Details about the upcoming WWE 2K18 have given us some insight into what we can expect from the MyCareer single player mode. From the sounds of things, the main two areas of improvement are the ability to roam freely backstage like you could in old Smackdown games like ‘Here Comes The Pain’, and improvements made to the promo system. Two things to note: there doesn’t appear to be any mention of whether you can take a female superstar through the mode, so for those wanting that the jury is still out and not looking great. The second thing is that whether voice-overs would be included is not mentioned either. With that said, let’s focus on the meat of the mode, the potential storylines.
The details focus on the diverging path your WWE superstar can take, and yes you can take a Create-A-Wrestler or CAW (no-one calls them ‘MyPlayers’, 2K) through the mode. They say you can follow a heelish path revolving around pandering to The Authority figure/GM of your brand to get preferential treatment or follow a noble face path of gaining respect and fighting to overcome the odds. Both paths offer perks and bonuses, such as the heel path being able to ask for title shots and run-ins, while the face side gets “in-ring bonuses for matches and promos”. The heel side is pretty self-explanatory, but the face side is murkier. These bonuses could take any number of forms, from temporary stats bumps for your superstar on a given night to permanent advantages such as crowd response or the like pumping you up with a second wind of health after a certain amount of respect is earned. It’s not really clear yet, so we’ll have to wait for more details that hopefully come out before release.
These sound like rather conventional paths to take through the mode, not really offering up much of a significant improvement over recent years, so I’d be inclined to reserve any praise if that was all we knew. However, the announcement of a free-roaming aspect does indeed change up what we can expect from the mode as it’s being detailed.
Not only are you able to roam around the backstage area and interact with “no shortage of personalities backstage, from WWE Superstars and Legends to GMs”, as the release puts it, but WWE support services and staff as well. The only concrete staff we see in the release are a tailor (presumably for editing/upgrading your gear) and PC trainer Albert/Matt Bloom who might have been pulling double duty as a parking attendant, but if this addition is more than just presenting menus as people then it could bring some welcome side activities to the experience. I’m wondering if CFO$ or Jim Johnston are around to discuss changing your superstar’s music, or if you can train with Dean Malenko, or go to catering to load up on protein, or (highly unlikely) meeting a Make-A-Wish kid to brighten his day. Interesting possibilities, but potentially none of those exist. If all this is just masquerading the menus behind having to walk around to chat to people then it’ll quickly become more a nuisance than a blessing.
The release does mention that there will indeed be ‘side-quest’ type interactions coming from these backstage interactions, where you can begin shorter feuds outside of your main progression as well, and this is the first truly significant potential revealed. For years, the main quests of career modes have felt almost too focused, not as chaotic and entertaining as the WWE environment is presented on television. Having the ability to slightly derail your linear march of progress to perhaps focus on battling a hated rival or helping a tag team partner would greatly liven up the entire experience. Not only that, it would ensure that almost everyone’s MyCareer pathway would be more unique and personalised, with your superstar able to affect the course of his progression more than with simple wins, losses and binary choices of heel or face. It would effectively create the illusion of diverging pathways and variety, and that is something that would really set this version of the WWE games apart from its recent predecessors.
The other implementation 2K are promoting heavily is the improvements to the promo system. “Last year’s scoring model was very rigid and made players feel like they had to make choices they didn’t want to make”, is a welcome admission for them to make en route to improving the system. They emphasise that this year your superstar can focus on a topic and points are accumulated best by sticking to that topic and racking up combos for consistency. No word on what those topics might be, however, so we assume the generic variety of wrestling jargon will be the staple along with a few new additions for the new release. This sounds overall like less of a feature to be touted, and more like a necessary improvement to a flawed system that would’ve been savaged by fans if left unaddressed. They might surprise us, but as of this set of details, we should remain skeptical.
They also mention making superstars truly feel like themselves during interactions and promos, “nearly 200 new animations” and unique superstars like Shinsuke Nakamura and Enzo Amore having personalised mannerisms befitting them. This again is being presented as a selling point, but should just naturally be a part of the improvements that comprise the bare minimum for an entry in the series. While “nearly 200 new animations” can sound impressive, it more resembles a large number they can point to in marketing as proof of value, and that shouldn’t sway anyone who is on the fence about this game. This is absolutely expected polish that should be normal from any yearly series, so when they use it for advertising, my eyebrow raises reflexively.
The final piece of information presented in this release was that other people’s CAWs can invade your MyCareer mode. They will be present in the backstage environment and “act just like any WWE Superstars you’ll see”, which is a good use of last years invasion system. It does raise a red flag that if they are acting exactly as other WWE superstars, does that mean the main game roster superstars will have generic interactions and not personalised ones, but that’s perhaps too nitpicky to get into off of such an innocuous statement.
With all that said, here’s the breakdown. The Pros are only going to be real positives, not things that 2K should do as polish regardless. Cons are proper causes for concern that we should keep an eye on.
– Roaming backstage makes its long awaited return
– Side quests offer paths and options
– Support staff might offer more variety in backstage interactions
– CAWs and Invasions included
– Heel and Face bonuses for MyCareer progress
– Promo combo system
– Still no option for female superstars in MyCareer mode
– Support Staff could be masquerading as menu-people backstage.
– Backstage interactions potentially generic, particularly for Invasions.
– Presenting routine polish of features as a selling point is always a red flag.
There you have it. Some positive signs to go with the stellar 10/10 roster announcement, but a few notable things to keep an eye on. A solid 7/10 announcement overall this time, almost purely off of optimism for the backstage roaming, side quests, and interactions.
WWE 2K18 releases on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One on October 17, 2017.