Review: WWE 2K18 (PS4)

Review: WWE 2K18 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: WWE 2K18
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (51.18 GB)
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Yuke’s / Visual Concepts
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Ever since WWE partnered with 2K Games the duo have put out a game that lives in mediocrity that’s visually impressive, but lacks the depth to immerse players in a worthwhile experience.

This year is no different and may even be a breaking point for me. It isn’t that WWE 2K18 is bad, it’s that I don’t see the franchise improving and its lack of trying and execution is bordering on frustrating.

Once again the core of this year’s title is the “My Career” mode in which you take your created superstar and bring him up through the ranks in hopes of achieving a WrestleMania Moment. You start at the Performance Center and have a tryout match or two before moving to NXT.

This year’s mode actually speeds you through the NXT portion which I had mixed feelings about. I was shocked to be suddenly competing for the title within two matches and then thrown into the main event scene. There is some logic to it since your character goes into NXT as an “indie darling” and usually in real NXT those wrestlers are skyrocketed into the main event scene.

I appreciate that level of realism, but it made NXT feel insignificant when it should feel much more important and a place to build up your skillset. Instead it just feels like you are put in a few matches in NXT because it’s a prerequisite in modern day WWE.

After winning the NXT championship, your character is thrust to the main roster where your real journey begins. I didn’t get any sort of resolution in NXT as I left as the champion and it’s never mentioned if I relinquished the title or lost it somehow before going to Raw.

The main roster is where the game falls apart. The main roster is hell and it’s so bad that I began to think it was done on purpose as a meta commentary on how the real WWE treats “indie darlings.” You see in real world WWE, NXT call-ups tend to get lost in the shuffle once they make it to Raw and Smackdown and examples of this can be found throughout the years. Sorry if I get too inside baseball for non-wrestling fans, but if you’ve seen my previous reviews you’ll know I take wrestling kind of serious.

I found myself in pointless matches like frustrating six man tags with no reason, build or pay off. It was all mindless with very little storytelling guiding me through or motivating me.

The writing is just flatout bad, and the logic is tragically flawed. I often had to read lines multiple times to make sense of them and when they were coherent they were cheesy. The motivation behind the story was confusing and it would occasionally go against what had taken place during the matches.

I can deal with bad writing if the gameplay is fun but the gameplay is mediocre at best. The WWE games have always been sluggish to say the least. I’ve always found some amount of fun in the gameplay with my main gripes being against the submission minigame. Thankfully that has been given an alternative style that is far from perfect, but an improvement over the standard one.

Structurally the My Career mode has a lot of filler. Roaming the backstage has been added between matches and nothing happens there except breaking kayfabe. In the backstage area you can interact with other superstars all of which have random lines assigned to them that repeat. Because they’re random, the same lines can be spoken by several different characters. This means people like Bray Wyatt or Brock Lesnar are giving you advice or asking for your help to jump wrestlers which goes against their character.

A major flaw with the backstage area is that you have to go through it for every event. This means you load the backstage area to go to production to find out you’re doing that show then load the show opening, load the match or promo then load back into the backstage area to move onto the next show. There’s no way around this and it’s a major waste of time, especially when you go to production only to be told that you don’t have a match that day. It’s beyond annoying.

There are also Loot Cases introduced into the game because of course there are. The Loot Cases contain moves, boosters, and outfit material that can be used for your My Career/Road to Glory character. This has a major impact on the in-game economy and your ability to customize your character and make them stand out.

In the beginning your character will be very generic in both appearance and moveset and the only way to build them out is to open Loot Cases. You earn currency to buy cases by having good matches and and completing objectives. The problem is that you don’t earn a lot of currency which, combined with the poor structure mentioned earlier, means it’s a complete drag.

To the game’s credit, the Loot Cases are only used in the My Career mode which allows players to still go crazy with creating wrestlers for use outside of that and 2K18 continues to build on the always impressive character creation suite. The community continues to make amazing things and the Loot Cases don’t ruin that at least.

Visuals:
The series continues to look fantastic and the level of detail in a majority of the superstars never ceases to amaze me. The current day superstars look stunning, especially the ones that were able to scanned.

Animations still trouble the franchise as they can break easily and often, leading to absurd glitches and bugs. I can’t count how many times I noticed an animation break or a character glide across the screen. Honestly I get some enjoyment from the bugs due to the hilarity of some of them. They can get in the way, but it feels like a fun feature at this point and I look forward to all the gifs.

Visuals also break down during the story bits of My Career with the dialogue not matching the canned animations. Character models will emote happiness when being yelled at and vice versa. Plus the animation for the dialogue is very limited which leads to a lot of repeat visuals that can really take you out of the experience.

Audio:
For years I’ve demanded a change to the commentary team and WWE 2K18 has answered my prayers though not without a few caveats. Joining Michael Cole at the announcer’s table are Byron Saxton and Corey Graves.

Corey Graves alone is a great addition to the commentary team as he has become the voice of Raw and Smackdown and having him in the game is a major upgrade over Jerry Lawler and JBL (John Bradshaw Layfield).

Sadly, the commentary team doesn’t have much to say, both literally and figuratively. The announcers don’t have a deep pool of voice lines and what they do say doesn’t hold much weight. The game relies on generic commentary too much which breaks any level of realism. Oftentimes it feels like the three commentators are having three separate conversations.

The music selection is eclectic with Kanye West and Kid Rock among others making for one of the oddest soundtracks I’ve heard in awhile. I muted a lot of tracks and replaced them with the theme songs of superstars which is an option I am thankful for, especially after hearing the same Kid Rock song over and over.

Online/Multiplayer:
Road to Glory is the newest mode to the franchise and it ties into the My Career and Loot Case components since they use the same player-created character. In Road to Glory you compete online against other players in order to achieve stars that in turn unlock more Loot Cases.

It’s a cool idea, but it’s a chore due to a bad online experience with connectivity and other issues. I played several matches, when I was able to find a match, and each one was laggy. That lag breaks the reversal system and can lead to cheesing the system. Matches break down into nothing more than relying on the game’s reversal system. The reversal system relies on pinpoint accuracy and when you add lag to that mechanic it’s horrible.

I quickly burnt out on this mode because of my poor experiences and finding a match became harder and harder since launch day. Plus the grind for Loot Cases is well… a grind, and the pay off for opening them is not worth it since the My Career mode is so bad.

Conclusion:
Last year I thought the franchise was on an upwards trajectory, but WWE 2K18 proved that theory wrong. There is a level of complacency that is crippling this series and keeping it from being something special.

The creation suite is top notch, but there isn’t much to do once you make your creation. The My Career and Road to Glory modes are shallow and stretched thin with Loot Cases not adding to the experience. The experience avoids some criticism since the Loot Cases aren’t bogged down by microtransactions, but they do hurt the depth of the My Career mode forcing you to grind and struggle more than ever before.

I want more than flashy visuals, I want a fuller experience. The WWE roster is stacked with talent and the creation tools make for infinite match-up possibilities, but the game gets in its own way too much and I don’t know how many more years I can deal with it.

If you just want to play random matches using the current roster and user-made superstars, then WWE 2K18 is more than capable of doing that. If you want anything more than that you have to look somewhere else because the modes are too weak to recommend.

Score:
5.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

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  • Oh man the WWE games sound like they keep getting worse each year. Amazing how Visual Concepts has botched this since they took over from Yukes. On the plus side these games continue to have some badass commercials!