WWE 2K18 – Review

WWE 2K18 is a bit of a mixed bag this year. Generally speaking the game looks pretty damn amazing as they try to make it feel like more of an authentic WWE experience. They don’t completely succeed here as some of the character models look better than others and you can tell which ones were given more attention but the overall package looks pretty slick. There is a new mechanic that you can utilize during wrestling matches and a fatigue system in tag team bouts that helps the simulation be closer to what we see every Monday and Tuesday nights on Raw and Smackdown respectively.

When you first start up WWE 2K18 you will notice that there are a number of different modes for you to try out. If you have played a WWE game over the past few years then there really isn’t going to be much you haven’t seen but for those newcomers there is a lot there. You have your standard exhibition matches that are under the “Play” category this year which features the normal 1 vs. 1 matches, tag team, triple threat, Fatal 4 Way matches and more. Next there is “MyPLAYER” which is where you will want to go if you want to participate in the MyCareer mode, as well as the new Road to Glory mode, where you can test your skills online against other players. There is also the “WWE Universe” mode along with the creation suite where you can create your own superstar, entrance, championship, video and more. Finally you have the Community Creations section, the online suite and “My WWE” where you can edit superstars and teams as well as manage which superstars have the titles. AJ Styles, for example, is the default person to hold the WWE United States Championship in the game but he lost that title to Baron Corbin approximately a month ago so you can in there and change things to reflect today’s product if you so choose.

When you first jump into the MyCareer mode you will need to make your own Superstar. It is here where you will see the always impressive creation suite that 2K Sports puts into the WWE games. You’ll start out with some basic info and then jump into your appearance, attire, moves, presentation and more. I have definitely found myself spending quite a lot of time here trying to make everything just perfect so I can work my way up the ranks in style. Once all of that is done you will then begin your journey in MyCareer mode.

MyCareer mode is essentially you trying to rise through the ranks in the WWE using your created superstar. The development team over at 2K Sports is trying to emulate the experience of becoming a WWE Superstar which means the first stop on your journey is the WWE Performance Center. You eventually get onto the NXT roster and if you are good enough you might get a shot at some NXT gold. If you end up impressing the right people you might eventually get called up to the main roster with the overall goal of securing your very own WrestleMania moment, just like the real life superstars try and do every single year. As you progress in your career you will have the option of becoming a face or a heel. For those who aren’t familiar with wrestling terminology that essentially means you have the option of becoming a good guy or a bad guy. Whichever side you select will have its own pros and cons. If you choose to align with the Authority you will receive some nice upgrades and you will be able to speak to Vince McMahon himself to try and get things how you want them. If you go against the Authority you have the chance to earn the respect of the locker room which will come with bonuses both in the ring and for your promos.

One of the new features this year is the ability to free roam backstage. This could potentially lead to some very interesting situations. This year in WWE 2K18 it is a bit more RPG-esque. You can choose your own path as I mentioned up above and there will also be side quests for you to tackle if you so choose. A side quest might be jumping someone in the backstage area or perhaps interrupting someone’s promo and going toe to toe with them. The concept sounds amazing but unfortunately this is where you see some of the cracks in the MyCareer mode. WWE is all about entertainment both in and out of the ring. Part of that entertainment is when wrestlers cut promos on each other. In other words they essentially talk trash whether it be about an upcoming opponent, a pay per view that is right around the corner or whatever the case may be. In real life a great promo can help separate you from the pack like it did for Stone Cold Steve Austin or the Rock back in the Attitude Era. Unfortunately the writing in the MyCareer mode isn’t nearly as good. In fact, it can be pretty bad at times. There were times where some of the insults being lobbed back and forth were things you would hear on a school playground and not necessarily in the WWE. It kind of takes you out of the experience that they are trying to build. To be fair they did make some changes with the promo system where they are trying to make everything more cohesive. You will be judged on what you are saying and how well you stick to your point, instead of picking something you see that you might not want just to get high marks. You will start out with a dialogue choice that will begin to lead you down the path of what you are going to be talking about and then you will have subsequent decisions to make with the goal of keeping the same tone throughout your promo. It has a lot of potential and is a great idea but definitely needs some work. In the future it would be amazing if the MyCareer team at 2K Sports could work with the WWE writers to get some authentic promo material. The more authentic you can be with your product the happier everyone will be, especially the hardcore fans who tend to rush out and buy these games.

You also have the “Road to Glory” which is a part of the MyCareer as well. What this allows you to do is take your created character online to try and compete against others in daily match types. The objective here is to try and earn stars so that you can qualify for an upcoming pay per view event. This adds some importance to these fights as Road to Glory follows the real life WWE calendar and you are trying to earn your way onto the big stage, just like WWE wrestlers do in real life. During my brief time with it I didn’t notice any lag and everything went smoothly. I didn’t get the chance to try and participate at a pay per view however.

Next up was the WWE Universe mode where you could definitely spend many, many hours. The Universe mode tries to emulate what you see on television every week. You will follow the calendar with Raw taking place every Monday night, Smackdown on Tuesday nights, NXT on Wednesday nights and so on and so forth. You can choose to play through all of the shows if you choose or simulate the matches you don’t care about and just play the ones that you are interested in. In Universe you’ll develop rivalries with other superstars which could lead to a storyline that lasts for months, just like in real life. With WWE 2K18 there are two types of rivalries with the “Potential Rivalries” and the “Active Rivalries”. You’ll first enter the potential stage by competing in matches or perhaps cutting a promo on someone or maybe even doing a run-in. If you cross paths enough times and you develop enough history with each other then it will become an active rivalry. You can look in the rivalries section of your Universe mode and it will show you what active rivalries are currently going on and what is on deck, so to speak. Just like in real life each rivalry will have a different level of intensity. There might be a somewhat friendly rivalry all the way to one where everything is really personal and it becomes a very hostile situation where the Superstars attack each other whenever the opportunity presents itself. As I was working my way through the calendar I did enjoy the different matches and match types and the various situations that I was put in. I have also been a big WWE fan over the years though and I don’t know how well this will all translate to the casual fan. I could see someone finding this a bit repetitive if they aren’t already invested in the product.

Staying with that point of being a fan of the product over the years I am always interested to see how the wrestlers get portrayed every year. Unfortunately there are some hits and misses here as well. I mentioned it up above but I’ll reiterate that you can easily tell which character models got some extra attention. That goes for the entrances as well. There are entrances like Asuka Bayley, Bobby Roode and more that while not perfect they are pretty damn close. Then you have an entrance like Alexa Bliss. They could have definitely done some more work on her character model but the entrance they used seems to be her NXT entrance from over a year ago. Alexa has been the Women’s Champion for probably about 90% of her time on the main roster over the past year. In her real life entrance she involves the championship belt by taking the belt off in the ring and briefly resting it on one of her shoulders and staring into the camera for a moment or two. None of that is present in the game’s entrance as, like I said, it looks like they used an entrance that is a year or two old and it is annoying. I understand the fact that putting out an annual title is a difficult process and that there are hard deadlines that must be met in terms of what will and won’t be in the game. Again though…Alexa has had this entrance for the majority of the past year. It isn’t a new thing that missed the deadline. This is also something that only fans who watch on a regular basis would notice. If you don’t watch the shows and just play the games every year then you wouldn’t know whether or not what you are watching is authentic in terms of what is presented on tv every week. I’m going to stick with using Alexa as an example but she is by no means the only person where their entrance and presentation was screwed up somehow. These types of things always drive me crazy because while there will be people who play this game who don’t regularly watch it on tv, your core audience for the game is generally going to be fans that are very familiar with the product and know when something isn’t right.

As I mentioned up above, WWE 2K18 is a bit of a mixed bag. The overall package looks pretty amazing. It looks very slick as they get closer to duplicating what we see on television every week. It isn’t without its problems though. There is a new carry mechanic that you can utilize if you are someone like Braun Strowman to powerbomb someone to the outside of the ring but then there is also the reversal system that still has yet to be fixed. The timing is still off on it which means a bit of luck is involved whenever you successfully reverse a hold. The core gameplay still works pretty well though and it is nice seeing some of the new guys and girls who haven’t been in a WWE game before. MyCareer and the WWE Universe mode still need some refinements that we will hopefully see in future WWE games but the potential is there. Also, please 2K Sports, bring back the Showcase mode. Despite there being a good number of things to do in WWE 2K18 it would have been so much better if the Showcase mode was there. If you are a WWE fan you should have some fun with this title despite some of the issues I mentioned above. If you are unsure be sure to rent the game to decide for yourself whether or not you want to step in the virtual ring this year with WWE 2K18.

Score: 7/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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