Okay, before I get into it, I just wanted to update ya'll with my first PitMad tweet. I'm trying to work out three total as my writer group suggests, but I really like how this one eventually turned out. Ahem...
Losing your father figure is hard. Learning who you are & what you believe is harder. Doing both while being forced to slay werewolves & hunt demons may be impossible. Humor, self-discovery, mystery, & the occult. #PitMad #NA #A #UF #P #SPF
Here's hoping that intrigues an agent. But today I promised a review and a review you shall have. And I have to say, I was super stoked about this one. WWE 2k19 is the biggest game I'm reviewed to date, not to mention a series I'm a huge fan of. Don't forget to check out the official review over on DLH.net
I've been playing wrestling games since WWF Wrestlemania back on the NES. In the beginning it was certainly because I wanted to be Hulk Hogan, but as time went on the games got stories. Then those stories were expanded with create-a-characters. I was sold. And so began the ever-repeating journey of Jeff Goddard, wrestling god.
Let's take a look at the biggest thing for me: the created character. Now this technically comes in two flavors. If you want to bring someone through the story mode or MyCAREER, you'll see some differences from the normal create-a-character mode. First off, they'll give you a quick wizard to zip you through the process. If you don't know what it's doing, you'll swear it's just taking away all your options. Don't fear... there are TONS of options.
Next, you'll notice that your moves, clothes, and other general options for making an awesome wrestler are severely limited. I was upset until I understood to point of this. Your rookie wrestler has to fight through the ranks, getting more skilled and earning new abilities as they go along. This is done by earning in-game currency that you spend on skill trees and loot packs to gain new moves and clothing.
Is it a bummer? Sort of. Does it make sense? Yes. And if you really want an awesome character with Bret Hart's glasses, the Undertaker's robes, and who hits everyone with the Stone Cold Stunner AND the Rock Bottom... you can make that in the normal create-a-wrestler mode.
Okay, let's take a look at the story. How is it? Well... it's a story. As you can imagine it follows your character from the indies all the way to Wrestlemania. No spoilers, every WWE story mode does that. I recall one from a few years back that ended with your character forcing Vince McMahon to dance in a chicken suit at Wrestlemania for all the stuff he puts you through in the story.
Your character this time is Buzz. Didn't name your guy buzz? Doesn't matter, everyone calls him Buzz regardless. Why? Because he's "all the buzz" on the internet and the indies. Yes. This is how we start. But despite that, the early story has charm. It's dumb and funny and it's chocked full of wrestling inside jokes (my personal favorite: "Wakey, wakey, Jake the Snakey.")
There are lots of hubs within the game where you can check your cell phone for messages, update your character, listen to podcasts about the story, and other things. You also have the opportunity to interact with characters you meet, making decisions and possibly engaging in side matches. These decisions, however, are a little deceiving. They rarely have a large impact on the overall story. Maybe you'll get to decide a match option, but don't expect to play through multiple times for different endings. There's just the one.
Here's the issue. You have to win every match. And you have win the way they say. Or lose in a cutscene. Or win in a cutscene. This can be really frustrating if you know you can beat a character but the game forces you to lose. Or worse, your win doesn't affect anything and the game continues the same either way. In previous games your wins and loses were part of the story. They either moved your closer or further from your goal, but here... press X to try again.
Another point of frustration is the stat trees. They're a fun experiment, but once you pick a specialty (like technician) you're locked in. You'll have a specific stat tree to unlock talents and abilities on and if you want to do something that's not there... too bad. You're a technician. No lucha stuff for you.
And while the story mode gives you a fair amount of experience to grow your character, you'll need to play the other modes with your character if you plan on passing some of the harder matches later on in the story.
Circling back to the story, let me just say this: it starts of charming and kinda of funny, but once you hit the WWE, it becomes a grind. The story becomes predictable, though it does try to give you fun moments. Personal favorite? Matt Hardy and the multiverse.
Okay, lightening round. Let's zip through the rest of the game.
Roster? Huge. Especially if you get the DLC, you'll have everyone from Roddy Piper to Ronda Rousey. Universe mode? It's back! Run your own shows, make your own titles, the whole spiel. Daniel Bryan mode? If you love Daniel Bryan and want to play through his career, it's amazing. If you're not a Daniel Bryan fan... eh. It's a lot of goal based matches where you'd not trying to win, you're trying to recreate the same conditions from his matches.
Loot packs? Annoying, but could be worse. Unless you count the DLC, you don't spend any actual money. Unfortunately, it is a road block between you and the features you want. Earn currency. Buy some loot packs. Hope you get what you want. Rinse. Repeat.
And of course there's the online community. I'm not a huge fan of playing online, but the creators are amazing. You can find and download customized belts, characters, and so much more.
So... if you're fan of series, 2K keeps it on par with what you'd expect. If you're on the fence and wondering if the series is for you... maybe hold out for 2k20. The story has no replay value and is a little disappointing, but has enjoyable elements. The create-a-wrestler options are good, but limited in for the story. Over all it's a decent title. Nothing super amazing, nothing super terrible. A solid B. Maybe B+.
Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.