WWE 2K17 Hands-On Preview
Anyone who has played any of the recent WWE games by 2K and Yuke’s will be instantly familiar with the in-ring action in WWE 2K17. The sports entertainment simulation still largely revolves around timed counters and earning momentum in order to dish out devastating finishing moves. It’s more of the same in that aspect, but 2K has made some major changes elsewhere.
The biggest area where WWE 2K17 towers above its predecessor is in its presentation. This ranges from new camera angles that mimic how the actual television product is shot (although thankfully with a whole lot less shaking). This is definitely impressive at first, but the sudden shift in camera sometimes led to me walking in the wrong direction or missing an attack I was planning. Hopefully this will be ironed out before release, but there’s no denying that the flashiness adds an extra layer of authenticity to the product.
“The biggest area where WWE 2K17 towers above its predecessor is in its presentation.”
I was also really impressed by several of the wrestler entrances that I saw. Pre-order DLC character Goldberg has a particularly awesome entrance as he’s escorted by police officers to the ring just like he was in real life. Another standout was Rick Rude’s entrance, as he actually cut a promo on the crowd during it. I didn’t expect that level of detail for a past star, but it was a really nice touch to one of the deceased greats. A few things struck me as weird, though, such as displaying Twitter handles when playing a retro stage, but the presentation is still leagues above last year’s game.
Other new additions includes tweaks to how the game handles ladder matches. Instead of being able to set ladders up all over the ring, it now can only be stood up in a few certain positions (such as against a corner or in the center). While they are technically restricting what the player can do, it makes ladder matches much more playable. In past games it wasn’t uncommon for me to take a handful of attempts until I had the ladder in the right spot, now it’s always there. It’s a small change, but it’s one that definitely make ladder matches less of a chore to play.
WWE 2K17 also features the biggest roster yet, and I got to play as some of my old favorites such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts and even newer NXT superstars such as Shinsuke Nakamura. With such a huge cast of professional wrestlers, it allowed me to create some dream matches that I’ll sadly never get to see in real life. Also due to the sheer size of the roster, it’s clear that some characters got a lot more time put into them. For example, John Cena is highly detailed and looks just like his real-life counterpart. Meanwhile Nikki Bella looks like a strange deformed version of the Total Divas star. It’s disappointing that the graphics still seem to be all over the place, as it’s quite strange to see a phenomenal looking character going up against someone who looks like they are from an early build.
“WWE 2K17 also features the biggest roster yet, and I got to play as some of my old favorites such as Jake “The Snake” Roberts and even newer NXT superstars such as Shinsuke Nakamura.”
Also returning is the gameplay’s general jankiness. Due to the sheer number of mechanics going on (and the various sizes of the different superstars), it’s impossible for there not to be glitches, and I ran into quite a few while playing. One particularly hilarious one happened when I tried to pick up a table with Vader, and the table teleported underneath the ring forcing Vader’s arm to wrap around his body. Everything was fine after I “dropped” the table, and I found it more funny than dismaying. Still, it shows that the yearly cycle the games are on prove difficult to get all of the bugs out.
These bugs didn’t really detract from my fun, though. I ended up having a pretty enjoyable time during my several hours with the game, and a lot of it was spent in the game’s revamped career mode. Once again players get to create a superstar (who can be made super deformed if you wish), and they undergo a tryout at NXT. Due to a very successful session where I ended up beating Samoa Joe, I actually started out my career in the WWE as a member of a tag team. I assume that players that don’t do as well will have to make their way through NXT, but I thought it was pretty cool that I could skip developmental.
One of the biggest additions to this mode is the ability to cut promos. This is done by selecting pre-written lines of dialogue, and the player gains points by putting together something that actually makes sense. It also shows whether the crowd thinks you’re a face or a heel, although I cut a pretty negative promo and ended up getting a babyface pop. The developers I talked to said that crowds will react differently to certain types of promos (such as a “smarky” crowd actually cheering the heel), so I guess I’ll have to learn to read the crowd better. Even if I wasn’t blown away by the implementation, I’m glad that 2K is going down this route. Talking is such a large part of why professional wrestling is beloved, and it’s been often ignored in the games. This might not be the solution, but if they keep at it they’ll eventually get there.
Besides the revamped career mode, the game also added in the ability to fight backstage and in the crowd. Both are enjoyable diversions, and I especially liked fighting backstage. I was fighting during an episode of RAW, and while brawling I was actually able to interrupt an interview that Sami Zayn was giving to Renee Young. They both ran off as Heath Slater and R-Truth continued to beat the snot out of each other with chairs and other objects. It was a really cool sequence, and it should add some nice variety. I definitely feel like the teams at 2K and Yuke’s are succeeding at making the game feel more like an actual wrestling show.
If there was one major disappointment it was finding out that 2K Showcases won’t be returning in the base game (although some are coming to the game via DLC). This is the mode that lets players relive classic matches and feuds, with last year’s being a phenomenal look at the entire career of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Considering this was my favorite mode, this was a big blow. Hopefully the gameplay additions will make up for this mode removal.
For better or for worse, WWE 2K17 looks to be another WWE game. Fans of last year’s installment will be thrilled to see the series making some smart steps forward, but it’s not doing anything drastically different. Still, the small improvements add up, and this was the most fun I’ve had with actually playing a WWE game in years. Hopefully this holds up, and we’ll find out once WWE 2K17 releases October 11th.