The WWE 2K series has a reputation it is trying to shake. Officially the 20th edition of WWE’s yearly video game release, WWE 2K19 is the sixth release under the 2K Sports banner.
As a publisher of sports video games, 2K Sports’ golden goose is their NBA franchise. The basketball series leans heavily on simulation elements in terms of gameplay and for the past few years it felt like 2K Sports was also trying to make their WWE yearly releases more sim-based rather than lean into an arcade style of gameplay.
With the release of WWE 2K19 the buttoned down approach 2K Sports took appears to have been scaled back. Trying to find the right balance between being a serious sports simulation and a pick-up-and-play arcade throwback is difficult, but WWE 2K19 makes a real effort to walk that line.
WWE 2K19 is a big pivot for the franchise and when diving into the game you can feel the swing in momentum the pro wrestling series may be taking.
ALL IN on Showcase Mode and MyCAREER
In the build-up to WWE 2K19’s release, the company and the wrestling promotion put a huge emphasis on Daniel Bryan’s role in the revamped Showcase mode. Last appearing in WWE 2K17 as a DLC extra, 2K19’s Showcase mode is a fully immersive way to the play the game.
Complete with excellent cut scenes, highlights from Bryan’s days in Ring of Honor and vintage commentary from his early matches, Showcase mode takes you deep into his wrestling story and it lives up to the hype. The attention to detail on Bryan’s career is fantastic and is also a great source for unlocking even more characters and throwback arenas to compete in.
The other main mode of play 2K Sports paid a lot of attention to was MyCAREER. As opposed to past editions, the biggest changes here are more than 1,000 lines of voiceover work added to the game (no more subtitles) and the overarching plot line, complete with surprise reveals and swerves, that would have the writer’s room in Connecticut blushing with envy.
MyCAREER mode takes any of create-a-characters you made and drops them in a storyline about working from the indies while to trying to land a contract with the WWE. This is another place where WWE 2K19 doesn’t take itself too seriously and it gives players a lot of RPG touchstones within their pro wrestling world. The cut scenes, voice acting one liners, WWE wrestler cameos and overall good story telling make MyCAREER something you will want to invest in.
Test of strength for the series
For fans of the WWE 2K series you know a lot of what your getting year in and year out. WWE 2K19 still has a stacked roster (over 200 playable characters) and a highly detailed creation suite to create your own players, which along with the season-long trek through Universe mode form the back bone of the pro wrestling series.
You can get lost for awhile customizing your character through multiple attire options, deciding which faction you want them to be a part of, the sideplates on their titles and basically every detail you could ever think of or haven’t even thought of yet. Should my character have their own custom Money in the Bank briefcase?
Yes, yes they should.
WWE’s answer to franchise mode for other sports games in WWE 2K19 is Universe mode. Here is where you can control the weekly episodes of Raw, SmackDown, NXT and 205 Live. At first glance I thought this mode was going to be a little too meat and potatoes but I quickly got caught up in the absolute power of it all.
I quickly re-formed the Shield on Raw, booked AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan as main SmackDown rivalry, tried to turn Kairi Sane heel on NXT and bestowed my newly made NXT Money in the Bank briefcase to Velveteen Dream.
The great thing about Universe mode is you can comb over every turn of the clock or take a bird’s eye view of the type of WWE promotion you want to run.
If you were not a fan of some of the past elements of their WWE series than 2K19 is trying sway your opinion with some subtle tweaks.
At the front of the house, the graphic style is hyper realistic and the characters models for the most part look and move the same as previous editions. The soundtrack was personally handpicked by the WWE roster but may not offer enough variety as you are scrolling through menus or going from mode to mode.
This seems to be a struggle with most sport’s titles but the with exception of Showcase and MyCAREER mode the commentary team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Bryon Saxton may weigh in on you after a few hours of play through.
Touting a revamped striking system, WWE 2K19 dips its toes into reviving the gameplay mechanics this year but if you played past games in the series overall the match to match experience feels the same. Characters mostly move at the same speed and grappling exchanges also work much like they did in past WWE 2K games.
20 years into dropping yearly video games, 2K Sports and WWE appear to be taking the series in the right direction. WWE 2K19 may be a turning point in the series for new and returning fans of pro wrestling video games. Thanks to renewed focus on the campy and arcade features of wrestling, WWE 2K19 may be the perfect reintroduction for lapsed fans of the franchise.
Fun Factor: 9.0