WWE 2K20 review: 5 things that went wrong

WWE 2K20
WWE 2K20

With a Metacritic rating of no higher than 45, it's safe to say that WWE 2K20 wasn't the most... acclaimed of the series. Sadly for 2K, that poor reception has also lead to poor sales, and next year's iteration of the game is now in doubt (although, to be fair, with circumstances the way they are right now, the future of pretty much any unproduced piece of entertainment is in doubt).

So what happened? How did things go haywire for the normally anxiously anticipated sports entertainment simulator?

Well, that's what we're here to look at today. Keep in mind, this is being written by someone who actually really liked the title when it first released and still enjoys it to this day. But even with my own rose-colored glasses, I can see obvious problems when they are obvious.

On that note, here are 5 things that went wrong with WWE 2K20.

#5 A sudden change in developers

The Yuke's logo.
The Yuke's logo.

For years - years - Yuke's were the team in charge of developing the WWE 2K franchise, from the early PlayStation titles all the way up to 2K19. However, for whatever reason, Yuke's and 2K had a falling out and suddenly the publisher was in need of a new developer. Enter Visual Concepts.

Visual Concepts are by no means some fly-by-night operation. They are the team behind some of the best sports titles of all time, including the legendary NFL 2K and 2K1 on the Sega Dreamcast. Those are considered two of the best American Football games ever made.

They're the team that handles 2K's successful NBA 2K line. They aren't strangers to the WWE 2K series either - they've assisted Yuke's in the development of the line ever since 2K purchased the rights to the license from a bankrupt THQ.

So they were pretty much the obvious choice to take over the project after Yuke's left. But here's the thing: assisting a studio and taking over from them altogether are two different things.

The 2K/Yuke's split happened during the development of the game, which meant that Visual Concepts were also working on a pretty tight deadline.

So no, we're not hanging the blame for whatever went wrong with 2K20 entirely on the VC team. They actually did the best they could with the situation they were handed. But it's clear that the chaos that ensued when Yuke's split, contributed heavily to the problems of the game.

#4 Bugs

I don't think John Cena's arm is supposed to do that.
I don't think John Cena's arm is supposed to do that.

WWE 2K series is notorious for shipping with plenty of crazy - sometimes hilarious - bugs right out of the box. Not... actual living bugs though. That would be gross. And an odd marketing decision.

On a serious note, rarely did a player get the game on Day 1 and play it through until the next game released and never come across even one glitch.

This time around, however, it got bad. While early reviews of previous games in the series would mention the occasional bug here and there, WWE 2K20 had such a big problem with them that it was all some reviewers could talk about.

When game reviewers are throwing around words and phrases like "unplayable" and "game-breaking", you know you have a problem on your hands.

Since the release, 2K has done a really good job of patching the title. If you have a copy of the game and haven't played it in a while because of these issues, try giving in another whirl. I think you'll agree it's gotten much better.

But at the time, these bugs were just way too much for players to deal with. And along those lines....

#3 Patches took way too long to come out

This had to be fixed quickly. And it wasn't.
This had to be fixed quickly. And it wasn't.

A game launching with a ton of programming issues isn't anything new. Heck, that's the whole reason "Day One Patch" is part of the gaming lexicon these days. It's a way for publishers and developers to assure the public buying their game that, yes, they know it's got some issues, but they're already on the case.

WWE 2K20 launched and... nothing. Despite numerous reports that the game was riddled with bugs, it took over a week for 2K to even acknowledge that there was even a patch in the works. Even when one was released, it didn't do nearly enough to satisfy players and soon, people simply stopped caring... and stopped playing.

As I said in the previous point, the game has now been patched to the point that it's much, much better. For a lot of fans, however, it was simply too little, too late.

#2 The annual production schedule

A prime example of a game that was rushed.
A prime example of a game that was rushed.

Video games take a long time to produce. Oh, did you... did you not know that? Yeah, cranking out a game as big as one of the WWE 2K games takes a lot of people doing a lot of work.

Let's put it this way - if you were trying to put out a game as big as WWE 2K20 without using any previous assets from other games, and you were told to get it done in a year - you'd probably go and find another job. That's insane.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atario 2600 was designed by one guy in six weeks and we saw how that turned out.

It's understandable that both WWE and 2K want an annual branded wrestling game to release; every major sports league does it. I mean, with their own sport. The NFL isn't putting out a wrestling game. (Although how crazy would that be?).

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked.

If the rumors about the WWE 2K series taking a year off are true, I for one would be genuinely excited to see what Visual Concepts is able to do with that extra time. I may even write a piece on it, who knows?

#1 A great new DLC concept (that wasn't executed very well)

WWE 2K20's Empire of Tomorrow.
WWE 2K20's Empire of Tomorrow.

To their credit, 2K and Visual Concepts tried something new for this edition's inevitable DLC editions. Instead of the usual new wrestlers added to the roster, they went with four new scenarios they called "2K Originals." Rather than brand new roster members, 2K added different themes of existing ones.

For example, the very first Originals back was Holloween/horror based, and players got spooky versions of Braun Strowman, Aleister Black and Sheamus (in a hilarious tribute to Shaun of the Dead), as well as Bray Wyatt's "Fiend" persona.

The idea had merit, and was a nice change of pace from the usual. In fact, it was probably the most creative concept for a wrestling game DLC ever. If pulled off, it could have more than made up for the shortcomings of the rest of the game - everything we've talked about before.

Unfortunately though, it wasn't enough to do that. The text-and-still-drawing presentation of the stories each Original release was trying to tell just wasn't enough to engage fans. Nor were the alternate versions of wrestlers as opposed to new additions to the roster.

Yes, a hacker version of Asuka or all new Southpaw Regional Wrestling characters were cool... but were they enough to get fans interested? Sadly, no.

Which is a shame because these DLC packs were a lot of fun. And hopefully 2K Games can keep this concept and work with it for whatever their next game is, because it was a great idea.

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Edited by Atharva Papnoi
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