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WWE 2K20

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
WWE 2K20 Game Poster Image
Some botched moves keep this brawler from championship gold.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The game features themes of good sporting behavior, teamwork, and the like. Even the "bad guys" can build factions that work as a team to help each other. Players can choose how they want to play, either using determination and good sporting behavior in matches, or cheating to win with dirty tricks.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players can play as or create their own WWE superstars, which can be heroic "face" characters or villainous "heel" characters. The Showcase focuses on the work and dedication of the WWE's "Women's Evolution," which helped female competitors show off their athletic abilities just as much as their male counterparts.

Ease of Play

The WWE games have always been a complex mix of moves, counters, reversals, and the like, all of which take a lot of practice and timing. Although the controls have been considerably streamlined this time around, they're still not instantly accessible. There are also some issues with targeting that pop up from time to time, causing actions to misfire wildly.

Violence

Violence is key to the whole WWE experience, with characters using a variety of choreographed physical moves against opponents, including punches, throws, kicks, and leaps. Players can also use items like chairs, kendo sticks, ladders, and other items as weapons, as well as other environmental objects in backstage or offsite brawls stages. Characters do show pain and signs of injury, though very little blood's ever shown onscreen.

Sex

The storylines and commentary occasionally include somewhat suggestive lines of dialogue. Male characters are often shown in just trunks or tights, and female characters generally have outfits that showcase their sexuality with cleavage and the like. Parents should also be aware that user-generated content could expose young players to potentially offensive content.

Language

Mild profanity pops up from time to time, including "ass" and "bitch." Parents should also note that user-generated content and party chat could expose players to other potentially offensive material or language.

Consumerism

The game actively promoted the WWE shows, performers, and other products, including things like the live weekly television shows, non-televised "house" shows, pay-per-view specials, and the WWE's subscription network. The game also features virtual "packs" of additional moves, gear, etc., available for purchase with currency earned in-game or bought with real money. Finally, there are story-based downloadable content packs available for purchase, with new characters and fantasy storylines. This is also the latest entry in the WWE 2K franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Although there's no alcohol shown, some of the lines of dialogue make reference to drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that WWE 2K20 is the latest entry in the 2K Games and World Wrestling Entertainment sports game franchise, and is available for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows-based PCs. The game features a roster made up of WWE stars from the past and present who fight one another in a variety of matches in choreographed combat that's part soap opera, part stunt show, and part gladiatorial games. While violence is constant, with pain and injury, there's little blood ever shown onscreen. WWE 2K20 does includes mild profanity and suggestive comments in some of its dialogue, and wrestlers, both male and female, are often shown in somewhat revealing outfits. Parents should also be aware that the game features options for custom content creation, as well as online play, both of which could expose younger players to potentially offensive content.

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What's it about?

The WWE Superstars make their return to gaming in WWE 2K20, the latest entry in 2K Games' series based on the popular sports entertainment brand. You can relive your favorite rivalries or create epic dream battles with a massive roster of superstars from the WWE's past, present, and future. There's the option to keep the action in the ring with standard matches, or go extreme with Hell in a Cell, TLC, or Extreme Rules bouts. Or, you can take the fight beyond the confines of the squared circle, moving through the arenas in Fall Count Anywhere or Backstage Brawl matches. And if that's not enough, you can visit all-new playgrounds of destruction for anything goes battles set in fiery dungeons, creepy swamplands, and other fantasy settings. Players can create their own superstar in MyCareer mode and recount their path from WWE rookie to Hall of Fame inductee, or live the groundbreaking journey of WWE's Four Horsewomen, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, and "The Man" Becky Lynch, as they shattered the WWE's glass ceiling during the Women's Evolution. This may be the WWE Universe, but the journey, the fight, and the legacy are yours to define.

Is it any good?

The over-the-top showmanship and suspension of disbelief that comes with every WWE event climbs the top turnbuckle and reaches new heights. In WWE 2K20, the latest entry in the popular sports entertainment franchise, players find themselves in different stories told from the viewpoint and actions of those lived them. In the MyCareer mode, players live their own WWE adventure with all the cheesy drama and plot twists one would expect from the WWE. The real fun, though, comes in certain story beats and in the downloadable "2K Originals" packs (or DLC), which throw reality completely out the window. These feature settings and stories with themes ranging from zombie horror to post-apocalyptic wastelands to neon-infused futuristic sci-fi. While most of these are DLC packs, available for purchase separately or via a season pass, the main game still features some fantasy settings, including a haunted cabin and a lava-filled, demon packed arena in Hell. The absolute absurdity of it is so much fun and leads to some great cinematic action.

Unfortunately, it's the more grounded elements of the game where WWE 2K20 finds itself struggling for the ropes. It's no secret that the game's launch was plagued with various technical bugs, ranging from missing features and problematic graphics to issues with AI behavior and collision detection. Oftentimes, this meant having to restart matches or recreate characters, losing progress along the way. It's not unplayable by any means, and 2K Games has since started rolling out patches addressing most of these issues, significantly improving the experience. Things like streamlined controls makes matches more fluid, and the Assist Mode helps newcomers hold their own while learning moves. Still, much like an injured WWE wrestler, the game still has a ways to go in virtual rehab before it's got a real chance to vie for the WWE championship.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in entertainment. Is the impact of the violence in WWE 2K20 affected by the fact that the fighting in the WWE events, shows, and games is staged? What are the risks involved in imitating the moves of the WWE performers? What sort of training do the performers have, and what risks do they face, even with extensive practice and training?

  • How do games like WWE 2K20 allow players to create their own "dream matches" that might be impossible to see in real life? How do customization options allow players to get more integrated into a gaming experience?

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