At the end of 2019, the last game in the main series was quite a debacle, which is why the wrestling simulation is taking a break this year to bring itself back into shape. Nevertheless, there is no need to do without a game for the WWE in 2020, even if this time it is not a title that wants to reproduce the events of the American wrestling promotion as realistically as possible. Battlegrounds is an accessible cartoon-style brawler with all sorts of crazy ideas, with the main focus on entertaining multiplayer brawls. As fun as simple pounding in the WWE Universe could be, the title unfortunately has some unforgivable quirks in its luggage.
Source: PC Games
While the normal WWE 2K series is not particularly beginner-friendly due to the large number of possible actions, you can just grab the controller at Battlegrounds and have fun right away. Anyone who is not punished with the gamepad skills of a run over possum will quickly do their first punch and kick combos or slam their opponents onto the mat with a suplex.
After a few matches you have internalized stronger actions such as signatures, finishers or interactions with the environment. The arenas, here called Battlegrounds, are not simply the halls of RAW, SmackDown! or WrestleMania. Instead, you fight, for example, in the swamp, where you can throw your opponent directly into the mouth of a huge alligator. In Mexico, on the other hand, you can briefly take control of a remote-controlled billy goat and use it to push away your opponents. That's stupid, but funny and makes for a lot of malicious joy, especially in multiplayer matches with friends.
Random games are less fun, however, as the simple combat system is used by many gamblers for exploits. You take fighters with fast taunts, fill the special bar quickly and then spam signatures and finishers. Because of the imprecise and hardly existing counter-attack system, there is nothing you can do, except to run away from your opponent.
Source: PC Games
But even against the AI you are sometimes quite annoyed, as it often just flees from you instead of fighting. In multi-men matches such as a Fatal-4-Way or even a Royal Rumble, you can even watch how the two AI fighters aiming at each other only prance around each other or even keep their distance. Due to such circumstances and also because of the very small and, depending on the fighter class, always the same move sets, single player matches are not particularly fun.
That's a shame, because there is even a story mode shown in pretty comic panels, in which you should lead some newcomers to WrestleMania and confront numerous current wrestlers and legends from the past on the way. You can also create your own catcher and master various challenges with it in order to level it up. Since the AI is lousy and the fights always play the same due to the small number of actions, the air is quickly out here.
Source: PC Games
In addition to the mentioned flaws, WWE 2K Battlegrounds (buy now € 35.98 ) also repeatedly plagued by minor bugs, glitches, clipping errors and jerking orgies. In some matches, the events in the ring even degenerated into a slide show for a short time. That can't be the case anyway, and certainly not with this simple cartoon graphic style. Speaking of which, while some wrestlers have been captured well, others look strangely compressed and squinted.
Source: PC Games
But most of the more than 70 included catchers have to be unlocked or rather bought free anyway. Pretty much everything in the game costs in-game currency, which is earned by leveling up, which in turn is achieved by playing matches. In theory, you can unlock all of the content yourself, but that takes forever. You only earn a few of the so-called battle bucks and the wrestlers and their bonus costumes are usually very expensive.
In addition, you even have to pay Battle Bucks as a stake for participating in online tournaments and challenges. The game urges you to spend real money on Golden Bucks, which can also be used to purchase wrestlers and objects for self-created arenas. So if you enjoy the game despite the shortcomings, but don't want to spend additional money in addition to the purchase price, you have to be prepared for a long, dull grind. That's a bad number with an NBA 2K, here you almost completely destroy an already not flawless game with it.
"Nice brawler with technical problems and a love for real money."
WWE 2K Battlegrounds is not really playful, but still fun. As a wrestling fan, I miss a bigger move set and various signature actions by the WWE Superstars, but I'm not quite the target group here either. Battlegrounds wants to be an approachable, over-the-top brawler that everyone quickly gets to grips with. That also fits so far. Especially in local multiplayer, the title is really good for a short time. But if you play alone, you will be annoyed by the stupid AI. If you gamble online, on the other hand, there are far too many pigs who use errors in the game mechanics and only spam finishers. There are also some technical problems such as the unstable frame rate or minor bugs and glitches. Then there is also a progress system that is clearly designed for microtransactions. Too bad.
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WWE 2K Battlegrounds in the test. (Source: PC Games)
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