It is nearly the end of another year and that means it’s time for another entry in the WWE franchise with WWE 2K19. Last year’s entry was a definite improvement and easily the best entry since 2K Sports took the reigns.
However, despite the improvements, some fans still walked away from the series feeling a little bit disappointed when it was all said and done. The WWE 2K franchise has a habit of very slowly introducing new features or reintroducing old ones that fans have long wanted to see make a return.
This year WWE 2K19 has taken several new steps that help refine the formula once again introducing new matches and more creation tools to satisfy even the most demanding of wrestling fans. However, now that the long-awaited Fire Pro Wrestling: World has been released the 2K’s series isn’t the only hardcore wrestling franchise available on the current generation.
The Fire Pro Wrestling series is a grappling fan's dream come true and with that in mind, fans are spoilt for choice for a change. With a game like this on the market, you have to think the developers at 2K have taken notice to see what all the fuss is about competition always works for fans. So does WWE 2K19 still have what it takes to maintain its number one contender spot or will Fire Pro become the undisputed champ of the squared circle?
30 Best: The Graphics Are Better Than Ever
Last years entry WWE 2K18 was a significant improvement over 2K17 and this year's wrestling title takes this evolution a few steps further. Truthfully, WWE 2K19 isn’t going to be a revolution for fans who haven’t played the series for a while but if you’ve played 2K18 and 2K19 back to back the upgrades are subtle but nice.
Lighting and shadows have definitely received another boost this year, hair rendering doesn’t look like spaghetti anymore, and facial animations have improved. The improved camera cuts really help add to the visual presentation too.
29 Worst: WWE 2K19 Is The Best It’s Ever Been, But It Needs A Year Off
WWE 2K19 may be as polished as this series has ever been there’s so many nice touches and tweaks that add to the experience.
However, the game’s engine still feels the same and it’s probably time that 2K went back to the drawing board and created a new engine from the ground up.
The best solution to this would be for the series to take at least a year off and provide a constant flow of updates, patches, tweaks, and new wrestlers in the form DLC. This would help the game stay up to date with constant drama inside and outside the ring whilst giving the developers time to work on something special.
28 Best: The Showcase Mode Is Back
Daniel Bryan was given the all clear to wrestle after a heitus that forced him to enter retirement at the height of his career. Not only is Bryan back from retirement but the much-requested Showcase Mode is back too aptly featuring the man himself.
Showcase’s story is connected together through the use of interviews and documentary clips which are very good especially if you’re a fan of Daniel Bryan. The developers have clearly put a lot of love into the renewed ShowcaseMode and fans of previous versions will love this.
27 Worst: It Could Do With More Than One Showcase Mode
It’s great to see the Showcase Mode make its triumphant return this year with Daniel Bryan being the focus of the game’s story. However, even though it would have been a lot of work for Yukes it would have been nice if they included more Showcase Modes featuring other wrestlers too.
Of course, there’s the downside that not every wrestling fan will automatically like Daniel Bryan and may find themselves not connecting to the Showcase.
In this case, it would have been a good idea to include a Showcase Mode for a legend like Ric Flair and female wrestler like Alundra Blaze/Madusa.
26 Best: An Excellent Selection Of Legends
With more than 50 Legends wrestlers in WWE 2K19, the game features some of the best in recent years. The usual suspects are back like Mr. Perfect, Macho Man Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and with the likes of The Million Dollar Man and Rowdy Roddy Piper finally back on the roster fans of the 80s and 90s can relive the what many consider the golden era of wrestling.
In addition, there’s a good selection from the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Goldberg, Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page and more. A bonus for Hulk Hogan fans is that his name can finally be included and announced as a created character now that he’s back on good terms with the WWE.
25 Worst: Wrestlers That Have Been Held Back As DLC
After the developers of WWE 2K19 finished announcing their full roster for the game a lot of fans were quite upset that there were several wrestlers missing. Some of these at the time was Bobby Lashley and several NXT stars.
So far 2K have announced there is going to be a “Rising Stars” pack featuring NXT stars and a “Titans Pack” featuring Bobby Lashley, The War Raiders and Raymond Rowe. However, it could be argued that there’s no reason why 2K can’t release these wrestlers in free updates in the same manner as EA’s UFC games.
24 Best: Create A Wrestler Will Keep You Busy For Hours
In the last few years, the WWE 2K games have set a standard for character creation modes. Those who are willing and have patience can create some incredible looking characters with tools that wouldn’t look out of place in an RPG.
Whether it's making an incredibly accurate Hulk Hogan or a Dragon Ball Z character complete with a cell shaded appearance the options are almost limitless. In addition, you can edit everything from their entrances, music, managers, Titantron videos and more.
23 Worst: Missing Wrestlers From Last Year
As good as all the new superstars and legends that have been included in this year's entry are, WWE 2K19 is bafflingly missing a large number of wrestlers that were included in last years. Unless there’s another unannounced DLC pack on the way there are several wrestlers missing like the current NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa, and one of the top 205 contenders The Brian Kendrick.
In addition, there’s a lot of notable omissions from the Legends Roster like Rob Van Dam, Mick Foley, The Natural Disasters, the Fabulous Freebirds, and the Von Erichs. While it’s understandable that they shake up the roster it’s disappointing to not include wrestlers that were already in WWE 2K18.
22 Best: WWE 2K19 Brings The Fun
One of the most frequent complaints aimed that the WWE 2K games are that they take themselves far too seriously. This is especially true for those who like to invite a group of friends around for some couch multiplayer.
The games have always been accused of being too much of a simulation when in reality the action is full of colorful characters in theatrical predetermined matches.
So to address this, 2K have included silly additions like Big Head Mode, Zombie Triple-H, Golden AJ Styles, and Box Man which looks like a Minecraft character.
21 Worst: The Commentary Still Needs A Lot Improvement
If there’s one area of the WWE 2K series that needs a complete revamp it is the commentary. Sadly, it is probably the most consistently bad feature in the series and WWE 2K19 will also have gamers reaching for the audio settings to turn off commentary, it’s certainly doesn't live up to the quality of NBA 2K19.
In fairness to this years entry, there are some minor improvements in the Showcase and MyPlayer Modes. There’s even a nice a touch with the commentators giving us a rundown of each wrestler during entrances. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the phoned-in catchphrases, repeating the same lines over and over again, and even getting the wrestler's names wrong.
20 Best: Tower Mode Is A Great Way To Add Longevity
This year’s WWE 2K19 has included a new feature called Tower Mode and it’s a lot more fun than it sounds. It’s also something that you would traditionally find in a game like Mortal Kombat and the Injustice series.
Each Tower focuses on different wrestlers like Ric Flair or Ronda Rousey each having their own specific theme. In addition, several of the matches can have set stipulations like starting a match with fewer reversals, less stamina, a time limit and much more. It’s also a great way to learn how to get to grips with the game’s many mechanics.
19 Worst: Are They Worth It? The Hairstyle Physics Are Strange
Last year we criticized the hair rendering in WWE 2K18 for looking like strands of spaghetti that sort of flopped around unnaturally during entrances, conversations, and in the matches. This has absolutely been improved in WWE 2K19, however, despite these improvements the hair physics are still quite weird.
AJ Styles' hair looks so ridiculously shiny and bouncy that he looks like he’s taking part in an L’oreal advert telling the viewers that “he’s worth it”.
18 Best: The Menu System Is Better and Faster
Last years entry definitely showed signs of improvement with easier to navigate menus and selections from the outside. The menus also had quite snappy and presentable stylised stop-motion animations and wrestlers. However, these animations came at the cost of speed and loading times could suffer as a result.
So this year’s system has opted for a much cleaner and easier to navigate the system and the loading times are so much faster. Something will prove to be a relief for many is navigating and downloading community creations is a lot faster this year and much less of a chore.
17 Worst: Some Of The Legends Look Like Action Figures
The wrestlers this year look better than ever especially the guys that are on still on the active roster like Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Bobby Roode. The wrestlers look more like their real-life counterparts than ever before and are instantly recognizable.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for some of the legends that are on the roster especially those who are sadly no longer with us like Rowdy Roddy Piper, Ravishing Rick Rude, and the Macho Man Randy Savage. Instead, they look more like action figures which aren’t terrible but close up their eyes look a bit like ventriloquists dummies.
16 Best: MyCareer Mode Is So Much Better
Last we praised WWE 2K18’s new career mode for taking some steps in the right direction with its story based career mode for your created wrestler. Unfortunately, after spending more time with the game the backstage segments became a repetitive drag and a chore to navigate.
This, however, the new MyCareer mode has more in common with the likes of the NBA 2K series. Now the player is tasked with working their way through the indie wrestling circuit with matches taking place in high school gyms, the parking lot and the Mexico Plaza.
15 Worst: Women Aren’t Represented In MyCareer
In the last few years, the WWE has made huge strides with representing women’s wrestling on television. There’s now a women’s Royal Rumble and the likes of Charlotte Flair, Sacha Banks, and now Ronda Rousey is co-main eventing major shows and taking the top billing by having a women’s only event due in the Fall.
Sadly, this attitude hasn’t transferred over to the video games yet because there’s no MyCareer mode for women. This is another reason why the series could take a year out because of the amount of development time it would take to include a women’s mode too.
14 Best: The Payback System
New to this year's entry is the addition of the Payback System is the most significant change to the gameplay perhaps more so than any other feature in WWE 2K19. This new system allows wrestlers to start matches with buffs that can be activated during matches and work really well to impact the flow of a match.
The Payback system features two levels of these buffs which include Auto-Reverse, Possum, Fists of Fury, Speed, Reversal, Instant Recovery, Resiliency, Low Blow, and much more. These new features help the matches have a back and forth momentum that closely resembles the TV productions.
13 Worst: It May Be Intimidating To Newcomers
WWE 2K19 is one of the few games in 2018 that offers an easy and fun way to provide that couch play experience that has been lost in the focus on online multiplayer. In that sense, it is one of the most welcoming games of its type on the market even more so than other sports franchises like FIFA and NBA 2K.
Yet despite this, newcomers that really want to get to grips with the game’s very deep wrestling system have a lot to learn. Of course for wrestling fans that have been playing games in this genre for years will love this but those expecting a simple beat-em-up may have a shock coming to them.
12 Best: Universe Mode Has Seen Significant Improvements
With the absence of a General Manager Mode, the Universe Mode is where a lot of fans will be spending their time until the next one is released. So it is good news that the mode has seen some significant changes that help make the experience more enjoyable as a whole.
Now players can assign six titles to a specific show instead of four, there's more flexibility, control of managers, and complete control over gimmick match frequency. Even the promo system has got an overhaul and you can customize their personality to match what you see on screen.
11 Worst: MyPlayer Story Mode Can Border On Ridiculous
As mentioned the new MyPlayer mode so much better than last years entry it’s a far more refined and polished experience. However, those who want a serious storyline like the ones found in most sports games such NBA 2K will be sorely disappointed with WWE 2K19.
The story is presented through the use of cut scenes and fully voiced interactions but as good as this is, WWE 2K19’s story can get quite silly. It will still be an enjoyable experience for most but not everyone will appreciate it.
10 Best: Matches Are A Faster and Smoother Experience
The WWE games that have been developed by Yukes since the early Smackdown series on the PlayStation 1 have always had a sort of clumsiness to them. Fans have become all too familiar with how awkward matches could feel and this would more often than not break the immersion.
This year, however, WWE 2K19 matches are definitely smoother and the grappling feels more impactful and satisfying to pull off. Reversals look more natural and chain wrestling resembles is more enjoyable.
9 Worst: The Matches Don’t Always Flow As They Should
The matches in WWE 2K19 feel better than they ever have, the series’s engine feels like it’s the best it can possibly be without 2K introducing a completely overhauled mechanics. The presentation looks great, and the moves feel more satisfying to pull off.
However, there are times that the natural flow of a match can become repetitive or come to an awkward halt.
This is in part due to the default settings which limit your reversals. Even though this can force you to think strategically it can also leave you waiting for your reversal bar to fill up as you’re taking a beating. Of course, the solution to this its turn off the reversal limit in the settings menu.
8 Best: The Striking Is Definitely Better
Much like its televised counterpart the WWE 2K series doesn’t have much in the way of mainstream competition. The closest that the video game series has is the niche but brilliant Fire Pro Wrestling: World and EA’s UFC series.
Even though mixed martial arts and the UFC is a real contact sport the video game comparisons get drawn because there’s grappling and striking within an arena whether that’s an octagonal cage or the wrestling ring. Obviously, the UFC games are a world apart when it comes to striking but this year’s WWE 2K19’s striking is more solid satisfying than ever. The physics are improved and each punch and kick land almost perfectly this time around.
7 Worst: It Isn’t As Customizable As Fire Pro Wrestling World
WWE 2K19 is getting ever closer to a wrestling fan’s dream when it comes to its creation suite and customization. Although with that in mind, there’s a lot of features that are missing that were featured two generations ago in the PlayStation 2 Smackdown series.
It also goes without saying that its nearest competitor Fire Pro Wrestling: World a low budget indie wrestling game, by comparison, has WWE 2K19 beat hands down when it comes to customization. In Fire Pro you can tailor every aspect of a wrestler’s personality, logic, there are unlimited CaW slots, and just about every match you can imagine including MMA matches.
6 Best: The Gimmick Matches Are improved
They way wrestlers interact with the environment in the WWE 2K series has always been a bit hit and miss. There are times when throwing or Irish Whipping a wrestler into the steel railings, the cage, and even the ropes would result in some clipping issues and downright awkward animations.
This year the series has definitely seen an improvement in this regard with wrestling reacting to the environment more naturally. A perfect example of this is how much better the HiaC match looks feels to play. Performing cage moves is more fun, and wrestlers ever step over the steel steps in a more natural way when battles spill out on to the outside mats.
5 Worst: Randomised Loot Packs Are The New Loot Boxes
One of the biggest complaints leveled at the gaming industry in 2017 was the inclusion of randomized loot boxes. Their inclusion in WWE 2K19 was designed to encourage the player to grind and play more to unlock more rewards so you can customize the look and feel of your MyPlayer character.
The only upside was you didn’t need to spend real money but nevertheless, this was a frustrating addition to the series. WWE 2K19 isn’t as grindy or as frustrating as last year. Unfortunately, replaced boxes with packs but they are still randomized therefore they limit how much you want to customize your wrestler.
4 Best: Reversals Are More Satisfying To Pull Off
A wrestling game needs reversals and these were probably better than ever in AKI’s WCW and WWF games on the Nintendo 64. They were easy to pull off but difficult to master because even a reversal could be reversed. It’s been around 20 years since WCW vs. The World was released and we haven’t quite got that aspect down yet.
However, WWE 2K19 is getting very close, they are more difficult to pull off in this year’s entry but they are never unfair. In addition, there are new superstar specific reversals and they’re animated really well. Plus, like last year you can adjust reversal limits and frequency in the settings before matches.
3 Worst: You Still Can't Upload Your Own Music
Last gen WWE games had the brilliant feature of being able to upload your own music into the game. Unfortunately, this is a feature that has been sorely missed from this generation entirely despite it being one of the game’s most requested features for single player.
This is would be an important feature because it would allow gamers to not only add their own soundtracks to the game’s Jukebox - which gets old fast - but it adds another layer to the creation suite. Allowing this feature would give gamers more flexibility to accurately recreate legends and superstars that are missing from the roster.
2 Best: New Match Modes
Last year WWE 2K18 introduced and reintroduced a lot more match types and gaming modes for fans to get to grips with. WWE 2K19 has taken this further again with the addition of new match types, areas, and wrestling modes.
This year we have a new women’s only Royal Rumble match which was introduced on the PPV this year. In addition, there’s new 5-Man, 6-Man, and 8-Man matches which include Triple Tag HiaC, 3 and 4 Tag Ladder matches, 8-Man Battle Royales and more. Even better, you can now customize these matches with your own stipulations to create a brand new match type of your own.
1 Worst: You Can't Create Your Own Stories
The Universe and MyCareer modes have seen a lot of significant upgrades this year but one of the most requested features in the entire series is still missing and that’s a create a story. Fans would love nothing more than to be able to incorporate this feature into either the career or Universe mode to allow for near endless gameplay opportunities.
Allowing gamers to have complete control over the story covers every aspect of their shows, matches, and wrestlers. This would give gamers the feeling of coming ever closer to feeling like they have the creative control of a mini Vince McMahon right from the comfort of their living rooms.