Last year's WWE 2K19 was definitely one of the better WWE games under the 2K banner. It had a problem with excessive grinding for currency, an issue that plagues many sports games these days, but as we pointed out in our WWE 2K19 review, it was otherwise a solid experience. Since sports games essentially reiterate on themselves every year, making small changes and usually improving the graphics, it's baffling just how bad WWE 2K20 is compared to last year's game, or most any wrestling game in general. From top to bottom, the game is a disaster and one of the worst wrestling games ever made.
The most noticeable issues with WWE 2K20 are the well-documented bugs and glitches that plague every facet of the experience. It is rare to have a match go from bell to bell without experiencing at least one bizarre, immersion-shattering visual glitch. Some of the WWE 2K20 glitches are so outlandish that they end up being funny, whether it's the somewhat common glitch of everyone squatting to the ground and crab walking or objects sinking into the ring. But while these glitches can be amusing, they are also a clear sign that WWE 2K20 is quite simply not a finished product.
If the WWE 2K20 glitches were merely visual absurdities, they may be more forgivable. Unfortunately, the game's technical issues extend far beyond disappearing objects and wrestlers crab walking. We also encountered issues like the game refusing to perform finishing maneuvers or moves necessary to complete objectives. These glitches are far more frustrating and are a huge roadblock that will keep most everyone from having fun with this game.
When playing WWE 2K20, it's hard not to feel like the game was thrown together at the last minute and rushed out the door, as almost everything about it seems like a step backwards. Visually, the game is uglier than most of its predecessors, and it is not an exaggeration to say that there are wrestling games that came out 10 years ago that look better than this. There are some decent character models here and there, but many of the wrestlers just look off, with The Rock's character model being especially ugly. Some of the character models in WWE 2K20 are so bad that some wrestlers may genuinely not recognize themselves in the game.
Some of the wrestlers just don't look like themselves and some barely look human. All players have to do is take one look at the screen for the 2K Showcase mode and look at the dead eyes of the Four Horsewomen to see an example of this. In-ring, players will notice that hair looks like plastic and the hair physics cause it to fly around wildly at every slight move a wrestler.
Looking beyond its ugliness, WWE 2K20 is lacking in content compared to previous entries. One of the most glaring omissions is the lack of Create-A-Championship, though the developers say it will be added at some point. There's also the lack of the Originals mode, which was one of the most-marketed features in the new game. This has caused some confusion online, as the Originals mode was marketed as a "pre-order bonus" for the game and as a freebie for those who forked over the extra cash for the special editions.
Speaking of WWE 2K20's pre-order bonuses and special editions, this year's game continues the unfortunate trend of blocking popular wrestlers behind paywalls. Last year, Ronda Rousey was locked away as a pre-order bonus, and this year it's characters like Chyna, Hulk Hogan, and even "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt, who is an active wrestler and one of the main stars of WWE's current television product. Not including The Fiend in the base game is particularly disappointing, as he is heavily featured in the videos that play in the background of WWE 2K20's menus.
These special editions of WWE 2K20 give those who pay for them a significant head-start over other WWE 2K20 players, including an accelerator to give them an advantage in MyCareer and instantly unlocking all of the locked characters. Since the version of the game we played was the Deluxe Edition, we had basically everything worth having unlocked from the start and were unable to properly test the in-game economy. However, if it's anything like WWE 2K19, those who pick up the standard version of the game should expect a grind.
Disappointing business decisions, the lack of content compared to previous games, and the glitches may have all been things some fans could have looked past if WWE 2K20 was fun to play, but the in-ring action is as dull as ever before. It all boils down to learning the right time to counter, and that's pretty much all that goes into it. It's basically the same gameplay that fans have been experiencing for years, but with an AI that counters a lot more frequently and matches that go on for too long because of it.
And what's worse is that, for some unknown reason, the developers decided to change the control scheme for this game. The action in the ring isn't different in any significant way, so the decision to change a control scheme that fans have gotten used to after years of playing is a puzzling one to say the least. We were unable to find a way to revert to the older control scheme in WWE 2K20, which makes the control change even more irritating. Finishers now require simultaneous presses of two buttons, and counters have been relegated to the Y button. While these WWE 2K20 control changes may seem minor, those who have been playing for years will have to train themselves so they aren't constantly pressing the wrong buttons. Some of the best wrestling one will experience when playing WWE 2K20 is when they wrestle against the muscle memory that these games have firmly established in their brains.
Once WWE 2K20 players get used to the new controls, they can jump into all the standard WWE video game modes, with the main draw being MyCareer mode. MyCareer now features male and female wrestlers this year, though it's the most agonizing version of the game mode to date. It starts with players creating their own male and female wrestlers, with weird restrictions put in place depending on what type of wrestler players select. For instance, we were unable to create a male wrestler that was shorter than 5'10", despite many members of the roster being shorter than that. We were also limited on the moves we could select, which just makes MyCareer less fun and more restrictive than it needs to be.
The pay to win advantage rears its ugly head in MyCareer as well, as the wrestlers players create start off fairly weak and have to be upgraded through XP. There is DLC that players can get to speed things along, giving them more points to spend on their Final Fantasy X-style Sphere Grid to level up their created wrestlers. Of course, this encourages the developers to make the process of leveling one's created wrestler extra grindy, though we were unable to test this due to the version of the game we received.
Continuing the trend of sports games attempting to tell stories, WWE 2K20's MyCareer mode is the story of a male and female wrestler who grew up together and are being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The story plays out like flashbacks, showing the early days of their career and their eventual rise to the top. Some of the scenes seem lifted from the Fighting With My Family movie that came out earlier this year, though the similarities with that excellent film end there.
Like basically every other aspect of the game, WWE 2K20's MyCareer mode is awful. It's full of terrible writing, corny jokes that would make even Jerry Lawler roll his eyes, and cringe-worthy voice acting on the part of the wrestlers that recorded lines for it. Visuals in MyCareer are somehow even worse than the rest of the game, with the cut-scenes looking as though they were ripped straight out of the PS2 era.
The cut-scenes in WWE 2K20 are so bad that some may be convinced to play through it all just to see each ridiculous story development and painful attempt at humor. It has a B-movie, Birdemic sort of car crash quality to it where it's hard to look away. From the severe lack of attention to detail (the created wrestlers look the same no matter their age, for example) to the over-the-top supernatural elements, the WWE 2K20 story is a train wreck.
It's true that some may be compelled to play through the entire WWE 2K20 MyCareer story out of morbid curiosity, but others will not be able to force themselves through its many problems. MyCareer is plagued with frequent, lengthy load times that kill any sense of pacing and slow things down to a crawl. In one instance, we witnessed five or so cut-scenes in a row, with each one interrupted by a long loading screen.
And for those who maybe want to play WWE 2K20's MyCareer mode for the gameplay and don't care about the story, we've got some bad news. There is no way to skip the cut-scenes in WWE 2K20, that we could figure out at least. This means that players will have to suffer through everything, which will make MyCareer borderline unplayable for some players.
Besides MyCareer, WWE 2K20 has the Towers mode, which is fine enough and self-explanatory, and it also has the returning 2K Showcase. This year's 2K Showcase focuses on the Women's Evolution, and more specifically, the careers of the Four Horsewomen of the WWE - Bayley, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Sasha Banks. 2K Showcase has the benefit of not being weighed down by terrible and long cut-scenes, but it has other issues.
2K Showcase objectives don't always work, and even when they are working, all they really do is dictate how players play each match. They do this to try to be historically accurate to the actual match and show off some of the spots, but the game does perhaps too deep of a dive in some cases, as they can make matches overly long. The objectives also don't make for compelling gameplay, as players just have to check off a list to see a digital version of a match that they've probably already seen. And sometimes the objectives in the 2K Showcase don't always correlate with the scene that players are rewarded with, so it's just a worse way to experience a wrestling match that players can go see on the WWE Network instead.
For hardcore WWE fans, the 2K Showcase is a boring retread of recent history. Anyone that follows the product regularly will have seen the big matches featured in the 2K Showcase, and some of the diehards will even know every spot. There isn't anything compelling about this. And the talking head segments with Bayley, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Sasha Banks don't help matters. They're dull as can be and feel lifeless. The same goes for the Roman Reigns Tower Mode, which has similar interviews and archival footage that looks to be lower quality than if one just watched it on the WWE Network. Oh, and these interviews can't be skipped until they're basically over.
Something else that weighs down the Roman Reigns Tower is the entrances. Maybe there's a way to dive deeper into the settings to turn them off completely like in other game modes, but we were unable to find it. At any rate, anyone that wants to skip these entrances should be prepared to skip every entrance individually. These skips are followed by lingering shots of the crowd, and sometimes it feels like it would be faster to just sit through the entrances.
WWE 2K20 does have a couple of redeeming qualities, however. The online actually works consistently in our testing, which is rare for a WWE game. There's also plenty of options for the Create-A-Wrestler and customization features. Those that don't want to spend time creating their own things can easily download user creations, and there's already a lot of content to sift through for fans.
Of course, that praise comes with the caveat that Create-A-Championship and Create-A-Finisher are missing in action. So even when WWE 2K20 does something right, there's a catch that ensures it's still a step or two behind its predecessors. And this extends to basically everything about the game outside of the better-than-usual online. Even the WWE 2K20 soundtrack is a downgrade compared to previous games, with only 10 tracks this time around.
It's possible that the departure of Yuke's played a significant role in WWE 2K20 so completely and utterly missing the mark, and maybe Visual Concepts will get things back on track next year. The developers have said that patches will be released to address some of WWE 2K20's glitches, but they aren't even the biggest problems with the game, and it's hard to see how it can be salvaged without a complete overhaul. There is no reason to pick this game up when far better WWE 2K games are out there, and we don't recommend it to anyone, even someone that lives and breathes WWE.
WWE 2K20 is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided with an Xbox One code for this review.