Preview: WWE 2K18

Yesterday, I spent some time with a near final build WWE 2K18 on a PS4 Pro debug unit at a preview event and came away quite surprised by the game. Set to release on October 17 worldwide, the build I played allowed me to try out various offline modes including the new 8 man brawl, creation suite, and more.

We all know how WWE games haven’t been amazing recently but this year things might be different. Having played through a few of the match types while experimenting with the new systems in gameplay, WWE 2K18 improves in many areas but still has to overcome quite a bit to reach the heights of the likes of the NBA 2K games.

The most noticeable change is the new visuals. 2K boasts upgraded visuals across the board making this the best looking WWE game but there are some inconsistencies. Character portraits look bad almost across the board. When you’re scrolling through the massive 180 wrestler roster, almost all the character model captured images look poor. In some cases they look like poor photoshop crops. Thankfully, the actual character modes during gameplay look superb. There are of course exceptions like the Ultimate Warrior and some of the other older superstars who look straight out of a last generation game though. I was most impressed by the lighting on display during entrances and in backstage areas. Seeing the security escort Goldberg to the ring will show just how much effort was put into Goldberg’s own character model while also highlighting how little was put into the security around him.

When it comes to the performance, things were mostly fine. When you’re playing a 1 on 1 game and both superstars move futher apart outside the ring, the game transitions to a split screen mode and the frame rate drops noticeably. During the actual gameplay, the frame rate mostly held up which is a marked improvement over last year’s entry. The upgrade in visuals will only get more refined as years go by and this first step is one in the right direction.

One of the other improvements touted by the developers is the improved commentary. It feels a bit better but it still felt too vague. There was also a glaring flaw where Michael Cole claimed my opponent executed a finisher on me while what actually happened was the opposite. There’s a new carry system that is an interesting addition and just as 2K17, there are a lot of settings you can tweak to make gameplay feel more simulation based or remove a few things to give it that arcade feel. It is always good to see accessibility options allowing more hardcore and more casual players get the most out of games like this.

Overall, I’ve come away excited to play the full game and experience all it has to offer with the online areas. There are some things that still need to be fixed but it is definitely a step in the right direction and it shows the developers have taken fan feedback seriously.

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