Last year I received the opportunity to fly out to San Francisco, CA courtesy of 2K to preview WWE 2K16. It was the first WWE game I had played in a few years so it was hard to compare things to the more recent games. Still, I was able to pick up on most things rather quickly and really enjoyed it for the most part. Well a year has passed and once again I received the opportunity to return to San Francisco courtesy of 2K to preview WWE 2K17, and this time with plenty of 2K16 knowledge in my brain I was even more excited to dive into 2K’s latest offering for the WWE Universe.
The event itself took place over several hours in which we got to experience as much of the game as we wanted and just about everything was available outside of online functionality. After spending some time with the game we were visited by WWE superstars AJ Styles and Sasha Banks and soon after 2K held their annual press member tournament where I actually did better than last year and took Sami Zayn to the semi-finals before being beaten by Kevin Owens in a match that only they could put on (the person playing as Owens actually recorded the match and once it’s uploaded I’ll provide the link for anyone interested in checking it out).
When it came to the game, the first thing I did was check out just a basic match to see how the controls and mechanics felt, so I fired up a fatal four way women’s match with four of Suplex City’s newest residents: Bayley, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch (whom I played as), and Asuka, who came out with the NXT Women’s Championship. Keep that in mind for a later point. When it came to the controls, it felt very much like 2K16 and that’s a good thing. Players who played last year’s game won’t have to adapt to much with 2K17 outside of a couple of changes. Players can now use R2/RT to drag opponents around the ring and R1/RB now accesses the limb targeting system. Beyond that, the controls were exactly like 2K16 from what I experienced.
A change that was announced a while back was how ladders would work in terms of where they could be set up. As opposed to setting them anywhere in the ring you want, they can now only be placed in the center of the ring or leaned up against a turnbuckle (I didn’t think to try and lean it against the ropes themselves and run up it to launch yourself out of the ring). From what I could tell you can still place a ladder anywhere you want outside of the ring. I seem to recall hearing that the change was done as players had issues getting a ladder into the proper position to climb it and grab the belt, briefcase, or whatever, but to me it takes away some of the realism of the match. In the WWE once placed a ladder can be moved or bumped out of position by someone if you’re not careful, so it may not always be in the correct position that a superstar wants. It’s like people want the game to be more realistic, but then complain about something like ladder placement.
While I barely played any Elimination Chamber matches in 2K16, I was asked by another Gaming Nexus staff member to see if anything had changed in 2K17. I couldn’t climb onto a pod after climbing the chamber walls, and sadly I didn’t think to try after climbing onto a turnbuckle. The only other major mechanic that I saw changes to was the submission system. The R Circle (for lack of better term) is still there, but it feels a lot more fluid and responsive now as opposed to 2K16 where it felt like a battle in and of itself just to get your colored bar to where you want it. A new alternative system was put in where you have to rapidly press a face button that appears on screen to fill up a meter with your color while pressing the wrong button fills it in for your opponent. Every couple of seconds the button changes. It’s a nice alternative for people like me who are terrible at last year’s submission system and miss 2K15’s button mashing.
A new mechanic put into the game this year is a promo system where you can cut your own promos and is seen in both the Career and Universe Modes. When cutting a promo you have four options to pick from to try and get the crowd to react as much as possible, whether cutting a heel or face promo. The better you do and the more consistent you are with your answers, the more the crowd will respond and the less you look like an idiot in the ring. However, you only have a limited amount of time to pick your response, otherwise you’ll trip over your words and embarrass yourself. You can also have the game pick your choices for you which is not necessarily a good idea as you’re putting a superstar’s fate in the game’s hands. You also have to make sure that you cut a promo based on what kind of crowd you have as there are four types of crowds in the game: family friendly, hardcore, respectful, and disrespectful.
You can also now fight in the crowd and in the backstage area, the latter of which can even be its own match type. While I didn’t get the chance to fight in the crowd, my opponent and I during our aforementioned Zayn/Owens match decided to take the fight backstage. You can go into a couple of different rooms and interact with various objects strewn about. What’s better is that it’s kind of free roaming. Yes, you both have to be backstage but if one person walks away from the other, the game goes into a split screen to show where both superstars are, meaning you don’t have to be near each other for it to work, nor will the screen zoom way out just because you’re nowhere near each other. An interesting quirk is that while going this during an Extreme Rules match, my opponent and I couldn’t pin each other but I put my opponent into a submission with one of Sami Zayn’s finishers and the submission meter actually came up. While I didn’t make him tap out, we wondered what would have happened if I got the meter filled up since apparently it wasn’t “falls count anywhere”. I’m guessing it would have just released the hold.
The Creation Suite received some improvements including the ability to morph your CAW’s head and face however you wish using over a dozen points to raise, lower, morph, and shape any way you want. The press member next to me created a superstar that resembled a cross between Mr. Potato Head and Sloth from The Goonies…that’s the best way I can describe him. While I didn’t check to see if there was a create-a-diva option, I’d be highly disappointed if that didn’t return. You can even import a CAW into Career Mode and export your Career Mode superstar for use in Exhibition Matches.
Aside from the usual creation suite features for movesets, belts, arenas, entrances, and so on, you can now create your own Titantron videos and victories. The latter lets you choose from some different poses and movements that basically lets you customize what you do after winning a match, while the former lets you create your own entrance video from various scenes and clips of your superstar. Basically, the creation suite has a lot of depth added to it this year and fans who like to create things in the WWE games should have a blast this year.
The last two things to talk about are the Universe and Career Modes. Surprisingly I didn’t do much with Universe Mode in 2K16 as I stuck mostly to Career Mode, but there were a couple of things that I noticed. Apart from the interface looking better (in my opinion) and putting in the promo system, shows now have their actual intros from their TV counterparts, but I couldn’t find a way to skip them, so if you want to go through a show you’ll have to get used to that.
As for career mode, it works a bit differently than last year’s version. You’re back to having your first match against a random jobber in the Performance Center but depending on how you do from then on out, good things will happen. You’ll get a taste in how the promo system works against someone who excels on the mic in real life and you’ll get a couple of matches to test your skills. I don’t want to spoil anything but let’s just say if you do really well in the first couple of matches and doing a promo, you might just accomplish something that you couldn’t do in 2K15 or 2K16. There is just one tiny issue I have and it goes back to Asuka coming out with the NXT Women’s Championship. Unless I missed it, I never saw an option for a female career mode. You’d think that with the addition of several (now former) NXT women that a female career mode would be a no brainer, but unless I missed something I didn’t see an option for it.
Beyond that there are only a couple of other minor notes. I’ve noticed that the times between entrances are a bit shorter than in 2K16, but not by much for the most part. The commentators also give a quick preview of the match while on the loading screen to kind of mirror an actual show, but at the same time I’m kind of disappointed that the loading screen returned to using the in-game images of the superstars instead of their real-life images seen in 2K16. It’s like they added something more realistic while taking something away.
A major disappointment is that there is no Showcase Mode this year. A couple of things I’ve seen online said that 2K didn’t want to make a Showcase Mode just to make one and not have it live up to the standards of the past titles, so they instead used that time and effort to improve on the Career and Universe modes, which in my opinion look pretty good. One of the DLC packs this year is called the “Hall of Fame Showcase” that has several matches from WWE’s past, but not a full showcase for a single superstar. While I did enjoy the Showcase modes in the past two games, I guess I can kind of understand their point. After all, they do only have a year to get the game out and sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
Overall WWE 2K17 is shaping up to be one of the best versions of the game in recent years. The roster is huge and by the time the DLC comes out we should have the majority of the main roster and the recent NXT roster call-ups in the game. While the Career and Universe modes look pretty good and the Creation Suite gets even deeper, it’s difficult to perceive how fans will take to the game without a Showcase Mode. Still, with as deep as the creation suite is getting and how expansive the main game modes can get, I’m definitely looking forward to checking out the full game once it’s released.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.