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The real reasons WWE 2K20 bombed

In 2019, 2K Sports released the latest entry in its wrestling franchise, WWE 2K20. Featuring the stars of World Wrestling Entertainment's many programs, along with the ability to create your own superstar to jump into the roster, you'd think that the game would be a hit, right?

Unfortunately, no. Since its release, the game has hit rock bottom on the Metacritic front, with a 44 on PlayStation 4 and an even lower 39 on Xbox One, not to mention the negative social media buzz between reviewers and WWE fans alike. So why did it fail? Some will say it's the hilariously awful glitches that WWE 2K20 has produced thus far. But the problems go much deeper than that, with some features taking a step backward from what WWE 2K19 accomplished in the previous year.

With that, let's take a closer look at the critical mistakes that this year's entry made. And hopefully, they'll serve as guidance for the developers at Visual Concepts and the publishers at 2K Sports to come back strong with next year's WWE 2K21. If that's the plan they follow, that is.

Let's talk about WWE 2K20's glitches

In the past, the WWE games have produced some unfortunate — but funny — glitches, like when a ref's arms were behind his back even after a wrestler released him. But those are child's play compared to some of the horrors players have come across in WWE 2K20. In one example, Charlotte Flair attempts to get a submission on her opponent while glitching straight through a sitting referee. Talk about getting too close for comfort.

If that's not enough, a match between Dakota Kai and Ronda Rousey quickly becomes a comedy of errors. Between disappearing items, Rousey losing control of her legs and the ropes wildly shaking out of control, it looks more like something resembling a horror game. The strangest part? Corey Graves and Michael Cole's commentary is surprisingly calm throughout.

These are just two of the many, many glitches fans have found in WWE 2K20. And we didn't even get to the Create-a-Wrestler mode with a droopy eye hanging out of someone's face. Yikes.

WWE 2K20's "MyCareer" mode suffers from forgettable characters and bad writing

The "MyCareer" mode for WWE 2K19 wasn't too bad. It followed two up-and-coming wrestlers, Buzz and Cole, through the NXT circuit, on his way to becoming a WWE superstar. Sure, it was corny at times, but it had some fun moments fans could relate to.

However, WWE 2K20 reverses course with its charisma. It does provide the option of choosing between a male and female superstar this time around. Unfortunately, it doesn't really personify either of them that well, sticking them with laughable dialogue and bad jokes. And, try as they might, WWE superstars like Samoa Joe, Natalya, and the Big Show can't elevate the material. It's not even close to the usual WWE Raw or Smackdown standard.

Not to mention it takes a good while to make progress. And, at one point, you have to take part in a "Wrestle in a Crybaby Match." No, really. It's hardly the stuff wrestling dreams are made of.

Surprise, WWE 2K20 has loot boxes

Anyone that picked up a copy of NBA 2K20 knows just how notorious its microtransactions are, even though the ESRB said otherwise following the game's release. So it shouldn't be shocking that WWE 2K20 has loot boxes as well, with thousands of goods to unlock for wrestlers. However, there's a catch that's likely to frustrate many fans that just want to unlock that sweet, sweet gear.

Unlike NBA 2K20, WWE 2K20 does not have the option to purchase virtual currency with real cash. That means the only way to purchase in-game goods is through virtual currency earned over the course of the game. There is a bonus in the Collector's Edition of WWE 2K20, with 25,000 in Virtual Currency. But eventually, you'll have to get back into the grind just to get that one last piece of gear you want. And even then, it's a random draw from card packs, not a specific purchase.

WWE 2K20's skill trees are beyond complicated

Building up a wrestler's skills in a video game should be a motivating experience. The more you wrestle, the more you unlock, and the more you want to push forward and continue to improve yourself. However, WWE 2K20 proves to be a labor-filled affair, one that takes way too long to make any kind of progress. That's because the skill tree isn't a skill tree at all: it's a skill shape. That means it's some sort of hexagon-like abomination that will take several hours to get through before you even start to make progress.

The "tree" is made up of attribute points, and as you progress, you don't even know what you're unlocking until it's already chosen. That results in random choice, rather than actually making progress in the areas you want. And keep in mind there's a different shape per class. So even if you somehow master this "tree," you'll have to repeat the process all over again if you change things up.

The WWE Women's Evolution Showcase has uneven momentum

It is great to see WWE 2K20 give women wrestlers the opportunity to shine, as it tells the story of the Women's Evolution with Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Becky "The Man" Lynch. But it actually has two problems that work against the player. First off, matches take way too long to finish. And what's even worse, if you somehow lose a match — even if it's no fault of your own, with an AI opponent pinning someone — you have to start that match all over again.

The second is that the mode itself is too short once you do make it through the matches. While there are some unlockables, and fans get to hear from the actual wrestlers as they reflect on their matches, it comes to an end way too soon. Some players even managed to clear the mode within a matter of hours, with lengthy matches taking up most of their time.

The WWE women's division deserved better than what this mode delivers.

The new Payback moves are cartoonishly ridiculous

The Payback system, first introduced with WWE 2K19, provides ways for wrestlers to come back into a match should they fall behind. There are minor and major Paybacks, including moves like "playing possum," performing a "reversal," or even pulling off something outlandish, like spitting green mist (Great Muta-style!) or executing a quick finishing move.

But for WWE 2K20, there are some new Payback moves that take away from the realism of wrestling match-ups. Fans might like some of their effects, but their addition — in comparison to more realistic comeback techniques — are rather questionable. For instance, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin is able to turn entirely metal. This makes him immune to damage for a short period of time. Most fans agree that liquid metal is best left to the Terminator movies, not the wrestling ring.

But then it gets really weird. Ghoulish hands can pop out of the ground, grabbing an opponent and making them easy prey for your wrestler. Visual Concepts should've just had someone like Bray Wyatt or Undertaker come out from under the ring to grab them instead.

WWE 2K20's downloadable content took a turn for the worse

In the past, WWE games loaded their Season Pass programs with additional superstars, including legends and up-and-comers from NXT. WWE 2K19's season pass featured favorites like Ricochet, Ric Flair ("WHOO!"), and Candice LeRae. But like the Payback system, this year's downloadable content took a weak turn. The WWE 2K20 "Originals" pack consists of four content drops, including the just-released Bump in the Night featuring Bray "The Fiend" Wyatt. While it does feature its own WWE Showcase to go through and new Towers to challenge, its gimmick gets old very quickly.

The downloadable content package includes four fantasy arenas, along with "spooky" versions of superstars like "Fed-Up" Sheamus and "Wicked" Aleister Black. However, they look absolutely ridiculous in Halloween form. Black, for example, resembles something from our nightmares, like a White Walker or a photo negative gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Undertaker and Bray Wyatt might eat this stuff up. But a majority of players will probably go, "That's it?" and probably not even invest in the Season Pass this time around. Hopefully next year will feature a turnaround — or at the very least, some more 205 Live talent.

WWE 2K20's gameplay is significantly worse

While WWE 2K19 had its share of problems with gameplay, there was still enough for players to sink their teeth into. However, with WWE 2K20, Visual Concepts has thrown out what worked in prior games with an almost completely overhauled system.

Some of the notable changes include weapons and climbing now having dedicated buttons, as well as a supposedly easier way to perform standing submission moves. But this was all for naught, because the game feels significantly worse. First, the bad collision detection makes it hard to land some moves. Weapons completely miss their opponents at times (even if they're standing right in front of them), and, as IGN notes in its review, simply grabbing opponents is a chore due to a poor targeting system. The AI opponents are also unpredictable, reversing one minute and then being dumb as a bag of hammers the next.

Usually, when changes are made to gameplay, they're for the better. But WWE 2K20 is loaded with probably the worst polish in a wrestling game to date. Is it too late to get the original developers at Yukes back?

There's not enough new content in the modes

WWE 2K20 did make a few changes to the standard formula, like the male and female wrestlers for "MyCareer," the Women's Evolution showcase, and the silly Halloween-themed DLC. But, outside of that, there aren't really enough significant changes to the game. Most of the key features here were introduced in previous entries. For instance, "Towers," a mode where you took on a string of challenges, was initially introduced in WWE 2K19. And while there is a new story-based tower focused on WWE superstar Roman Reigns, that's really all that stands out.

There are some little things added to "WWE Universe" mode as well, but they're minor at best, like new promo lines and cutscenes that are just as poorly structured as the ones in "MyCareer." And while Visual Concepts did re-enable the lobby system for online play, most of those that tried it have run across connectivity issues, slowdowns, and laughable glitches.

Despite little touches here and there, WWE 2K20 doesn't really offer much that's new. The only thing that stands out is "Big Head" mode — and even that was introduced last year, to a much greater effect.

WWE 2K20's graphics have taken a huge step back

2K's WWE 2K games have always been consistent when it comes to visual quality. But that changed once WWE 2K20 entered the ring. Fans could get an idea of what changes were in store from the gameplay trailer. Right off the bat, they could see that the character models had a bit of fuzziness to them. Going deeper, it's easy to see that inconsistency within the game, including the "MyCareer" cutscenes and the transition with some wrestlers. And, keep in mind, this is before even considering the massive glitches that are plaguing the game.

It almost looks like the game was rushed to market, without giving Visual Concepts the opportunity to render the wrestlers and some of their surroundings properly. The graphics are so inconsistent that one fan made a drinking game out of each time he saw something bad with them. (Hint: it's a lot.)

WWE 2K20's developers should've worked on making it look better overall. As it stands, it somehow looks even worse. Talk about a stumble.

The Collector's Edition wasn't really special

When it was initially announced, 2K Sports revealed a WWE 2K20 Collector's Edition that sounded like a dream come true to fans. It was set to come with a number of digital goodies for the game, along with physical collectibles, including a "WWE Smackdown! Legend" autographed plaque by one of three different superstars. As expected, some fans jumped on the opportunity — but a few came away disappointed, mainly because they didn't receive what was initially promised.

One fan took to Twitter to complain that he got his plaque featuring superstar Adam "Edge" Copeland, without the autograph that was initially promised. Apparently, he wasn't the only one, as others voiced similar complaints. It got to the point that Copeland had to step in, vowing to fix the situation with direct autographs.

2K Sports did respond on the matter, offering to replace any missing items from packages. But the fact that they shipped like this in the first place left some fans feeling out in the cold. This is one situation that should never have happened in the first place.

A patch has been announced, but is still a ways out

The WWE Games Twitter account stayed surprisingly — and awkwardly — silent following 2K20's disastrous launch, not providing dismayed players any solace for wasted money. It finally addressed the matter three days later, noting it was "working hard to investigate these concerns," with the promise of an upcoming patch.

Alas, there's a catch: the time frame. The account noted that the patch would arrive in "the next two weeks," leaving game buyers to deal with the frustrating glitches in the meantime.

There is a slight chance that this fix could arrive sooner; but 2K will probably take as much time as needed to address the game's multiple problems. That means it likely won't be ready until early November — and even then, that doesn't guarantee all its problems will be resolved. As a result, some fans may feel that the damage has already been done with the game.

WWE 2K20 has a myriad of problems that are incredibly hard to overlook. But in the end, it just doesn't measure up to previous games, and the "exciting" new changes are anything but. Maybe next year? One can hope.