With every new iteration, 2K’s WWE games either get better or worse. There are always improvements made in some areas but other things to let them down. When I played 2K16, I lamented how various problems like commentary, crowd visuals, polish, and more were not improved. This year after playing both a preview build and the final retail release some of those are worse but strides have been made in improving the core in ring wrestling and with the addition of the much loved backstage brawl mode. WWE 2K17 is a perfect example of what happens to a franchise when there is no competition.
2K says they want the WWE games to be more simulation than arcade and they keep getting closer to achieving that. The problem is the amount of care put into different aspects is so inconsistent that the overall experience gets soured. As of now, NBA 2K17 is the gold standard of how a sports game can be simulation focussed and yet have enough polish and content to justify the asking price. WWE 2K17 does not come close to doing that.
The addition of backstage brawls, crowd fighting is great but the removal of the Showcase mode is annoying given how much fun it can be sometimes. Another small but worthy change is in ladder matches. The ladder will now snap to the middle of the ring when you try and set it up thereby removing the need to constantly prop up the ladder in the correct position. Another new feature is the ability to cut promos in MyCareer mode. This sounds great on paper as promos are what get the crowd reactive for a hell or babyface but the implementation is bad. You earn VC by playing matches and can use said currency to unlock classic superstars and arenas among other things.
WWE 2K17 has a massive roster. You can even easily download community creations. There’s a catch with downloads because in some cases you will not be able to download a creation until you have unlocked the superstar that the creation is based on. This might add a bit of grinding to your experience. The treatment given to the roster is inconsistent. Triple H looks amazing and realistic but Shane McMahon barely resembles his real self. It is easy to see who was available for a face scan and who wasn’t and this breaks immersion when your opponent looks like he should be on PlayStation 3 and not PlayStation 4.
Speaking of hardware, 2K17 is the third WWE game to be released on current generation hardware and it still looks as outdated as ever. The crowds look terrible and even with dated visuals, there are glitches and performance issues. I noticed screen tearing a few times and even frame drops during camera transitions backstage. I was hoping the performance issues would be ironed out from the preview build I played until release but it seems even the 11GB day one patch for 2K17 on PlayStation 4 was not enough.
Each year I look forward to hopefully having some competent commentary and 2K17 is an absolute disappointment here. Why even include commentary if you’re going to have King say vague stuff like “this superstar” or “that move” when you have the Undertaker in the ring. I’d rather listen to the licensed music played in the main menu than incoherent and disjointed commentary. I’m spoiled by the first class commentary NBA 2K17 delivered for sure.
I’d like to see a better MyCareer mode next year. There was so much potential with the inclusion of Goldberg for a short Showcase mode based on his WCW and WWE career but 2K decided to not include any form of Showcase mode that really hurts the package. The amount of creation tools available is fantastic but poor UI design in menus among other flaws only soured me on WWE 2K17.
I can’t recommend WWE 2K17 to any wrestling fan at full price if you’ve played 2K16. The step up in some areas isn’t worth the step down in others. A game with 30% of the roster but more polish put into it would be better than just padding the roster with fan favourites if the rest of the package is not up to par. This game franchise needs more than a year and a new engine before it will be worth buying day one.