WWE Battlegrounds is the latest 2k Wrestling title, rather than the realistic route of games past, Battlegrounds goes action figure XTREME. Is this enough for the E to reclaim its title? Read on.
WWE Battlegrounds began life with an uphill struggle, it had to somehow wash the taste of the catastrophic release of WWE 2K20, rather than improve that 2K decided to focus efforts into a more Arcade-style title, not uncommon in Wrestling with such greats as WrestleFest & Saturday Night Slam Masters.
Battlegrounds have gone for a more “action figure” look for its roster which consists of current and legendary “Superstars”, so much so that they stand around in Blister packs waiting to be purchased.
The art direction of the game is going to be your first warning signal, while I wasn’t overly keen on it and would have much rather had the All-Stars OTT style, it didn’t really impact on the game greatly. Don’t get me wrong on this, a lot of the wrestlers barely come close to a likeness, usually, just attire & I’m damn sure I’ll see loading screen Kofi Kingston in my nightmares for the foreseeable.
The combat on hand lends its self closer to that of a 3D Arena brawler more than a wrestling game. You have standard melee attacks which combo, a few grapple options, weapons to find and use, and stage interactions to have at.
There is a health, stamina, special, and “heat” meter to keep your eye on. At the bottom of the screen you’ll be given small missions to please the crowd, do these and your heat fills up, fill it up enough and you can trigger a power-up, one of three you bring to the dance. These can range from regen health, extra damage, and reflection, you’ll unlock through playing and play quite a part in overall strategy of the match.
The moves are all extremely over the top and usually involve defying gravity before slamming someone into the ground hard. Sadly as fun and inventive as they are, you’ll see the same ones over and over again, move variation was not a priority with this one.
Counters are performed by a QTE as the move happens and melee can be parried by pressing the block button at the right time. I noticed a lot of the time that the counters don’t animate quite right and the characters were teleporting into place frequently.
The rings are a mixture of the standard RAW/SD/NXT & PPV rings like Wrestlemania and then there are rings like the Swamp, Garage, and Subway which looks more like the lobby to hell!. Each comes with various interactive elements, you can throw rasslers to the gators!!.
The roster size is quite impressive with a decent enough mix of current and legendary stars, male and female. The sad thing is here is where we run into our first problems with Battleground.
First of all, the roster is divided by sex and type. This means no intergender matches, par for the course with WWE. The types are All-Rounder, Brawler, High Flyer, Technician & Powerhouse. On paper this is fine, each type handles a little differently and has different stats, the problem is there is no individuality in these types bar special moves, every character handles exactly the same, Rey Mysterio handles and performs the same moves as puzzlingly Jake The Snake Roberts.
The next issue lies in unlocking the roster, a huge amount of characters are unlockable in the Character shop. While some are found in the Campaign mode you still have a bundle to grab here and alternative attires (why wouldn’t you need Firefly Funhouse Bray?!?) And then extras which I will get into soon.
There are CAW Options as well as Battleground creator. Exhibition mode allows you to do quick matches through the various match types, 1 vs 1, Tag, fatal 4 way, royal rumble, and electric steel cage match.
You have online options and even the unique King of the Battleground where you face off against other wrestlers in a Battle Royale style match where you try to stay in the ring the longest.
You have a ladder for your CAW in which you tackle matches of various stipulations and of course daily challenges. Finally, we have the bulk of the single-player and that is the Campaign, following the adventures of several original wrestlers and presented in a Comic book style. Paul Heyman and Ol’ Stone Cold are looking for a new breed of attitude rasslers to present Battleground. The story here is quite amusing if not slightly lacking in presentation, I did enjoy the characters interacting even if I struggled to figure out who one was until they said their name!.
The Campaign has over 130 events ranging from story scenes to matches and unlocks, it should take you a few hours to get through and is ideal for getting you to learn how to run ropes!.
Now we hit the awkward part of the review, yes I enjoy WWE Battlegrounds, especially in multiplayer which ran very smoothly for me online. Single-player on the other hand or longer sessions repetition just hit in so hard as matches would be exactly the same, moves the same, and no real reason to try different wrestlers.
Now the game is releasing at a budget price £35 to be exact for the U.K, taking this into account it does technically have a generous amount of content and the multiplayer is fun its damn fun. The issue I have with the game and the real sticking point for me is Microtransactions.
The stuff you can unlock in the game are as follows
Stats for CAWS
Upgrades for Power ups
You do this by getting Battle Bucks, you usually get around 300 p/match, 1000 when you level up, which naturally starts quick and slows down around level 10. It costs about 6000 to unlock a “rare” character like Jake the Snake, you have Epic and Legendary above that, then 4000 or so to unlock attires, if you aren’t getting my drift then, to be honest, them Battle Bucks aren’t going too far without excessive grinding.
In steps the Battleground Dollar or whatever it’s called gold coins. These are the currency you pay for that can also be used to unlock stuff, relieving you of the grind and your money at the same time. It makes it all the more apparent why this was made when you figure out how little you unlock in terms of the Campaign in comparison to what you can buy.
Overall WWE Battlegrounds is a fun little arcade experience. While it has a lot of content, that content is paper-thin and the inclusions of Microtransactions left a sour taste in my mouth. While its a lot more fun and better than 2K20, we still haven’t quite made it back on the Road to Wrestlemania.
A fun arcade wrestling brawler in small doses. Not quite the great apology needed but a healthy start.