WWE 2K19 reviews have started to trickle in ahead of the game's widespread release Tuesday.
Already in the hands of those who upgraded to the Deluxe Edition or Wooooo! Edition, the latest offering from 2K Sports is massive in scale. The usual upgrades are here, as are the dense upgrades from prior releases. There is also a theme of fan service surrounding the title with two key modes either returning or getting overhauled and gameplay itself getting a much-needed refresher.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, to hear most of the early reviews are checking in under a positive light.
It is hard to ignore where 2K Sports spent the most time this year, which is a theme of B/R's official review.
There, a large chunk of the attention goes to a refined gameplay experience better aligning with what players have asked for over the years. As opposed to the simulation experience of the past, WWE 2K19 has more of an arcade-fighter feel—and the feeling is great.
Helping this become a fluid gameplay experience is a revamped striking system and a newfound sense of urgency from the on-screen characters themselves. While there is still some simulation in the sense it replicates the televised product well, WWE 2K19 leans harder into being a video game.
Outside of touching on this point, Brian Mazique of Forbes' review praised the new grind found in the MyPlayer section of the game while assigning it an 8.3 out of 10: "You earn VC from just about every aspect of the game—even when you play matches outside of the modes that use MyPlayer. Also, the new MyPlayer Skill Tree is an easy-to-grasp player-progression system."
This is refreshing as last year's grind felt unnecessarily bogged down. A long grind to level up a created character combined with an unfulfilling payoff is like a bad storyline and payoff match in WWE itself—it leaves fans not wanting to come back.
One of the best additions to 2K19 is the return of an old favorite—Showcases.
Showcase mode took a break from the series but makes a triumphant return this year while taking a deep dive into the career arc of Daniel Bryan. The full story hasn't been told, but it's a good time for fans who don't know about the Yes Man's early career to brush up on some modern history.
Combining the aforementioned improved gameplay with in-depth sit-downs with Bryan himself, Showcase is an interactive experience well worth the time investment, regardless of one's ranking of Bryan as a superstar alongside the rest of the roster.
And while MyCareer isn't an "addition" per se, it feels so different it might as well be.
This year's MyCareer shelves the cookie cutter grind of creating a character and working up the roster by leveling up via matches in favor of an actual story-based narrative. The characters surrounding the player's Superstar are memorable, the story arc takes some fun turns and a new MyPlayer skill tree offers customizable and clear goals for the player to pursue.
Outside of those two modes and the gameplay reshuffling, the addition of a towers mode is noteworthy. It files under the "didn't know this was needed" umbrella and gives a WWE game a much-needed infusion of traditional fighting game features.
Adding towers to climb through featuring different end bosses, stage themes and unique rewards should have been a staple of WWE games years ago given the endless universe at the developer's fingertips.
To a lesser extent, this same logic also applies to something as casual as big-head mode. It won't appeal to everyone, but there wasn't a reason for WWE games to ignore the creative and goofy side of video games for so long.
It all adds up to a game that looks good, plays better, adds things fans have asked for and expands to bigger audiences through accessibility. Written another way, it's a top-tier example of what an annual release should be.