets an overhaul. But it won’t last you too long, even if there is plenty of fun to be had initially.
Overall there is no longevity here and no real future for the format in its current guise.