This year’s WWE 2K is a little different from the rest – here’s everything you need to know.
A new WWE 2K game is on the horizon but not the one we’re used to seeing. Instead of the usual wrestling “sim”, 2K Sports revealed WWE 2K Battlegrounds, a more exaggerated and over-the-top wrestling game. It’s out on September 18th for Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch and Stadia but what should you know before buying? Let’s take a closer look at exactly what’s on offer.
Replaces WWE 2K21
The announcement of WWE 2K Battlegrounds came in the wake of WWE 2K21 being canceled. The series will be taking this year off due to the poor reception of last year’s title with 2K Sports committing to a 2021 sequel “with a renewed focus on quality and fun.” While no details have been provided about WWE 2K22, the publishing label did confirm that the former head of Amazon Game Studios in Orange County – who’s working on the MMO New World – will be in charge. In the meantime, WWE 2K Battlegrounds will have to tide fans over until next year.
Developed by Saber Interactive
With Visual Concepts occupied developing next year’s flagship WWE 2K title, it’s Saber Interactive in charge of developing WWE 2K Battlegrounds. The developer has made a name for itself over recent years, developing Switch port for Vampyr, and much more. It’s even developed NBA 2K Playgrounds for 2K Sports so it has experience with sports titles, if nothing else.
Unlike any WWE 2K title released till now, WWE 2K Battlegrounds is more of an arcade-style fighting game with power-ups and over-the-top moves. Wrestlers are also more cartoonish in appearance and environmental attacks go above and beyond in terms of absurdity. You can throw an opponent to hungry crocodiles, drop a car on them in an auto shop and so on. The action is somewhere between WWE All Stars and a regular WWE 2K title but viewed through the lens of madness, if that sounds appealing.
The Campaign uses a pretty familiar formula. You’re an up and coming wrestler who must prove themselves and rise through the ranks. What’s different is how it’s being presented. Utilizing a comic book format for certain scenes, the Campaign sees Paul Heyman consulting with CEO Vince McMahon to create a new brand called Battlegrounds. Together with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the duo is on the lookout for the next big WWE Superstar. You can choose from seven specific wrestlers to compete in this mode, though the differences are more likely due to play-styles than anything else.
What is a wrestling game without commentary from some familiar voices? To that end, Mauro Ranallo and Jerry “The King” Lawler will commentate on the action. On the one hand, we’re excited. On the other hand, we have too many painful memories of Lawler constantly saying “He’s putting those educated feet to good use!” So we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.
In terms of arenas, there’s quite the varied selection. You have the usual RAW and Smackdown arenas along with WrestleMania. However, there’s the aforementioned Auto Shop, a Military Bootcamp out in the wilderness, The Dock with its crocodiles and much more. It should be interesting to see if any other bizarre environmental hazards manifest (like, say, helicopters). Players will also be able to create their own arenas though there’s no confirmation on whether they can be shared online.
Exhibition Mode is where you’ll go for competing in quick matches, whether it’s against the AI or another player. Match types include 1v1, Triple Threat, Fatal Four Way, Steel Cage and Royal Rumble. No word yet on whether you can have custom match types and it seems that certain matches, like TLC or Ladder matches, are missing. Then again, all the insane stuff possible in a normal match may be the reason for the omission.
Local multiplayer is supported but players can also battle online. There’s also the King of the Battleground mode which starts with four players in the ring. Once they’re eliminated, four more players will hop into the fray with the last wrestler standing declared the winner. It’s a mix of battle royal and Royal Rumble rules, which should make for some chaotic fun. Online tournaments, on the other hand, are time-limited affairs that include different ways to win and promise “big bucks”. Further details are yet to be provided but it seems there will be different kinds of tournaments available at all times.
Then there’s Battleground Challenge Mode, which sees players creating their own wrestler – customizing their look with sliders and cosmetic items – and fighting through 100 different challenges. Completing challenges will unlock in-game currency, more vanity items and even additional playable characters. Again, more details are required but this sounds like a nice tower mode of sorts to grind through.
Over 70 Wrestlers at Launch
The launch roster is fairly packed with both current Superstars and retired Legends. You have the likes of AJ Styles, Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, John Cena, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Daniel Bryan, Triple H and Roman Reigns along with Yokozuna, The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and Sgt. Slaughter. Interestingly, the roster includes wrestlers no longer with the WWE like Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows along with Jake “The Snake” Roberts who’s signed with AEW. Better to have them than not, we suppose.
It wouldn’t be a WWE 2K game without lots – and we mean, lots – of post-launch wrestlers. The list once again includes current Superstars like Dana Brooke, Billie Kay, Rhea Ripley, Sami Zayn, Sonya Deville, the Usos and Andrade along with legends like Mark Henry, Ultimate Warrior, Vader, Trish Stratus, Eddie Guerrero, Goldberg, British Bulldog and Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Even Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon will be playable. Some of these will be free post-launch though Saber Interactive has yet to detail which ones.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a 2K Sports title without microtransactions. While WWE 2K Battlegrounds costs $40, it will also include in-game purchases. We know about Golden Bucks which, according to the Microsoft Store listing for the Digital Deluxe Edition, will let you “unlock additional WWE Superstars and legends.” But this could be an in-game currency with a premium currency that can be purchased with real money to be revealed later.
Digital Deluxe Edition and Pre-order Bonuses
Those who purchase the Digital Deluxe Edition will get “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the Attitude Era version of The Rock and Ronda Rousey, each with three different versions, playable from the outset. How can Attitude Era Rock have three different versions? This may allude to different outfits but it’s possible if you factor in the Nation of Domination, the People’s Champion and Corporate versions of the Superstar into the equation. The Digital Deluxe Edition will also provide 1100 Golden Bucks which can be used to unlock more Superstars and Legends. All pre-orders for both the Standard and Digital Deluxe Edition will also receive immediate access to Edge (who un-retired earlier this year).