This past week I had a chance to head out to a special 2K event and play a near final version of WWE 2K16. Upon arrival the team from 2K informed us that we can jump right into the game and have free range to play and try every mode included in this year's game. The event was especially cool because I am a lifelong WWE fan and the WWE games are one of the few titles that I purchase annually. I had a chance to talk with some of the development team and they also had WWE superstars, Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose, come by to spend some time with us (I made sure to tell Daniel of my disdain for the Seattle Seahawks).
Last year's game, WWE 2K15, was the first on the current gen systems (PS4 & Xbox One) so I was eager to see what the team could do with another year under the championship belt, if you smell what I'm cooking. I can tell you 2K16 is very similar to 2K15 and to me that isn't necessarily a bad thing. They took time to refine some of the gameplay and while it is largely unchanged some of the changes they made greatly improve how you approach playing.
Since we were given the near final game to mess around with, and had no limitations, I first tried out this year's showcase mode. The showcase mode is essentially the story mode for the WWE games. This year's showcase features the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Throughout the showcase you will play not only classic Stone Cold WWE matches but also his WCW and ECW matches. My time with this mode was somewhat short because I wanted to check out everything else the game had to offer during my limited time with it. During my play I had a chance to play the King of the Ring match where Austin 3:16 was born. 2K does an incredible job recreating this moment, by showing actual match footage, including Austin's iconic 3:16 speech, and even having Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler create commentary exclusive to showcase. The attitude era is one of my favorite generations of professional wrestling so I was very impressed with the authenticity during my time with the showcase mode.
A problem I've had with the past several years of the franchise has been the reversals. If you are playing with someone who knows what they are doing, it would turn into a reversal-fest and usually the outcome of the match would come down to who misses that last crucial reversal. In 2K16 you now have a limited amount of reversals, which varies based on each wrestler (so some of the bigger guys might have less reversal stocked than the smaller more agile superstars). The used reversals will regenerate over time also, so you aren't completely limited to what you start the match with. Playing some matches against the computer as well as some other event goers really showed how important this change is. It made the matches feel more realistic while also adding an extra level of strategy onto the game. A good player is going to have to decide which moves are beneficial to reverse, since more than likely you will eventually run out of reversals.
Another cool addition is what they are calling “Dynamic Entrances." Now while you're waiting for your opponent to enter the ring you can ambush them. But watch your back because the same can happen to you while you're headed to the ring. Wrestlers who enter with weapons or different entrance gear will still have those items when the entrance gets interrupted for an extra level of consistency and authenticity. I was really surprised how smooth the transition is, if you decided to interrupt your opponent's entrance. After playing some matches with this feature, I don't know how they haven't included this prior to 2K16.
This year's release also boasts the largest roster of any WWE game ever, which is quite the accomplishment. While I would have liked a bit more legends (Sorry Hulkamaniacs, he's definitely not in the game), it's still pretty incredible just how many wrestlers there is to choose from. During my time with the game I don't think I used the same wrestler twice and I still feel like I missed out on playing with certain guys (most of the NXT roster). If the included roster of over 120 superstars isn't enough, 2K has also increased the Create A Wrestler slots to 100. If all of the Create A Wrestler slots are utilized you're looking at a roster of over 200!
WWE 2K15 had what some might categorize as “Montreal Screwjob” DLC. The season pass didn't include every piece of DLC and some of the offered DLC was rather lackluster (One More Match, and Hall of Pain showcase mode). I had to chance to speak with 2K's WWE Brand Director, Bryce Yang, and while he couldn't give me any exact details for this year's DLC content, he did say it's expansive and fans will be happy with it. After speaking with Bryce for a bit and talking of not only the WWE games but also WWE history, I feel the WWE franchise is in safe hands and I trust that some good DLC will come out for this years title to help wipe away the memory of last year's mess.
Fans of the WWE 2K series should be pleased with the improvements and additions made to this year's game. After my time with the game I am even more excited and eager to play some more. October 27th can't come soon enough.