WWE 2K17 hit stores this week and we have the full review right here! Will this be the No Mercy killer that we’ve been waiting for or is WWE 2K17 all flash?
Wrestling games used to be a dime a dozen. There were obscure games like WWF In Your House and WWE Crush Hour to go along with more traditional offerings like WWF Attitude and WWF Wrestlemania 2000. A few console generations ago in the late 90s, THQ took over and started publishing WWE games. They made many WWE games ranging from the popular WWF No Mercy to spin-offs like WWE All-Stars and Legends of Wrestlemania. At least, they did until THQ was dissolved and its assets were auctioned off in 2013.
Through all of that, the main WWE series became the staple and Take-Two acquired the license to continue that series in 2013 after THQ’s bankruptcy. It continues today under the WWE 2K banner with WWE 2K17.
I’ve owned every single game in this franchise since its inception in 2000 with WWF SmackDown, so I know what kind of hype this game generates every year. It’s no different this year with WWE 2K17. We’ve seen the trailers, watched the roster reveal, and listened to the countless improvements; now it’s time to see how this game stacks up!
No 2K Showcase This Year
I’m going to go ahead and address the elephant in the room right now since I know this is going to be a big talking point for WWE 2K17. Yes, they have removed the polarizing 2K Showcase mode from WWE 2K17. Personal opinions on this omission will vary. I certainly saw the value in having it, but I didn’t like how linear it was and how annoying some of the objectives were.
I’m not going to miss 2K Showcase at all to be quite honest, but I know some people probably bought the game just for that. It had to do with the fact that there are certain stars that were needed for the Lesnar story that 2K couldn’t include (CM Punk, Kurt Angle etc.). I’d much rather a new type of single-player mode, so hopefully they can come up with something for next year.
MyCareer Mode is the major single-player mode in WWE 2K17 and it carries over a lot of similarities from 2K16 which may turn some players off. I know that I was a little less than thrilled with last year’s edition. I spent 50 hours in MyCareer beating everyone and I still didn’t have a WWE World Championship shot. I’m noticing much of the same inconsistent ranking with this year’s version. I beat Tyson Kidd three weeks in a row including at Takeover: Brooklyn. He is still ranked 6th for the NXT Championship while I am sitting at 9th.
I can live with the Rankings annoyance a little bit, but it is still a big negative for the mode. The redeeming factor in all of this is that Virtual Currency is obtained through Universe and Play Modes as well now while you also seem to get more of it than last year. SP has been removed, VC is the only form of currency in the game, thankfully.
There are a few new additions this year to MyCareer Mode that differ from last year. There is still the Authority approval meter (which I feel is outdated this year) but, you can also become a Paul Heyman Guy/Girl. I haven’t really gotten too far with this to know every detail, but basically, Brock and Paul will be your allies. Also new for this year is the ability to fight for the NXT Tag-Team Titles which were notably absent last year. You can hold multiple titles at once this time too which is a welcome change.
The new Promo Engine also adds a new dynamic to the mode and I’ll talk about that in detail in the gameplay section below.
Other than those changes, it’s the same MyCareer Mode that you remember from last year. Players will rank up to win the championship of their choosing. VC can be used to purchase attributes, skills, unlockables, and managers. That’s pretty much it. I was let down a lot by this mode this year. I expected much more than a new coat of paint. I feel like this could be the definitive mode if there was more of a story element.
WWE Universe Mode
If there has been one mode that has consistently gotten better in the WWE 2K series, it’s WWE Universe Mode. This mode lets you control nearly everything about your WWE Shows. If you want to create ECW, you can, WCW, you can. Anything goes. This mode didn’t receive a lot of under the hood improvements, it wasn’t broken and there wasn’t much to change. That doesn’t mean it’s the same, though.
This year, the development team decided to work on the show presentation. The result of that is a free-flowing show that mimics what we see on TV every week. Every show has the full intro video package, pyro, and commentary. That’s just the aesthetic stuff that adds a nice touch to your experience.
In addition to the presentation, there are a couple big features that can change the complexion of feuds in Universe Mode (as well as MyCareer) The promo engine adds promo segments randomly (or you can create your own). The promos add to your status as heel or face and change your personality traits depending on your choices. There are also run-ins and pre/post match attacks. If you want to make a statement, you can do that almost any time you want to. I’m glad this is finally a widely used feature.
Universe Mode is just as addictive as it has always been.
The brand new Promo-Engine is something that has been necessary in wrestling games for a long time. The way this engine has been implemented in WWE 2K17 isn’t quite up to the standard I had in my head. The promos are all text-based which means they’re silent. This isn’t a terrible thing and it would be hard for everyone to do voice-overs, but it makes it kind of awkward. Couple that with the fact that the promos are downright awful most of the time means that this promising feature isn’t as desirable as once thought. It’s a cool concept and I do find enjoyment in it, but it still needs some tweaking.
Backstage brawls and brawling in the crowd return to the 2K series after being abandoned a few games ago. It’s a nice option to fight in the crowd and it adds to the realism, but the backstage brawls feel gimmicky. It’s nice to have the option, but there’s not much to do back there and the entire backstage isn’t exactly the biggest area. SmackDown 2 on PS1 had the best backstage areas in my opinion and nothing has touched it since.
Multi-person matches received a lot of fine-tuning this year and for good reason. These types of matches have always been a chaotic mess of bodies. It’s not the way these matches actually are on WWE TV. It’s usually 2 people in the ring most of the time after the other participants take a big bump and roll to the outside.
The roll-out feature not only makes things more realistic, but it makes these matches more functional and fun. It adds a psychology to these matches that wasn’t there before. Does it make sense to try and get back in the ring quickly or should you let your character lie on the outside for a bit longer to steal a victory at the perfect moment? It’s all up to you. Some may find it annoying, but it’s a lot more realistic and it makes multi-man matches way more enjoyable.
If the roll-out feature wasn’t enough to make multi-person matches better, the manual targeting system should be the icing on the cake. Gone are the days when you deck the referee by mistake. With a simple button press, you can choose which opponent you’re facing. This system makes it much easier to even the odds against 2 opponents. I’m not sure how this one wasn’t a default option before, but I’m glad to have it now. More control is always a good thing.
The submission system is a little bit easier to use this year. It is carried over from last year, but it feels like they’ve tweaked it to be more responsive. If you don’t like the wheel, you can use a sequence of button presses instead. I felt like the wheel was a much better option. Pins are the same as last year. Like it or not, it’s the best pinning system that can be utilized.
Graphics & Customization
This is one of the best-looking wrestling games I’ve ever seen.
The character models have been vastly improved and the majority of them look true to life. There are a few models that could use some work, but for the most part, these wrestlers look as realistic as ever. This year, you can even choose how oiled up your star is? Kind of strange, but that’s how detailed the graphics are. The hair even seems to be much better this year after years of mediocrity. This is the first year that I feel like CAWs are on par with the actual character models from 2K.
Beyond the actual characters, there was definitely more work done graphically on the game. The lighting, in particular, is much better than it has been in previous games. There’s actually an option to play in certain arenas during the day, evening, or night.
The great thing about everything looking so polished this year is that it makes creating things a really fun and rewarding experience. WWE 2K17 has a huge creation suite to cater to anything you may feel like dreaming up. All the standard creation tools are there including Superstar, Championship, Entrance, Move-Set, Show, and Arena. There are even some new tools to help make your experience that much more tailored to you.
The two new creation tools this year are Video and Victory. Now, Create a Video was in before and it’s great to have it back. It’s a lot better when you can create your own entrance video for our CAW rather than using some generic one from an existing Superstar. Create a Victory is equally as good. One of the most annoying aspects of 2K16 was having to see the same cheesy victory sequence after every win. It makes the game less repetitive.
Online and DLC
The online modes are the same as last year. There’s nothing really tweaked there which is disappointing. There’s a lot that can be done online if 2K would take the time to build infrastructure to support an online Universe or something similar. I have doubts that we’ll ever see that kind of a thing, but it’s a cool thought.
The DLC for this year’s game is a good offering featuring people like Tye Dillinger, Eddie Guerrero, and more. I have a problem with not being able to buy the NXT Enhancement Pack right now though. Apollo Crews and Nia Jax should have easily been included in the main game and now I can’t even use them until they release this pack on PS4/XBO. Last generation users can download it right away for half the price. I legitimately don’t understand how that makes any sense.
For those who want a Showcase, you’re in luck. 2K will release a 2016 Hall of Fame Showcase featuring those Hall of Famers in the coming months. A New Moves Pack will also be released later on featuring some new maneuvers for your move-sets.
I feel like 2K really milks DLC for all it’s worth considering a lot of these guys and girls should be on the main game. Anderson, Gallows, Jax, Crews, Aries, and Rawley all debuted in time to make the cut. It’s the same every year, but it doesn’t make it right.
I could go on and on about WWE 2K17, but the main point is that this game is there for you to manipulate and make your own. If someone isn’t in the game, you can download them. If you don’t like a show, change it. You can have virtually everything you want your way and that’s how a wrestling game should be. This game reminds me a lot of No Mercy in play-style. 2K has definitely polished the series at this point.
I would recommend WWE 2K17 to any wrestling fan. It’s a step up from 2K16 and while it may not be a leap forward, there is enough content here to justify the purchase.