Wrestling fans have endured a love-hate relationship with developer 2K since it claimed the WWE gaming rights from THQ in 2013 - yet you’ll find few within the community who have anything but praise for WWE 2K19’s brilliant MyCareer mode.
In a throwback to the linear create-a-character tales of the WWF/E Smackdown games, you make an in-game doppelganger then take him through the indies and NXT and onto the main roster, with myriad interactive cutscenes opposite voiced WWE wrestlers, and an array of intriguing matches. It’s the single best mode 2K has implemented since taking the series’ reins, and if you’re so much as a casual wrestling fan, you really do have to play it.
Still unconvinced? Read on for five major reasons why you mustn't miss out on MyCareer. Spoilers ahead, naturally.
1. The NXT invasion
You start the mode in indie federation BCW, with three fictional characters - heel owner Barron Blade, plus friendly fellow wrestlers Cole Quinn and El Mago, who are all neatly threaded into the story throughout. After a series of matches against Quinn, Blade’s friendship with Triple H ends with you infiltrating NXT as an outsider. The most fun aspect of this is choosing to imitate a classic WWE tandem (DX, NWO, or Macho Man and Ultimate Warrior) alongside Quinn while fighting off a wall of Triple H’s security goons, just as you’ve seen countless times on Monday Night Raw over the years. The brawl is a hoot, and all the outfits are later unlocked for general use - which is handy, as Blade, Quinn, and Mago make for useful bonus characters in Universe if you’re in need of ‘jobbers’.
2. Wrong Cena
After a stint in NXT, Buzz (the in-game nickname for your CAW) is signed to Smackdown by general manager Daniel Bryan - where his final feud is noticeable for reasons other than the storyline. It’s a fairly straightforward tale of him trying to earn the respect of John Cena by overcoming the 16-time world champion at Summerslam. But it still has to be played, because - unlike every other wrestler in the mode - Cena is voiced by an impersonator. Actually, make that an imposter. The attempt by a not-so-great pretender to sound like ‘Big Match John’ is laughable. It’s the low point of the mode, but unmissable for that very reason: an astoundingly off-key wobble in a borderline-perfect symphony. No explanation has been given for such a curious design decision.
John Cena’s myCareer voice in 2K19 is hilarious. It’s like Black Dynamite on Dramamine.October 9, 2018
The person doing the John Cena voice over on 2K19 managed to sound like even more of a robot then Cena himself.October 14, 2018
3. Raw gets Buzzed
Just past the halfway point of the story, immediately following your Summerslam match with Cena, Raw general manager Kurt Angle emerges to announce that you’ve been traded to his show. This immediately casts you into a feud against the four-person Miztourage: The Miz, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, and Maryse. The latter’s inclusion adds a welcome (if overdue) female twist to the otherwise all-male tale, with Sasha Banks joining your cause - though sadly there’s no mixed-tag match against Maryse and Miz, despite the storyline begging for it. Still, the rivalry brings plenty of amusement via your interactions with Dallas and Axel, who constantly undermine each other in backstage conversations and come off like WWE’s answer to Bebop and Rocksteady. Genuine humour in a wrestling game? I was stunned too.
4. Wrestling with dimensions
Over the summer, WWE 2K19’s first gameplay trailer teased haunted house and zombie elements. Many fans, including myself, baulked at such nonsense. Confession time, then: I - we - were wrong. These supernatural bits crop up in a feud with ‘Eater Of Worlds’ Bray Wyatt which does lurch from the ridiculous to the unbelievable, but in a way that feels game-y enough to get away with it. Barron Blade returns for a brutal weapons-heavy battle outside said haunted house, Matt Hardy takes you on a trip to the multi-verse, and the darker moments of the story, such as Wyatt making you pass out by unleashing green gas backstage, keep you invested despite the absurdity. It makes for the most bizarre Intercontinental Championship feud in WWE history, and is an essential play as a result.
5. Evolution's return
MyCareer’s main running theme from the outset is Triple H trying to curtail Buzz’s astronomical rise through the WWE ranks - and it peaks towards its close, with the dastardly ‘King of Kings’ reforming Evolution alongside Batista and Randy Orton in order to see off your newcomer for good. A backstage attack results in Triple H deliberately crashing a limo with Buzz inside, and earlier MyCareer interactions with Finn Balor and AJ Styles culminate in that pair teaming up with Buzz to take on Trips and co. at Fast Lane, the final pay-per-view before WrestleMania. I loved the entire chapter. As for its aftermath - well, that part is genuinely too great, and too shocking, to spoil here. Play it. Seriously. Please.
WWE 2K19 is out now. Looking to expand your roster beyond the names mentioned above? Then download Tommaso Ciampa, Hulk Hogan and Nikki Cross with the help of our WWE 2K19 CAWs guide.