July 5, 2022

It’s that time of the year, wrestling fans. The annual release of this year’s WWE video game is nearly upon us (22nd October). And for such a high-profile sports video game with a long lineage of followers, this year’s entry is even more worrying than normal.

Most fans will be aware of the troubles that have plagued WWE 2K20.

Long-time developers Yukes left the series altogether with 2K’s own Visual Concepts taking full control. Nothing too new there as Visual Concepts had been co-developing the series since 2K15. However, from all of the screenshots and videos users have posted the past few days, this is a truly worrying state of affairs.

A PlayStation 2K-Era Game

The WWE games have never been the best in terms of graphics or gameplay or storytelling or anything else that matters. (Seriously, why do we keep coming back to this franchise year after year?) But 2K20 might be the worst example of all of that since the earliest PlayStation 2 era of wrestling games.

The most heinous offender to be doing the rounds is arguably NXT star Bianca Belair. Belair uses her waist-long hair as a whip. In her entrance, she typically grabs her locks and twirls them around like a lasso. Here are the two models a mere 12 months apart…

The model on the left is from 2K19 and the right is from this year for reference sake. That is from one of the biggest companies in the industry. The hair wasn’t perfect last year, but at least it sort of contorted like hair should do!

There are more issues coming to light about 2K20. The unusually quiet 2K has officially shown little to no gameplay footage outside of the tedious gameplay trailer released in September. 2K has barely shown anything to showcase the game since then. Which, in itself has fans really worried.

The Horror!

2K20 is adding a new storyline which features a playable female wrestler for the first time. One of the earliest clips found taken from the story is equally disheartening as the Belair footage.

https://twitter.com/sinzhq/status/1183769719901429761

Aside from the horrendous dialogue (seriously?), the clipping on display in the 2nd video is haunting. Again, WWE games have never been the best for clipping or mechanics, but this year seems like a massive step back in all departments.

Seen above is The Rock. The most famous wrestler-turned-actor ever. And, as you can see, his in-game face evolution has taken a dip in recent games. 2K18 from 2017 arguably looks closest to The Rock. But his 2K19/20 models look like wannabe Create-a-Wresters. Heck, even his Here Comes the Pain! character model looks closer to the real-life Dwayne Johnson than what we have now. And you could only blame Yuke’s departure for so long. After all, they were still active on the franchise last year, yet we had the above render!

Popular Japanese women’s wrestler Asuka’s hair glitched clean away from her head in another screengrab.

And As For The Roster Portraits

Whilst some of them are someways acceptably close to their real-life counterparts, the likes of Candice LeRae, Mandy Rose, and Peyton Royce (all seen below) look horrifying.

And yes, I know you can’t judge a game by its graphics, but again, this is a 2K game. They’ve been behind the series for a number of years, and fans have noted how the graphics, if anything, see a downgrade year on year.

A Franchise in Stagnation

One major criticism is that the core WWE games have gone too long without any competition. 15 years ago, what would become the 2K franchise was exclusive to the PlayStation consoles, with Nintendo and Xbox exclusive titles respectively. Then, THQ merged the series into one cross-platform franchise. Since then, and since the 2K buyout, there has been nothing else of note to encourage growth. Much like the WWE in real life.

How that will change with the emergence of AEW and their rumoured video game remains to be seen. Normally, I get the WWE game each year on or around launch despite knowing the full experience will be available for less a few months later. This year, however, I think I’ll wait until 2020 to get my yearly wrestling gaming fix.

If you’re still going to buy WWE 2K20, the game releases 22nd October on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The first confirmed DLC bundle, the “Bump in the Night”, features new Original wrestlers such as “Wicked” Aleister Black and FrankenBraun Strowman. And, as an extra special bonus, includes “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. Which may be the best part of the whole game, and you have to pay extra for it!


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