Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teen
The yearly release of sports titles like FIFA or the WWE2K series would have been unthinkable 15 years ago, yet today it’s a common practice. Some years the games feel more like updates rather than a whole new experience, while others are extensive expansions. So, with the advent of another year comes another iteration of the WWE gaming franchise: WWE2K18
Living the life
The life of a WWE superstar must not be dissimilar from that of a Rockstar: traveling from city to city, performing in front of thousands of screaming men, women, and children. It’s no wonder then that developer Yukes have attempted to replicate the week to week routine of grapplers, at least how WWE would want it to seem in its somewhat fictional world. This is achieved by allowing players to explore the backstage area between matches. During these free-roaming sections you undertake side quests given by fellow superstars, and interact with the WWE staff. These quests include beating opponents, attacking other wrestlers, and out talking adversaries in promos (when wrestlers speak on a microphone to hype up a Pay-Per-View or rivalry). But we don’t just live any superstar’s life, we live ours. That’s right. In order to play WWE2K18’s story mode you must create your very own brawler, which is a joy with the new and improved creation suite. Everything from how many teeth your character has, to how many tassels hang from his or her outfit can be adjusted to fit your individual needs. The problem with the career mode is both the monotony and glitches. Not only can it become quite boring doing the same thing again and again, as of right now errors occur, which will have you replaying the same match again and again until the game recognizes that you’ve won.
New to the action
The fighting mechanics were expertly refined last year, so it’s hard to imagine what improvements can be made this time around in terms of gameplay. Well, the development team have tweaked and tinkered and refined some more, creating the most realistic WWE experience to date. One of the biggest new features is the ability to lift and carry an opponent before transferring them to a new position in your grasp, allowing for a dynamic way to perform moves and even the capability to throw a rival over the top rope, to the ground below. The capacity to have up to eight superstars in the ring at one time is another innovative highlight, making ladder and Royal Rumble matches as frantic as we have always wanted them to be. The chaos can occasionally slow the framerate, although not to a game-breaking degree. The backstage area has also been overhauled with the addition of new locations, like the parking lot. Perhaps the roster size is the best change of all. WWE2K18 has the most wrestlers in a 2K WWE title ever. From the cruiserweight division to some of history’s greatest legends like Rick Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock, this roster is not just the largest ever; it could also be the best ever.
Looking like the real thing?
With each year we expect a big graphical upgrade, but things have pretty much stayed the same, except for the lighting system. There has been some minor improvements to textures here and there, however, the lighting in superstars’ entrances like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode look extremely impressive. With that being said certain aspects still lag a console generation behind, such as characters’ hair, which can — on some models — look terrible and take away from the otherwise satisfactory graphics.
To put it plainly, WWE2K18 is far better than last year’s outing. The gameplay has been tweaked to what seems like perfection, and the sheer size of the roster will have fans scratching their heads as to which superstar to play as. However, a rather boring and glitchy career mode holds the game back from being the champion.