I have been a pro-wrestling fan for as long as I can remember. Naturally, that also meant that my video game library is filled with loads of wrestling titles. From WWF WrestleMania for the NES, WCW vs. The World for the PlayStation, WWF No Mercy for the N64, the SmackDown! vs. Raw series, and even last year’s WWE 2K19 which I actually enjoyed — let’s just say that my fondness for the sport coincided with my love of gaming. That also means I’ve been exposed to the good and the bad when it comes to wrestling games (more bad than good, as history has shown, unfortunately). Speaking of “the bad,” that brings us to WWE 2K20. Sadly, the problems that are inherent in the game are just too numerous and egregious. I’ll enumerate these in detail in our official review.
Note: We also have a technical review for WWE 2K20‘s PC version. That focuses on the graphics, performance, controls, and other settings. I’ll touch on some of these facets throughout this official review, though it’s better if you check out the rather in-depth tech review as well.
Botchamania is running wild
Let’s get this out of the way because this is what WWE 2K20 is most infamous for: it’s a glitchy, bug-ridden mess. There are no two ways about it, and there’s no denying that.
Yes, it’s true that some bugs that are circulating all over social media — getting stuck in an infinite loop, duplicate wrestlers, and the like — can be hard to replicate, but, you will still encounter a number of issues from time to time. In fact, one need only take a look at this Reddit thread from user DazedRabbit who compiled a number of persistent bugs in the game.
You probably won’t encounter all of them, but you will encounter several of them. Think of it as akin to the bucket list of your two MyCareer/MyPlayer characters (more on this mode later). You’ll feel as though you’re going through a checklist of bugs and glitches the more you continue playing WWE 2K20. Is it any wonder that the #FixWWE2K20 hashtag started trending after the game’s launch?
I’ll recount some of these examples in the matches I’ve played. Take note that some of these problems may not be specific to the wrestlers themselves, just that I noticed them occurring at that point in time.
Adam Cole vs. Matt Riddle
- Riddle is a new addition to the WWE 2K20 roster. Even after a couple of matches, there were only a handful of commentary lines talking about him.
- Adam Cole’s first main roster appearance was during the 2018 Royal Rumble (which happened in January of that year). Here we are in October 2019 and the announcers barely have anything to add apart from that moment.
- Riddle went for a Bro-mission (which Michael Cole nicely called). Then, Riddle slipped out of the ring while in the middle of performing the move. It looked like he was sleeping in mid-air.
The Hardy Boyz vs. Street Profits vs. Heavy Machinery vs. The Usos
- The commentary team keeps referring to Matt Hardy as the “Woken/Broken” version from last year. He doesn’t have this gimmick (or themes) in WWE 2K20.
- As mentioned in our technical review, framerates would significantly drop during multi-man matches if you’re using 4K resolution. The match would seem like a slideshow unless you downscale to 1080p.
- Extremely sloppy targeting.
- AI becoming braindead and unable to react properly during the match.
- I tried to grab the championship as Jeff Hardy. He ended up just floating a few feet above the ground.
Triple H and Chyna vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
- Mixed Match Challenge or intergender matches have bene added in WWE 2K20. Tagging your partner will have the opponent of the same gender automatically enter the ring.
- Although Chyna is in the game, the 9th Wonder of the World can only fight other women. Historically, she’s competed against (and defeated) several male superstars, even holding the Intercontinental Championship at one point.
- Since male wrestlers cannot attack female wrestlers (and vice versa), your character might end up stumbling or doing a “threatening” taunt if they perform a move against an opponent of the same gender. That’s because the game thinks you’re attempting to attack your opponent’s partner even though that’s not the case.
- Every match will often have the ring ropes look like taffy, as though someone running into them would cause them to wobble uncontrollably.
- Wrestlers can sometimes get stuck in the ropes leading to disturbing moments.
- Wrestlers might “smash” into the ropes with such jarring force due to exaggerated physics.
- Button prompts will show PS4 icons even though I use an Xbox controller. Then, there are times such as when I’m performing submissions and the icons are for the Xbox instead.
- The targeting system is extremely flawed. Oftentimes, you’d clothesline nothing but air, or you’d do a leg drop on the empty canvas rather than connecting with your opponent’s body.
- The targeting system even becomes more problematic when fighting Extreme Rules or No DQ matches. Imagine “missing” an opponent that’s lying prone right next to you because the controls somehow wanted to target nothing.
- Reversal prompts will sometimes no longer pop up although you can still do them. Then, there are times when you can’t do reversals at all despite your meters allowing them and your opponent hasn’t debilitated you.
- Climbing Hell in a Cell or the steel cage might lead to an AI opponent just staring at you dumbfounded.
- Tag-team or multi-man matches where switching to another target isn’t based on proximity but by sequence.
- Randomly switching to another opponent despite not being in danger from that opponent.
- Superstars looking that they got ragdolled from the middle of the ring to the turnbuckle just from basic strikes. Think of it like Batista’s selling (seen below), minus the entertainment factor.
These are just examples from various exhibition matches in WWE 2K20, and there are too many problems that I’d care to count. I’m already stressed trying to remember all of them.
2K Showcase: The Four Horsewomen
Let’s move on to WWE 2K20‘s Showcase mode that features the Four Horsewomen of NXT and the Women’s Evolution. In this mode, you can relive the rise of Becky Lynch, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Bayley. At a time when WWE’s female wrestlers had three-minute matches and “divas” became a derogatory term, these four amazing athletes redefined women’s wrestling for the company.
Unfortunately in WWE 2K20, their meteoric ascent has become a bland and almost rudimentary romp. One particular reason is that these events and matches all took place within the span of a few years. As such, you’re not going to get a number of unique unlockables. Instead, you’ll simply end up with three or four different “versions” of the same wrestlers. By versions, I mean examples like “Sasha Banks ’15” or “Charlotte ’16.” Yes, they’re quite literally just attire changes.
If you thought having extra variations of the same wrestlers in previous years (such as Stone Cold Steve Austin or Triple H) were an obnoxious way of bloating the roster, then look no further than what’s in WWE 2K20. Apart from Lynch who’s revamped her persona, the other three Horsewomen all have eerily similar entrances, themes, movesets, and gimmicks — unless you’re telling me that Bayley’s “wacky waving inflatable tube men” gimmick in 2015 somehow became vastly different from 2019’s Bayley (well before her heel turn which happened only a couple of weeks ago).
The Women’s Evolution and WWE 2K20’s Devolution
WWE 2K20 could’ve been the game where women superstars are celebrated as they finally take center stage. Instead, the game’s own Showcase Mode is also marred with a questionable presentation. Yes, veterans of the series would be familiar with “overly scripted” prompts. Yes, pro-wrestling is a choreographed sport. But, WWE 2K20 takes it to a whole new level in a bad way.
This problem becomes apparent from the get-go as Charlotte faced Natalya — or, rather, “Charlotte ’15 vs. Natalya ’15” — for the NXT Women’s Championship. A notification would tell you that you need to damage Natalya significantly or get her legs “in the red.” These requirements are fine. Then, you’re told that you need to perform a specific move like a Backpack Stunner. Because you probably haven’t memorized Charlotte’s moveset, you’ll have to pause the game and then look at the requirements via the menu.
This could’ve been easily alleviated if the actual instructions were already visible onscreen as you’re fighting your bouts. Instead, I found myself going through the motions. “Oh, here I need to do a Mat Slam 1. Better pause the game. Oh, look, I need to do a Moss-Covered Three-Handled Family Credenza, time to pause the game again.”
If you’re the type who gets annoyed when a friend keeps pausing a fighting game to look at someone’s moveset, then WWE 2K20 will annoy you. The only difference is that the Women’s Evolution Showcase is a single-player mode. You’re mostly getting annoyed by the fact that you really don’t have any other recourse except to take yourself out of the action numerous times.
WWE 2K20 MyCareer and MyPlayer
This disconnected and disjointed presentation can also be seen in WWE 2K20‘s MyCareer/MyPlayer mode. You’ll see this early on once you create your MyPlayer custom character.
Say you want someone to look just like you, or maybe a celebrity or an indie wrestler. Naturally, you’d use a face photo and you’d happily upload one. But, there’s just one problem: you can’t download or save it in-game. Yes, that’s yet another problem that WWE 2K20 has.
Let’s say you just want to create a unique MyPlayer superstar without face photos, well, the initial menu barely gives you customization options. You’ll have to settle for a plain-looking wrestler (or someone that’s randomized). Get that part done, go to the next menu and the one after that, and surprise — the additional customization options such as face deformation and body morphing would be present therein. I have no idea why these options weren’t already part of the initial creation menu, to begin with.
As for your characters, WWE 2K20 is the first game in the franchise that lets you play as a female character in MyCareer. Whatever looks you’d design for her, she’ll always be nicknamed “Red.” You also need to create a male character who, in turn, will end up being called “Tre.”
Cue The Rock saying, “It doesn’t matter what your name is,” because it really doesn’t. Even if you chose specific names for your characters, your nicknames would still stick. Oh, and even more ridiculous is that the nicknames “Red” and “Tre” aren’t available in the announcer options. Everyone keeps calling me “Tre,” and the closest name out of the entire announcer’s list is “Troy.”
Once you’ve finished crafting your characters, WWE 2K20 sees Red and Tre getting ready for their Hall of Fame speech. That’s right, your MyCareer kicks off with your dynamic duo already having accomplished their goals. You’re just reminiscing how you got there. You’ve even got a bucket list of sorts, showing just what you’ve accomplished throughout your illustrious run.
This is vastly different from prior modes where you’re still trying to make your mark on the world of professional wrestling. There are, of course, a few twists along the way, but I’d actually consider this a welcome change of pace compared to previous offerings.
Keep in mind that WWE 2K20 is developed by Visual Concepts after Yuke’s parted ways with 2K. Visual Concepts has been known for crafting the NBA 2K series which tends to have a flair (pun intended) for the wacky and whimsical in career modes. Juvenile and teen humor isn’t really a problem on its own. In fact, WWE 2K20‘s MyPlayer/MyCareer mode has a number of gems:
- Wrestlers calling the inept and bumbling Tre as “the drizzling crap” or prone to “botches.”
- Red’s rival, a bully from her high school, becoming an MMA star, leading to an eventual clash.
- Tyler Breeze pretending to take a photo of the group despite just taking a selfie of himself.
- Jerry Lawler fighting you in a “Loser Leaves Town” match, in Memphis no less. There’s also a cameo from a mascot that’s just a big slice of Memphis barbeque ribs. (He’s called Ribbie, because why not?)
- The Rock congratulating you on your career. He’s also the President of the United States of America… after he beat Kane in the election. Glenn Jacobs (who portrays Kane in the squared circle), is the real-life Mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee.
- Numerous references and in-jokes related to the industry, the WWE, the pro-wrestler lifestyle, the indie scene, and more.
There are several moments where WWE 2K20‘s MyCareer becomes endearing, and I would even state that narrative-wise, it’s one of the best ones in recent memory. The downside is that the campiness can sometimes take a turn for the worse, especially when you encounter cringe-inducing dialogue.
Red’s “angry rants” were barely intimidating. They’re too comical to even be considered a coherent promo. I know WWE likes to focus on the younger demographic, but some conversations and cutscenes here would have even kids balk. Likewise, there were also several instances where character lip movements and dialogues were completely out of sync, or characters would clip through textures. Imagine a cutscene where Red tells Tre to savor the moment because it’s the first time he’d enter the ring. The problem? His model ends up walking through a door panel.
Don’t get me wrong, WWE 2K20‘s MyCareer/MyPlayer mode does have the right ingredients. It just didn’t have Bret Hart — there’s no excellence in the execution, just flaws.
Lack of time in developmental
Of course, WWE 2K20‘s career mode won’t be complete without a progression system. The downside is that this, too, has you questioning Visual Concepts’ decisions. One look at the skill tree and you’ll realize that, although numerous perks are visible, the rest aren’t. You’re going at it blind, not knowing what types of attributes are in the dozens of hexes around you.
Unlockables will also make you scratch your head. Although players can obtain the Accelerator DLC which automatically unlocks a number of costumes, arenas, and belts, several create-a-wrestler (CAW) fixtures will still remain locked. The only way to obtain these is to progress through MyCareer’s prestige ranks, basically replaying various modes and matches until you gain enough experience points.
Oh, and I’m not talking about items that are solely for MyCareer characters. These items are for all WWE 2K20 CAWs and existing superstars in general. If you wanted to make Andre the Giant wear a fluffy mask, you’d need to reach the Immortal prestige rank first. Now, to be fair, getting exp is a lot faster this year. However, that still doesn’t make up for the fact that you purchased something that supposedly “unlocks everything,” and yet you’d still need to continue playing a particular mode to “unlock everything else.”
The Tower of Power
There are also additional game modes that allow you to do more with your MyPlayer such as 2K Towers. I must admit that I’m not a fan of these at all since they feel tacked on and unnecessary for my enjoyment. You’ll have five or so superstars that you need to defeat. Each bout will have a special stipulation such as faster movement speed, extra finisher damage, and the like.
There’s also another problem with the various towers. While you can see several stipulations and modifiers that are active, there are times when you’re not expressly told of the victory conditions (unless you look at another panel or pause the game). For instance, here’s the NXT Tower:
Take a look at everything that’s listed for your bout against Keith Lee inside Hell in a Cell. Could you imagine that the victory condition is via “first blood?” Neither could I… until I pummeled my opponent only to realize that I had to keep hitting their head until they started bleeding.
Given the number of stipulations and modifiers in tow, you’ll also realize that even loading screens make no sense. Think of the next challenge being a submission match, and yet the loading screen keeps telling you about how to escape a steel cage.
Creations and Universe Mode
The two modes that kept me preoccupied with many wrestling games over the years are the creations/CAWs and Universe Mode. No surprise here since both of these have been bungled terribly in WWE 2K20. As mentioned for CAWs, you’re currently unable to save the face photos, logos, and images that you’ve uploaded.
If you checked out our CAW guide for WWE 2K19, you’ll know that I tend to focus a lot on making decent counterparts of real-world wrestlers. Although the Creation Suite still has the same content from the previous year, no photos or logos simply means there’s no point in attempting to make unique and vividly detailed superstars. I guess that’s why the downloads section doesn’t even have CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Kazuchika Okada, or the Young Bucks. Normally, you’d already have dozens of variations after a WWE 2K title’s launch.
The bug that prevents saving images will also affect other facets of the Creation Suite. Want a custom arena? Feel free to make do with generic logos or shapes. Heck, even Universe Mode doesn’t have the UK tag titles or UK women’s title, and you won’t be able to make these yet because the create-a-championship feature isn’t in the game. As noted by the developers, there was yet another bug that caused crashes when this feature was added. Fans have been told that this will be fixed eventually, but no definite timeframe was provided.
Due to these issues, you’re going to experience a severe lack of customization options in the modes that were meant as playgrounds for customization. Universe Mode may let you have nine matches in major shows or up to 14 in PPVs, and you could now have up to four rivalries. Too bad, because if you could hardly create unique and compelling characters, these additions become useless.
Just to add: The promo system from previous games is still the same. You’ve got multiple choices, a mute character, and Michael Cole rehashing old lines. The game is buggy in the sports department and lackluster in the entertainment factor.
WWE 2K20 Review: Information on tonight’s jobber
WWE 2K20 might just be one of the worst wrestling games I have ever played. Bland character selection images, janky animations, glitchy and odd physics, lack of customization options, jarring transitions, bugs that don’t let you save, bugs that led to the removal of features, bugs that led to the removal of wrestlers’ faces, infinite loading screens, the list goes on and on. Like the List of Jericho or the bucket list of MyCareer’s Red and Tre, you’re just putting a checkmark on all the negatives that you’ll experience from time to time.
It’s clear that WWE 2K20 should not have been released in this state as it “needed more time in developmental” as opposed to getting shoehorned “straight to the main roster.” Imagine releasing with all these problems, and yet creative still has nothing for you (or the series’ fans) — because creative botched it big time. We don’t even know if and when a major patch that fixes these issues is set to arrive. But, hey, at least you can see the skin pores of wrestlers and they have “realistic sweat,” courtesy of a feature touted in NBA 2K games.
If you’re able to play a WWE 2K20 match where the ropes don’t look like taffy, where the faulty targeting system didn’t make you elbow drop nothing save for the floor like Ric Flair, or one where wrestlers don’t fly in circles as if they wanted to do the Cesaro Swing or 619 but they couldn’t stop, then I congratulate you. I congratulate you on having more of an imaginary result than what goes on inside Bray Wyatt’s head during each episode of the Firefly Funhouse.
One last thing of note: Speaking of the Firefly Funhouse and Bray Wyatt’s “The Fiend” persona, that might be something to look forward to (if you’re a glutton for punishment). The character is part of the Bump in the Night DLC which comes out next week.
There are four of these DLC add-ons that are expected to be released throughout WWE 2K20‘s lifespan, each one having a certain theme, such as a Halloween motif with a graveyard arena complete with tombstone weapons and a magic mirror. The Fiend is the only new superstar that’s expected. All other superstars that have been revealed, so far, are just reskins of existing characters. We don’t even know if WWE 2K20‘s DLCs will have something akin to a Future/Rising Stars Pack with new wrestlers bundled together, or if we’ll just have to settle for alternate attires.
WWE 2K20 is available on Steam. As far as user reviews are concerned, it seems many fans are also worried given the “mostly negative” reviews. Think of WWE 2K20 as Xavier Woods’ gaming channel on YouTube, except we’ll just call this “Down Down, all the way down.”