Today the lovely folks over at 2K UK invited me to a special hands on preview event in London for the soon to be released WWE2K16, to get a sneak peak of what can be expected from it. There was much criticism with some the aspects of last years WWE2K15 that fans were unhappy with, 2K has listened but have lessons been learned?
After a quick presentation looking at key new features and improvements made with WWE2K16, it was time to get grips with the Playstation 4 version starting with the main feature of this year’s game, the Stone Cold Steve Austin Showcase.
The main showcase focuses on the cover star Stone Cold Steve Austin’s wrestling career from his rise in the WWE Attitude era but also looking back at his earlier career in WcW and ECW. The purpose of the Showcase mode is to recreate iconic matches from Austin’s biggest rivalries. Starting with the launching point of the Stone Cold character with the King of The Ring victory over Jake the Snake Roberts back in 1996. Vintage WWE film footage is used to link between each match with true WWW Production polish.
The matches use the now standard showcase gameplay of asking the player to perform certain moves or requirements in order to recreate the match as it originally played out. Complete each successfully and you move on to the next match, fail and you will need to replay that match.
As a lifelong wrestling fan, recreating the best matches of Austin’s career such as facing Bret Hart was a thrill, and with the improvements to gameplay really plays well. This showcase could well be one of my favourites yet with a great selection of his matches that fans will relish reliving.
One of the big features of 2K Sports titles this year has been the ‘My Career’ mode. Much like NBA2K16, 2K has taken a lot of time to rebuild this mode for WWE2K16 to deliver the most faithful career mode yet for the series. The mode is designed to allow the player to mould their WWE experience with true freedom of choice. The goal is to earn a place in the WWE Hall of Fame, but how the player achieves this is what will make this mode really something special.
You begin by creating your Superstar and start off in NxT. The creation suite has really been revamped in every way allowing for more options in player model choices and appearance from wrestling attire to ring entrance. Item choices now load much faster with instant preview, you can really tailor every aspect of your created superstar quickly and with more control than ever before.
One of my favourite new additions is the 5 star match rating system. How you wrestle in a match will determine how much of a Star rating it deserves. Use a variety of moves and you will score higher but repeat the same moves and you lose points. From countering moves to creating dramatic moments such as kicking out just before 3 instead of 1 will raise the rating by earning ‘Heightened Drama’ bonus score. Earn a five star match and you will get noticed but have poor matches and you may find your road to the Hall of Fame more rocky!
I really felt that 2K have succeeded in creating a true representation of a WWE experience that can be enjoyed in a video game. Having greater choice and control in a career mode is just what the series needed. I love that if you wish too, you can spend your whole career in NxT or you can move up to either Smackdown or RAW. You can try to win every title or simply put on entertaining matches as you tick off the required ‘Career Milestones’ on your road to the Hall of Fame’. This really will make a great streaming mode and with the new features of back stage interviews with conversation choices and choosing to either work with or against The Authority, this really will bring what fans see on WWE programming to their unique My Career journey.
Of course what many fans will want to know is just quite simply, how does it play?
The improvements to the fluidity of movement animations has greatly enhanced playability. Grappling and move execution is much smoother and responsive this time, which really gives matches a solid pace and structure. The AI has also been refined to counter more intelligently allowing for a better match up.
Visually it has to be said the series has never looked better and that trailers really do not do justice to the game. You can really see that the mocapping of moves has evolved beyond that seen in the last game and with a roster of 120, even the smallest detail in animation makes each individual wrestlers stand out.
Entrances look amazing as superstars and divas make their way to the ring, all updated and current for included wrestlers. The blend of Legend characters like Vader, Rick Rude and Macho Man Randy Savage, and NxT stars against the main roster of RAW and Smackdown just makes this game feel huge in variety and choice.
Chain wrestling returns but again more refined both in execution and countering. The kick out system has also been revised to a more natural system where each ref count is a mini game using a circle dial with the aim to hit X when the dial swings to the mark. Miss and you fail to kick out but hit it and you will, a much easier system than last year.
Commentary now includes JBL along with Michael Cole and The King Jerry Lawler. For Showcase matches and Legendary match ups the commentary will switch to Good Ol Jim Ross and the King, with dialogue fitting far better with the action in the ring.
WWE2K16 from this preview has really evolved in the right direction in its aim to be the best wrestling title and most authentic WWE title yet. It really has improved on all the failings and problems of its predecessors and now has everything the WWE Universe has wanted to play in a game.
I very much look forward to release and getting the full game to wrestle my way into the WWE Hall of Fame, relive so many memories of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career and to share great matches with friends online. The Create suit also has me wanting to try out creating my own Federation thanks to the new increased number of slots for created Superstars and Divas and being able to create my own Arenas, Shows and Championships. There really is just so much potential with WWE2K16!
Would like to say a huge thank you to 2K UK for inviting me and for hosting such a great event today. This a preview piece and not a review of the full game.