WWE fans will soon be able to take their favorite WWE superstars into battle with WWE 2K Battlegrounds, and while we know who will be making up the game's impressive opening roster, we still have a few questions about the approach to the game and how it plays. Thankfully 2K was more than happy to answer some of those questions, as ComicBook.com recently had the chance to talk to Executive Producer Sean O’Connor about the moment to moment mechanics, the mix of legends and current era superstars, future DLC, and how many customization options made it into the game, just to name a few topics.
First, we had to ask about the game's roster, specifically how the team managed to narrow down the roster of legends and current era superstars.
"I think it really stems from the fans, the wrestling fans that are on the development team and they've got a really strong passion for this content as well," O’Connor said. "It's looking at how do we get that right mix between current superstars and legends because you've got old guys like me who is more of a legends guy because I grew up with that stuff way back when."
"So it's really just finding the right balance and making sure we've got a really good mix of different styles, different areas, different genders, different move sets, things like that," O’Connor said. "How do we get the variety to try to please as many people as possible? You're right. We can't do everything. We can't do every superstar that's ever been in the WWE or WWF. We can only do a certain amount. We've got a really good roster of 70 superstars past and present, and we're really excited about where we're going and we're going to continue to grow that post-launch. Hopefully, we can make people happy."
"We started working on it a little under two years ago. It's great to see it all come together now at the end and I'm super excited to get it out," O’Connor said. "The original vision and still the current vision is let's develop a kind of over the top arcade, easy to pick up and play brawler in the WWE universe where we can really celebrate the superstars and really celebrate wrestling, but really make it something that's accessible. Anybody can sit down and just pick up and play and have a good time with their buddies, with their family, either online or off. This is a great couch play game to just sit down and beat the crap out of your friend."
We had to ask if someone could drive a beer or milk truck to the ring to recreate some of their favorite WWE moments. "You can't drive a beer truck or milk truck, but I will say that you can smash somebody with a car in one of the arenas though," O’Connor said. "Not quite a beer truck, but it's close."
In gameplay footage, we've seen several meters and counters underneath the characters, but we still don't know all the ins and outs of what they do, but thankfully O’Connor cleared some of that up.
"So there are three meters under your character," O’Connor said. "There's a Heat Bar, a Health Bar and a Stamina Bar. The Heat Bar builds up as you inflict damage and take damage, and when you fill up your Heat Bar, then you can do your signature finisher move to really do a massive amount of damage. Your Stamina Bar depletes as you are just constantly jamming on buttons, so if you're just jamming on buttons, you'll deplete your stamina and then you can't do as many combos. If your stamina isn't full or if you're a smaller person, you can't lift a heavier wrestler in some circumstances, depending on classes, so there are things like that, that the stamina fits into."
"Then the Health Bar. As you take damage, your Health Bar goes down. When it's lower, you're easier to pin or it's harder to escape a pin or a submission, things like that," O’Connor said. "So that all kind of makes up the health of the game and what you can do and the strategy to do those things. The things at the bottom of the screen are your Power-Ups. There are two things, really. There are three icons, which are your Power-Ups, and you can choose which Power-Ups to bring into the match with you, and you unlock different Power-Ups as you go through the game. You can trigger those when your Power-Up meter is full which just happens over time."
"And then there's also one other meter on there, which is a Crowd Meter," O’Connor said. "If you're always doing the same thing, the crowd doesn't get as excited. If you're doing a variety of moves and doing some cool stuff, the crowd gets more excited, can get behind you more, and then can make it easier to pin somebody as well."
"There's a lot of depth there, but the beauty of it is, if you don't understand any of that, it's fine," O’Connor said. "You can just get in, jam buttons, meters will fill up or deplete, and you'll get prompted when you can do things like your finisher. You don't really have to manage it if you don't want to. But for the more experienced player, there's more depth there to a lot of these things."
Speaking of that depth, you will be able to pull off some of the splashier moves despite the focus on streamlining and simplicity of the design, and O’Connor broke down how the player can activate some of those more complicated maneuvers.
"So there's some stuff that is context-sensitive based on where you are that's really easy single button press and then there are other things like combos that are a multi-button press to do a combo, so it depends on the situation," O’Connor said. "There's definitely stuff that's context-sensitive, but it's not as simple as just press one button to do everything in the game. It's not that at all. Like climbing up on the turnbuckle is one button, which happens to be the same button as climb back into the ring, if you're outside the ring. So you don't have to remember 18,000 different buttons to do the simple stuff, but there's a lot of combos. There's a lot of depth there for the player that does want to learn somebody and the different fighting classes. There are five of those, and each of those has different combos within them or different things that they can do. So there are multiple things to learn on lots of different levels."
The game is made so that players can just jump in and start having fun, but that doesn't mean players who spend some time with it and learn the systems should worry about getting beaten in cheap ways.
"It's not one of those games where anybody can just jump in and mash buttons and beat somebody that's really skilled," O’Connor said. "There is skill to it, but you can jump in, mash buttons, and have fun and beat somebody else that's just jumping in and mashing buttons and it can be a pretty fun experience. I think the balance there is really just making sure it's not over-complicated but is deep enough for somebody to stick with the game longer."
As for the campaign mode, the adventure will feature Paul Heyman, and O’Connor broke down how the game's story will be presented. "So it's not cut scenes. It is told through comics," O’Connor said. "You'll read some comic panels that set up the story. It's a great WWE story that follows seven new superstars, and it follows Paul Heyman who is trying to set up the next kind of hot group within the WWE. Mr. McMahon has tasked him with that, so he enlists Stone Cold Steve Austin to help him do this, and you discover these seven new superstars that we've created just for this game and take them through the various battles or matches that they need to have to get to WrestleMania eventually."
Fans can expect a lot of content in that single-player campaign, and it will also feature side matches that will net you cool rewards. "The campaign is huge, and it's got a lot of different matches you can fight," O’Connor said. "There are also side matches that you don't have to do, but you can to unlock additional rewards, or if you just want to go straight through the golden path, you can do that as well."
A big part of any game these days is post-launch content, and 2K Battlegrounds will have plenty of content coming down the line. The good news though is that the additional content will be introduced into the game at a steady pace, and it will all be free to players.
"There will be regular free updates to the game, but it's not DLC that you have to go download or purchase," O’Connor said. "It's free updates to the game where new superstars, vanity items, arena customization items, things like that will come into the game. Then you can unlock them just like you would anything else in the game. You play, you earn currency, you can unlock what you choose in the game. These will just be additional things on a regular basis. Going to add a lot of superstars, new outfits, things like that as well, but it's all free."
While it won't be as large in scope as the core 2K series, don't worry about not having customization, because Battlegrounds has quite a bit of customizable options to choose from.
"It's scaled back a little bit from what WWE 2K has done in the past because it's for a more casual audience a little bit, but you can customize superstars and you can create your own superstar that can be male or female, and any of the five classes," O’Connor said. "You can change height, weight, scars, tattoos, hair, eyes, all of those kinds of things of course, and then the outfits however you want as well. You can also customize some of your move set, and your taunts, things like that, so it can be who you want them to be. Then we also allow you to customize your arena, what we call the event arena. You can change the ground, the ropes, what's on the TVs, things like that, some of the effects, a whole bunch of stuff within the arena, which is cool as well, and then you can take that online and play a game online with your friends in your arena and with your custom character."0comments
If that sounds cool to you, you don't have to wait very long to give it a try, as WWE 2K Battlegrounds hits PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, and Stadia on September 18th.
Let us know what you think of WWE 2K Battlegrounds in the comments or as always you can talk all things WWE and gaming with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!