WWE 2K19 Review

Richard Walker

For years now, the WWE 2K series has been chugging along, sticking to the same tried-and-tested formula, doing its level best to provide a simulation of the world's most popular brand of sports entertainment. And just like the opening to this review is much like last year's, so too is WWE 2K19 very similar to what's come before, albeit with a smattering of new features, the return of the 2K Showcase, improved visuals and a few new tricks tucked under the ring apron.

Fans will already undoubtedly be on-board with WWE 2K19 before the first menu screen has even popped up, but anyone yet to play an entry in Yuke's and Visual Concepts' long-running wrestling franchise might still feel lost at sea. Sitting down to play local co-op with a casual gaming friend is almost impossible, as it's all simply too complicated for a quick and simple match. Like previous years, the timing-based right trigger counter move returns, this time joined by the new 'Payback' mechanic.

Fundamentally, it all plays very similarly to WWE 2K18, although the improvements to the game are genuinely noticeable, particularly the increased level of fluidity on show. The Payback system, meanwhile, gives you another tool in your arsenal for turning a match in your favour with a variety of different abilities to pull out of the bag. It's a neat addition that makes for more exciting bouts, enabling you to play possum, spit poison mist at an opponent, or summon a buff to help turn the tide, but it does little to paper over the inherent issues that persist in WWE 2K19.

Opponent AI is still rather skittish and unusual at times, and there's an over-reliance on fiddly mini-games for submissions, escaping pin falls, holds, grabbing the Money in the Bank briefcase, and so on. These are often frustrating, although there are options to change the inputs required for the submission mini-game in the settings menu, if you like. In the ring, WWE 2K19 is definitely an incremental improvement then; and even if it represents more a forward baby-step rather than a huge leap, the wealth of options and modes lends this year's game a more complete, comprehensive weight.

Expanded 8-Man match options, more accurately proportioned Hell in a Cell matches, and other options expand the suite of basic modes, but it's the return of the 2K Showcase that fans will lap up, especially those looking to go through the highs and lows of Daniel Bryan's storied career. Boasting archival footage and insights from the man himself, it's an engaging journey, driven by specific objectives you need to carry out in order to reconstruct the events that actually happened. It'll have you wondering why the 2K Showcase was cut from last year's game in the first place.

New 2K Towers (that come in multi-match Gauntlet or one-match-at-a-time Steps types) also present you with a succession of themed matches to play through, but the crux remains the excellent MyPlayer mode, which borrows even more from NBA 2K, giving your created character a nickname, voice, and personality. So although I initially named my character 'Twat' because I couldn't be bothered to make the effort to build another grappler from scratch, I grew to love him, despite him looking like, well, a massive twat with a bright purple ponytail.

Giving your rising Superstar a proper story, with all of its ups and downs, succeeds in making MyPlayer that much more involving, and you can't help but become invested in the rise of your up and coming wrestling pro from the down-and-dirty indie scene to the razzle-dazzle that comes with WWE supremacy.

MyPlayer alone is almost reason enough to give WWE 2K19 a go, the story of 'Buzz' living out of his bug extermination van and dreaming big with fellow wannabe Cole Quinn and promoter Barron Blade, proving a mightily enjoyable one. Skills trees, boosts (available in packs alongside new customisation parts you can purchase with in-game currency) and ability unlocks make character growth and progression so much more interesting too, while the occasional dialogue choice spices up the story a bit.

WWE 2K19's MyPlayer is a vast improvement over last year's effort, MyPlayer Towers and the return of Road to Glory mode within MyPlayer adding even more options to make use of your created grappler beyond the narrative-driven portion. In the ring, it does remain business as usual, for the most part, despite the various refinements.

While WWE 2K19 is arguably the most accomplished instalment since 2K Games took over from THQ as custodians of the series, the improvements that have been made to the game's core systems don't really conspire to make a significant enough difference. Bouts still bring with them a litany of frustrations and annoyances, yet there's been a clear effort on the developer's part to evolve within the confines of WWE 2K's well-worn template. Consequently, WWE 2K19 sees the franchise in a better place than it has been in some time.

WWE 2K19

Each year, WWE 2K seems to be gradually getting better and better, and in WWE 2K19, the series appears to be making moves towards reestablishing itself as the enjoyable grappling game it once was. We live in hope that even bigger changes will be introduced for WWE 2K20, because WWE 2K19 is certainly a step in the right direction.

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Mostly Eminem on the menu screens, much-improved commentary from Michael Cole and co, and crowd audio that does a fine job in creating a rowdy atmosphere for the really big matches.


The best-looking WWE 2K title to date, with some decent likenesses, better crowds, and more detailed character models. Movement is still slow and stiff, though, even for the supposedly agile Superstars.


Yes, WWE 2K19 is superficially the same as the series has been for several consecutive years, but the number of refinements all serve to push things down a more positive path. Definitely the best it's been in a while.


MyPlayer is genuinely very good, and the selection of modes on offer make for the most comprehensive grappler yet. From a presentation standpoint, the whole package is very slick indeed, and there's a good degree of polish throughout. That said, there's still acres of room for further improvement.


Yet another pretty dull list, a fair bit of grind peppered with one or two neat, inventive achievements. Not the best.

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