If we take The Simpson's Wresting out of the picture, the video game industry actually has quite the slew of quality wrestling games. And now, with WWE 2K22 stepping up to bat for 2022, we have another reason to bring up the genre and its popularity in bloom. With just a few days left before launch (March 11, to be precise), it means we'll be throwing down the gauntlet for another wave of ringside disputes in no time.
Having said that, there are still a couple of days left before we step into WWE's next chapter. And so, if for whatever reason you're looking to bridge a few gaps before entering 2K's domain, then be sure to check into these five alternatives. Wrestling fan or not—these will keep you more than entertained as we trudge through the next two long and gruelling days before launch day.
5. WWE All Stars
Personally, I wouldn't want to bring up another WWE game right after ushering away from one. And yet, I'll do it anyway, simply down to the fact that WWE All Stars, for what it's worth, is really that good. It deserves a place on this list for many reasons, though it mostly boils down to the expansive characters roster itself, which features some of the biggest faces in the wrestling world.
Although the game has recently toppled its ten-year anniversary, we do have to give credit where it's due. And in this case, All Stars brings enough content to the table to keep you running back—even a decade past its sell-by date. Graphically, its on par with most games of its era, but that hardly matters when its gameplay is still as vigorous today as it was way back then. For that, we're happy to give it a well-deserved slap on the back.
4. WWE 2K Battlegrounds
In spite of WWE 2K21 being scrapped back in 2020, 2K did manage to rustle up a consolation prize to help satisfy the needs of deprived wrestling fanatics. WWE 2K Battlegrounds, being a complete steer in the opposite direction for the franchise, was the breath of fresh air it needed—especially after the shambles that was WWE 2K20.
Similar to NBA 2K Playgrounds, WWE 2K Battlegrounds opted for the arcade-style gameplay, which swayed more towards cartoonized figures and over-the-top combat. Unlike the main entries in the spool of WWE chapters, Battlegrounds thrived to be an all-in-one chapter that was both approachable and beginner-friendly. And hey, after 2K20, that's exactly what disheartened fans needed.
3. WWE 2K19
Before 2K dropped the ball with the abysmal creation that was 2K20, the WWE brand was enjoying the carefree life, bundled up in the fact that its reputation would forever keep it afloat. But before the fall, many would say the series peaked with 2K19 which, to this day, is still regarded as one of the greatest wrestling games of the last decade.
From its healthy roster of wrestlers to its intuitive interface, and pretty much everything buried between—WWE 2K19 had the works. 2K had made sure to store all accumulated knowledge in a specific bank for a ways down the road, and it was only with the release of its 2K20 that all assets were finally put to use. And so, as far as near-perfect wrestling games go, 2K19 is still the one to beat. But, of course, that's subject to change depending on how well received 2K22 is.
2. EA Sports UFC 4
We're all well aware of Electronic Arts' ability to mold well-loved sports into hit video game series. It has done it time and time again, and not once has a franchise fizzled out due to a lack of players. UFC, of course, is exactly the same. Sure it's a mixture of fighting styles—but it does rely on wrestling a lot more than most generic fighting games. And that's partly the reason why we're happy to give it a spot on the podium.
UFC 4 rarely deviates from the classic EA style, in the fact that the goal remains exactly the same. Create a character, climb the ranks, and work tirelessly to the point of exhaustion before retiring on a healthy wage packet as the GOAT. That's UFC 4, in a nutshell, and it works wonders for anyone that favours the fighting scene. Combat is fluid and engaging, moves and combos are plentiful, and the progression format is polished to a tee. Everything is there, and it really is no wonder EA forever sings its praises on all corners of the web.
1. WWF No Mercy
Regardless of the fact that it came out way back in 2000, nothing has been able to fully replicate the sheer beauty of WWF No Mercy. I mean, sure it's a little outdated in terms of visuals and what have you. But its player base is still present, as are the abundance of mods that creators continue to bring to the table even in 2022.
Of course, if you're planning on digging up a piece of classic wrestling memorabilia, then you're going to need a Nintendo 64 to play it on. Do that, and you'll have an infinite number of replayable hours on your hands. Thanks to its super in-depth character creation suite and ocean of playable modes, the game stacks high as a true contender in the fighting realm. Ignoring the fact that it released over 20 years ago, it's more than worth dusting off an old console for.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.