After skipping last year’s edition entirely, and only appearing as DLC for 2K17, one of the most popular modes in wrestling games is making its return for WWE 2K19 – with its focus a grappler who made a comeback from a similar leave of absence earlier this year.
Showcase mode enables you to re-enact great matches and moments from WWE’s archives, unlocking related goodies such as wrestlers and attires along the way. For instance, when it last appeared on-disc in 2K16, you could score King Of The Ring and Survivor Series arenas from 1996 by winning Steve Austin’s matches at those shows. Following heavy fan criticism for its absence in 2K18, showcase is restored for the upcoming sequel – with ultimate fan favourite Daniel Bryan providing its centrepiece.
Bryan himself returned to active competition in March after a two-year hiatus, having retired in February 2016 following a succession of head injuries. Wrestling fans universally trumpeted news that doctors had cleared his return, turning it into the company’s feelgood story of the year; so it’s a shrewd, and welcome, move from 2K to focus the mode around him.
The dev has really gone to town from a fan service perspective, going by screens and info released so far. They include Bryan’s first ever WWE match against a young John Cena on old Sunday night show Velocity; his tag title win, alongside Kane, versus Kofi Kingston and R-Truth in 2012; and his bandaged-up coronation as WWE Champ at WrestleMania 30. Making all of those arenas and attires – SOS-era Kofi! – unlockable for use in Universe mode and elsewhere.
In total you’re promised 11 historical matches, set in nine classic arenas, with 11 different models of Bryan – hopefully including his more recent, short-haired GM look, but that’s yet to be confirmed. Bryan has four new entrances and six additional victory scenes, with a “special surprise” promised should you team him with Kane outside of showcase mode.
Setting the scene for all this action are 20 “story-centric” video cutscenes, plus 15 Bryan video packages totalling over 25 minutes.
The new game picked up headlines earlier in the year with the news that it’ll include a competition to win a million dollars by beating current world champion AJ Styles – but this Bryan news will mean far more to longstanding series fans.
WWE 2K19 is released for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 9. Wondering who’s in it? Then be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to the WWE 2K19 roster.