Hands-on review: Is WWE 2K18 a worthy heavyweight contender?
2K has handled the WWE 2K franchise for the last four years now and the results have been mixed. WWE 2K18 however is an improvement that takes the series into the right direction.
2K introduced a new game engine for PS4 and Xbox One back in WWE 2K15. The other games used the same engine and the graphics hardly changed. WWE 2K18 on the other hand presents to us an even newer game engine and the visual improvements are phenomenal.
The first thing you will notice while playing WWE 2K18 are the improvements in lighting. The skin tones on all of the WWE Superstars look more realistic and you can see the sweat on their bodies when they wrestle.
The graphics don't end there because the WrestleMania 33 stage is accurately modelled on the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. It's the best looking stage I have ever seen in a WWE video game. Not to mention you can play in both the daytime or nightime.
Another new feature in this game is that you can now have eight WWE Superstars in the ring at the same time. For the past 16 years, all WWE video games only had a maximum of six wrestlers in the ring at the same time.
This means there are more match options for you to choose from. It also makes Survivor Series and Royal Rumble matches more exciting. That said, having eight wrestlers takes a heavy toll on therate. Whenever eight wrestlers are moving at the same time, the game sadly lags quite a bit even during offline gameplay. Speaking of wrestlers, WWE 2K18 has the biggest roster in franchise history. The game has close to 200 WWE Superstars both past and present. Some new additions this year include Ember Moon, Bobby Roode and more. Future DLC is also going to be added with The Hardy Boyz, Alister Black and others appearing.
Despite the new game engine, the actual core gameplay remains the same as the previous years. The controls are identical and series veterans will get used to the gameplay quite quickly. It's very easy for you to just pick up and play.
I do admire the improved animations for several of the signature moves and finishers. They finally animated a much better looking People's Elbow for The Rock. Shane McMahon's moves all look accurate too since he motion captured all of his own animations in the game.
WWE 2K18 still doesn't offer a training or practice mode for beginners though. My friend is playing the series for the first time and had to ask me for advice on how to play it. The in-game tutorials are still unclear if you are not a huge WWE fan. Noobs will be lost knowing what the terminology means.
The lack of clear instructions translates over to the MyPlayer career mode as well. This is the mode where you have to create your own wrestler in hopes of them becoming a huge star in the industry.
MyPlayer has a bit of a change because you can walk around backstage and talk with wrestlers and WWE executives. However, the game does not tell you where people are located when you have to talk to them. I somehow missed Daniel Bryan as I kept walking past the parking lot... The actual MyPlayer mode is an improvement over last year. This is because my wrestler was able to win the NXT title and get promoted to the main roster quite quickly. I also liked the fact that this year's mode is more realistic.
The MyPlayer mode sometimes treats your career as a scripted environment rather than a legit competiton in this year's game. The WWE executives told me to lose on purpose in certain matches to add to the TV drama. The added realism is more interesting than the previous games.
However, the MyPlayer mode is still repetitive and lengthy at times. It costs a lot of Virtual Currency to upgrade your wrestler and the loading times are slow. You will often hear the theme songs of Raw, Smackdown and NXT over and over again until your match starts...
The other big mode in WWE 2K18 is WWE Universe. Universe mode is still the same as previous entries, although there are far more belts added this year. Thanks to last year's draft, new belts have been added such as the WWE Universal Title and the Cruiserweight Championship.
There's more cutscenes that play out in Universe mode and it can be fun booking your own matches. It's a mode that many hardcore fans can spend hours invested in. After all, some fans don't like the booking that occurs in real life recently.
As much as I like WWE 2K18, the thing that always seems to ruin wrestling games for me is the commentary. The new team consists of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton, but the new voices don't make an improvement. The commentary sounds dry and stale compared to what is heard in real life.
Overall, WWE 2K18 is better than WWE 2K17 thanks to a better MyPlayer mode and a brand new game engine. However, the game is not perfect with the aforementioned poor commentary and all too familiar gameplay. I still enjoyed it since I'm a huge WWE fan, but casual fans might get lost due to the lack of direction.