With the latest entry in the WWE series – WWE 2K18 – outside on October 17, Gadgets 360 had a chance to have a look at a close to final build of the game at an event in Mumbai. Recent entries in the long-running franchise have seemed to blur into one in a different, but publisher 2K Sports is quick to point out a slew of differences that indicate otherwise.
First up are the visuals. In past years, 2K has been taken to task for quirky character models and stiff animations. WWE 2K18 appears to improve on previous iterations. For the most part, characters such as The Rock and Goldberg seem as you would expect, featuring slick entrances and signature movesets. In-game, they are polished renditions of the wrestlers you understand and love. But this doesn’t extend to everyone on the roster. Most importantly, The Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior both fall short, as their entrances seem on the rougher side, with strange hair animations and faces that look like approximations as opposed to accurate representations. If this was not enough, wrestlers in menus looks like cutouts superimposed on backgrounds. They seem unpolished, which takes away from the entire affair.
Nitpicking aside, the frame rate is inconsistent too. Playing on a PS4 Guru sew unit, battling in the ring appears to be at 60fps but exiting the ring or straying away from the opponent – which contributes the game to adopt a split display – sees a perceptible drop in frame rate.
Despite this, it does not impact the gameplay adversely as it remains fluid in which it counts – while you pummel your opponent into submission. The end result is that moves look a bit more responsive and less clunky than last year. Reversals are easy to pull off and are a whole more practical than they’ve been in past entries, while the grapple-based gameplay isn’t hampered by awful screen-tearing we have seen last year.
Another area where Take-Two claims there are improvements is in WWE 2K18’s commentary. It’s on-point for the most part, though there were a couple of minutes where a punch was described as a kick, and a couple of wrestler titles were wrongly mentioned.
Other new inclusions are the Road to Glory style, which lets players participate in the video game equivalent of a pay per view event stretched within a few days. This allows players finish a ton of challenges, like pushing their opponent’s head by means of a table, for a shot at being in the Road to Glory’s main event. Winning Road to Glory nets you cosmetic rewards for bragging rights. Given this mode’s always online character, we weren’t able to check it out in the demo occasion.
The sport has microtransactions, but they’re limited to a characteristic named MyPlayer – it’s the bridge between the MyCareer (WWE 2K18’s single-player campaign) and Road to Glory modes. Here, loot boxes of 3 kinds – bronze, silver, and gold, allow you to gain boosts, items, and moves.
Since it stands WWE 2K18 appears to be a visible improvement over its predecessor in core areas in which it matters. It’s not as a drastic improvement as last year, but it’s a half-step in the right direction.