There is an expectation with any serialised sport game that it will at least be better than last year’s – but any new feature will likely need some work. WWE 2K18 is no exception.
High flying/flung action
Sporting a shiny new engine which will blow your mind, WWE 2K18 has to be the clear cut sexiest wrestling game I’ve ever played (this comment made all the more awkward by the fact that there is a body oil slider in the create-a-character section). Thanks to shedding its last gen bonds, the team at Yukes can finally spread their wings and deliver an experience that is truly electrifying – with incredible arenas, Superstars, and creation tools that seemingly have no end to them.
Much like cameras, the character creation system loves me
I will be completely honest here, the first four hours of gameplay I had in WWE 2K 18 was spent in the creation tools. As a creative idiot at heart, I take great joy in pushing these kinds of tools to their limit – or proving how ineffective they may be. However this game had me truly licked, as I powered through creating four incredibly accurate versions of local wrestlers I have the joy of working with, a title belt that is an uncanny recreation, and an eerily close (albeit far more muscular) version of my own glorious self, complete with mapped face texture.
With this new muscular me strapped into his spandex I decided to take the first step on the games ‘myCareer’ path, in an effort to forge my destiny. What I expected was a snappy reproduction of what life in the WWE may be like, with thrilling action and amazing interactions with the other superstars as my story unfolds in incredible ways that I could only ever dream of. The reality of this was only half right however, as the blows came thick and fast both to both my in-game avatar and my enthusiasm levels. The myCareer mode tries to emulate working a WWE show – with details such as backstage segments and big matches between yourself and other muscular dudes. This sounds great in theory, but in practice it is far more slow paced and curiously barren.
Backstage segments are ponderously slow, as you amble from one area to the next in search of your next moment in the spotlight. A comforting factor is that this area is populated by other WWE personalities, but they too seem to be stuck in this hellish limbo. They sit, idly playing with their phones – a great reminder that you are nothing to them – and when approached they will either regurgitate a catch phrase of theirs, or criticise you in vague impersonal ways. This particular system is at its most disappointing when you luck into running into your last opponent post-match, and they act like they have never met you before – before returning to idly playing around with their phone. On occasion I couldn’t help notice that the text-based dialogue options (there is no voice acting) also appeared to have the odd error in them, with some characters taking the time to criticise my rival – but using my name. Awkward.
This level of minmaxing could easily consume me for days, and I wouldn’t regret a second of it – the depth is incredible
Despite this, the myCareer story that you forge for yourself is still interesting enough to play through, as you create your own feuds and work towards becoming a wrestling megastar. Moving through the different wrestling territories (from developmental to main roster), winning titles and updating your outfit or entrance feels like an amazing dream experience for anyone who took the time to build themselves into a wrestling game. I just wish I didn’t have to slowly walk from point A to point B so damn much.
The myCareer mode also entertains the notion of loot boxes, with bonus goodies thrown at you to use at your discretion. These can include in-ring buffs, or crazy outfit options for your myPlayer character. I honestly glazed over these so fast I barely registered them, as I found most of the things I wanted could simply be unlocked with the in-game currency I got from playing the game.
Download additional superstars such as Scotty2Hotty, Stewie Griffin – and of course, Batman (Not pictured: Harambe)
The game truly shines when there is true body-on-body action. Thanks to years of iteration and refinement the systems in place are all solid, with only minor weirdness during matches that can often be chalked up to a finger flub on your controller. After discovering the online game manual, I was well on my way to mastering the art of getting my arse kicked, and though the majority of my quick matches ended in hilarious losses I still had my fair share of amazing ‘FUCK YEAH’ moments where I somehow pulled off a sequence of brilliant, hard hitting spots that looked every bit like I knew what I was doing. And every match, I got a little bit better.
Opponent AI ranges from ruthless down to spudly, and aptly recreates how you would expect some of these wrestling characters to behave. Being able to run around and dodge some of the giants of WWE, while smaller dudes come at you like a hurricane is all part of the experience. I quickly found myself tweaking my in-game dude to try and have an answer for all these things, with comeback moves and signature attacks being curated to best my chances of winning. This level of minmaxing could easily consume me for days, and I wouldn’t regret a second of it – the depth is incredible.
It’s messy work, but it’s a living
Roster-wise, I was also super impressed to see such a variety of wrestlers, particularly with a great range of female WWE superstars. Upon seeing my favourite female wrestler Naomi, I immediately prepared myself for disappointment – her entrance on TV is one of the most visually impressive things I have ever seen on a wrestling program, with amazing neon displays and black lights used to the extreme. There is just no way they could do it justice in digital form. My jaw dropped at just how accurately they had managed to painstakingly recreate every part of her choreography and light work, even her facial expressions were spot-on. And this is common throughout the entire roster, the level of detail is sublime.
Raw sex appeal like no other (and Dolph/The Rock aint bad either)
For fans of wrestling, WWE 2K18 represents the most intensely detailed look into the incredible world of sports entertainment to date, with impressive gameplay systems for fans and gamers alike.
For those that aren’t WWE fanatics – it’s a great semi-nude man brawl simulator.
Reviewed on PS4