WWE 2K18 [News]: It’s True, It’s Damn True.
With 2K Games nowhere to be found at last month’s E3 2017 convention, many fans pondered the future of the publisher’s WWE franchise. Sure — being the only major wrestling game on the market — WWE 2K has always sold well, not NBA 2K well, but it’s certainly a franchise in no danger of cancelation. Unfortunately, reviews for the last 2-3 editions have been middling at best (including GHG’s). Despite favoring the game over its 2K15 and 2K16 predecessors, I’ve barely touched WWE 2K17 in several months.. even with the DLC Season Pass and the title’s generous customization, 100 Create-A-Wrestlers, and improved A.I. booking and in-ring action. There’s just something missing that’s kept me from pressing play. Today, the publisher’s WWE 2K18 development summit relayed new info that hopes to calm our wrestling-gamer’s smarkiest concerns.
Here’s a rundown of WWE 2K18‘s new enhancements, with yours truly’s very own commentary:
- WWE 2K18 is coming to the Nintendo Switch! Yes! Yes! Yes!
- A new Universe Mode that intends to grapple with the looser, more organic current brand-split world of the WWE and addition of 205 Live (which should at least be more entertaining in the game than the fluff we see on the WWE Network *cry/smile emoji*). Promised from 2K are more “surprises” to the U, so we can only hope that means more cutscenes — and not just stories that develop from the same old stale “rivalry” matches that have plagued the mode in the past. I’d like every match on every brand show to actually mean something, to develop a more immersive RPG-esque atmosphere. For example, an Enzo & Big Cass team break-up should be able to occur even when the team isn’t locked in a “rivalry” with, say, The Revival. I’d like to see run-ins happen during 205 matches too, even if it’s not for the title. When we love the WWE it’s because of the narrative; not because a RAW program has several meaningless matches in a row.
- 2K intends to update and entirely rewrite their graphics engine. About time! For several years, the WWE version of 2K has dropped the ball in comparison to its Spaulding leather cousin. The visual “concept” behind both games felt like it came from two completely different companies. WWE 2K18, with new coverboy Seth Rollins at the healm, promises a far more improved graphical realism via improved skin shading, more realistic time reflections, dithered and more physical-based rendering. And to think we don’t even need an Xbox One X to enjoy a wrestling game that will actually appear next-gen! While the jury’s still out on that one, here’s to hoping for mo-cap from the majority — or entirety — of the WWE and NXT rosters; not just a handpicked few (i.e. Orton, Cena) 2K wants to feature in the press releases.
- The greatest news of all today? New and improved color commentary! Yeah, they’ve said it before! Remember 2-years ago when Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler were said to have recorded several hundred hours of new lines and dialogue? Uh-huh. Finally, 2K realized that the WWE game could use some of what makes NBA 2K the very best video game franchise on the planet: the natural conversation of the NBA’s 3-man (and woman) booth. Still behind the curve, WWE brings back Cole, but with his former RAW mates Byron Saxton and Corey Graves. While this is definitely an improvement over “The King” and JBL, why not include the real talents that reflect the WWE’s in-house brands, like Mauro Ranallo, Nigel McGuinness, Booker T, Tom Philips and Percy Watson (hehe)? This feels like a wasted opportunity.
- A new tone for MyCareer. I hate to, again, reflect on the excellence of NBA 2K17 (OK, I don’t; ’cause that game was just, once again, amazing), but MyPlayer was one of the very best modes in sports gaming history. Gone was the corny Spike Lee story, giving you more control of your player over his career. On the WWE front, 2K17‘s MyCareer was said to be so bad I’ve yet to touch the mode. All I heard was how repetitious it was and your Monsignor felt he had enough of that with Universe Mode. With 2K18, the publisher intends to push the narrative through the player. Isn’t that what the WWE is all about? Glad it took them 3-years and few hundred dollars from fans later to figure out. Funny enough the online content spurning out of My Career is called Road To Glory, which sounds like the generic bastard stepchild of an ROH/TNA Impact PPV. But the bad news: no Female MyCareer this year. Yeah, you can go and cancel your pre-orders now.
- Remember the admirable yet wrongly executed Promo Engine from WWE 2K17? It’s back with a 2.0 brand progression system. This means that promos will actually mean something beyond the elongated poor diatribe witnessed across the screen. Promos will deliver unlockable upgrades and perks post-match; we still don’t know if any of the wrestlers have recorded dialogue for promos yet (despite the fact that, yes, once again, several hundred NBA players are featured in halftime and post-game interviews in WWE’s sister series). My guess is no. At least wrestlers are said to reflect an archetype now, which will help separate the likes of the Mustafa Alis with the Braun Strowmans and make for more effective CAWs. Also look for a new, more dynamic grappling system, which promises to lead to more realistic “selling”, and position feeding (i.e. you can carry and drag opponents around after reversing a high-cross body, before launching a brainbuster, etc.), allowing wrestlers to also launch moves from both groggy and grounded states.
- We may finally have the chance to play out the year’s best WWE rivalries — Brock/Samoa Joe and Roman/Strowman — the way we imagined through 2K18‘s new free roam arenas, with a said 3x as many interactable environments (yes, backstage brawls are now playable online). Better yet, Survivor Series matches are finally here! I’ve only been asking for 5-years, 2K! (Well, we don’t know if they are elimination-styled yet, but one can only pray). Royal Rumble, Ladder Match and Battle Royale (is that a thing new? Can we finally start a match with more than 6-(wo)men in the ring?) mechanics have been reworked; intergender matches are here (need a Candice LeRae CAW for this now!); and a new Create-A-Match Mode presents plenty of classic bone-crunching WCW/PWG/TNA possibilities. With the likes of AJ, Joe, Kurt, Sting and Bobby Roode on our side, can marks finally relive the Bound For Glory Days of Ultimate X? King of the Mountain? Monster’s Ball? One can only hope.
The Ringside Apostles will have plenty more on WWE 2K18, slated for an October 17th release, in the weeks to come.