I’m going to be frank. WWE 2K20 is a broken, buggy mess, which should be avoided at all cost. While this might seem harsh, it is absolutely baffling how far the series has fallen since it’s last iteration. Granted, WWE 2K19 wasn’t without its flaws, but it was possibly the best and most polished WWE game to come from 2K. This year, however, developer Yukes split from 2K in August and Visual Concepts took over sole development of the series. The end result? Pretty much every issue WWE games have had, amplified in a single package. Ugly character models? Check. (In fact, the models look the worst they did in years, with some of the models seemingly modified and reused between wrestlers.) Lighting glitches? Check. Horrible collision and hit detection? Check. Clipping issues? Check. There are virtually no improvements to the actual wrestling, and some of the mechanics are actually a step backwards. There are also no innovation, and the game’s biggest new feature, 2K Originals, is locked behind DLC.
Still reading? Either you have too much time, or you seriously want to know what WWE 2K20 is all about. Well, let’s start with the included game modes and wrestlers. MyCareer, WWE 2K19‘s marquee single player mode with full voice over and support from actual WWE Superstars, again makes its return. This time around it begins with the creation of a male and female superstar, Tre and Red. Neither character is particularly likeable, with Tre at times being insufferable. Every sentence he speaks gets turned into a forced, corny joke. The mode plays out over 18 chapters as Tre and Red reminisce over their careers while being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Similar to last year’s mode, you are presented with a to-do-list, and you need to tick off the tasks. These tasks cover matches and events from their early years in the indie scene, to their big break at NXT, and their way to the WWE. While this is an excellent framing mechanic, the actual story is mind numbingly dull and continues for far too long. There was one moment, however – and it could be a slight SPOILER – where you’re on a journey into the underworld to find the Undertaker. WWE games have always found themselves grounded in reality to provide the most authentic experience, but this exploration of the fantasy realm was an excellent addition. Unfortunately, moments like these are few and far between. It also takes way too long to reach the WWE portion of the career.
Then there is the actual leveling up. Just like in last year’s WWE 2K2019, each wrestling archetype has access to a mammoth skill tree. However, most of the skill tree is hidden until you unlock the adjacent hex. This makes it impossible to plan your character’s progression beyond the next couple of updates. Upgrades are also really unsatisfying. Each attribute unlocks such a minuscule increase in skills, and makes little to no difference in the ring.
The rest of the game modes are the obligatory, typical WWE matches and are nothing to write home about. 2K towers, introduced last year, also returns. Mixed Tag Team Matches again make a return to the series. Another underutilized mode is the Showcase mode. Just like in previous iterations, this mode follows the actual career progression of a WWE Superstar, tasking you to perform objectives and recreate matches from the past. This time around it focuses on the Four Horsewomen of the WWE: Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair, and Bayley. Unfortunately, WWE 2K20 falls in the same trap as past iterations. Matches can continue for far too long, and with no mid-match checkpoint, losing the match either by pinfall of game breaking glitch is enough to rage quit. And the latter happens a lot. If you’re unlucky enough, you will experience at least one glitch in every game you play. Some are hilarious, some are scary, and some downright breaks the game.
Then there is the actual wrestling. The only new addition is a reworked set of controls, which I quite liked. This made it slightly less cumbersome to perform certain actions and maneuvers. It is still not as streamlined as I would’ve liked, but its an improvement compared to last year’s installment. Unfortunately, the action in the ring still rely on a reversal system to determine the momentum of the match. While this mechanic has proved successful in the past, the issue is that the AI exploits this mechanic. Reversals build up over time, and an AI opponent will farm these while you are dishing out punishment until you are ready to unleash your finisher. This breaks the flow of the match somewhat. This is on top of the AI glitches that sometimes cause an opponent to stand still or jog on the spot mid match. Couple this with lifeless character models and jaggy animations, and matches become lifeless affairs.
WWE 2K20 has received a substantial graphical downgrade from last year. Environments look like it is pulled from the PS3-era and textures flicker constantly. Wrestlers have incorrect skin tones, and are seeming incapable of expressing emotion. They just stand there with wide, glassy, unblinking eyes. When they do move, it is in robot-like fashion.
All of this is a real pity, since WWE 2K20 has small glimpses of a decent game – when it works. It was never going to be a great game, but it had the potential to at least be on par with its predecessor. Unfortunately, it was released too early and untested. A couple of patches later and who knows what it will become, but for now, avoid at all costs.