WWE 2K20 just dropped, and it’s already being inundated with controversy and backlash. Not only are the dreaded Loot Packs back again, but the game is in a pretty sorry state. But let’s start with that first point. Loot packs are purchasable packs, that contain randomized boosts inside; they can be bought with in-game currency and real cash. Inside you can find cosmetics to equip your MyPlayer with or moves to use with your character in MyCareer, as well as other items. In short, they’re gameplay-affecting loot boxes that have been a feature of the WWE 2K games for years now. All of the moves, costume pieces, arenas, entrance pieces and other unlockables can either be purchased through this garbage fire of monetization, or you can grind squash matches for hours and hours to earn enough VC to buy them one item at a time. The tedium of this asinine design was enough to kill my interest in the franchise years ago, and judging from the glut of negative feedback to this year, the same can be said for more gamers.
But the real insult is that the game is just plain broken. We already saw a little teaser of the state of WWE 2K20 when the publisher released a teaser for late wrestler Chyna, which I lamented didn’t look right at all. And it appears that poor facial transfers and modeling were just the beginning of the problems with this game. A lot of this was revealed ahead of release when 2K held a private event for various press outlets and online personalities, letting them play the game early. And anyone who was being genuine could see that the wrestling game had severe problems. Collision detection was utterly broken, with moves completely whiffing consistently, missing their intended target. It seems like the base line code driving model detection and physics application needs a ton of work, as models are also laden with countless clipping bugs. Facial models, hair movement, general animation and so much appear completely busted.
And of course, fans are angry, trending yet another hashtag to ridicule the state of the game. So what in ungodly heck happened?
Perhaps the biggest change this year is that long-time developer Yuke’s was not involved with this years incarnation of the wrestling franchise at all. 2K instead handed full development responsibilities to a support studio, Visual Concepts. The studio seemingly did the best they could, but the state of the game upon release makes it very clear that some growing pains were involved for development of this title.
To be fair, there are some new options for gameplay, like the 2K Towers mode, stolen right out of classic Mortal Kombat, which sees the player taking on a literal tower of foes on their way to the top. 2K Showcase mode is back and offers up various cinematic stories for players to run through, retelling the rise of various iconic WWE stars. MyCAREER also makes a return, but the aforementioned loot packs completely spoil the experience for anyone not willing or able to pump in a huge time or monetary investment.
Let’s be honest, this is what happens when monopolies exist. The quality of products and services plummets and people buy into it anyway as it’s literally the only option. 2K has long been a culprit of monopolizing sports licenses to rake in billions, to the detriment of the wider games industry. Of course it’s mostly the fault of profit-seeking executives more than anyone else, as they steer the ship, those same executives who say that unions can’t happen in games, but they’re looking more and more clownish by the day. And it’s pretty clear that this particular ship is headed for some rough waters.