'WWE 2K19' Looks Great, But Feels Too Similar to Previous Games

WWE 2K19 releases on Oct. 9, but Newsweek had an opportunity to try out the latest installment in the series at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. WWE 2K19 is the best-looking wrestling game to date, but the gameplay on offer hasn't evolved much over the past few years.

AJ Styles
The phenomenal AJ Styles showing off how good WWE 2K19 can look 2K

Past WWE 2K games allowed you to pull off whatever you wanted in terms of wrestling moves and stunts. But having the tools to do something and actually pulling it off successfully are two different things. WWE 2K19 continues this philosophy, allowing players to have just about any match type, with any big spots they want. It's making things work correctly that's the hard part.

Take, for instance, the classic table match. The rules are simple: the first person put through a table is the loser. Setting up a table in WWE 2K19 isn't tricky, but grabbing an opponent, putting them on the table, and pulling off a move to send them through it feels a lot more difficult than it should be. I don't know how many times I tried to simply grab my opponent, only for something not to work. After numerous attempts, I was never able to get my opponent on the table, and ended up losing the match.

It's especially frustrating when the controls for pulling off high-flying or power moves feel far simpler. Is it really easier to do a running dive over the top rope to the outside of a ring than it is to simply put a guy on a table? I guess so.

These control flaws become more obvious when you're required to pull off specific moves, like in the reintroduced 2K Showcase mode. These matches require you to complete a checklist of moves at specific times, like landing a running strike, or a grapple when your opponent is in the corner. Most are easy to pull off, but every now and then you'll get hung up on a specific task where you're seemingly doing everything correctly, but it just won't work some unclear reason.

Shayna Baszler
If you play a submission-based wrestler, prepare for dealing with a horrible mini game frequently 2K

Probably the worst carry-over from previous WWE 2K games is the horrible submission mini-game. This involves a circle with two bars on it. Players control one bar when attempting to submit an opponent, and must maneuver it to touch the other one. If you're trying to escape, you'll want to keep the bars separate. The more the two bars touch, the closer a wrestler is to tapping out. Whenever I was put in a submission, the "tap out" meter seemed to rise dramatically, while putting an opponent into a submission barely registers on the meter. This mini-game just sucks, and the fact that it has been included in at least four years worth of WWE 2K games is head scratching.

Underneath all these frustrations lies a pretty solid wrestling game. Pulling off basic moves is fun and intuitive, and landing those OMG moments, like sending someone crashing through an announcer's table or the barricades, is enormously satisfying.

Johnny Gargano
The lighting in WWE 2K19 really impresses 2K

While WWE 2K19's gameplay isn't particularly innovative, there's still plenty here to enjoy. Customization options for creating superstars, rings, matches, belts and everything else have improved over previous years, with the coolest addition being the ability to randomize options while setting constraints. (Say I made a wrestler, and I really like everything but his boots. I can allow the creation suite to just randomize his boots, or set parameters like colors to keep a theme while creating a random appearance.) It's a smart way to speed up the creation process, and fans are sure to dream up some amazing creations once WWE 2K19 is released.

It's also nice to see more fun being injected into gameplay this time around. The WWE 2K games had been inching closer and closer to a straight-face simulation game, and this year's additions of Big Head mode and Block Body mode (making wrestlers look straight out of Minecraft) provide plenty of laughs. These are video games, after all. It's okay to not be so serious every now and then.

Alexa Bliss
Long hair just doesn't look right in 2K19 2K

Graphics and lighting have definitely improved over the years, with wrestlers' skin becoming almost creepy in its realism. That said, the graphics engine still has a hard time with long hair, making women (and men like Roman Reigns) look like they have limp noodles on their heads. It's even more noticable now that everything else looks so much better.

Ultimately, WWE 2K19 is better-looking, but more of the same. The added game modes like 2K Showcase and Towers are cool, but significant changes to gameplay or even something as simple as a new submission mechanic might have made a more memorable impression. If you've been turned off from WWE 2K games recently, this won't do much to change your mind. If you love the recent WWE 2K games, this is the best one yet.

WWE 2K19 releases for PS4, Xbox One and PC on Oct. 9. Those who pre-order the Deluxe or Collector's Edition can play starting on Oct. 5.

So what do you think? Are you excited to try out this year's WWE game for yourself? What changes would you like to see in WWE 2K20? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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