WWE 2K Battlegrounds in hardly your typical wrestling game, but then again 2020 has hardly been a typical year.
As we get ready for the launch of the game this week, Sport360 caught up with AJ Styles to get his take on the release, gaming, and finding new ways to connect with audiences amid a global pandemic.
The Phenomenal one is no stranger to gaming, and has recently started his own Twitch channel, and acknowledges the new opportunities these avenues present to interact with fans – something he has not been able to do for months with fans not being able to attend live events.
“Times have changed,” he said. “I have always been a gamer and being able to get on Twitch and talk to gamers is great. A lot of times it is not just talking about gaming, they want to just talk to the guy they have watched wrestle for 21 years. It is a great way to interact with fans, which is something I am definitely not able to do now, so it is all fun for me.”
When it comes to having a controller in hand, Styles is most likely be found playing his son at Madden, or on a first person shooter – but he says he is unlikely to be troubling the pros anytime soon.
“Games today are hard to master – you have to really put in the time and effort to get good at a game these days,” Style said. “Pubg is my game, but Call of Duty is probably the easiest one to learn, as crazy as that sounds. When you get good at a game you don’t want to switch, but then you don’t have the opportunity to enjoy all the other games. You’re going to be mediocre at best at a bunch of games – or you’ll get really good at one – I am neither of those but I try!”
Styles confesses to not being the biggest fan of wrestling games, but the look and seeming ease which Battlegrounds can be picked up has him interested.
Gone are the honed graphics, move-sets, entrances, and story modes of the WWE 2K series we have been accustomed to, instead we are gripped by over-the-top action, crazy environments, and 70 current and past superstars (with an option to download another 60) taking part in utter pandemonium.
Styles likens it somewhat to another hugely popular game on the market.
“If you can find a game and make it easy to play, but hard to master, that’s the ticket – that’s the game you want to play. Everyone is playing Fall Guys because it is fun and easy to play, that’s the key. Battlegrounds looks just like that to me. It’s hard to believe but I am not really into wrestling games, but this looks like there isn’t too much of a learning curve – it’s just a melee. It has more of an arcade feel and style and you can do just about anything – I think I even saw someone get thrown into an alligator’s mouth, what’s going on here! Little things like that have piqued my interest and I can’t wait to jump into this game.”
Another new feature for the game will be the introduction of Arabic commentary with Official Arabic-speaking WWE commentators, Faisal Almughaisib and Jude Aldajani, lending their voices to the game, alongside Saeed Alghamdi providing ring announcements.
Styles says this is a huge factor in connecting with the audience and in storytelling.
“I think we have done a great job with having different commentators on Pay Per Views, but to now have them in a game is even better,” he explained. “This is all about reaching out, planting those roots and making new fans.
“The commentary is going to be a big deal. Commentators are a big part of the story, and that’s what WWE is all about. Now we can do even more for people to understand the story better, and it just helps bring everything together.”
The two-time WWE Champion also believes the overall approach to Battlegrounds can help introduce more people to wrestling.
“A good thing about this game is it goes outside the wrestling ring, and it is more than just a wrestling game. It is a little bit different to what we have seen from these characters before, in an environment we haven’t seen before. The graphics are not super-realistic, and I love that. Sometime I want games to have a cartoon feel, and see how the characters look so I am super excited about the game.
“They are exploring another area of pro wrestling when it comes to WWE and I think that’s a good thing. It always about bringing more people in to watching your product. Hopefully people will watch WWE because they love this game – or maybe it’s the opposite for people who don’t play video games but they watch WWE. You are always trying to create new fans, and this game does that brilliantly.”
WWE 2K Battlegrounds will be available worldwide on September 18, 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.