WWE 2K Battlegrounds brings us over the top arcade wrestling that is filled with crazy moves, ring breaks and a ton of characters that is available this month on PS Plus. Battlegrounds as a multiplayer brawler is definitely where the game shines as the fast-paced button bashing action brings with it a sense of fun and urgency that just isn’t there in the simulation games. In fact, I would go as far as saying that this is the most fun I’ve had in a WWE game since the PlayStation2 days as the arcade style gameplay feels like one big throwback.
When you mix that with the social aspect and focus on the online play then you’re onto a winner. On the other hand, though the area that WWE 2K Battlegrounds falls flat is the reliance on in game currency and micro transactions. So much of WWE 2K Battlegrounds is locked that it makes you feel like it should be a free to play game rather than a paid game. To give you an example of just how bad this is there are 20 superstars available to use from the get go.
The majority of the roster requires that you unlock them using in game currency which you earn for playing matches or golden books that you can pick up in the store for real money. Whilst you can earn currency to unlock characters by playing through the campaign mode or from playing exhibition matches. The amount of currency that you earn is so low that I only had enough to unlock four top level superstars after completing more than 100 of the 118 matches in the campaign.
There are more ways to earn currency if you complete the daily challenges. They are a nice touch as they give you a reason to play the game on a daily basis even if it’s just to save up currency for future additions plus the more that you level up the greater amount of currency you will earn in rewards. If you don’t mind the challenge and you enjoy games that keep you playing to unlock content then you’ll enjoy WWE 2K Battlegrounds.
As for the gameplay outside of multiplayer, this is one of the best things about WWE 2K Battlegrounds even when you play offline as the action takes place at such a fast pace that it’s a lot of fun to play and super easy to pick up which makes it a great game for all ages. The controls are very basic and each superstar has a set of strike combos that can be used by pressing the strike or kick buttons.
Whilst these moves are easy to perform the amount of moves themselves is somewhat of a concern as most superstars only have between 12 to 16 moves listed with a lot of these being strike combos, therefore you’ll tend to see a lot of the same moves repeated. Making the situation worse, superstars don’t have individual move sets as the game assigns all superstars of the same class the same generic move set. For example, if you take someone from the high-flying class and your opponent also from the high-flying class you will see that both players have the same moves except for signatures and finishers.
There are some exceptions to this but there are very few variations. Initially I did find the limited moves to be very frustrating and too repetitive but the more I played WWE 2K Battlegrounds and the more I got used to the controls, I did find myself trying to mix up the moves so that I wasn’t always doing the same ones. When it comes to pinfalls and submissions these are handled in somewhat of a classic fashion and not as timing mini games that we usually see.
The pinfall and submission mini games in WWE 2K Battlegrounds all involve you pressing the right and left triggers as fast as you can which is something that fits in perfectly with the fast-paced nature of the game play. WWE 2K Battlegrounds also includes a crowd bar mechanic that sees players tasked with certain actions to perform and please the crowd. With these actions being things like performing a taunt and if you complete these actions you will see the crowd meter fill up. The higher it is the easier it is to get out of pinfalls or escape from submissions.
These actions are entirely optional as you don’t have to complete them however if you do then it will give you a bit of an advantage. The AI in WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a bit underwhelming as I found them to be running away from me and sometimes even standing still. WWE 2K Battlegrounds’ campaign mode is told through the use of comic strips and it sees Paul Heyman pitch the idea of finding new superstars from across the globe and then having them fight on their own turf in what he calls their Battlegrounds.
This is where the custom characters come in. The campaign takes place across six different regions and each with their own character. Overall, I really enjoyed the campaign as the short matches and the multiple characters kept it feeling fresh despite all the limitations on the moves and the match types. In total the campaign took about 10 hours to complete which is pretty good for a budget game so that was a big plus. You have your standard match types however WWE 2K Battlegrounds does offer up one gimmick match in the form of an electrified steel cage which does prove to be a lot of fun.
In this match players are tasked with collecting bags of money from the cage. In order to fill up their money bar which when full will allow them to escape the cage but you have to pick the right time to do so as the cage can become electrified at any moment sending anyone climbing it back down to the canvas. Initially I did question the money elements however after playing these matches I definitely think it does make a good addition as this helps to prolong the match that would otherwise be over in an instant whilst also offering up another fun and challenging mechanic.
Alongside the inclusion of the steel cage match, WWE 2K Battlegrounds also offers up two more fast paced match types in the form of the gauntlet match and the Royal Rumble. Gauntlet matches are essentially regular matches that see a new player spawn in after the previous opponent has been defeated. However they take place at a much faster rate than you’d expect which makes it more of a challenge. Royal Rumble matches starts off with four players in the ring as you try to deal damage and eliminate opponents whilst also looking for breaks in the gameplay to utilize the power ups and restore health.
Much like the pinfall and cage mini games, the elimination many games also see the player alternate in between triggers to fill up their meter both when trying to eliminate an opponent and when fighting one off with the only exception being when a player has taken too much damage. The key to winning the match is trying to conserve your health and then using the health power up after eliminations because you only have a few seconds before the next opponent appears in the ring.
The creation suite offers very little in customization as both the character creator and the arena creator are severely limited with barely any options to choose from. Not only is it not possible to create characters that look unique in terms of likeness due to the limited morphing options but it’s also hard to give your character unique attire as there are only a handful of clothing options available.
The same can also be said for the arena creator which is limited to just 3 custom arenas but it does have some good-looking preset options such as the LED barricades and some gorgeous looking reflections but every arena uses the same stage set up which is the main thing that you see during a match therefore custom arenas all end up looking exactly the same.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds had a lot of potential and if they had expanded modes, more moves and scaled back on the micro transactions I think this could have been a classic. Honestly WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a really fun game and definitely worth checking out on PS Plus if you’re looking for a game to enjoy with friends and you don’t mind grinding to unlock everyone.
Battlegrounds is an easy to pick up and play cartoony wrestling game alternative to the simulation-heavy mainline WWE 2K games. It could have added more moves and modes but its the microtransactions that is holding it back. It can be a casual game to play with a group of friends and the campaign is decent in an otherwise average WWE game.