Promising impressive new features on top of an already solid foundation, WWE 2K19 is one of the most-anticipated sporting video games of the year.
The AJ Styles-covered game releases October 9 with early access four days prior for those who upgraded.
This year's game is a monstrous offering, with improvements to the in-ring performance, the return of a much-requested game mode and plenty of fanservice in the way of tweaks to the experience.
As always, fans will want to start with one topic, though—the official roster. It's an impressive list and some of the holes in it, such as the absence of Bobby Lashley, will get filled at a later date via DLC, as we explained here.
Superstar ratings are arguably a bigger talking point than who made the cut and WWE has slowly drip-fed the ratings out for fans to argue over:
Brad Davis of SEScoops did the laborious task of compiling every known rating so far, and upon first glance, there isn't too much fans will find fault with right away.
To be fair, there is so much going on in WWE 2K19 that players won't be able to dwell on arbitrary numbers for long.
One of those major distractions is the return of Showcase mode, which players haven't really seen for a few years when a guy by the name of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was the focal point of it.
This time it is Daniel Bryan at the center—and it's hard to imagine a better story for the game mode inspired by the superb behind-the-scenes documentaries on the WWE Network.
Developers at 2K Sports wrote about the decision to bring the mode back:
"The first factor in making this decision was listening to our audience. We've received a lot of requests asking us to bring back the mode. Internally, we also wanted to bring 2K Showcase back because it adds a different dimension to how you play the game, as you're attempting to recreate historic moments. Finally, it's a great way for players to learn about different WWE Superstars and experience matches they may not have witnessed when they originally occurred on WWE programming."
When players aren't reliving some of Bryan's best moments, most will likely turn to the brand new MyCareer mode.
While MyCareer technically isn't a new feature this year, it sure sounds like it should feel like one. The team at 2K Sports gutted last year's game mode and looked in-house to another career-mode success story with the NBA 2K series.
Creative director Lynell Jinks explained the decision to GameSpot's Mat Elfring: "Seeing the success [NBA 2K] had with their mode and seeing other games also follow in their path, it felt like the right choice for us especially. And that's kind of why we sought out going after guys like John Race and [former WWE writer] Sean Conaway to help get MyCareer to that level."
The result is a game with a focused narrative featuring voiceovers and the unique characters found in the WWE Universe instead of a grind-it-out affair where players try to make their creations more powerful by spamming matches.
WWE 2K19's impressive change of pace doesn't stop there.
A new Towers mode offers a nod to fighting games and lets players take a creation or any member of the roster through a gauntlet of challenges. In an effort to think outside of the box, a big-head mode is also coming with the base game.
New features in the ring aren't as overwhelming, but a simplification of the controls never hurts and a new payback meter sounds like it is intended to better emulate the dramatic swings matches can take on a nightly basis.
Those hoping for more chaos in the middle of the simplification will get it in the form of new match additions to the six- and eight-man categories. Throwing six wrestlers in the revamped Hell in a Cell, for example, is now possible—and 2K Sports promises the frame rate is improved for bigger matches this year, too.
Overall, it is an ambitious-sounding list of features for 2K Sports' latest release, though they have been in the clear for a while now to build upon a strong base game while mostly just listening to the wants of customers.
To that end, WWE 2K19 sounds like a hefty dose of fan service when it hits store shelves in a little more than a week.