The WWE2k simulation games have always strived to bring gamers the closest thing to actually being in the ring while playing, and each game added onto the last, giving new modes and features to enhance the personal experience. WWE2k18 brings that to a new level with the largest roster ever in a WWE game and new ways to play. Small tweaks to the game make sure that this isn't just the same game as last year, but a game that builds on its predecessors and shows what it can do. Players will simulate fighting ass a ton of WWE superstars and divas both old and new, and they'll even get to make a superstar to go through their own story.
Whether you've experienced the action in the ring in previous games or are just getting between the ropes now, WWE2k18 is available now as either standard or deluxe edition on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. The special Cena (Nuff) Edition of the game was released 4 days ahead of the normal game release and contained numerous goodies for those able to procure it.
Unlike some of the previous installments in the series, like WWE2k15 and WWE2k16, this game drops the 2k Showcase mode that detailed a specific wrestler's career or a big feud (2k16 gave us a showcase highlighting the career of WWE legend "Stone Cold" Steve Austin). In lieu of that, we now have a heavily worked on MyCareer mode. This mode sees players create their own superstar and rise through the ranks of the developmental NXT level, reach the main roster, and engrave their created star's name in history. This mode has been heavily edited from last time we saw it, with much having been added or tweaked from last game.
Players can now walk around backstage and accept side quests from other wrestlers in the building. You can choose whether to do "what's best for business" and stand with the stable known as The Authority, or defy management and act as a rebel like John Cena. Opportunities to earn allies or rivals are also present, which furthers how you interact with people backstage. It's a big leap up from last year's attempt, but ultimately still short of all the options it could have.
Another part of the game's story element is the Universe Mode. This mode allows you to use existing superstars and divas to fuel rivalries, create new ones, and simulate the way WWE broadcasts. The mode has introduces cut scenes and a new goal system for characters to strive for. The ode also features a manageable rivalry meter that tells you how how the feud between the two wrestlers is. This can range from Green, which represents a low level and friendly rivalry, to Red, which represents a rivalry that has become so intense the two have resorted to attacking each other. These help storylines play out. The experience is furthered by the use of call outs and promos, which see a wrestler calling out an adversary or possibly talking to the audience.
Gameplay in WWE2k18 takes place both in the ring and out of it. Players can punch, grapple, irish whip, and attack their opponent with obtainable weapons. With the press of a button, one can perform a wrestler's signature move or finisher move, provided they are standing in the required place to activate it.aside from regular strikes, the player can target specific body parts, like the head or arm, in order to damage their foe further and make getting a pinfall of making them submit easier. Gameplay also extends to how you win here.
There are various ways to win, and these are Pinfall, Submission, and Count out. Pinfall sees the one wrestler cover the other to attempt to hold them down for a 3-count. This will provide the player with a small mini game where they need to time pressing the button to break out of the pin attempt, with the break out getting harder to time the more damage you've taken.
Submission wins have a mini game where the player holds the grapple button down near a downed opponent. a circle will pop up where both players will use either a red or blue bar around. The player who hopes to submit must fill the circle with their color by overlapping the opposing player's color with their own. There is also a new submission minigame where players must rapidly tap the button displayed in the circle. Count outs, finally, are usually seen in normal types of matches that don't have the "No Disqualification" rule on. To obtain this victory condition, the player must force the opponent out of the ring and make sure they end up staying there for a count of 10.
Another facet of gameplay here is weapons. During the course of a match, players will find they can pick up various objects like ladders, chairs, sledgehammers, or tables. Not only will using these whittle an opponent's stamina down faster, but it also gives a greater chance to inflict damage on a particular body part. These also tie in to various match modes. Some of the match types include Table Matches, Ladder Matches, and Extreme Rules. These feature unique victory conditions, like a mini game to pull a title belt or other object hanging above while on a ladder, or having to drive your opponent through a table to win.
Graphics and Audio
The game's graphics have been upgraded, but only by a small bit. If WWE2k17 looked realistic, this looks slightly more so. The superstars in this game look as realistic as they ever have, though there are admittedly a number that look like someone didn't spend enough time working on them. The arenas and title belts all look well done and like their real life counterparts as well. The crowd has been updated in both audio and graphics too. Not only does the crowd no longer look like they've become mannequins, and they also now start up chants for various superstars, such as "You look stupid" or "How you doin'".
The commentators, however, got the short end of the stick on audio. The game uses the current commentary team of Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves. The three certainly sound enthusiastic when commentating, but they repeat lines and sound like they're reading off a script so often that it's almost surprising hen a good piece of unheard or character specific commentary is uttered. The crowd ends up being more exciting to listen to than the actual commentators.
The entrance music is recreated well, and the soundtrack, put together by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, fits really well with it's mix of rock, hip-hop, and more modern rock. This works wonders on the menus and while backstage during MyCareer mode. The audio during matches is exactly what players will expect and works as intended- ambient crowd noise and the commentators. There's also the audio of connecting attacks or the loud metal noises when hitting an opponent with a chair or ladder. There's no audio really out of place in the game, but not all of it works out as intended, as seen with the commentators. In the end though, everything fits well enough for the game.
Lack of Female Superstar Option for MyCareer
One thing very noticeable about the MyCareer mode is that you can only go through it as a male superstar. With the Divas Revolution and push for several big female superstars on the current WWE roster, the time has never been better to be able to experience what MyCareer offers as a female star. Years back, the argument may have been that there weren't enough belts to pursue or enough match variety in the roster to justify this idea, but now that the roster size has swelled and there have been several more belts added, there really isn't a reason this isn't possible yet.
It takes away from the complete experience that the game might otherwise offer, and it certainly felt like a glaring omission when playing. The lack of ability to run a career as a female wrestler makes appearances by people like Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss rather pointless in this mode and it feels almost as if they're simply there for window dressing. Going through a career in the Women's Division would also likely be a different experience than the male one, so it really is a missed opportunity that took away from the "completeness" of the game.
There are more female wrestlers than ever in this game, and the fact that MyCareer basically makes no use of them at all is rather puzzling. 2k has said that they ran out of time to implement this feature and it will be coming next year, but frankly, they "ran out of time" last year too. Even if we got just a small thing focusing on the "Diva Revolution" storyline or the Four Horsewomen stable, it would at least be a step in the right direction there. The game feels like it's tilted more for males to experience, and that closes of potential new players and makes the game look unbalanced.
WWE2k18 is certainly the most polished WWE game we've gotten, but it does manage to trip up in just a few things. The graphics are great except on a few superstar faces, The audio was done incredibly well and fits the game, and the career and new modes added all work wonders for replayability. The commentators sadly still have repetition problems, and the lack of career mode for a female superstar is extremely tiring and irritating, Overall, however, the presentation, great amount of options and gameplay modes, and customization options make this a great addition to the series that is worth at least checking out. It's by far the biggest game in the series, and the many modes and upwards of 200 superstars in the game certainly help make that case.
|+ Largest roster in a WWE game to date||– Commentary is still very lackluster and repetitive|
|+ Create-a-wrestler has more options than ever||– Lack of a MyCareer mode for female wrestlers feels lazy|
|+ MyCareer has more depth and options on the path to victory than ever||Submissions can still be a pain, with most AI opponents refusing to give up.|