When 2K announced that their usual WWE series would be taking a break from release this year following the backlash to the bug-laden gameplay that WWE 2K20 saw in 2019, many were excited to see what they'd deliver for release in 2021. As the reveal came that there would actually be a WWE title this year, but one completely different to anything we've seen for quite some time, curiousity was piqued.

Teasers and trailers dropped showcasing WWE 2K Battlegrounds; an entirely unique experience which would allow players to take control of some of their favourite wrestling Superstars in an array of strange locations with over-the-top combat and weaponry. As fun as it all sounds, is it any good?

Boasting over 70 playable Superstars, there's a wealth of diversity on the roster. Whether you're somebody who wants to get nostalgic and play as some of the big names of the past - such as Stone Cold Steve Austin or The Rock - or you prefer to step into the role of new names including Becky Lynch and Bray Wyatt, there's going to be at least a handful of recognisable Superstars you'll be excited to control.

Unfortunately, many of those big names are locked behind an in-game paywall. Whilst you can fight your way to earning enough points to unlock those stars, there is also the option to purchase the credits via microtransactions. It's not a great way to treat the fans, because it's not just legendary wrestlers who have to be unlocked; some of the most prominent wrestlers of the modern era are also unplayable from the off.

Despite that, there is a Story Mode which should entice you to battle through and earn at least enough to unlock some of your favourites. The narrative is told through comic book panels which feature some stunning artwork, but the actual meat-and-bones of the story simply sees you take control of a young wannabe WWE Superstar who has to fight to earn the respect of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Paul Heyman. It's a simple, but pleasant enough experience.

Movesets are basically non-existant in Battlegrounds. Though there are different types of wrestler promoted, they all play quite similarly without enough different between each class to really make an impact. Stephanie McMahon and Charlotte Flair are pretty much carbon copies of one another for example, which isn't really fair to the latter.

In saying that, fun is something that has been missing from many WWE games of late. 2K did do something a little different with their alternate reality worlds in 2K20, but the sheer silliness of being able to chuck your opponent into the mouth of a waiting alligator in Battlegrounds far surpasses all of that. The fact that it plays like a machine you'd find in an arcade is more than enough to keep a smile on your face. There may not be much depth, but does this title really need it? It's a budget release, and for this WWE fan, does enough for its price point.

WWE 2K Battlegrounds is available now for the Xbox One family of devices, PlayStation 4, Windows PC via Steam, Nintendo Switch and Stadia for £34.99. A code for the game on Xbox One was provided to Female First in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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