WWE’s annual video game franchise is back and it looks more lifelike than ever – for the most part. Find out what’s new this year in our full WWE 2K18 Review.
|Release Date||October 17, 2017|
The WWE 2K series is a series that hasn’t seen much improvement over the last few years. As soon as 2K took over the series from THQ, they started to improve the series, but it hit a plateau with WWE 2K16 and we haven’t seen much difference since then. Luckily, this year, 2K and Yuke’s decided to shake things up a bit and add some features and changes that fans have been clamouring for for years. While it still leaves room for improvement, there’s a lot to like in WWE 2K18.
Let’s start off with what’s new. The big new feature this year is the ability to lift and carry opponents. There are four carry positions: fireman’s carry, cradle, over the shoulder, and powerbomb. You have the freedom to walk around anywhere and slam your opponent down wherever you’d like including place like the steel steps. You can even put them on the top turnbuckle if you desire. It opens up a ton of options that make matches feel a little less monotonous. It’s especially cool to take a bigger, stronger character like Braun Strowman and powerbomb smaller wrestlers out of the ring. This gives you a bit of an advantage when playing as a big man.
Tag matches have also seen a couple notable improvements. Hot tags now occur more frequently and don’t include the stupid cutscene that messed up the flow of matches previously. Now, a wrestler simply comes in with a small buff that allows them to get the upper-hand on the other team for a brief time. Tag matches also now feature the fatigue system that was implemented to Triple Threat and Fatal 4 Way matches last year. This makes it much easier to get the victory when one of the wrestlers is recovering. It’s a big deal considering how difficult it was to get the pin when the opposite team was always there to break up the pinfall. You can even have 8-man tag team matches or Battle Royales now which we haven’t seen since SmackDown! Just Bring It.
As far as gameplay innovations go, that’s pretty much it. You’re getting virtually the same matches and playstyle as the last game with the few improvements I’ve mentioned tacked on. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing as the in-ring product has been solid in this game, but other people may have a different opinion.
MyCareer Mode continues to be the main game mode in WWE 2K18 and it has been re-worked into more of an RPG experience than previous years. You’re now allowed to explore backstage areas, chat with superstars, align yourself with or against The Authority, and take on side quests. It sounds great on paper, but it really falls flat because of how awful the dialogue is. If you thought the promo system that debuted last year was bad, it returns along and the dialogue is similar in tone. Simply put, the writing is terrible. You’ll hear things that you’d never hear a wrestler say and other things that are simply juvenile. It completely took me out of the experience.
If you can get past the campy dialogue and promos, MyCareer Mode is quite a bit better than last year’s offering. I barely got a mid-card championship after 40 hours of gameplay last year. It’s not like that in WWE 2K18. It’s just much less of a grind and a lot more fun. I felt more in control of the direction of my character and wasn’t locked into 100 matches with Dolph Ziggler. There was much more variety and I think there is a ton of potential for this mode judging from what they created in just one year. This is how this mode always should have been. Freedom is key and I’d like to see even more of it next year.
Road to Glory is a new online component and it is tied to MyCareer. It allows you to take your created player online to compete against other players to gain stars to earn a spot on a Pay Per View. I have yet to spend enough time to qualify for a PPV mostly because I’ve had a difficult time finding online match-ups. I think this is an interesting concept, but I didn’t personally enjoy it very much. It felt like it was just tacked on. I also disliked having a loot box system for new attire, moves or stat boosts for Road to Glory. It’s not a pay to win game since you can only use virtual currency, but it still seems unnecessary. I’d rather buy what I want than hope I get something worthwhile.
WWE Universe Mode returns and you’re getting more of the same this year. I think that the developers haven’t given this one enough attention and I’d use it a lot more if they did. The only real additions were small tweaks to rivalries and a few new cutscenes to spice things up. That’s just not enough. This is the mode that countless streamers use to stream their E-Feds and they deserve an even deeper experience for their viewers. There’s nothing wrong with the mode as it is, but there are more additions that can be made and I hope we see some of that next year.
The Creation Suite is just as good as it has always been with the ability to create pretty much any entrance, Superstar, championship, or arena you want. It all works as well as it ever has and Community Creations continues to give you access to a bunch of content created by other players. The only thing new this year is Create A Match which allows you to customize the rules of almost any match to your liking. You can’t do things like a Hell in a Cell Ladder Match, but it is pretty deep allowing for things like time limits, recovery time, and whether you start with a finisher or not. It’s a good addition to the Creation Suite and it really feels like it completes that suite of tools.
The big complaint I have about WWE 2K18 is the amount of polish put in. There are still some glaring glitches such as Samoa Joe getting stuck behind the tables in catering and the fact that a lot of the women still look awful when compared to their male counterparts. For some reason, hair still seems to be a very difficult thing for the developers to nail. On the other hand, there were some really nice touches like AJ Styles taking off his belt as he entered the ring in the Elimination Chamber, looking at it, holding it up, then giving it to the referee. It was just like TV. That’s what I expect from these games, it should feel just like what we see on TV, and it doesn’t more often than not.
WWE 2K18 looks better than ever thanks to its new graphics engine despite still having some bad facial animations and awful hair, the roster is bigger than ever, and the gameplay is as solid as its ever been. I just feel that the game modes are a bit lacking in terms of quality. I feel like we say that every year and yet the fact remains. Yuke’s and 2K never seem to get things quite right in that regard which is a shame with how good the actual matches and aesthetics are. I’d recommend this one for anyone who just wants to play some matches or use WWE Universe Mode. If you play the bulk of your time in MyCareer, I’d wait until next year when they hopefully have some better writing and more immersion.