Over the years, ever since 2K had taken over the WWE video game duties from THQ, it’s been a bit of a yo-yo journey for the series in terms of quality.  Some years do better than others, but despite this inconsistency, I’ve always managed to find some fun.  That is still somewhat the case with WWE 2K20, but with long-running developers of the franchise Yukes leaving during the development cycle of WWE 2K20 and handing over the reins full-time to Visual Concepts, this year more than most, has ultimately resulted in the worst game in the series for years, at least on this console generation.  Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects that I enjoy about WWE 2K20, but with a mixture of bugs, glitches and some baffling design choices, series questions have to be asked going forward with this franchise.

Let’s start off with positives; for starters I welcomed the return of the Showcase mode last year which focused on the fantastic WWE career of Daniel Bryan.  This year see’s the return of the Showcase mode and this time the “Women’s Evolution” takes centre stage, in particular Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley, collectively dubbed “The Four Horsewomen” a nod to WCW’s legendary faction, The Four Horsemen.  In this Showcase mode the career’s of all women are documented from being upstarts in NXT to their climb to the top of the proverbial mountain with the first-ever all woman’s Wrestlemania main event with featuring Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and UFC legend, Rhonda Rousey in a Triple Threat “Winner Take All” match.

As always in Showcase, you will playout a series of pivotal matches throughout their journey’s with each match offering certain stipulations, which reward you with in-game content, such as new characters and skins.  Unfortunately, the odd bugs that are present in the everyday matches, are also of course present during Showcase, but the joy of reliving so many iconic moments of the “Women’s Evolution” helps over shadows some of the issues, at least to some extent.

This Years Showcase Is a Saving Grace

Another fun mode is the returning Towers, inspired by the Tower modes that we have seen in the Mortal Kombat series.  Here you will run a gauntlet of sorts against a series of WWE Superstars (usually based upon a theme) as you work your way up to the top with varying difficulties as you progress.  The Towers in WWE will evolve and update throughout its life-cycle which helps keep the mode fresh and offers a great distraction from other modes with its old-school arcade progression.  The other fun mode is WWE Originals and in particular Bump in the Night (the only mode available in WWE Originals at the time of writing the review).

Bump in the Night offers a twist on Towers, with a little bit of story as you battle it out against unique versions of WWE Superstars such as Zombie Sasha Banks, Demon King Finn Bálor, FrankenStrowman and even a Shaun of the Dead inspired Fed-Up Sheamus, and more.  Unfortunately, Bump in the Night and WWE Originals is paid content, so not everyone will have access to it without paying a little extra.  It offers some fun content, but with the issues that have plagued this game since launch, it would be great if 2K would give this content to everyone that has purchased the game as an act of goodwill, but I can’t see that happening.

Other modes of note is the improved Universe mode which now has an increased match limit for TV shows and PPV, the latter of which has doubled from 7 to 14.  More titles can be on the line per show, more rivalries can be ignited at any one time, and it has more cut-scenes and commentary dialogue.  It even includes the new Mixed Match Challenge match-type and up-to three major shows, i.e. Raw, Smackdown and NXT can all host a single PPV, which is perfect timing considering that those three shows are hosting this year’s Survivor Series event.  For me, as it has been for a few years now, Universe mode is my go-to mode when I’m down with Showcase, as it offers a more evolving and interactive way to experience a variety of exhibition match-types, only you’re in charge of all the major shows and the WWE Superstar talent.

Bump in the Night’s Braun Strowman

However, more than any other WWE game in recent years, WWE 2K20 is plagued with a number of issues such as glitches, bugs and dumb AI (even dumber then before).  Something that I have moaned about for years is how rubbish long hair has looked in the series, each year it never improves, it just looks odd, yet somehow this year, the developers have appeared to give long hair its own designated AI, because hair will have a series of fits, especially during cut-scene segments from the woeful MyCareer mode, but more on that later.  Now I’ve not been living under a rock and I have seen the buggy images and videos shared throughout social media with the #FixWWE2K20 and I can understand why fans are so angered, as no game should be this buggy, especially for a full-price release.

I won’t report on bugs that I’ve seen from others, only what I have experienced personally and while it’s not been as excessive as I thought it would be, I’ve certainly encountered my fair share of bugs and glitches.  For example, when playing Bump in the Night, whenever FrankenStrowman would perform a special move that pulls you from the canvas of the ring, my Demon King Finn Bálor would oddly slide to the outside of the ring while stood-up.  Others glitches include characters having seizers on the ropes, cut-scenes not activating (with an obscured camera angle) when performing special moves such as an OMG’s and dumb AI in which a character was stuck walking into the corner of the ring for a good minute, while holding a step of ladders.  I know there have been a few more bugs, which also includes numerous crashes to the PS4 dashboard.

Now let’s get on to the MyCareer mode, in a nutshell, I hate it.  In recent years I’ve never been too keen on creating a wrestler, largely down to the fact that much of the cosmetics are locked behind loot box mechanics.  Granted their not hidden behind a paywall, which is great, but I used to love having 80% of cosmetic items readily available in older games from the get-go with a few special items earned through certain milestones.  Naturally you have to create a wrestler if you want to play MyCareer, however this time you have to create two for the brother and sister duo.  I think it’s great that you can now have a female created wrestler in MyCareer, but rather than being forced to create two for the duo in the campaign, I would have much preferred to have two stories one of each male and female.

Expect to See These Kind of Loading Screens…A LOT!

Yet I wanted to give the MyCareer mode the benefit of the doubt, but I was instantly annoyed that when I select their names, including their audio announced names, the commentary completely ignored that and instead only referred to them by their preset names, which made the whole process of naming them completely pointless.  Then when you get into the MyCareer mode, not only do you have to put up with some bugs and glitches, the writing for the story is terrible with very forced and poor humour, which only makes the whole 18 chapter campaign a total drag.  Oh and if you love load-screens, you get them here in abundance with almost every action.  I’ll be completely honest, a few hours playing this woeful campaign was enough torture to endure and I wouldn’t wish the whole 18 chapters upon my worst enemy…well, maybe I would.

Then there are baffling design choices made by Visual Concepts, who now have full developmental control.  I can appreciate that they want to add their own spin on the series, which is probably where WWE Originals has come from and that’s great, but changing the gameplay controls for seemingly no good reason makes little sense to me.  For example, rather than pressing R1 (on PS4) to perform Signatures and Finishers, you how have to press Cross and Square, they’ve also changed the way you grapple and walk with a grappled opponent, as well as several other control changes.

In Its Defence the Universe Mode Has Many Improved Features

I could understand if this choice improves a certain aspect, but if anything, it just makes things unnecessarily confusing, especially if you’ve been used to previous games in the series.  I used to hate it when Yukes did this on last-gen and I hate it now that Visual Concepts are doing it too.  So if like me, you like to re-visit previous games in the series, even with 2K19, unless you want to retrain your brain to re-learn the controls, it makes revisiting previous games more hassle than it’s worth.  It would be great if Visual Concepts patched the game so that you can have a choice of control schemes, similar to that of FIFA and PES, but I can’t see that happening at this stage.  Other issues that I found were with the likeness, some look great such as oddly enough, Jerry “The King” Lawler who is probably the best of them, but some look little like who they supposed to be, such as NXT’s Trent Seven.  However, the consistency of the women’s roster looks the worst, with none of them looking all that great, especially the “Golden Goddess” Many Rose.

In my humble opinion, as much as I found some enjoyment with certain aspects of the WWE 2K series, it had started to go stale for a little while now and has been in need of a desperate refresh for a few years, but with long-standing developers Yukes leaving for pastures new, I believe its hit WWE 2K20 hard and was perhaps a little too much for Visual Concepts to take on, at least for this year’s release.  This is why I truly believe that the series would have benefited taking a year out, so that Visual Concepts could truly find their feet and maybe then, the game wouldn’t be plagued with so many issues.  I try to find the positives in every game that I review, as WWE 2K20 does have some positive, but it’s almost like parts of the game were developed separately by the two teams, Showcase by Yukes and MyCareer by Visual Concepts, it’s just a shame that much of the negatives out-weigh the positives, or at least the negatives are far more memorable.  Even to the most diehard of WWE fans (and I consider myself to be one), I cannot recommend WWE 2K20 to anyone, unless you get it for dirt cheap and if you can’t, I’d recommend holding out until next year, where hopefully the series will be in a far better state.