While the latest WWE title from 2K Games isn't set to hit stores until October 11, there's already been plenty of announcements and speculation regarding it. We already know that Goldberg is this year's special pre-order character, Brock Lesnar will be on the cover and there will be a special NXT edition of the game (selling at a cool $99.99).
Every year's edition of the game adds and removes features and, obviously, characters - much in the same way a yearly sports title like Madden or FIFA would. Sometimes these changes are well received and other times... eh... yeah. In WWE 2K16, 2K games experimented with the concept of limited reversals - depending on their skill level, every wrestler could only counter moves a certain number of times before having to wait for a meter to refill. It added a bit more strategy to the game, which was greeted with hearty smiles and thumbs up by most. Too bad actually performing the reversals was frustrating as hell (Seriously, there is NO WAY I hit the R2 button "too fast", you stupid game!)
As we wait for more news and announcements to come out on this new title, we're taking a look at eight things that we, if we were in charge, would like to include in the game - as well as eight things we hope 2K doesn't do.
What they need to do:
16 Yes: Keep The Roster Size Growing
WWE 2K16 had an impressive 133 characters right out of the box - and that didn't include DLC additions, either. With the downloadable extras, the entire roster reached a total of 165 Superstars. Considering the previous game only had 67 roster members, this was a serious step up.
Considering the size of the current roster - and the fact that a number of NXT stars will also be included (including the confirmed Shinsuke Nakamur) - plus the number of currently active Legends contracts, it's not unrealistic to think that 2K Games should be able to outdo that. With the brand extension now in effect and more wrestlers joining the main roster by the day, WWE should be able to include more characters in the game. Once you get to a number that high, it's hard to sell to your customers that you're reducing the number significantly.
15 No: Glitches
Unless you're Nintendo, it's probably unreasonable to expect a developer to produce an absolutely 100% bug-free game. The glitches in WWE 2K16 are pretty well documented, though. Of course, online patches have cleared these up and, let's be honest, the amount of people who a) have a PS4, b) can afford to buy a $60 game for it and c) can't afford Internet access is pretty small but, still.
There were some funny examples of glitches that emerged in last year's game, but one in particular saw John Cena floating into space, as if he was abducted by invisible aliens. While that would be a cool storyline to see, you don't want it interrupting your gaming experience, right?
Let's put a little more effort into Q/A this time around, okay guys? It's impossible to completely eliminate glitches in an annual edition of a game, but at least reduce it please.
14 Yes: More Focus On The Storyline Aspect Of Wrestling
One of my biggest gripes with the WWE 2K Games (and, let's face it, most wrestling video games in general) is that they're more focused on being a "wrestling simulator" than adapting the storytelling aspects.
This isn't to say that attention should be taken away from the actual gameplay, as nobody gives a hoot about story if the game isn't any fun to play - and that goes for all games, not just wrestling games. But, let's be honest, WWE 2K16's WWE Universe mode gets pretty damn boring pretty damn fast. Let's hope they expand upon this more for this year's edition.
Wrestling games can sometimes feel like just any old sports game, but wrestling has the benefit in having this extra dimension of entertainment that sports just can't attain due to their nature. 2K Games should really take advantage of this aspect.
13 No: Excuses
2K Games came up with nearly every excuse they could think of for not having the "Four Horsewomen" on NXT in WWE 2K16. It was too hard or it would cost too much money or... whatever. I'm not calling 2K Games sexist... No, I'm seriously not. I'm not a game developer, I don't know this stuff works. But, much like when Ubisoft claimed that adding the option of creating a female character for Assassin's Creed Unity's multiplayer mode wasn't an option for a multitude of reasons, most gamers smelled- pardon my French - bulls*** when they heard it.
This time around, when it comes to developing WWE 2K17, let's hope they learned from this and we won't have a situation like this again. Times have changed significantly, more women are playing video games and 2K Games cannot afford to leave anyone feeling underrepresented when enjoying their product.
12 Yes: A Return To The Original Showcase/"Road to WrestleMania" Modes
Let's be honest - it was pretty awesome to revisit the Attitude Era and the "Thirty Years of WrestleMania" in previous games and their "Showcase" modes. Lately, however, it feels like maybe these "revisiting history" showcases have kind of run their course. Last year's retrospective of Stone Cold Steve Austin's career was decent enough, but was hardly anything special.
There's no confirmation on what the Showcase for WWE 2K17 will be, but we kind of hope it goes in the direction that we last saw in WWE '12, which saw a narrative that spanned 18 months and had three original scenarios play out - including the formation of The United Kingdom stable (consisting of Sheamus, Wade Barrett, Drew McIntyre and William Regal) that predated the League of Nations by years. Of course, that mode sort of ended in a whimper as players took control of a create-a-wrestler named Jacob Cass (who was actually voiced by current NXT star Austin Aries), but that's merely an issue of execution, not a problem with the concept itself.
11 No: The Same Rreversal System
WWE 2K16's new addition to the reversal system - limiting the amount of times you can counter a move in a set amount of time - gave the game a nice little strategic twist. Do I burn up one of these reversals, you may ask yourself? Or do I take the damage and save it for later?
Of course, this was all contingent on being able to actually PERFORM THE COUNTER WHAT DO YOU MEAN TOO FAST YOU STUPID GAME I HATE YO..... sorry. Got carried away there.
While there has to be some kind of element of strategy to a game and sometimes the game has to feel like a challenge, it gets incredibly irritating at times to time a reversal to perfection. It seems that sometimes for half the match, you're only concentrating on reversing and worrying about preventing a reversal from your opponent.
10 Yes: New, Original Online Modes
Personally, I'm not a big fan of online multiplayer - for me, it's more of a hassle than it's worth, what with lag issues, coordinating times to meet up with my friends online and, if I can't manage that, having to deal with listening to some 12-year-old calling my mom a hermaphrodite or something. That being said, I get the appeal of it (online multiplayer, I mean, not calling my mom mean names), and I'd like to see some work done on it.
Pro wrestling isn't like normal sports, and so pro wrestling games shouldn't be like regular sports games. This might be too ambitious for a regular online mode in the regular game - and maybe more for a game in of itself - but how great would it be to be able to create your own online wrestling league, with friends and strangers joining with their own create-a-wrestlers and creating your own titles and such? SO great, that's how great.
9 No: Non-Wrestling Theme Soundtracks
Look, I get it. 2K and WWE both want these games to be considered on par with the other yearly sports titles. And those other titles all have soundtracks with big name artists and the like. But, among the many, many things that makes wrestling different from those other sports is that their competitors all have their own custom theme music. Which is why it's a little disorienting when we hear Macklemore or Skid Row on the menu screen and not anywhere else.
Why not go the original route and just have wrestling themes play during the menu? Or, at the very least, mix them in with your regular soundtrack. Skipping the pop music altogether can save you money, too - freeing up money to improve the Universe mode. Besides, you have a genius in Jim Johnston as your music composer; why not just give him the task of a theme?
8 Yes: Better DLC. I Mean, Seriously...
Fans were understandably... perturbed... when it was announced that NXT's "Four Horsewomen" (Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Bailey) wouldn't be included in the game - not even via DLC. And then, following that debacle, the "Future Stars" DLC pack included Samoa Joe (YAY!), Blake & Murphy (um... OK... yay!) and... Los Matadores (yay?).
Whatever the actual reason for not including the folks behind the major resurgence of women in wrestling, that's not really the issue we're discussing here. What is the issue is that if you're not going to put any thought into your DLC, don't put it out at all. Nothing against Primo and Epico (man, I loved them when they were managed by Rosa Mendes and she did that thing on the ropes and... anyway... sorry... where was I?), but it just seemed weird to shoehorn them into a DLC pack with three other NXT up-and-comers, you know?
7 No: Another "Historical" Campaign Mode
As I mentioned before, the previous campaign/"Showcase" modes based on WWE history were all pretty good. "30 Years Of WrestleMania" was a highlight, as well as the Attitude Era campaign (thanks to the input of one Paul Heyman). This year's Stone Cold Steve Austin career retrospective wasn't half bad, either.
However, now it seems like it's to the point where it's kind of played out. I mean, what's next; we'll have to play out Triple H's career? How would you enjoy winning the world title 14 times and being the king of RAW for five years? Well, that actually sounds fun, but it would take a damn long time to play out Triple H's career.
There's no word on what the Showcase mode will be this time around - let's hope they're ditching it to - once again - improve the damn Universe mode.
6 Yes: Is It Possible To Get Better Commentary?
Let's be honest here - recording commentary for a pro wrestling video game has got to be an exhausting, time consuming process. Especially for Michael Cole who, whether you like him or not, is an extremely hard working, busy guy. So, you know it's got to be hard work to get the current commentary team into a studio to record hours upon hours of dialogue, comments about each individual wrestler (including the ones in the DLC), and the incidental stuff ("Oooooh, that's gotta hurt!"). I don't doubt that both the commentators and the game developers worked as hard as they could to give us their best possible result.
That being said... woof. Between constant repetition of numerous phrases, Jerry Lawler's dad jokes, and can someone explain to me what the hell "educated feet" means? Seriously. This is a problem that I fully admit I have no idea how to solved, considering the circumstances but... geez... does anybody have any ideas?
5 No: Season Passes That Don't Include ALL DLC
So, here's the deal. You spend $60 on a game, and then, since you plan on getting the DLC anyway, you go ahead and pay an extra $35 (more than half the price of the game) for the Season Pass. Then you read those words that make you just want to throw your copy of the game into the Long Island Sound - "Season Pass DOES NOT INCLUDE..."
Wait. What? Why not? I just shelled out a bunch of money before the product isn't released and it doesn't come with ALL the DLC? What kind of horsehockey is this? If you're spending $100 on a game, you'd better get the works. Granted, I'll make an exception (albeit reluctantly) for the pre-order content - although it really should be made available to Season Pass holders eventually. But the Extra Moves packs? Additional wrestlers?
As Joe Biden would say, that's a bunch of malarkey.
4 Yes: Keep Improving MyCareer Mode
WWE 2K16's MyCareer mode was a breath of fresh air the series really needed. Despite the fact that the player's character's voice was the same no matter what kind of wrestler they created (again, like the commentary point, how were they supposed to fix that?), it was a seriously legit mode on par with the career modes in other 2K sports games.
So, yeah, what we want to see is just 2K Games keep improving on that. Perhaps they can give you the option of choosing between making your character a "silent badass" and a "witty chatterbox". Maybe they can also determine that kind of allies or rivals you would have based on your character.
Even that doesn't matter. What we really want is for 2K to just keep improving on an already excellent game mode. Odds are, we are going to get some kind of improvement on the mode this year.
3 No: A Lack Of Original Music For Create-A-Wrestler Themes
Don't you hate it when you've made the perfect original create-a-wrestler - everything from their look to their entrance is exactly how you want it - only to find there are only, like, five choices of entrance music that aren't an existing theme song? And one of them is "Hail To The Chief", which is technically the President of the United States' entrance theme, when you think about it.
Come on, 2K. If you're not going to let us use our own music in the game, at least give us some original options. Or, if you insist in including pop music soundtracks in your game, at least let us use those. It just doesn't make sense how there are infinite options in creating your wrestler's appearance and adding to their moveset, but then the entrance themes are so limited.
2 Yes: The WWE Universe Mode Needs To Be A Major Focus
I'm not an idiot. Okay, that's arguable. But, I fully realize that the Showcase modes are what sells these WWE games to casual fans - casual video game and wrestling fans. But, to my point earlier, the storytelling aspect of pro wrestling needs to feature more in these games. And the WWE Universe mode is the storytelling mode in these games. So... why has it been so boring?
In WWE 2K16, I found myself skipping matches that weren't "rivalry matches". I realize that every so often, storyline moments would happen on other shows - and it was also cool to be able to create other shows, as well - but why do I have to wait for things to happen? If I wanted to wait ridiculous amounts of time for a story to advance, I'd just watch WWE TV.
1 No: The Same Old "Business As Usual" Mentality
Look, I get it. Making a big budget video game is both really hard and really expensive. Especially on a title that comes out every year, like the WWE 2K games. And, let's be honest, as often as we nitpick the games, they're actually pretty good year after year. The strive to maintain a high level of quality with each edition and it shows. So, thank you, Yuke's and 2K Games, we appreciate it.
That being said, I do wish they'd step out of their comfort zones a little bit and try something different this year (or next year, probably, since I'm pretty sure the game has gone Gold at this point). Something out of left field, like.... like... I dunno. A WWE Zombies mode?
All I'm saying is give us something different and, if it doesn't work, I promise we won't hold it against you.