Review: WWE 2K16
Back in 2015, the arrival of the WWE license on New-Gen consoles was mainly a sufficient selling point, and 2K Games was content with the bare minimum for WWE 2K15. Now a year later, the American publisher was ready to make ammends with WWE 2K16, reviewing the contents of this franchise and made several changes to its gameplay, and overall, players have something to look forward to.
Starting this review with some good news, the content of WWE 2K16 is much more rich and interesting than of its predecessor. Last year, the Showcase mode of WWE 2K15 surprised wrestling fans by telling the stories between two iconic rivalries (Triple H and Shawn Michaels, as well as John Cena and CM Punk). This year, developers have again changed the formula, focusing solely on Steve Austin’s career from his winning of King of the Ring in 1996, until the end of his career in 2003. The whole, sprinkled with a few bonus games from the WCW era, his time in ECW, and his debut in was used to be called WWF. As in previous years, this mode will unlock bonuses such as wrestlers, arenas or additional outfits, and the great video montages that WWE only has fills the holes and complete the narrative. The Showcase mode is once again a very good entertainment for longtime wrestling fans as well as for newcomers interested in the history of the discipline.
In WWE 2K15, 2K Games tried to innovate by integrating a MyCareer mode inspired by the successful NBA 2K recipe, but players found themselves facing a particularly daunting mode with nothing really happening or captivating for hours. In WWE 2K16, the developers have completely revised this mode, which now provide a more dynamic and interactive style, with your character begining his career in NXT, which he can then choose to stay there or try to win titles in the main grand competition. The choice is to build alliances, to initiate rivalries with other wrestlers during their matches by interfering (whenever the player wants) and nurture these pacts. The actions of theplayer, combined with the answers you give during interviews after some confrontations, determines your character as a nice or nasty wrestler.
To climb the ranks and get championship matches, it is obviously necessary to win the fight. The player created wrestler starting at the bottom of the ladder, has preset statistics that go with it, and you must be patient in your choice of improving specific traits to unlock new skills and techniques. Once a wrestler of the main roster, the player can choose to access requests made by “The Authority” (Triple H and Stephanie McMahon) or to rebel against it. This has of course implications for the following events and on alliances and rivalries which the player takes part. The ultimate goal of MyCareer mode is to see your character inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, which is done by two projects: filling a main objective (maintaining a title for 365 days, to become world champion ten times, etc.) and three secondary goals (win the Royal Rumble three times, be Intercontinental Champion 5 times, etc. ). In the end, a great remake of a mode that could’ve been that way last year.
The WWE Universe mode is also back this year and uses rivalry management system and the evolution of wrestlers similar behavior to what is seen in MyCareer. Parallel to this, additional options still give the player more control over “his” own WWE experience, like choosing whether the rivalry between the Undertaker for WrestleMania will be set up automatically or not, or whether public reaction vis-à-vis a wrestler will change automatically or not. And just to make even longer seasons narrated in this mode, the player has the ability to assign a show every day of the week.
Since the WWE games that were released on the early PlayStation and Nintendo 64 platforms, the creation modes are among the most important elements of these wrestling games. After an extremely disappointing mode in WWE 2K15, 2K, Yuke’s, and Visual Concepts needed to do better and gave this year the ability to create male and female wrestlers. To give even more options relating to the appearance of Superstars and Divas, WWE 2K16 uses a system called body morphing, similar to the one used in NBA 2K, where you can easily mold the face of the character created, by just using a cursor on the nose, mouth, ears, etc. The game also allows you to create arenas, shows, and champion belts, which is quite extensive with a choice of materials to use, patterns, or textures of the belt.
A quick glance at WWE 2K16 may leave the impression that the game has exactly the same gameplay as its predecessor. But in reality, several major changes were made to the gaming system with varying degrees of success. Until last year, players who mastered the timing of the game were able to counter as many takes as they wished, which could turned into endless games. In WWE 2K16, each wrestler has from the beginning of a game of a given number of counters (5 maximum), which when used, takes a while before the gauge fills up and can be activated again. The player with this new option, can then choose smartly when trying to counter an opponent, instead of abusing it.
Compared to the counters, the submission system hasn’t been fixed, which is even possible to say that this is one of the main points of the game. When a submission hold is activated, a kind of mini-game appears on the screen, which requires you to keep the arrow in the blue bar as far away from the red bar for a set time. It’s not really ergonomics, and I have to admit losing a lot of games, because some of these submission holds were simply impossible to escape from.
Another change to the gameplay that is not necessarily obvious, which is more important, concerns the managers. Until now they were content to only distract the referees. In WWE 2K16, managers are significantly more active, and can now distract the opponent’s attention, the referee while he’s counting the final three counts, which king of helps making more realistic experience as a whole.
So what about the technical part of the game? With screenshots and game footage shown before its release, the game didn’t get a radical change compared to its predecessor. And if some wrestlers are particularly well modeled, others such as Diamond Dallas Page (or most of the Divas), suffer from a laughable render, with even animation recycled from previous episodes. As for the soundtrack of the game, the big news this year is the arrival of JBL to the announce table, which as cool as it sounds, is in reality so lukewarm that it gives the impression of having been recored in bed. We are still far from the fluidity and natural input from a NBA 2K game. However, a significant improvement is in the number of animations created for the game, which helps increase the realism of the fighting. Sadly, all of the famous collisions bugs that you can easily find all around the Internet are once again in the game.
Going back to the wrestlers, we should really highlight what 2K Games announced about WWE 2K16, which is the largest roster in the history of WWE games. However, this roster is not the best in the history of video games based on the American wrestling federation (which I still believe is WWE 2K14). That said, wrestling fans largely have plenty to do here and it is fun seeing NXT wrestlers added as well.
In the end, the work carried out by NBA 2K episodes in terms of achievements almost leaves the impression that WWE 2K franchise suffers from a lack of budget. Nevertheless wrestling fans continue to dream of a title that will receive a similar treatment to what I enjoyed each year with NBA 2K, especially with this year’s NBA 2K16, which you can read my review here on VGProfessional. That said, efforts have clearly been made this year and it’s on the right track for the future.
WWE 2K16 was reviewed using an Xbox One copy of the game provided by 2K Games. The game is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• A very interesting Showcase mode.
• The completely redesigned MyCareer mode.
• Richer design.
• A real challenge, even in Normal.
• A new thoughtful counter system .
• The new battle pace.
• The new animations contribute to the realism.
• A large roster of wrestlers
• Showcase mode is sadly only about Steve Austin.
• An unbearable submission system.
• Really long loading times.
• An engine that should be changed.
• Some incredible collision bugs.
• A lot of recycling of animations.
• Uneven modeling and rendering of some wrestlers.
• That roster is only filled with big stars.