There’s something truly special about pro wrestling. The mix of athletics, showmanship, storytelling, and characters may not be for everyone, but it’s something I adore. As it just so happens, 2K recently released the new edition of their annual WWE games, and having thoroughly enjoyed the last one, I went ahead and bought it. If you’re a fan of the WWE series, as I am, there’s a lot to love.
One main difference between this year’s iteration and the last one is the lack of a single-player 2K Showcase mode. It was a lot of fun in the last game, and I’m sad to have seen it go. But the upside of that is that more time and money went into the rest of the game, with noticeable improvements across the board.
Everything about the gameplay has seen a welcome tune-up.
The devil, as they say, is in the details.
Animations are a lot smoother across the board; moving around the ring and targeting are a lot less janky.
You can now also jump over an opponent on the mat instead of awkwardly walking around them.
Despite the core gameplay not having changed all that much, there’s an undeniable improvement to how it feels from minute to minute and second to second.
Improvements aren’t the only thing that this edition brings to the table. The new features it adds make it a more compelling offering than just a yearly roster update. Backstage brawls, the new character unlock system, a dynamic taunting system, and a surprisingly strong promo engine allow for a lot of longevity and replayability.
Special mention should go to the vastly expanded women’s division, as the last one was sorely lacking the excellent talent that the WWE currently has.
What I really love about this game, though, is the potential for storytelling.
The robust character creator and beautifully intuitive gameplay can let you tell a story inside of a match. Combine the improved gameplay with the MyCareer mode which takes your own character through their time in the developmental NXT division all the way up to the main roster and beyond, and you’ve got so much potential for creating your own stories. Go after titles, turn on your friends, stand up to the diabolical Authority controlling the show.
It’s all about being the hero of your own wrestling story.
I’ve been playing this since it came out, and I barely feel like I’ve scratched the surface. I haven’t touched multiplayer, I haven’t created my own show– or even my own championship yet– and I haven’t even touched the WWE Universe mode yet.
But there’s already so much I’ve enjoyed. I’ve already had great little moments, like starting a randomized Royal Rumble only to have the most powerful wrestlers in the history of the company (Triple H, The Rock, The Undertaker, and Brock Lesnar in that order) be among the first of its entrants while still managing to come out on top. Phew!
Pro wrestling has a particular combination of extravagance, emotion, and athleticism that made me fall in love with it over a year ago. Being a part of that magic, even in a digital form, is a wonderful feeling. There’s nothing quite like a well-timed reversal leading into a hard-fought victory against a tough opponent.