Review – WWE 2K Battlegrounds

I’ve been a fan of wrestling since the WWF Attitude era, and even in the current state of a pandemic-affected crowdless arena and Vince McMahon’s current booking abilities, the product is still enjoyable, despite what an AEW fan will tell you. Unfortunately, when it comes to wrestling games, especially now more than ever, I find them to be convoluted as a result of overambition. 

Take WWE 2K19 for an example; if you look up the move set for any superstar, you would be overwhelmed at the amount of button and joystick combinations there are. A wrestling game should not try and capture the realism of actual wrestling. A five star match would last 15+ minutes, and in reality, nobody has the time to want to recreate that. Instead, they just want to mash buttons, and pummel their opponents up, arcade beat ’em up style. 

WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a fine example of that separated-from-reality, straight to the point, arcade-style wrestling game. I never played WWE All Stars, but based off of what I’ve seen, Battlegrounds could be considered a legit spiritual successor. While campaign and single player exhibition modes are enjoyable, I can only imagine a room full of wrestling marks claiming they got next for hours. Despite some annoyances and many moments of “I Wish”, WWE 2K Battlegrounds is a solid, enjoyable party brawler. 

Unfortunately, your model is too plump for me NOT to see you, Cena

What makes Battlegrounds standout in comparison is its straight-to-the-point gameplay. Superstars are categorized by weight class/style, and every class shares the same move set aside from signature moves and finishers. Striking and grappling is simple and not over complicated and breaking out of pins and submissions  is a button mashing test of enduarance. Power-ups are perks you can apply in match to give yourself the edge over your opponents in desperate times. These can be changed and unlocked, so players can choose which ones suit them best. 

Now, this is a 2K game, so if you want to unlock everything quickly, get ready to spend some real-world money to earn golden bucks. Microtransactions are always a turn off to me, so I try to avoid them at all costs (heh). Thankfully, you can unlock things by earning regular bucks simply by playing matches, progressing in your campaigns and leveling up, so by consequence, you’ll need more regular bucks than golden bucks (sorry, no Young Bucks available). But, because each class has the same move set, and because you will realistically only play as your favorite superstars, unlock them first and worry about the rest down the road. Everything else is just filler, not a necessity. Save your money and just play with what the game starts you out with, you’ll eventually get there. Just be patient. 

The look of the game is entirely cartoony, but even then, some things are a little blown out of proportion. When I first saw the trailers, I asked myself, “Why is everybody so thick”? It bothered me for so long, but it appears that the final product included a lot of slimmer character models. I get that idea is everything is supposed to be outlandish and intentionally over the top, but some superstars look like they got the short end of the stick.

Microtranactions are a pain, so choose your favorite right from the getgo.

Additionally, some stages have some great background appeal and interactibles to fit their theme, while others have some that are loud and distracting. I understand pyrotechnics are huge and important to the appeal of wrestling, but take it easy, will ya? The menu interface is very appealing and responsive, and the comic book approach to the campaign is very pleasing to the eyes. The same can’t be said for the dialogue, but hey, wrestling. Nearly very move is intentionally done exaggeratedly, I only wish there were less use of slow-motion as it really does nothing but distract me from the match. Damn you, Matrix

Do yourself a favor, before you start playing, head over to the options menu and turn commentary off. I’ve never been a huge fan of Jerry the King Lawler, and this game is an unfriendly reminder. The attempts at commentary lack quantity, therefore they quickly became repetitive and annoying. Otherwise the game sounds great. The strikes and mat falls are believable and the background music doesn’t feel repetitive to the point of annoying the player.

Entrance music is a double edged sword. Yes, they sound authentic and pleasant to the ear, and you get a preview of them when you’re going through the rosters. The bad thing about this is the entrance animation: there’s no actual walk down the ramp, no entering of the ring, no ring poses. Therefore, the entrance music is cut off way too quickly. Bray Wyatt’s “Firefly Funhouse” theme is currently one of the best themes out there, but we hardly get to hear any of the dark heavy parts when the Fiend arrives. It’s a letdown, to say the least. 

Literally every move is exaggerated.

WWE 2K Battlegrounds knows exactly what it wants to be, and gets the job done. At first glance, people might be turned off by how the game looks and plays, but wrestling games are much better when not taken seriously. We shouldn’t have to remember a laundry list of button/joystick combinations just to pull off moves your favorite superstar is known for, we just want to get in the ring and hit our opponent. While I do believe some shortcuts were taken at the expense of ring entrances, and not paying Lawler enough money to make an effort on a disastrous commentary track, Battlegrounds is a decent alternative brawler to play at parties or when you simply just can’t fathom another round of Smash Bros


Graphics: 6.5

Some superstars are looking too thick to handle. A lot of excessive, loud distractions deter focus, but the comic book feel is welcoming.

Gameplay: 8.0

Bonus points for being a simplified beat ’em up with easy to learn controls.

Sound: 5.5

Thankfully, you can turn the horrendous commentary off. Why can’t I listen to entrance themes in full?

Fun Factor: 7.0

Can definitely be viable at parties, but solo players might get bored or frustrated depending on the difficulty.

Final Verdict: 7.0

WWE 2K Battlegrounds is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of WWE 2K Battlegrounds was provided by the publisher.