Early access has passed and WWE 2K18 is now available for everyone. No doubt many fans are still on the fence about picking up this year’s game. It’s no secret annual launch communities often believe you skip one game and wait until the following year in hopes of a better built game. Especially, when some early access players consider WWE 2K18 the most broken game to date.
WWE 2K18 is a meaty game. There are a lot of aspects to cover and I’m still exploring. However, I can confidently write that this year’s game is not the one to skip.
WWE 2K18 Review
First, the biggest thing about WWE 2K18, the new graphics engine. No matter what platform you play, the new engine pays dividends. The game is gorgeous. Typically, only company top and internet popular superstars are prioritized with the best models. This time around, nearly every superstar looks flawless. That includes WWE superstar Dana Brooks.
Superstar models aren’t the only thing to benefit from the new engine either. Characters created via the Creation Suite look just as sleek and detailed. Clothing items have more movement in addition to expanded material detail. Entrances and arenas really pop as well. The enhanced visuals effectively give the feel of a TV presentation of a WWE event.
Leading up to the game, many scoffed at the first shots of in-game footage inside the elimination chamber. Admittedly, match lighting in certain cases can detract from the crispy models. However, it’s only the lighting and not enough to detract from the fact that this year is the best looking WWE game.
The same goes for the user interface. WWE games have never really had an issue with intuitive menus. WWE 2K18 remains easy to navigate despite its robust selection of content. The background screens this year are 3D rotating scenes of in-ring competition. Much like that of DC vs. Mortal Kombat from last gen. Honestly, a basic 2D image may have saved some disc space and been just as cool.
The Creation Suite this year remains largely intact. Most of the experience here is the same as WWE 2K17 with a few big exceptions.
For starters, created superstars can still only have up to two attires. However, there are more ways to get creative with your custom character. The additional hairstyles give life to more ethnically diverse superstars, but not by much. Although, all hair models have been upgraded. So, even if you choose one included in last year’s game, you still look up to par. While the removal of teeth is a neat and thoughtful detail, the exclusion of mouth-guards is still a mystery. Especially, when mouth-guards are worn by stars like Kurt Angle and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Fans still have a wide variety of other-world looking facial hairs enhanced by the new engine as well. There are still a few models for those looking for something simple. As far as attires are concerned, there wasn’t a noticeably large amount of new generic pieces added to the game. Some were even removed and replaced with alternate versions. However, if you don’t mind using a WWE authentic item of clothing, there is a lot to choose from. From jackets to boots, nearly every piece of clothing from new roster additions are free to use. All of Sanity’s jackets look amazing.
The new logo mapping feature is neat and works as it should. You can effectively wrap a logo around cylindrical portions of the body with ease without the fear of feathered edges. Logos also have an edit mode built into the suite. Here, it creates a copy of the logo and allows you to do things like edit away specific parts.
And Stay Fixed!
There are a few mesh issues. Some make a few pieces completely unusable. Most noticeably Kane’s 2002 mask. It’s unfortunate because that is arguably the best version of the Big Red Machine. I only tested this mask on Kane, so there is a chance it works perfectly fine for other character models.
Something absent in WWE games since possibly RAW 2 for the OG Xbox made its return. When placing logos on boots, you now have the option to place them on the left, right or both. However, the “both” option is still virtually useless since the logos do not place symmetrically as they did back in WWE 2K15.
In addition, some the of the boots in the game do not play well with official WWE superstar models. When changing The Brian Kendrick’s attire, I noticed his foot sticking out of the bottom of a few boot meshes. While I understand new game engines can task developers, this was an issue that was addressed just last year. This a problem that I believe should not have made it passed QA.
The MyPlayer for WWE 2K18 is your ticket into this year’s career mode and Road To Glory. Here is where a few early access players report several near game breaking bugs.
Upon entering this mode for the first time, i noticed a few things. First off, the MyPlayer
Quick Setup Wizard is a useless tool. It does introduces a few things about the new MyPlayer mode. However, those very same tutorials pop-up again when advance customizing your MyPlayer. Hence, I fail to see a reason for the quick setup when the advance setup has templates for less time consuming approaches.
vs. Creation Suite
The game also doesn’t let you import superstars created using the standard Creation Suite. While inconvenient, there are reasons for this. Foremost, the hyped fighting styles for WWE 2K18 only come into play during the MyPlayer modes. This includes MyCareer and Road To Glory. The attributes and skills structure described in earlier articles are also only applied in these modes. General gameplay and Universe Mode still use the basic structure seen in previous titles.
The new structure for progressing the MyPlayer seems forced. While many wrestlers have specific styles, it is not unheard of to be a hybrid. As far as I can tell, 2K did not compensate for this. The VC system is fine for unlocking items but seems unnecessary for a wrestling game as a whole. Since its 2K’s system for all their sports titles, it’s here to stay. For everything else outside of MyPlayer, I recommend getting the accelerator add-on.
The MyCareer does have some redeeming quality that I believe will be well received. Complaints about any narratives from previous titles centered around being too silly and having lack of depth. The stories simply didn’t take themselves serious. Not this time. While WWE 2K18 isn’t worthy of a Scott Lynch novel, the dialogue this year is very refreshing. When roaming the performance center for the first time, I couldn’t help but enjoy the exchange between Matt Bloom and myself.
First off, his model looked tremendous. Secondly, not only was his dialogue well written, but it had great conveyance for the tutorials given. Bloom was the most well written out of the characters I’ve met so far. The story that unfolded through my choices with Bloom (indie star newly hired) also was easy to take serious.
The only glaring issue I had was that the superstars’ personalities seemed random except for a few select people like Nikki Cross. Otherwise, you had Hideo who now speaks perfect English and heel Kassius Ohno calling me “sweetpie.”
4Universe Mode 3.0
Universe Mode has long since gone down hill since its inception. This year, it attempts to make quite a comeback.
In contrast to previous versions, storylines unfold even if the participants are not in an active rivalry. This actually makes playing every match on a card worth it. However, there are instances where inappropriate cutscenes play. An issue that can definitely ruin immersion.
Nonetheless, the mode has plenty of customizable options. The pending rivalry system is a great way to keep track of who is doing what. The same can be said for the individual superstar goals that bring to life personalities.
A lot of that also has to do with the revamped promo engine. The writing in this year’s game is leaps beyond its predecessors. Each choice of dialogue shows character and forward thinking. While it’s not Shakespeare, its definitely well-written for a WWE simulation.
The power rankings make a cool catalyst for rivalries in the mode. Many superstars tend to aim for the top much like in today’s WWE environment. And you don’t have to champ to be number one.
If you’ve ever given truly constructive criticism to a developer, then you may notice 2K listened this year. Several small features made their way into the game quietly. Most of them you had to simply find out by playing. This includes simple gameplay features like removing singlet straps, ruined face paint and contextual victory scenes for roll-up pins. A lot of the small additions will certainly be appreciated by hardcore and casual fans alike.
This year’s gameplay also strives for more authenticity. If you watch any other wrestling promotion, then you know WWE has a style to its own. In WWE 2K18, there have been more tweaks to match pacing. Now, matches are slower and require a feel for precision and finesse. Run heavy strategies tend to result in more mishaps than actual damage caused to the opponent. A change no doubt many will welcome.
Furthermore, the estimated hundreds of new animations are a really nice touch. Fans will notice smoother transitions and better sells during various scenarios. A really cool addition can be found when strong striking an opponent close to the ropes. They will hit the mat then roll out of the ring if the hit is hard enough. It doesn’t always happen, but it is a nice addition.
A Feel For The Mechanics
WWE 2K18 is jam packed full of new, returning and old game mechanics. A surprise return comes from Smackdown vs. Raw 2009. Hot-Tags have been reintroduced this year with a few tweaks. The tag doesn’t immediately result in a quick-time combo. However, it does give the newly tagged support a damage boost and is still initiated via dramatic leaping tag.
In addition, the match score system appears to be broken. I played a twenty minute match that only scored a 1.5 star rating until the end. The end match screen showed a 4.5 score over the 1.5 that appeared all match. Other times, the score simply didn’t respond to the action in the ring.
A really cool addition to WWE 2K18 is the highly touted Carrying System. Many compared it the Ultimate Control Grapple from Smackdown vs. RAW 2007. While they have glaring similarities, the new system is indeed superior. It does everything Ultimate Control did while allowing you to change clutches on the fly. However, the best part is the ability to interrupt certain moves mid animation and transition into the Carry System. In other words, if you’re going for the AA and realize you’re too far from the table, you can interrupt your AA and move closer then continue the move. This works for any move with one of the four clutches detailed in the 2K Dev Spotlight.
As mentioned, WWE 2K18 is a large game. From roster size to sheer customizable options, there’s a lot to cover. So, these next few things could be good or bad but, they deserve mention.
Contrary to popular belief, commentary this year is not completely trash. While Cole has some habitual repeated lines, it isn’t enough to detract from the brilliance of Corey Graves. Again, it is not perfect but your ears will not bleed this year.
Arena acoustics caught me off guard. You will notice the sound changes among different arena types like NXT’s Full Sail versus the outside Wrestlemania. It’s a welcomed touch and a nod to the fact that small details matter.
Community Creation servers are much better this year. WWE 2K has also streamlined their logo upload system. Gone are the tokens. The new system in place is fast and simple if you know you Xbox account, PSN and Steam account info.
Multi-man matches still feature lag. However, note that I tested this on a first gen Xbox One console. The Xbox One X, slims and PS4 Pros may not encounter this.
Strong strike sound quality takes a hit this year. Some may like it but, for me, it doesn’t do the strikes in the game justice. Everything tends to sound like a soft slap rather than a forearm to the jaw.
There are a few indie guys like Pentagon Dark, Shane Strickland (Killshot) and Kenny Omega who have moves and entrances included in WWE 2K18.
I attempted to recreate many glitches reported by certain YouTubers. Most of them I did not encounter including the Kurt Angle straps glitch for created superstars. This also could be a console specific thing; meaning some glitches may only appear for PC, etc. That being said, it does not mean they do not exist.
Lastly, The Rock may be cool but, his soundtrack choices are nothing to write home about.
With WWE 2K18, 2K takes a genuine shot at producing the best WWE game to date. There is a lot of old features making a return. Unfortunately, not all of them work 100% on the new engine. However, the new engine holds its own and creates the best looking WWE game to date.
Solo play is superb while local and multiplayer still trails behind. 2K still manages to upkeep the incredible Creation Suite created by THQ years back. Furthermore, the authenticity is only improving. I look forward to not having a HUD once again.
WWE 2K18 is all about revitalizing a stagnant series and it does just that. If 2K keeps it up with a few quality patches and the DLC holds up, 2K18 could likely be the best WWE wrestling game.
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