With the latest entry in the WWE series - WWE 2K18 - out on October 17, Gadgets 360 had a chance to check out a close to final build of the game at an event in Mumbai. Recent entries in the long-running franchise have seemed to blur into one in another, but publisher 2K Sports is quick to point out a slew of differences that suggest otherwise.
First up are the visuals. In past years, 2K has been taken to task for quirky character models and stiff animations. WWE 2K18 seems to improve on past iterations. For the most part, characters such as The Rock and Goldberg look as you’d hope, featuring slick entrances and trademark movesets. In-game, they’re polished renditions of the wrestlers you know and love. However, this doesn’t extend to everyone on the roster. Most notably, The Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior both fall short, as their entrances seem on the rougher side, with odd hair animations and faces that seem like approximations rather than accurate representations. If this wasn’t enough, wrestlers in menus looks like cutouts superimposed on backgrounds. They seem unpolished, which takes away from the whole affair.
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Nitpicking aside, the frame rate is inconsistent too. Playing on a PS4 Pro debug unit, battling in the ring appears to be at 60fps but exiting the ring or straying away from your opponent - which leads the game to adopt a split screen - sees a perceptible drop in frame rate.
Despite this, it doesn’t impact the gameplay adversely as it remains fluid where it counts - while you pummel your opponent into submission. The end result is that moves seem a bit more responsive and less clunky than last year. Reversals are easy to pull off and are a whole more useful than they’ve been in past entries, while the grapple-based gameplay isn’t hampered by ugly screen-tearing we’ve seen last year.
Another area where Take-Two claims there are improvements is in WWE 2K18’s commentary. It’s on-point for the most part, though there were a couple of moments where a punch was described as a kick, and a couple of wrestler names were wrongly mentioned.
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Other new inclusions are the Road to Glory mode, which lets players partake in the video game equivalent of a pay per view event stretched over a few days. This lets players complete a slew of challenges, such as pushing their opponent’s head through a table, for a shot at being in the Road to Glory’s main event. Winning Road to Glory nets you cosmetic rewards for bragging rights. Given this mode’s always online nature, we weren’t able to check it out at the demo event.
The game has microtransactions, but they are limited to a feature called MyPlayer - it’s the bridge between the MyCareer (WWE 2K18’s single-player campaign) and Road to Glory modes. Here, loot boxes of three kinds - bronze, silver, and gold, allow you to gain boosts, items, and moves.
As it stands WWE 2K18 seems to be a visible improvement over its predecessor in core areas where it matters. It’s not as a drastic improvement as last year, but it’s a half-step in the right direction.
WWE 2K18 is priced at Rs. 999 for the PC, Rs. 3,499 for the PS4 and Xbox One ($60 in the US). Stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for the full review soon.