Each and every year, big things are promised with the newest instalment of the WWE 2K series, whether it be a jacked roster, a more diverse Universe mode or more depth to the MyCareer mode.  In the most part those promises are delivered upon, this year however, the big deal is with the returning Showcase mode which highlights the WWE career of Daniel Bryan.  Yet, it’s not just the returning Showcase mode making an impact, as WWE 2K19 also comes with a more fulfilling MyCareer, an even more stacked roster, more freedom in Universe mode and a whole host of gameplay tweaks and improvements.  In fact, there’s probably so many little improvements made, it’s too much for a single review, so I’ll just talk about what I believe are the more important improvements made.  So could WWE 2K19 be the best game in the series for quite some time?  It very well could be.

Being a fan of narrative and the one and only Daniel Bryan, my first point of call was to check out the returning Showcase and I can tell you, it’s a blast, full of great memorable moments and nostalgia for fans of D-Bry.  Fans will be used to seeing archived clips to help progress the Showcase story in previous games, and that still remains the case here, however, before each chapter of the story is played out, Daniel Bryan also tells the story in his own words, giving the this Showcase mode a more personal perspective than any other in the series.  We hear Daniel Bryan talk about all his highs and lows, from first being signed, multiple firings and injuries, from his heartbreaking retirement to his heart-warming return.  Not to mention that you of course get to play out key matches from Daniel Bryan’s WWE career, beginning with his debut during an episode of Velocity in 2003 using his real name of Bryan Danielson against a then fellow youngster, known as John Cena.

WWE 2K19 also comes with a new mode called 2K Towers.  How it works is that there are eight chapters to playthrough, each with varying difficulties and each chapter is based upon a theme such as taking on UK Superstars, an NXT Takeover and more.  In a way, it’s almost like the Challenge Towers seen in Mortal Kombat, minus the gore of course, but in WWE 2K19’s Towers mode, you must take on a gauntlet of matches for each of the represented chapters.  The latter stages of the 2K Towers gets very challenging, which all adds to the fun.  The 2K Tower challenges will also re-fresh on a daily/weekly basis, ensuring that it should never get stale.  This is certainly a fun mode that I hope stays in the series in one form or another.

MyCareer has also been massively improved with this year’s game.  I’ll be honest, while I did dabble in previous MyCareer modes, I just couldn’t feel all that invested.  However, the volume has been turned up a notch and then some this year.  In a nutshell it’s wackier than ever before, as you begin your career as a young upstart working your way up the ranks.  Yes I know this all sounds familiar, but with the story revolving around a feud with Triple H that takes you to places such as Bray Wyatt’s “House of Horrors” and to “Woken” Matt Hardy’s “Multiverse”, this year’s MyCareer is as crazy as it is WONDERFUL!  In terms of the create-a-wrestler, there’s even more depth in customisation than ever before and as you progress in the MyCareer campaign, and level-up your Superstar, the improved XP Skill-Tree system makes the process all that more enjoyable.

Universe Mode still pretty much remains the same as last year, with a few subtle tweaks and improvements made here, and there.  As always you’ll playthrough WWE’s weekly programming’s, Raw, Smackdown, 205 Live and NXT, as well as the monthly PPV.  You can play-out all of these matches if you wish or simulate them.  However, unlike previous WWE 2K games, you can now choose who wins when you sim a match, so if you don’t want to play as Roman Reigns, but are fed up with him winning all the time, you can change that.  Other improvements come in the form of cashing in the Money in the Briefcase to whoever is holding it; you can do this before an event or even in the in-game pause menu.

 

You also have more freedom with championship belts, vacating holders if you wish and even selecting a series of challengers.  While I see the Universe mode as a glorified series of exhibition matches (that’s not a negative), my only main disappointment is when cutting promos.  As it stands, the WWE Superstars still have no voice, as they communicate via text, so while it’s great that you now have more multiple choice options when cutting a promo, as well as animations and Superstars referring back to previous events and matches, it would be great one day if the Superstars can be voiced by their real-life counterparts.

In terms of gameplay, not much has changed that much here either, which is by no means a bad thing.  However again, there have been some subtle changes and seeing as WWE 2K in recent years arguably offers the best gameplay experience compared to other WWE/WWF games over the years, I’m glad we’ve now gone past the stage of overhauling the gameplay every year.  The most notable changes come in the form of having eight Superstars in one match, compared to the previous six, and to compensate, the framerate in WWE 2K19 has been improved and bundled in with even more character animations, WWE 2K19 quite possibly offers the smoothest gameplay experience in quite some years.  There are also fun match modifiers and more such as a classic Big Head mode, which really does emphasise the element of fun aimed by the developers.

There is also a new in-game mechanic which comes with the Comeback system, called Payback.  They are both quite similar, but with Payback if you’re taking a lot of damage, you can activate Payback to give your defence abilities such as counters and earn an extra reversal.  However, the longer you hold out from activating Payback, your boosts will be increased, such as the lights going out and you appearing behind your opponent, punching your foe in the face with Brass Knuckles (at the risk of being disqualified) or even earning a Finisher, so you can really land that “RKO out of Knowhere!”  Little changes have also been made to cage matches, such as the Hell in a Cell being more realistically proportioned and during normal cage matches, you can now perform dives half way up the cage and you can also now escape through the door.

All in all, while WWE 2K19 doesn’t push the series along massively, at least in terms of gameplay, the tweaks that are made certainly improves the experience as a whole, but the addition of the returning Showcase, the new evolving 2K Towers and the improved MyCareer mode, adds a lot of improved value and life into the game.  In its annoyance, long hair may still look a little odd, but even that’s slightly improved upon, but the exclusion of NXT Superstars such as Tommaso Ciampa, Nikki Cross and Ricochet is a shame, yet WWE 2K19 remains a very fun game that offers a great fan service and a level of depth that should see you out until next year’s instalment.  Whether you missed last year’s game and are looking for a reason to comeback or loyal year-one-year fan, this year’s instalment more than brings it to the table with WWE 2K19 is the best wrestling game in recent years, since the franchise was acquired by 2K.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake