Developer 2K has completely reinvented MyCareer Mode for WWE 2K19. The story-driven mode is much like NBA2K’s MyCareer Mode, where your created character is on a journey to become the best at their craft. In WWE 2K19, you start out in the indies, wrestling in high schools and working your way to the top of WWE, all while MyCareer Mode’s Barron Blade–who has been in previous year’s games–guides you.
Much like last year’s edition, you start with a limited set of options to create your character, which is a bit of a bummer, as I would have rather had the option of creating a monstrous, disfigured man-beast over a guy that simply had poor tastes in hairstyles. However, that’s where this year’s edition and last’s similarities end. Case in point: In a first for the series, MyCareer is accompanied by voice over work from WWE superstars, as GameSpot learned when we got an early chance to play the game at a 2K event at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
After creating your wrestler, you’re plugged into the story of an aspiring superstar who sleeps in his van. He or she has the chance to leave the indies, wrestling in high school gyms and parking lots as they work their way toward working for WWE. However, it’s a linear story, and that means no more aimlessly running around the backstage of shows, an issue that made WWE 2K18’s MyCareer mode tedious and less fun than it could have been. “It’s also a game design 101 thing to where we’re definitely learning a ton and we have a lot of benefit,” producer and designer John Race told GameSpot. “And we gave it the cinematic treatment that NBA was giving it, but it was also, if you’re gonna have a decision in our game, does it feel like it’s important? Is the player able to tell what their decision did, because if they can’t, maybe it’s not worth it. I think we’d all like to revisit backstage navigation again and having you run around, but can you populate that world enough to make it feel lived in? And if you can’t, maybe that’s not the best format for us right now. So it was trying to simplify and get back to things that really felt meaningful to the player and that’s where we put all the emphasis this year.”
“Something that John [Race] kind of touched on last year when navigating backstage and then the way that the conversations were kind of placed between each one of those scenes and then going into a match and then loading back out into a cutscene, which was taking place in the same environment,” explained creative director Lynell Jinks. “Those are some of the technical hurdles that we just couldn’t get past because of the way that our game is structured, and so we try to eliminate a lot of those pain points as much as possible. If you look at it, we try to be smart about how we designed it to where you have some really cool cut scenes followed by a nice little beat there where you’re in a hub where you’re talking to a guy and making choices and you can go and customize your character without having to back out to a menu. It’s like you try to be really smart about the pacing of it because we heard a lot of complaints about the load times of last year’s MyCareer flow.”
After the story is over, which will take 12 hours to complete for the main plot, your character can continue to level up in sidequests in MyCareer, the returning Road to Glory Mode, or the new addition of the Towers Mode for MyPlayer. However, WWE 2K19 follows suit from NBA 2K’s MyCareer by following a more linear path for its main story. “Seeing the success they had with their mode and seeing other games also follow in their path, it felt like the right choice for us especially,” Jinks said. “And that’s kind of why we sought out going after guys like John Race and [former WWE writer] Sean Conaway to help get MyCareer to that level.”
Bringing on a former WWE storyline writer to work on MyCareer is another step in the right direction for the mode. Everything Conaway wrote for the game is completely original for the series. “Obviously, we try to mirror the characters that we see on TV as best as we can,” Conaway said. “I think it’s inevitable that we’re never going to be able to, you know, just because of the timelines of the game coming out, and how fast things change on WWE TV, that we’re not going to be able to match exactly what’s happening. But for me personally, that’s the fun of playing the game, is you want to see new things and be able to play new experiences that you haven’t seen on WWE TV already.”
WWE 2K19’s MyCareer Mode is unrecognizable from last year’s version–except for the return of Barron Blade, whose unwritten mythos is fascinating–and the changes are incredibly natural and evolve the mode into something completely new. Looking for more about WWE 2K19? Check out every confirmed wrestler on the roster, information on the Deluxe Edition, everything included in the DLC, and the new arcade elements added to this year’s edition.