Detailing the WWE 2K17 changes

Detailing the WWE 2K17 changes

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It’s that time of year again! SummerSlam is upon us, and aside from NXT Takeover and the SummerSlam event, there’s one thing that people look forward to: news on WWE 2K17! For the past several years, the now-defunct THQ and 2K have followed the same pattern: they release a trickle of information around E3, they open the faucet a little more at the beginning of August by slowly leaking out names for the roster, and around SummerSlam, the floodgates open – details on modes, gameplay footage, the works. This year, however, in a refreshing change of pace, they’ve went and laid out the majority of their modes up front. What’s gone? What’s back? What’s different? Let’s take a look.

2K Showcase

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For the uninitiated, 2K Showcase was kind of the bread and butter of the WWE 2K games. The idea behind it was simple: you take a guy, usually the cover guy or another popular wrestler, and you replay certain matches from that star’s career. You could play it how you wanted, but in order to progress in the game, you had to complete certain objectives. For instance, if they went through a table in real life, the game wanted you go through a table in the game.

This year, the cover star is Brock Lesnar. Aside from the fact that he’s awesome, this excited fans for one major reason. Throughout his career, Brock has had a number of high profile matches against superstars that are no longer in the WWE and haven’t been in games in a while. Those names include Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, CM Punk, Chris Benoit, and more. These four specifically – Jeff and Kurt are with other organizations, Punk left on bad terms and is with the UFC now, and Benoit.. well, we all know what happened there. Fans theorized how they were going to get these superstars in the game since the mode can’t exist without them. The short answer? They can’t, and they won’t.

2K has removed the 2K showcase entirely for WWE 2K17, instead choosing to focus on other areas of the game. This is something that should’ve been done years ago and is a very welcome change. I’ll detail some of the additional changes made possible because of the removal in a bit, but the removal of the 2K showcase is nothing short of amazing. Not only does it free up time and resources to focus on other areas of the game, but the amount of disk space saved undoubtedly paves the way for more characters.

Ladder Matches

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Ladder matches in WWE games have always been kind of a trainwreck, but they’re super fun. You can prop the ladders up against the ropes and run up the ladder like it’s a ramp. You can set it up anywhere and go flying. The chief complaint, however, has always been that you have to have the ladder in the dead center of the ring in order to climb up the ladder and get the belt. Well, that’s changing a bit.

You can still use the ladder as a weapon, and you can still prop it against ropes and wedge it between the turnbuckles (and they even added the option to bridge it between the ring and the barricade!), but you’re now unable to set it up anywhere you want. Instead, you’ll have certain areas where you can set it up and climb it, including the middle of the ring, so you won’t be placing the ladder and climbing it only to discover it’s a little off-center. It’s a great change, but I’m slightly bummed I can’t jump off of ladders anywhere I please.

Crowd and Backstage Fighting

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No, I don’t mean you’re able to go into the crowd and punch a fan (though how cool would it be if you could hop the barricade, grab Frank the Clown, and toss him in the ring for a few suplexes? Nobody likes you, Frank). Fighting in the crowd has been absent from the series since SmackDown vs. Raw 07 (I believe), and it’s finally making its glorious return a decade later. There hasn’t been too much revealed in the way of crowd fighting, but weapons can clearly be seen in the crowd.

Backstage fighting is something that’s also been absent in recent years, but it’s back in a huge way. A few of the clips showed guys fighting in the hallway, using weapons, going for pins, etc. In one clip, Randy Orton threw Brock Lesnar into Triple H’s office. As Orton entered, Triple H appeared, stared Orton down, then left. Little details like that will make a huge, huge difference in the game. GamesRadar recently confirmed the ability to transition from the ring to the backstage areas. Not only that, but they also confirmed that you can interrupt interviews. In their example, during a match between AJ Styles and Kevin Owens, they ran into Dean Ambrose giving an interview. Dean and the person giving an interview ran away to get away from the brawl. There appears to be four backstage areas – the Gorilla position (which is right when you step through the curtain), a hallway, a locker room, and the authority’s office. While there may be only a few areas, they’re highly interactive. You won’t be able to play as females in backstage brawls, which makes sense, since that’s never happened on TV.

The Roster

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Okay, look. Each year, it’s kind of WWE 2K’s thing to claim that they have the “largest roster ever”, and to do this, they pretty much copy and paste last year’s roster and add a few new names on. There’s no difference here. There’s some definite head-scratchers here already. Los Matadores and Billy Gunn are in the game, which is weird, because Los Matadores abandoned that gimmick last year, and Billy Gunn was released last year. I get that these games can’t be completely up-to-date, and I don’t expect them to be, but the cutoff is Wrestlemania. There’s no reason that Los Matadores shouldn’t be in here as Epico and Primo. Of the characters announced so far, there’s only a handful of new faces – AJ Styles, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Bubba Ray and D-Von (though technically, they’re not new since they were in older games), Dana Brooke, Goldberg (DLC), Nia Jax, Apollo Crews, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Sasha Banks are new, but everyone else is copied over from WWE 2K16. Even Stardust is here, and he’s been out since May. I don’t know, maybe I was hoping for newer faces or more legends (and I realize the complete roster hasn’t been announced yet). Copying over the majority of the roster just seems kind of lame, especially when we have people that made sense last year (Tatsumi Fujinami for his Hall of Fame inclusion), but don’t make much sense in 2K17. At least we (hopefully) won’t have a situation where we’ll have multiple versions of one character, since the primary reason for those were for their inclusion in 2K Showcase.

Submission System

One of the most hated submission systems was implemented in WWE 2K16, and this year, 2K is trying to make amends. In WWE 2K16, when you were in a submission, you had a bar that rotated inside a circle, as did your opponent. The idea was to prevent them from being aligned. The problem with this system is that rotating the thumbstick made it feel a lot like your bar was sliding around on ice. It just didn’t work. They’re tightening up the controls on it this year, and for those that hate it, you can switch to a button mashing system, which is something that fans have wanted for years.

Creation

One area that the WWE games have always excelled in is their creation suite. All of your favorite features are back this year, along with the returning replay system. Brand new this year is the ability to record video highlights and construct a video from those highlights to create a custom Titan Tron video. They’re also introducing a Create a Victory mode, which will allow you to pose however you want after you beat your opponent senseless. Common sense says that custom music for entrances is out again this year due to system limitations, but with PS4’s ability to stream music from Spotify, it’s not really an issue.

WWE Universe and MyCareer

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Universe has long been my favorite mode of the 2K games. You create shows and set their titles. You can play or skip the matches. Storylines advance, you can get injured, there’s cutscenes, etc. It’s all a lot of fun and interesting to see who the game pushes to the top.

They’re adding more into Universe this year, incorporating run-ins, pre- and post-match attacks, and a brand new Promo engine so your person can share their thoughts. It remains to be seen how this will play out, but it sounds great.

The Promo engine carries over into MyCareer where you’ll have interviews with Renee Young. You’ll impact the game’s storylines by your choices, what you say in interviws, and even what you wear. More than ever, you’re in control of your superstar’s journey.

The exclusion of the 2K showcase is the best thing to happen to the WWE 2K series, and I hope it never comes back. I’m sure more changes will be revealed as we get closer to the game’s October 11th release date.

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